Editor’s Note: Just after I announced the publication of Arahat Sanghamittā’s Story last week, I received an email from Ayya Tathālokā with a photograph of a lovely painting by Mala Wijekoon showing Ven Sanghamittā giving ordination to Queen Anulā shortly after arriving in Sri Lanka.
This prompted me to assemble the extracts below, not all of which occur in the Arahat Sanghamittā book, as they concern Queen Anulā’s story before meeting the great Bhikkhuni. First here is the photograph which Mala has kindly given permission to reproduce here, and below is the extended story.
Ven Sanghamitta and Queen Anula by Mala Wijekoon
Having left by the southern gate, the Elder Mahinda sat down there, and the one skilled in Dhamma related the Simile of the Poisonous Snake. In that place one thousand breathing beings entered into the first Path and Fruit on that day, and on the second day also two and a half thousand penetrated the Dhamma.
Many women from the great families came there, and after worshipping, sat down, filling the garden. The Elder taught the Discourse on the Fools and the Wise, and one thousand of those women entered into the first Path and Fruit.
Queen Anulā together with five-hundred women also came in order to worship the Elders, and after listening to the Dhamma teaching with faithful minds, they entered the second Path and Fruit.
Then Queen Anulā had a desire to go forth together with the five hundred women, and said this to the Lord of the World: “Today itself we will go forth, if it is your wish, Lord of the Earth.”
Hearing her statement the King said to the Elder: “Venerable Sir, Queen Anulā desires to go forth together with five hundred women, please give them the going-forth.”
“It is not suitable, Great King, for us to give the going-forth to women. There is in Pāṭaliputta a nun who is my younger sister, Saṅghamittā by name, who is famous and very learned, Lord of Men.
Bring the southern branch from the Great Bodhi Tree of the Lord of Ascetics, 09 and then also noble nuns, to the city in the Island of Laṅkā, King, as the Bodhi Trees of the three self-made Buddhas were planted by the Kings so today the Bodhi Tree of the famous Gotama, which has a resplendent halo, should be planted, Lord of the Earth.
Send a message into the presence of the King, our Father, saying: “Let her come,” and that Elder Nun will come and give the going-forth to these women.”
In order to bring the Great Bodhi Tree and the Elder Nun, the Lord of the World, remembering the statement spoken by the Elder, on a certain day in the Rainy Season, while sitting in his own city near the Elder, consulted his ministers and urged his nephew, the minister called Ariṭṭha, to undertake these deeds.
After considering it and inviting him, he uttered this statement: “Dear, after going into the presence of King Dhammāsoka will you be able to bring the Elder Nun Saṅghamittā and the Great Bodhi Tree here?”
“I will be able, God-King, to bring these two from there if, after returning here, I am allowed to go forth, your Honour.”
“You may go, Dear, and after bringing the Elder Nun together with the Bodhi Tree and reaching Laṅkā, you can go-forth according to your wish.”
Near the Lord’s Great Bodhi Tree, through the wonder of being near the flag of the true Dhamma preached in the lovely words of the land of Laṅkā, Queen Anulā, with five hundred women and together with another five hundred women of the harem received the going-forth in the presence of the Elder Saṅghamittā, and those one thousand nuns, after developing insight, in no long time attained the state of Worthiness (Arahatta).
The Great Elder Saṅghamittā lived in the Nunnery known as the Lay-Womens’ Monastery together with her Community. She made there three dwelling places which were considered the foremost.
Previously Queen Anulā had heard a Dhamma teaching in the Elder Mahinda’s presence, understood the Truths, donned the yellow robes, undertook the ten precepts and made her dwelling in the home of the minister named Dolaka.
Afterwards, with the coming of the Elder Nun to the Island of Laṅkā, these three foremost palaces: Small Chapter, Great Chapter and Increasing Splendour were made by the Lord of the World.
For the benefit of his retinue and many others in the palace, when the Great Bodhi Tree was brought in the ship, the Ruler of the World had the mast placed in the house named the Small Chapter, the sail was established in the Great Chapter house, and then the rudder was placed in the Increasing Splendour house.
The Lord of the World, who was of such a kind: endowed with virtue and respect for the Three Treasures, paid lifelong respect to the Bodhi Tree and caused all the places in the Isle to be prepared, gaining a famous name, lasting even until today.