Concept

Sanghamitta

Summary
Saṅghamittā (Saṅghamitrā in Sanskrit, nun's name Ayapali; 282 BC – 203 BC) was an Indian Buddhist nun and the eldest daughter of Emperor Ashoka (304 BC – 232 BC) and his first wife, Devi. Together with her brother Mahinda, she entered an order of Buddhist monks. The two siblings later went to Sri Lanka to spread the teachings of Buddha at the request of King Devanampiya Tissa (250 BC – 210 BC) who was a contemporary of Ashoka. Ashoka was initially reluctant to send his daughter on an overseas mission. However, because of the insistence of Sangamitra herself, he finally agreed. She was sent to Sri Lanka together with several other nuns to start the nun-lineage of Bhikkhunis (a fully ordained female Buddhist monastic) at the request of King Tissa to ordain queen Anulā and other women of Tissa's court at Anuradhapura who desired to be ordained as nuns after Mahindra converted them to Buddhism. After Sanghamittā’s contribution to the propagation of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and her establishing the Bikhhunī Sangha or Meheini Sasna (Order of Nuns) there, her name became synonymous with "Buddhist Female Monastic Order of Theravāda Buddhism" that was established not only in Sri Lanka but also in Burma, China and Thailand, in particular. The day the most revered tree, the Bodhi tree, a sapling of which was brought by her to Sri Lanka and planted in Anuradhapura, and which still survives, is also celebrated every year on the Full Moon day of December as Uduvapa Poya or Uposatha Poya and Sanghamittā Day by Theravāda Buddhists in Sri Lanka. Sanghamitra is known for the proselytisation activity among women that she pursued as her lifetime goal in Sri Lanka, along with her brother, Mahendra (called Mahinda in Sri Lanka) at the initiation of her father, Emperor Ashoka of the Maurya dynasty who ruled in India in the 3rd century BC. Ashoka, after adopting Buddhism, took to spreading tenets of Buddhism in nine other countries of the region. His contemporary in Sri Lanka, King Devanampiya Tissa, in close alliance with Ashoka, saw the arrival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
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