mahapajapati Gotami was the younger sister of mahamaya or maya the mother of prince Siddhartha, When Maya died mahapajapati Gotami bacame the step-mother to nfant Siddhartha, She even paid more attention to him tan to her own son nanda, lest the orphan infant prince would feel the absence of his mother. She fed and nursed Siddhartha with love and tender care. Siddhartha, too, was extremely attached to her.

She, with king Suddhaodana, did everything possible to make Siddhartha’s life happy. When Siddhartha left household-life, she lamented very much. Since then she devoted all her time to look after the rest of the family, her husband, her son, and also yasodhara and Rahula. later when nanda and Rahula became nonks, she felt extremely sad and lonely. With the death of Suddhaodana the last strong bond that kept her bound to household-life snapped. She had no more reason to remain in the household. She waited for an opportunity to meet the Buddha and obtain his permission for ordination.

This opportunity came when the Buddha visited kapilavatthu to settle the dispute between Sakkyans and neighboring kolliyasn as to the right to use water form river Rohini. On this occasion mahapajapati Gotami led a deputation of a large number of women whose husbands had become monks,. and requested the Buddha to grant them permission to be ordained as bhikkhunis. But the Buddha refused permission thinking that it would create problems in the Buddhst community.

However, Mahapajapati Gotami and her followers did not given up hope, They got barbers to cut off their hair; dressed themselves in yellow robes and went on foot to Vesali, where the Buddha was. Walking along the rough, gravel road under the heat of the scorching sun their feet were covered with dust and were full of blisters.

Once again Mahapajapati Gotami pleaded with the Buddha for permission to be a bhikkhuni. The Buddha however, refused permission again. The she approached Venerable Ananda and informed him of their plight. he intervened on their behalf and spoke to the Buddha on three occasions, and on all three occasions he refused to grant permission. Then Venerable Ananda Decided to change his approach.

He very very reverntially asked the buddha whether the women are capable of understanding the Truth. The buddha said that they are quite capable. Venerable Ananda seized this opportunity and asked the Buddha, if that is so why not they be permitted to become bhikkhunis. The Buddha agreed with Venerable Ananda and granted them permission to become bhikkhunis subject to eight important conditions.

Mahapajapati Gotami became the first bhikkhuni. She was followed by many others including Yasodhara. And Within a very shot period the community of bhikkhunis increased in number, and among them were very illustrious bhikkhunis such as Kheme, Uppalavanna and Dhammadinna.