India, the site of the Buddha's great awakening, has a rich an ancient history of enlightened women, both monastics (Skt: bhiksuni, Pali: bhikkhuni) and lay women (upasika) savika disciples of the Buddha -- essential aspects of the Buddha's Four-fold Assembly of disciples -- the bearers of his inheritance. This blog shares with you some of the wealth of their long and contemporary history, together with sites, writings and happenings of interest.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Bhiksuni Upasraya (Pali: Bhikkhuni Upassaya) Discovered at Sravasti (Pali: Savatthi)





Although we are rich in images of the ancient monastic and laywomen disciples of the Buddha's as they appear in their life stories and are blessed with records of their teachings as well, one thing that we of the Bhikkhuni Sangha have lacked, in comparison with the Bhikkhu Sangha, is a connection with these women's ancient monasteries and places of practice. 

However, this is changing.

Recently, the Archeology Department of India reported the discovery of a new site, an ancient bhikkhuni aramaya  (Skt: bhiksuni asrama) or upassaya (Skt: upasraya)  in the Jetavana at Savatthi  in India, where the Buddha spent at least 25 of the 35 Vassas of his life teaching after enlightenment.  This recent discovery, as reported in Yasodhara magazine, is especially interesting, not only because it is the first bhikkhuni aramaya in India to be rediscovered and authenticated, but because it is located right behind the Gandha Kuti of the Buddha in the Jetavana. 



 the new excavations as seen from space via Google Earth




map from Ven S. Dhammika's book shows the layout of the Monastery, Gandhakuti, and New Excavations



This archeological discovery potentially gives us a temporal image that has generally been lacking until now, an image of the relationship between the ancient bhikkhu and bhikkhuni Sanghas and the Buddha himself in the Buddha's lifetime, at the Jeta Grove in Anathapindika's Park, where the Blessed One spent the majority of his time in residence teaching, when not travelling throughout the neighboring Indian countries of his day.

 If you would like to volunteer for a little light research, to follow up on this news article in Yasodhara magazine with Loung Mae Dhammananda in Thailand and the Archeological Survey of India, please email: womeninbuddhismtour[at]gmail[dot]com. 
 
article from www.dhammadharini.net --> Dhammadharini News 

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