Order of Nuns
the early days of the Order, only men were admitted to the Sangha
since the Buddha was reluctant to admit women. But there were
many devout women among the lay followers who had a keen desire
for a life of renunciation as nuns. Urged by their keenness,
Pajâpati Gotami, the foster-mother of the Buddha, in the
company of many ladies of rank, approached the Buddha, beseeching
him to grant them ordination. But the Buddha still hesitated
to accept them.
their discomfiture, and urged by their zeal, the Venerable Ânanda
took up their cause and pleaded with the Buddha on their behalf.
The Buddha finally yielded to this appeal, placing, however,
eight cardinal rules on the ordination of women. Thus was established,
in the fifth year after his enlightenment, the Order of Nuns,
the Bhikkhuni Sâsana, for the first time in history; for
never before this had there been an Order where women could
lead a celibate life of renunciation.
from all walks of life joined the Order. Foremost in the Order
stood the Theris Khemâ and Uppalavannâ. The lives
of quite a number of these noble nuns, their strenuous endeavours
to win the goal of freedom, and their paeans of joy at deliverance
of mind, are graphically described in the Therigâthâ,
the Psalms of the Sisters.n43