On the gloriously sunny morning of the Bank holiday Monday, 28th August 2017, several hundred people gathered to witness the rare event that took place at the Sri Saddhātissa International Buddhist Centre (SSIBC), Kingsbury. It was that of a fellow human being donning the precious yellow robes for the first time and going forth in the Noble dispensation of Gōtama the Sammāsambuddha as a ‘Dasa Pabajja‘ or a ten-preceptor nun.
Following in the footsteps of the Maha Arahant Mahā Prajāpati Gōtami, Dr Shirani Gunawardena reverentially requested the Head of the Centre, the Most Venerable Aggamahapanditha Galayāye Piyadassi Nayake Thero and the Mahā Sangha present on this auspicious occasion, for admittance into the Order for the Noble aim of attaining ‘Nibbānassa Saccikiriyāya‘ – liberation from Samsāra.
The ceremony commenced at 9.00 am when the Upāsika, Dr Gunawardena was presented to the Mahā Sangha by her relatives. This customary practice was carried out by Mr Samarasinghe Methuen accompanied by his wife Mrs Vinitha Methuen and children, Daneeta and Rasitha, Mrs Lakshmi Samarasinghe, Mr Rodney Liyanage, Mrs Indrani Liyanage, Mrs Indrani Gunawardena, daughter Dinesha, son-in-law and other relatives and friends.
Ajahn Sundarā, the Head nun of the Amarāvati Buddhist Monastery, Hemel Hempstead, Sister Muditā of Nepal, Sister London Dhammadinnā of SSIBC and Oxford Buddha Vihara, Sister Khemakā also from Amarāvati and Sister Seela Mani from UK and Sri Lanka assisted in performing the traditional rituals to transform the white-clothed lay Upāsikā to a shaven headed, yellow robed Buddhist nun.
Ajahn Sundara administered the ten precepts following the ancient format, unique toPabajjā Dasa sil which the Upāsika repeated and thus entered the Gōtama the Sammā Sambuddha‘s dispensation of monks and nuns.
The newly ordained nun, conferred with the Sāsana name of ‘Karuna’ meaning Compassion, humbly requested the Most Venerable Vahamuve Wijewansa Nayake Thero to be her Teacher and the Most Venerable Galayāye Piyadassi Nāyake Thero to be her Preceptor, both of whom graciously consented.
The dignified occasion was blessed by the presence of a number of prominent and highly respected monks from all over the UK, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar and Italy.
Namely, Most Venerable Wahamuwe Wijeyawansa Nayaka Thero, Principal Maha Vihara Pirivena, Ruwanweli Mahāseya, Anurādhapura; Ven Dr Handupelpola Mahinda Nayake Thero of SSIBC; Ven Dr Kabalewe Sirisumana Nayaka Thero, Head of Buddha Vihara, Barking; Ven Makure Mangala Thero, Head of Lumbini Vihara, East London; Ven Gunnepane Sumanarama Thero of the Samadhi Meditation Edmonton; Ven Madugalle Mahanama Thero of Sri Sambodhi Vihara, Plaistow; Phra Ajahn Sujan, Abbot of Varapunya Meditation Centre, Aberdeen; Ven Dodangoda Sumedha Thero of the Athula Dassana Vihara, Hounslow; Ven U. Withuta Thero of Britain Burma Buddhist Trust Vihara, Wembley; Ven Nepal Indrasak Thero of Lumbini Buddha Vihar (Nepalese), Greenford; Ven Dhammasila Thero of Italy; ably supported by the resident monks of SSIBC, Ven Nepale Sumana Thero, Ven Nepale Tissa Thero and Ven Galayāye Dhammadassi Thero.
Ven Wijewansa Nāyake Thero spoke of the difference between ‘entering the Order knowingly’ and ‘entering the Order because of respect to elders’. Ordaining as a child, he said he himself did not fully understand its significance until some time later. Sister Karuna he said, fell into the first category but there was much for her too to learn.
Ven Dr Kabalewe Siri Sumana Nayaka Thero spoke of what constituted the ‘Sāsana’ -the dispensation. The Teaching (Dhamma) and the Monastic Rules (Vinaya) together made the Sāsana, he said.
Ven Nepalé Sumana Thero was the compere for the occasion and spoke of the ten reflections (Dasadhamma) that his own teacher taught him over quarter of a century ago. He mentioned that at the end of each day one should quietly reflect on the day’s activities; to name but a few, to reflect on whether he had transgressed any of the precepts, whether he had caused anyone hurt, upset or distress that day either intentionally or unintentionally, and whether he had behaved in a manner that would leave him open to criticism from others.
The Mahā Sangha were offered the mid-day Dana and Pirikara by the Dayaka committee and supporters of the SSIBC, followed by lunch for all the lay devotees present, which ran into many hundreds.