Thailand's Rich and Ancient History of Women in Buddhism
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Friday, January 7, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
The Noppapolbhumisiri Chedi was built by the Royal Thai Airforce near the summit of
The “37 Factors of Enlightenment” or “Wings of Awakening” (Pali: bodhipakkhiya-dhammá) include:
· Four Foundations of Mindfulness (satipatthana)
· Four Right Efforts (sammappadhana)
· Four Bases of Power (iddhipada)
· Five Faculties (indriya)
· Five Strengths (bala)
· Seven Factors of Enlightenment (bojjhanga)
· Eight Fold Path (ariya-magga)
Queen Sirikit is popularly viewed as the ‘mother of
Bhikkhuni Uppalavanna Theri was praised for her achievement in performing miracles.
The 6 brown clay tile mosaics on the outside of the upper balcony depict well-known ‘upasika’ (a faithful female lay supporter/practitioner), who had practiced Dharma in past lives and aspired to be reborn in the Buddha’s pure land in order to be able to continue practicing the Buddha’s teachings.
The 6 brown clay tile mosaics on the inside of the lower balcony illustrate excellent Bhikshunis and ‘upasika’, who towards the end of their lives ordained in the Buddhist Order and attained Arahantship.
Inside the Chedi Hall
The centerpiece of the hall is a standing Buddha statue in the Pang-Ram-Phung position, which is the position for those people who were born on a Friday, the birth day of Her Majesty the Queen. The Buddha statue is 3.20 meters high, weighs around 5 tons, and is made from white jade (Hun-Pai-Yu) from China. This Buddha figure has received the name from Her Majesty the Queen: “Phra-Bud-Dha-Si-Ri-Ki-Ti-Thee-Ma-Yu-Mong-Khon”.
Inside the head of the statue (‘Phra-Ket-Mo-Le’) is enshrined a relic of the Buddha, which was given by the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand (the head of the Buddhist Sangha in
The lower wall is decorated with carvings of Her Majesty’s activities, such as her visits to villages in the rural countryside, crafted in the Thai granite.
The upper part of the wall has been decorated with Italian glass mosaic depicting 12 stories taken from the Buddha’s life. The stories highlight 4 historical women who had a very strong influence in the development of Buddhism and helping the Dharma to spread. These include: Phra Nang Sri Maha Maya (the Buddha’s mother), Phra Nang Maha Pajapati Gotami, Phra Nang Bimba Yasodhara (the Buddha’s wife), and Visakha Maha Upasika.
- Her Holiness (Phra Nang) Sri Maha Maya: her dream foretelling the Buddha’s birth
- Giving birth to the bodhisattva, the Buddha-to-be, under a Shala tree
- The Buddha: preaching/giving Dharma to Sandusita Devaputta
- Her Holiness Mahapajapati: making offering to the Buddha
- Her Holiness Mahapajapati: ordained as a Bhikkhuni
- Her Holiness Mahapajapati: attained nirvana
- Lady Visakha Maha Upasika: listened to the Buddha’s teaching
- Lady Visakha: had been chased from the richest house
- Lady Visakha: had offered the metal palace to the Buddha
- Her Holiness Bimba Yasodhara: asked for the ‘treasure’ of Dharma (for their son, Ven. Rahula)
- The Buddha had explained the inside and outside of the ‘treasure’
- Her Holiness Yasodhara-Bimba: ordained as a Bhikkhuni
Sources, and more information:
Buddhist Women at the Time of the Buddha — Hellmuth Hecker
Most of the information for this post came from two documents in Thai supplied by Walaiporn Pornwiroon of
, and Captain Aekasingha Klinphodi of the Royal Thai Ariforce and the Assistant Working Group for the Royal Chedis on Doi Inthanon. Captain Aekasingha was also very generous with his time, showing me around the chedis. Lawan Vongchindarak in Bangkok contributed significant time to researching and translation. Brock and Nui Wilson of Chiang Mai also contributed to the translation. Special thanks to Venerable Thubten Chodron and Ayya Tathaaloka Bhikkhuni, whose interest in and continual dedication to the contribution of women to Buddhism initiated this effort. Bangkok
May this work contribute in some small way to the benefit of all mother beings.
Barry Flaming, Chiang Mai (firstname.lastname@example.org)