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Saṅghamittā Therī

Daughter of Asoka and sister of Mahinda.

She was born in Ujjeni and was married to Aggibrahmā — who later joined the Order — and had by him a son, Sumana. She was ordained in her eighteenth year together with Mahinda, her preceptor being Dhammapālā and her teacher Ayupālā. (Mhv.v.190‑208; xiii.4, 11; DPv.vi.17; vii.18, 19; xv.77, 90; xvii.20; xviii.11, 25; Sp.i.51).

After her ordination and attainment of Arahantship she lived in Pāṭaliputta, and, when Anulā and other women of Devānampiyatissa’s court at Anurādhapura wished to enter the Order, Devānampiyatissa, at Mahinda’s suggestion, sent an embassy, led by Ariṭṭha, to Asoka, asking that Saṅghamittā might be sent to Sri Lanka, and with her a branch of the Bodhi tree for Anurādhapura. Asoka granted the request, and sent Saṅghamittā, by sea, with eleven other nuns, carrying a branch of the Bodhi tree. On the way, when Nāgā surrounded the Bodhi tree, Saṅghamittā frightened them away by assuming the form of a Garuḷa. She landed at Jambukola, and, after her arrival at Anurādhapura, ordained Anulā and her companions. She lived at the Upāsikā-vihāra, and had twelve buildings erected there for the use of the nuns. Later, the king built for her the Hatthāḷhaka-vihāra.

She died at the age of fifty-nine, in the ninth year of the reign of King Uttiya, and celebrations, lasting one whole week, were held in her honour throughout Sri Lanka. Her body was cremated to the east of the Thūpārāma near the (later) Cittasālā, in sight of the Bodhi tree, on a spot indicated by the Therī herself before her death. Uttiya had a thūpa erected over her ashes. Mhv.xviii.13 f; xix.5, 20, 53, 65, 68 ff., 83 f; xx.48 ff; Sp.i.90 f.

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