This remarkable collection of 73 verses contained in the Khuddaka Nikaya section of the Pali Canon dates from the 6th century BCE. It is said to be the earliest voices of women in recorded history. The verses, some brief, some more extended, are the utterances of the Bhikkhunis, the nuns at the time of the Buddha, concerning their life and their ‘awakening’. Often they give a penetrating insight to the life of women in ancient India: high-ranking members of courts, courtesans, wives of merchants and farmers – women from all social levels who left their homes to follow the spiritual life as forest renunciants. This recording also includes the personal histories of many of the individuals written by the 6th century CE monk Dharmapala who had access to sources which are now lost. Among these individuals are some famous Bhikkhunis whose stories are more widely known, including Kisagotami (and the mustard seed), Mahapajapati Gotami (the first woman to request ordination from the Buddha), and Dhammadinna (once praised by the Buddha for her Dhamma talk).
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Audiofile Review – This collection of 73 poetic verses is a significant document in early Buddhism as well as the earliest known collection of women’s literature. Click for full review
Vishvantara is a poet and piano teacher and a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order.
Jinananda is a Buddhist teacher, writer and also a member of the TBO.
Kenneth Roy Norman (born 1925) is a leading scholar of Middle Indo-Aryan or Prakrit, particularly of Pali. He saw military service in India and Malaya and studied classics at Cambridge University, and spent most of his career teaching Prakrit at Cambridge University. He was a visiting professor at SOAS and Berkeley, and President of the Pali Text Society from 1981 to 1994. He is a Fellow of the British Academy.
His principal publications are translations of Theragāthā and Therigāthā, Sutta Nipāta and Dhammapada, all published by Pāli Text Society. He is the author of A Philological Approach to Buddhism, SOAS, London; reprinted by Pali Text Society – an interesting and challenging look at translations of Pāli.
Pali Text Society
The Pāli Text Society is a text publication society founded in 1881 by Thomas William Rhys Davids “to foster and promote the study of Pāli texts”. Pāli is the language in which the texts of the Theravada school of Buddhism is preserved. The Pāli texts are the oldest collection of Buddhist scriptures preserved in the language in which they were written down. The society first compiled, edited, and published Latin-script versions of a large corpus of Pāli literature, including the Pāli Canon, as well as commentarial, exegetical texts, and histories. It publishes translations of many Pāli texts. It also publishes ancillary works including dictionaries, concordances, books for students of Pāli and a journal