WHAT IS VINAYA PITAKA?
Admission of Bhikkhunøs into the Order
After spending four vassas (residence period during the rains) after his Enlightenment, the Buddha visited Kapilavatthu, his native royal city, at the request of his ailing father, King Suddhodana. At that time, Mahæpajæpati, Buddhas foster mother, requested him to admit her into the Order. Mahæpajæpati was not alone in desiring to join the Order. Five hundred Sakyan ladies whose husbands had left the household life were also eager to be admitted into the Order.
After his fathers death, the Buddha went back to Vesælø, refusing the repeated request of Mahæpajæpati for admission into the Order. The determined foster mother of the Buddha and widow of the recently deceased King Suddhodana, having cut off her hair and put on bark-dyed clothes, accompanied by five hundred Sakyan ladies, made her way to Vesælø where the Buddha was staying in the Mahævana, in the Kþ¥ægæra Hall.
The Venerable Ænanda saw them outside the gateway of the Kþ¥ægæra Hall, dust-laden with swollen feet, dejected, tearful, standing and weeping. Out of great compassion for the ladies, the Venerable Ænanda interceded with the Buddha on their behalf and entreated him to accept them in the Order. The Buddha continued to stand firm. But when the Venerable Ænanda asked the Buddha whether women were not capable of attaining Magga and Phala Insight, the Buddha replied that women were indeed capable of doing so, provided they left the household life like their menfolk.
Thereupon Ænanda made his entreaties again saying that Mahæpajæpati had been of great service to the Buddha waiting on him as his guardian and nurse, suckling him when his mother died. And as women were capable of attaining the Magga and Phala Insight, she should be permitted to Join the Order and become a bhikkhunø.
The Buddha finally acceded to Ænandas entreaties: "Ænanda, if Mahæpajæpati accepts eight special rules, garu-dhammæ, let such acceptance mean her admission to the Order."
The eight special rules are:
Mahæpajæpati accepted unhesitatingly these eight conditions imposed
by the Buddha and was consequently admitted into the Order.