Enlightened Women of the Therigatha

Therigatha Altar

Therigatha Altar

There are women teachers everywhere.  It is for me to recognize and acknowledge this fact.

China Galland

The hand formed clay figures above represent the 12 women who were recognized by the Buddha for having exceptional skills and enlightenment.  They are known as Therigatha, or women elders in the early Buddhist tradition.  These figures were made by the Venerable Dhammananda, the abbess of the Songdhammakalyani monastery for women in Thailand.

I had the delight and honor to spend 3 days practicing and photographing the nuns at the monastery.  The clay figures were one of the priceless finds on the altar in one of the temples where we practiced meditation.

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Watermoon Guanyin, Sanyi, Taiwan

Guanyin at Wat Pho

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2 thoughts on “Enlightened Women of the Therigatha

  1. Thank you, Deborah, for posting this beautiful and inspiring photo of the clay statues Ven Bhikkhuni Dhammananda has made of the Buddha’s 13 fully awakened foremost leading bhikkhuni disciples, as recorded in the Pali-text Anguttara Nikaya (“The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha”).

    The Therigatha (“Verses of the Women Elders”) from the canonical Khuddaka Nikaya contains the verses of 73 of the Buddha’s awakened women monastic disciples, and is the oldest still extant body of women’s religious literature in the world. The Theri-apadana (“Sacred Biographies of the Women Elders”), also from the Khuddaka Nikaya contains 40 of their multi-life biographies.

    Buddhism is truly rich in this regard!

    * Read “Therigatha: Verses of the Elder Nuns” on Access to Insight: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thig/index.html
    * Listen to beautiful chanting of the Recollection of the 13 Arahant Theris and read the text here: http://saranaloka.org/teaching/chanting/
    * Learn more about the life stories of the awakened women in the Theri-apadana here: http://www.bhikkhuni.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/Lasting-Inspiration.pdf
    * Learn more about the contemporary revival of the ancient Theravada Bhikkhuni Sangha here: http://www.bhikkhuni.net/

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