it true that once women are admitted to the Order, Buddhism
will be shortened to 500 years?
After women were accepted to join the Order it is recorded in
the Vinaya that the Buddha prophesied that Buddhism would be
shortened to 500 years.
we are now some 2000 years from the time the teaching of the
Buddha was recorded and we are in a position to judge clearly
that such a saying was purely with bias against women and not
in conformity with the spirit of Buddhism.
studied the historical context to see how both the bhikkhu and
bhikkhuni Sanghas prospered in India alongside each other. During
King Asoka's reign (c.3rd Century B.C.) Sanghamitta Theri, the
King's daughter was invited along with a group of bhikkhunis
to establish the bhikkhuni Sangha in Sri Lanka and they received
full royal support and prospered for more than a thousand years.
both historical and archaeological findings proved that the
bhikkhuni Sangha existed in the 10th century A.D. e.g. a stone
inscription found at Bodh Gaya mentioned that Kuranji bhikkhuni,
former wife of King Indramitra became enlightened; an inscription
from Kusana mentioned the Buddhamitta bhikkhuni, disciple of
the monk Bala was recognized as "Tripitaka" one who
was well versed in the Tripitaka. These evidences are weighty
enough to say that both Sanghas existed side by side until the
Turk Muslims attacked India.
In Sri Lanka
after the arrival of Sanghamitta Theri and the bhikkhunis from
India, they gave ordination to Princess Anula, King Devanampiya
Tissa's sister-in-law along with a large number of women from
the royal court. An inscription from the 10-11th Century A.D.,
found at Kukurumahandamana mentioned Mahindarama Hospital situated
in front of the bhikkhuni Arama in Anuradhapura. It seems that
bhikkhunis at that time were also involved in the social welfare
of the people. Both the Mahavamsa and Culavarnsa referred to
activities of the bhikkhuni Sangha. Only after 1050 A.D., after
the invasion of a South Indian king, both the bhikkhu and bhikkhuni
Sanghas disappeared from Sri Lanka. Later on Thai monks carne
to Sri Lanka on royal invitation and re-established the bhikkhu
Sangha which continues its existence up to present day. There
was no mention of the bhikkhuni Sangha.
time the bhikkhuni Sangha prospered in Sri Lanka, a group of
them went to China on invitation and established the bhikkhuni
Sangha there in 434 A.D. This lineage then spread to the neighbouring
countries like Korea and Vietnam.
need to be mentioned in this connection. First, it is to be
noted that Buddhism still prospers in the present era (B.E.
2540/1997 A.D.) not only in the East but it also travelled to
the far West and begins to take root there. Second, we need
to mention that the disappearance of both the Sanghas they were
always together. These historical facts and evidences disqualify
the common belief that by accepting women to the Order Buddhism
will be shortened only to 500 years.