Saturday, October 2, 2010

Parents of the Buddha [3]

Mahapajapati Gotami

Mahapajapati Gotami was the younger sister of Maha Maya. The religious officials foretold that she would have a large followers, and thus she was named 'Pajapati'. She was also a queen of King Suddhodana. She became a chief queen after her sister Mayadevi passed away. She had two children, Sundari Nanda, a daughter and a son, Nanda.

Maha Pajapati Gotami nursed her nephew Siddharttha Gotama, the son of her sister Mayadevi. Her son Nanda was three days younger than Siddharttha Gotama. She looked after Siddharttha more than her own children. She had a great affection for him too. For Siddharttha, she was not just an aunt and a foster mother, but she was like his own mother. So, she should be regarded as one of the parents of the Buddha.

After hearing the Buddha's discourse of Mahadhammaphala Jataka, she became a Sotapanna.

She made up her mind to renounce the world after her husband King Suddhodana died. She had five hundred Sakyan women following her. She requested twice to the Buddha to ordain them as monastics. But failed. However, by the initiation of Venerable Ananda, she and her companions became bhikkhunis. Precisely, they had to follow throughout their lives, the eight strict conditions which the Buddha laid down.

Pajapati Gotami Theri had been declared as the foremost among bhikkhuni disciples of the Buddha who were of long-standing in the Order. She attained Arahatship at the end of the Buddha's Samkhitta Sutta.

At her age of one hundred and twenty, she took notice of her life span, coming to an end. She then visited the Buddha and asked his approval of her death. The Buddha asked her to show her supernormal powers for the fools who had doubts about bhikkhunis attaining enlightenment. She did so before she departed.

Funeral procession of Pajapati Gotami Theri was the marvellous one. It was said to be the second to those of the Buddha.

The Buddha showed his respect and honour to his special mother by walking behind the carriage that carried her body for cremation.

Posted by Aye Sat

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