Saturday, February 16, 2013

DEAR MAYA: Ancient Nuns?

Dear Maya, Wisdom Quarterly: American Buddhist Journal
Now that Dear Abby (Pauline Phillips, a.k.a. "Abigail Van Buren") and her sister Ann Landers have gone, WQ readers may ask ANYTHING.
Maya, the editors, and contributors will endeavor to answer. (Post your questions to the COMMENTS SECTION).

Q: "Would you share your reference for the bhikkhuni/bhiksuni disciples of prehistoric buddhas please?"
A: Yes. We have the advantage of having access to prehistoric information on buddhas and their chief disciples thanks to the Buddha himself (as well as information that comes from devas and prominent disciples with well developed psychic abilities) as recorded in one sacred scripture in particular:
In an amazing, albeit questionable, text called the "Story of the Lineage" translated more than a century ago by the British Pali Text Society's Prof. T.W. Rhys Davids in his Buddhist Birth-Stories: Jataka Tales.

It is not one of the rebirth tales, but rather a commentarial introduction entitled Nidanakatha ("The Story of the Lineage") originally translated from V. Fausböll's edition of the ancient Pali language text by T.W. Rhys Davids as it appears in the new and revised edition by Mrs. Rhys Davids (PTS, England, 1878).

This amazing book gives incontrovertible evidence that the Buddha's jatakas are the basis of Aesop's Fables, which were drawn from various cultures where Buddhism had permeated as it went west out of India and Afghanistan (Shakyan Janapada, Kapilavastu, Gandhara) to the ancient Near East, Central Asia, and Middle East. 

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