On September 30th, we honoured the life of arahant bhikkhuni Mahapajapati Gotami, the Buddha’s maternal aunt and foster mother – and our ancestral Dhamma mother. This full moon day marked the anniversary of her ordination as the first bhikkhuni 2595 years ago.
It is due to her great courage, determination, and enlightened wisdom that we are able to renew and uphold the tradition of the Bhikkhuni Sangha – after a lapse of nearly 1000 years – and work towards freedom from suffering for the benefit of all beings.
We remembered her poignant story: at age 65, Queen of the Sakyan people, she left her palace in Kapilavatthu, walking 240 kilometres with a large retinue of her royal colleagues – barefoot, having cut off their hair and donned the yellow robe – along the dusty tracks of ancient India to reach Vesali and request ordination from the Blessed One!
Here in Perth, two and a half millenia later, about 60 Dhamma friends crowded together inside Sati Saraniya Hermitage, sheltering from the wet autumnal weather for a precept ceremony, alms giving meal, Dhamma reflections and chanting of blessings. We shared stories about Mahapajapati’s life and the precious legacy of all our arahant forefathers and mothers.
Then we walked up the hillock to the site where we hope next year to gather again for these Dhamma activities inside the new temple building.