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Tathālokā Therī

Saṅghamittā Therī ordaining Anulādevī, mural painting by artist Solias Mendis, at the Kelaniya Rajamaha Vihara, Sri Lanka (photo thanks to Ven. Dhammaratanayani Sobhita Bhikkhuni)

For all those friends who've been asking questions:

Who did Sanghamittā Therī ordain with? ... How old was she when she entered Buddhist monastic life and ordained? ... Had she been married? Did she have children? ... How old was she when she travelled to Sri Lanka? ... Was she an Arahanta?... How many Bhikkhunīs did she go with? Did laypeople go too?... and more...

Quick answers to all questions here first, followed by Pāli text with English translation for question 1, and further notes of interest on question 2:

Q1. Who did Saṅghamittā Therī ordain with? ...

A1. the venerable Bhikkhunī Preceptor (Upajjhāyā) of Saṅghamittā Therī was the bhikkhunī Dhammapālā Therī, and her Bhikkhunī Teacher (Ācariyā) was the venerable bhikkhunī Āyupālā Therī. Yes, "Upajjhāyā" and "Ācariyā" are the Pāli words used (see 516 below).

Q2. How old was Saṅghamittā when she entered Buddhist monastic life and ordained? ...

A2. She was age 18. She ordained as a Sikkhamānā with Pabbajjā "the Going Forth" and Entering into the Training Commitment (Sikkhā) at the same time as her elder brother Mahinda Thero who was two years older and ordained at age 20.

Q3. Had Saṅghamittā been married? Did she have children? ...

A3. Yes, she had been married to the viceroy of Ujjain, Uparāja Aggibrahma when she was age 14. Her husband entered into monastic life as a Buddhist bhikkhu before her, and became an arahant. The chronicles record that she too had wished to enter Buddhist monastic life and ordain ever since. The couple are known to have had one son together named Sumana, who also entered monastic life as a novice, and joined Mahinda Thero's mission to Sri Lanka. Another young nephew of hers, her maternal aunt's son Bhaṇḍuka, also joined Mahinda Thero's mission.

Q4. How old was she when she travelled to Sri Lanka? ...

A4. She was around age 30-31, and having completed two vassas of preliminary training plus eleven vassas as a bhikkhunī, she was at that time a senior bhikkhunī therī. Mahinda Thero was age 32, and with twelve vassas as a bhikkhu when he travelled six months earlier to Sri Lanka.

Q5. Was she a Bhikkhunī Arahanta?...

A5. Indeed, the chronicle text says clearly that after her entering monastic life and ordaining, she joined the ranks of the Arahants, that she was not only a luminary and a light of the Sāsana herself, but that she was a lamp-lighter, and very wise.

Q6. How many Bhikkhunīs did she go to Sri Lanka with?...

A6. Per the Mahāvaṁsa chronicle, she travelled together with eleven bhikkhunīs, counting herself then twelve. Several of the bhikkhunīs she travelled with were known too, and requested to come by name by Mahinda Thero himself.

Q7. Did laypeople go on the trip to Sri Lanka too?...

A7. Yes, they did. A hand chosen delegation of laypeople representing the royal family, as well as families representing the various classes of skilled persons, together with several families representing various tribal peoples, all travelled together on this great mission trip, with the southern branch sapling of the Srī Mahā Bodhi tree representing the Buddha and the Mahā Therī at their head.

Q8. Who was the first Sri Lankan woman to ordain? How many women became Arahats?

A8. Sri Lankan vicereign Anulā Therī was the first to ordain with Saṅghamittā Therī. It was her request to enter Buddhist monastic life that brought Saṅghamittā Therī to Sri Lanka. The chronicles record one thousand Sri Lankan women who ordained with Saṅghamittā Therī becoming Arahantas or Arahatīs at that time.

Q9. How many Bhikkhunī monasteries were founded in Sri Lanka at that time?

A9. The chronicles record twelve of them, three including museums for various parts of their ship, plus there was Saṅghamittā Therī's secluded retreat, making for thirteen. Inscriptions record many more bhikkhunī monasteries in Sri Lanka over the next fifteen hundred years.

Q10. How long did Saṅghamittā Therī stay in Sri Lanka?

A10. Per the extended Mahāvaṁsa, she stayed in Sri Lanka for 59 years, for the entire remainder of her life.

Q11. How old was she when she passed away? When was her Parinibbāna?

A11. Thus, she was age 79* when she passed away. Her Parinibbāna was just one year after Mahinda Thero's. She entered Parinibbāna on the half moon of the final brightening fortnight (the waxing lunar quarter of the third month of the Rains, known as the 'Assayuja Sukha Pakka Aṭṭhamī Uposatha') of her 59th vassa as a bhikkhunī.

*See related Q16 below

Q12. Is there any stupa dedicated to her in Sri Lanka?

A12. Yes, in Anuradhapura. She herself is said to have chosen the place of her cremation, just to the east of the Thuparamaya, with the Jaya Sri Mahā Bodhi tree in sight. Sri Lankan King Devānampiya Tissa's successor King Uttiya provided for her cremation there, with seven days of royal honors just as he had done for the great Thero her late brother Mahinda one year before. King Uttiya then built the stupa over her place of cremation, and also established her crematory relics with a shrine there.

Q13. How many Bhikkhunīs were there in India at that time? And how many of them were Arahants?

A13. Per Mahāvaṁsa, at the time of Indian emperor Samrat Asoka's inauguration of the 84,000 cetiyas:

"Navuti bhikkhusahassāni ahū bhikkhuṇiyo tahiṁ,

khīṇāsavā bhikkhuṇiyo sahassaṁ ahu tā tadā. [494]

‘Lokavivaraṇaṁ’ nāma pāṭiheraṁ akaṁsu te

Khīṇāsavā pasādatthaṁ Dhammāsokassa Rājino. [495]

"There were (also) ninety thousand bhikkhunīs there [attending the royal inauguration of Asoka's monastery and the 84,000 cetiyas],

and at that time one thousand of those bhikkhunīs had ended all afflictions (khīṇāsavā, meaning they had become arahantas).

Those who had ended all afflictions (both the arahant bhikkhus and bhikkhunīs) performed the miracle called ‘Opening the World’ for the purpose of the inspiration and edification in Rāja Dhammāsoka."

Pāli text and English translation adapted from Ancient Buddhist Texts.

Q14. How many Bhikkhunīs were there in Sri Lanka then at the time of Sanghamittā Therī's Parinibbāna after her 59 years in Sri Lanka? And how many bhikkhunī arahants were there then?

A14 Per the Mahāvaṁsa chronicle, at that time, not only were there "many thousands" (sahassāni bahūni) of bhikkhunīs; there were "many thousands of khīṇāsavā bhikkhuṇis" (khīṇāsavā bhikkhuṇiyo sahassāni bahūni), that is, bhikkhunī arahantas.

Pāli from and with English translation adapted from Ancient Buddhist Texts.

Saṅghamittāpabhutayo Theriyo dvādasā pi ca, [78]

khīṇāsavā bhikkhuṇiyo sahassāni bahūni vā

bahussutā mahāpaññā Vinayamhi Jināgamaṁ, [79]

ālokaṁ dassayitvāna, obhāsetvā, imaṁ mahiṁ

jālitvā aggikkhandhā va, nibāyiṁsu anāsavā. [80]

[T]he twelve Therīs, beginning with Saṅghamittā,

and many thousands of bhikkhunīs who had ended all afflictions,

who were learned, greatly wise in the Discipline of the Victor’s tradition,

after showing the light, shining forth, and lighting up the earth like a mass of fire, being free from [all] afflictions, attained Emancipation ([Pari]nibbāna).

Q15. Were Saṅghamittā Therī and Mahinda Thero part Greek? What was the Greek connection?

A15. On the side of their father, Indian emperor Asoka, the great Thera and great Therī's grandfather, the Mauryan emperor Chandragupta, who first united the subcontinent, had several wives, one of them Helena or Helen, daughter of Seleucus Nicator, a Macedonian Greek general, officer and successor of Alexander the Great, who offered her in marriage as part of a peace treaty. However, the emperor Asoka's father Bindusāra's birth mother was not Helena, but rather her predecessor, Emperor Chandragupta's Empress Consort Agramahesi Durdhara, who traditions say was the daughter of Dhanananda, recorded in the Pāli-text Mahābodhivaṁsa chronicle as the last king of the preceding Nanda dynasty.

The Sri Lankan Pāli text Mahābodhivaṁsa chronicle says that Chandragupta himself was a prince of the Sakyans who left Kapilavatthu after the Viḍūḍabha War and settled in the Moriya's city, where he became the rāja of Pāṭaliputta, with the assistance of his advisor, the "twice-born" Cānakka ("Cānakkadvija" aka Chanakya). His son and heir, Bindusāra, had two children—Asoka and his brother Tissa—by his Moriyan lineage wife named Dhammādevī.

Prince Asoka was born in 304 BCE, one year after emperor Chandragupta received Helena in a marriage alliance, ending the Seleucid–Mauryan war. He was around seven years old when his royal grandfather retired from ruling and entered monastic life with the Digambara Jains, and his emperor grandfather's much younger wife Helena departed to "the Morea," the like-named Peloponesus peninsula of ancient Greece, with the Greek delegation, upon Prince Asoka's father becoming emperor. In the first decade of his life, Greek ambassadors figured prominently. Asoka was later dispatched by his father, Bindusāra, to the country of Avanti, where later he was appointed to govern as viceroy (uparāja, yuvarāja).

There was a sizable Greek settlement in Avanti. However, on the side of Mahinda and Saṅghamittā's mother, Vedisa Devī, the Sri Lankan Pāli-text chronicle Mahābodhivaṁsa records that other Sakyans imperiled by Viḍūḍabha had escaped, emigrating to the town of Vedisa nagara [aka Vedisagiri, in the region of Ujjain, Avanti]. There in Vedisa, the Vedisa Sakya-kumārī, a daughter of Sakyan royal descent,* was bestowed upon the Ujjenī rāja (son of Bindusāra, crown prince and viceroy, Asoka). From their union, the prince Mahinda kumāra and the princess Saṅghamittā kumārī were born, and with these beloved children, their royal father enjoyed worldly happiness, until the time he was recalled to Pāṭaliputta, due to the illness of his father the emperor.

. . .

Kindly requesting good Pāli readers to offer any needed corrections to my reading here (Mahābodhivaṁsa (Roman-Pāli text) on

*Noting that in some other Pāli-text chronicles such as Dīpavaṁsa and Mahāvaṁsa, Vedisa Devī is said to be the daughter of a setthi (a merchant or banker) father of Ujjain, with Ujjain being and important place of inter-state and international commerce and trade.

Postscript: Later in life, as emperor, Devānampiyadassī Dhamma-Asoka supported senior Buddhist monks (including the venerable Dhammarakkhita Thero of Greek-Yavana heritage*) travels to and teachings on Dhamma missions to western Greek territories within and beyond his expanded realm; and as we know, likewise the Dhamma mission travels and teachings of his own beloved children Sanghamittā and Mahina, together with his grandson (Saṅghamittā's son) and grand nephew (Saṅghamittā's mother's sister's grandson), to Tamrapaṇṇī, the Island of Sri Lanka.

Ashoka also claimed to have sent emissaries beyond his borders, as far as the Greek kings of the Mediterranean:

"Now it is conquest by Dhamma that Devānampiyadassi considers to be the best conquest. And that (conquest by Dhamma) has been won here, on the borders, even six hundred yojanas away, where the Greek king Antiochos rules, beyond there where the four kings named Ptolemy, Antigonos, Magas and Alexander rule, likewise in the south among the Cholas, the Pandyas, and as far as Tamrapaṇṇi (Sri Lanka)."

—Rock Edict Nb13 (S. Dhammika, edited)"

Q16. I have read that Sanghamitta Theri's age at Parinibbana was 90, but also that it was 79, why the difference? What is the correct age?

A16. I had also before read 79. But why is that? Let's see...

The extended Mahāvaṁsa chronicle clearly says that the great arahat Mahinda Thero (who arrived in Sri Lanka before the Vassa) stayed in Sri Lanka for 60 vassas before his Parinibbāna, and that Sanghamittā Therī (who arrived in Sri Lanka after the Vassa 6 months later than Mahinda Thero) stayed in Sri Lanka for 59 vassas before her Parinibbāna. "Vassa" generally means "a year," but also specifically means the annual "Rains" or monsoon season.

Mahāvamsa XX. Theraparinibbānaṁ

Passing of Arahat Mahinda

Antovassaṁ, saṭṭhivasso Cetiyapabbate vasi,

Assayujassa māsassa sukkapakkhaṭṭhame dine, [47]

Parinibbāyi so Thero nibbuto dīpavaḍḍhano.

Within the Rains Retreat, after he had dwelt sixty years (vassas) near the Cetiya mountain,

on the eighth day of the bright half of the month Assayuja,

He, that passionless Thero, Increaser of the Light, attained Parinibbāna.

Mahāvamsa XX. Theraparinibbānaṁ

Passing of Arahat Saṅghamittā

Ekūnasaṭṭhivassāni, Hatthāḷhaka-upassaye

vasantā Saṅghamittā sā, dīpo lokassa nibbutā. [67]

Within her fifty-ninth year (vassa) [the translator adds: "(after arriving)"], while residing in the Hatthāḷhaka Upassaya,

She, Sanghamittā, Light of the World, attained Parinibbāna.

. . .

The Mahāvaṁsa (as well as other Sri Lanka Pāli-text chronicles) says that Mahātherī Sanghamittā entered Buddhist monastic life (Pabbajjā and undertaking the Sikkhā) as Sikkhamānā at 18, and then she travelled to Sri Lanka more than 12 years later (at least 12 years and 5-6 months later). The Commentary adds that Sanghamittā received Bhikkhunī Upasampadā higher ordination at the age of 20, and that she attained to Arahathood shortly thereafter.

Thus we can see that at the time of her journey to Sri Lanka, the great Therī would have been aged 30 or 31. If adding 59 years in Sri Lanka to that before her Parinibbāna (as the English translator suggests), that would mean she would have been age 89 or age 90 at the time of her Parinibbāna. As she attained to Parinibbāna one week short of the end of Vassa, she would have attained to Parinibbāna during her 70th Vassa as a Bhikkhunī.

However, I think the issue is this:

Counting "vassas" since Upasampadā is used to determine seniority in Buddhist monastic life.

Someone reading the above, thinking in this way, would then say that Mahinda Thero had 60 Vassas as a bhikkhu when he passed away, which would mean that he entered Parinibbāna at age 80 (because he ordained as a bhikkhu at age 20).

Likewise, they would think that Sanghamittā Therī had 59 Vassas as a Bhikkhunī when she entered Parinibbāna, so she would be 79 years old at the time of her passing (because she ordained as a bhikkhunī at age 20).

Sanghamittā Therī was 2 years younger than Mahinda Thero, and entered Parinibbāna one 1 year after him, having completed 1 less vassa than him in Sri Lanka (59 vassas as compared to 60 vassas).

Noting however, with regards the interjected comment of the knowledgeable English translator, that at this time in ancient India, "vassa" is also used to count not only rains since ordination in Buddhist monastic life, but also years for anything, including years since birth. In Vinaya, it is taught clearly and repeatedly that a man must be 20 years old ("having completed 20 vassas, "paripuṇṇa vīsati vassa") since his conception, before he can receive Upasampadā higher ordination as a bhikkhu. Likewise, when the Mahāvaṁsa says that Mahinda Thero was age 20, or that Sanghamittā Therī was age 18, when they entered Buddhist monastic life, it is counting their vassas since conception (normally considered in Vinaya to be 10 months prior to birth).

When we look to the Dīpavaṁsa, it provides us with a clear way to answer this question (see "")

Dīpavaṁsa [The Chronicle of the Island]

XVII. [The Passing of a Generation]

"92. tato yojaniko ārāmo Tissarājena kārito.

patiṭṭhapesi mahādānaṁ mahāpelavaruttamaṁ.

cattārīsam pi vassāni rajjaṁ kāresi khattiyo ’ti. |

92. Ārāmas too (where the minor Bo branches were planted) at the distance of a yojana from each other, were made by king Tissa. He gave the great donation (which is called) the most excellent Mahāpela. This prince reigned forty years.

93. Muṭasīvassa atrajā ath’ aññe catubhātaro,

Uttiyo dasavassamhi rajjaṁ kāresi khattiyo. |

93. Then (followed his) other four brothers, the sons of Muṭasīva. Prince Uttiya reigned ten years.

94. aṭṭhavassābhisittassa nibbuto dīpajotako.

akāsi sarīranikkhepaṁ Tissārāme puratthime. |

94. Eight years after the coronation (of Uttiya), the enlightener of the island attained Nibbāna. (The king) caused the funeral ceremonies to be performed to the east of the Tissārāma.

95. paripuṇṇadvādasavasso Mahindo ca idhāgato,

saṭṭhivasse paripuṇṇe nibbuto Cetiyapabbate. |

95. When the twelfth year (after his Upasampadā) had been completed, Mahinda came hither; at the end of his sixtieth year he attained Nibbāna on the Cetiya mountain.

96. samalaṅkaritvāna puṇṇaghaṭaṁ toraṇañ ca mālagghiyaṁ

padīpā ca jalamānā nibbuto dīpajotako |

97. rājā kho Uttiyo nāma kūṭāgāraṁ varuttamaṁ

dassaneyyaṁ akāresi, pūjesi dīpajotakaṁ. |

96-97. When the enlightener of the island has attained [203] Nibbāna, king Uttiya, having ordered full vases, triumphal arches, garlands, and burning lamps to be prepared, erected a most excellent hearse which was worth seeing. (Thus) he paid reverence to the enlightener of the Island."

. . .

Dīpavaṁsa here clarifies that Mahindā Thero passed into Parinibbāna during his 48th vassa in Sri Lanka, in his 60th vassas since Upasampadā, at the age of 80.

Sanghamittā Therī likewise passed into Parinibbāna the following year during her 48th vassa in Sri Lanka, in her 59th vassa since Upasampadā, at the age of 79.

. . .

This means that those who said age 79 as the age of Parinibbāna of Sanghamittā Therī are correct.


Pāli text with English translation from question 1:

Plus, for those who wish, a link to read the Pāli text and English translation in full for yourself:

1. The venerable bhikkhunī preceptor (upajjhāyā) of Saṅghamittā Therī was the bhikkhunī Dhammapālā Therī, and that her bhikkhunī teacher (ācariyā) was the venerable bhikkhunī Ayupālā Therī.


Mahāvaṁsa Pāli (full-length)

[from V. The Third Recital] [Tatiyasaṅgīti]

[The Going-Forth of Mahinda and Saṅghamittā]

(with English translation adapted from Ancient Buddhist Texts)

"Thero tu Rājaputtassa Mahindassopanissayaṁ,

tatheva Rājadhītāya Saṅghamittāya pekkhiya, [501]

Sāsanassābhivuddhiñ-ca taṁ hetukam-apekkhiya,

paccābhāsatha Rājānaṁ so Sāsanadhurandharo: [502]

[Then] the Thera saw the supporting conditions of the King’s son Mahinda, and similarly of the King’s daughter Saṅghamittā,

and seeing the conditions for the growth of the [Buddha]Sāsana,

the one responsible for the Sāsana answered the King:

“Tādiso pi mahācāgī na dāyādo ti Sāsane,

yo hi koci, Mahārāja, āmisaṁ rāsikaṁ kare [503]

paṭhavītalato yāva Brahmalokā pi aggato

dadeyya Bhikkhusaṅghassa mahādānaṁ asesato [504]

paccayadāyako tveva vuccate Manujādhipa,

yo puttaṁ vā dhītaraṁ vā pabbajjāpeti Sāsane

so Sāsanassa dāyādo hoti, no dāyako api. [505]

“Even such a one, who is greatly generous, is not known as an heir in the Sāsana,

whoever, Great King, having amassed a heap of wealth

from the plains of the earth up to the tip of the Brahma worlds

and would give it entirely as a great donation to the Monastic Sangha

is still only known as a supporter of (material) requisites, O Ruler of Men,

(but) he who lets his son or daughter go forth (enter monastic life and ordain) in the Sāsana

is a (true) supporter of the Sāsana, as well as our (material) supporter.

Atha Sāsanadāyādabhāvam-icchaṁ Mahīpati,

Mahindaṁ Saṅghamittañ-ca ṭhite tatra apucchatha: [506]

“Pabbajissatha no, Tātā? Pabbajjā mahatī matā.”

Then the Lord of the World, wishing to gain the status of an 'Heir of the Sāsana,'

asked Mahinda and Saṅghamittā as they were standing there:

“Will you go forth, Dears? Going-forth is known as a great thing.”

Pituno vacanaṁ sutvā, Pitaraṁ te abhāsisuṁ: [507]

“Ajjeva pabbajissāma sace tvaṁ Deva-m-icchasi,

amhañ-ca lābho tuyhañ-ca pabbajjāya bhavissati.” [508]

Having heard their Father’s statement, they said this to their Father:

“Today we will go forth if Your Divine Royal Majesty wishes,

there will be gain for us and for you in our going-forth.”

Uparājassa pabbajitakālato ca pabhūti so

kumāro pakatiyā pi kāmo hoti pabbajituṁ,

sā cāpi Aggibrahmassa pabbajjā katanicchayā. [509]

Since the time of the viceroy Crown Prince (Tissa’s) going-forth

the Prince (Mahinda) had naturally desired to go forth;

and (Saṅghamittā) had been determined in her wish to go forth since the time of (her husband) Aggibrahmā’s ordination.

Uparajjaṁ Mahindassa dātukāmo pi Bhūpati,

tato pi adhikā sā ti pabbajjā yeva rocayi. [510]

Piyaṁ puttaṁ Mahindañ-ca buddhirūpabaloditaṁ,

pabbajjāpesi samahaṁ, Saṅghamittañ-ca dhītaraṁ. [511]

Although the Lord of the Earth desired to give the vice-sovereignty to Mahinda,

even more than that he was pleased with his ordaining as Buddhist monastic.

His beloved son Mahinda, who was wise, handsome and very strong,

and his daughter Saṅghamittā, he supported going forth with festivities.

Tadā vīsativasso so Mahindo Rājanandano,

Saṅghamittā Rājadhītā, aṭṭhārasasamā vayā. [512]

Tadahe va ahū tassa pabbajjā upasampadā,

pabbajjaṁ sikkhādānañ-ca tassā ca tadahū ahu. [513]

Then Mahinda, the King’s joy, was twenty years old,

and the King’s daughter, Saṅghamittā, had reached eighteen.

On the same day he [Mahinda] had the going-forth and Bhikkhu Upasampadā higher ordination,

and on that very day she [Saṅghamittā] had the going-forth and the placing in training [Sikkhamānā ordination, training in dedicated preparation for Bhikkhunī Upasampadā].

Upajjhāyo kumārassa ahu Moggali-avhayo,

pabbājesi Mahādevatthero, Majjhantiko pana [514]

kammavācaṁ akā; tasmiṁ sopasampadamaṇḍale,

Arahattaṁ Mahindo so patto, sapaṭisambhidaṁ. [515]

The prince’s Upajjhāya (preceptor) was called Moggali,

the Thera Mahādeva as the Pabbajjācariya, let him go forth, but [the Thera] Majjhantika

made the formal announcement as the Kammavācācariya [for his Bhikkhu Upasampadā]; and in the place of the higher ordination,

Mahinda attained Arahathood, together with the analytic knowledges.

Saṅghamittāyupajjhāyā Dhammapālā ti vissutā,

ācariyā Āyupālā; kāle sā pi anāsavā. [516]

Saṅghamittā’s Upajjhāyā (female preceptor) was the renowned (bhikkhunī) Dhammapālā,

her Ācariyā (female teacher) was (the bhikkhunī) Āyupālā; and at that time she also became pollutant-free (attained to Arahathood).

Ubho Sāsanapajjotā Laṅkādīpopakārino

chaṭṭhe vasse pabbajiṁsu Dhammāsokassa Rājino. [517]

Both these Lights of the Sāsana, the Luminary Benefactors of the Island of Laṅkā,

entered Buddhist monastic life and ordained six years after King Dhammāsoka (came to the throne)."

Likewise in the Thūpavaṃsa Pāli chapter Caturāsīti sahassa thūpakathā "Chapter on the 84,000 Stupas" we find (Text on


"Saṅghamittāyapi rājadhītāya ācariyā āyupālattheri nāma, upajjhāyā pana dhammapālattherī nāma ahosi."

"Royal daughter Sanghamittā also [entered Buddhist monastic life and ordained as did her elder brother Mahinda]; her ordination Ācariyā [was the bhikkhunī teacher] named Āyupālā Therī, and her ordination Upajjhāyā [was the bhikkhunī preceptor] named Dhammapālā Therī."

There are many more such records in the Sri Lankan Pāli-text chronicles - this is just one example. I will let you know if i find anything different!


Further with regards to Q2, and Saṅghamittā Therī's being age 18 when entering Buddhist monastic life

Reading and comparing the Dīpavaṁsa here with our earlier reading of the extended Mahāvaṁsa, we note with interest both gender specific inclusive language, as well as the gender inclusive use of masculine plurals, in the Pāli here:

- at v 19 "ubho puttā" used to describe both children

- at v 22 "ubho pabbajitā pajā" both his progeny ordained

- at v 33 "kumārā pabbajitā" the royal children ordained

- at v 33 "ubho therā ca nibbutā" both Elders attained Nibbāna

Pāli from and English translation based on the text here on Ancient Buddhist Texts.

17. Yassa puttaṁ vā dhītaraṁ vā urasmiñ jātam anvayaṁ

pabbājesi cajetvāna so ve dāyādo sāsane. | [51]

17. That person who gives up their son or daughter, the issue of their body, and causes them to receive the Pabbajjā ordination, becomes a true "Heir of the Sāsana.”

18. Sutvāna vacanaṁ rājā Asokadhammo mahīpati

Mahindakumāraṁ puttaṁ Saṅghamittañ ca dhītaraṁ |

19. Ubho amantayi rājā: dāyādo homi sāsane.

sutvāna pituno vākyaṁ ubho puttādhivāsayuṁ: |

18-19. King [156] Asokadhamma, the ruler of the earth, having heard this speech, addressed both prince Mahinda, his son, and his daughter Saṅghamittā: “I presently shall be an 'Heir of the Sāsana'.” Both children hearing what their father had said, agreed, (saying:) –

20. Suṭṭhu deva sampaṭicchāma karoma vacanaṁ tava,

pabbājehi ca no khippaṁ, dāyādo hohi sāsane. |

20. “Well, Your Divine Majesty, we agree, we will do what you have said; make us quickly receive the Pabbajjā ordination, become an Heir of the Sāsana.”

21. Paripuṇṇavīsativasso Mahindo Asokatrajo

Saṅghamittā ca jātiyā vassaṁ aṭṭhārasaṁ bhave. |

21. Mahinda, Asoka’s offspring, had fully completed twenty years,

and Saṅghamittā had become eighteen years of age since birth.

22. Chavassamhi Asokassa ubho pabbajitā pajā,

tath’ eva upasampanno Mahindo dīpajotako, |

22. When Asoka had completed six years, both his children received the Pabbajjā ordination, and Mahinda, the enlightener of the Island, received at once the Upasampadā ordination; –

23. Saṅghamittā tadā yeva sikkhāyo ’va samādiyi.

23. at the same time Saṅghamittā undertook the Sikkha[mānā] training precepts.


33. Ime kumārā pabbajitā ubho therā ca nibbutā. | [52]

33. Those royal children received the Pabbajjā ordination, and both Theras attained Nibbāna.


"Sujanappasādasaṁvegatthāya kate"

"Written for the inspiration and encouragement of good people" — Mahāvaṁsa

I offer this post as Sanghadana for the knowledge, encouragement and happiness of the faithful, and those with inquiring minds.

Anumodana with many thanks to Dhammadharini and its HerStory vision and mission, which offers the practical support for my work in research, education and raising awareness with high regards to our ancient great women in Buddhism.

May all beings be happy sharing in the merits we have made, and may seeing this image and reading these words be conducive and supportive to their own enlightenment path, insight, and awakening ~ for our long-term benefit and the happiness it gives us. Sādhu sādhu sādhu, with anumodana to all who have shared and passed down this edifying knowledge and wisdom.


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