STORY 15 -THE NAME ‘PATACARA BHIKKHUNI HERMITAGE’
by Ayya Seri Bhikkhuni
Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni Theri was always simple, precise, straight to the point and elegant with her choices of words. She gave the name ‘Dhammasara’ to the Nuns Monastery, ‘Jhana Grove’ to the Meditation Retreat Centre and ‘Patacara’ to the Bhikkhuni Hermitage.
‘Patacara’ is such an appropriate name for the Bhikkhuni Hermitage. Venerable Patacara Bhikkhuni was an enlightened nun during the Buddha’s time. She was foremost in Vinaya amongst the nuns, and a great teacher.
It was a fitting choice of name for our Hermitage. Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni Theri was an excellent teacher. At that time, I just finished memorizing the Bhikkhuni Patimokha and recited the Patimokha for the first time from memory in September 2010. I was also very interested in the Vinaya. Most importantly, Venerable Patacara Bhikkhuni represented our inspiration and aspiration to practice for enlightenment, Nibbana.
Another very interesting coincidence at that time, October 2010, was that Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni Theri had received her diagnosis of cerebellum dystrophy – a degenerative neurological condition. We had just left Dhammasara Nuns Monastery and were staying at my Grandma’s house for 5 months while Grandma was away on holiday.
Ayya Vayama Bhikkhuni Theri and I had no certainty of a roof under our head, had minimum support and an unfavorable medical diagnosis. I felt like everything was crumbling down around us and the ground had been pulled away from us. This was very similar to Venerable Patacara Bhikkhuni’s predicament.
Venerable Patacara Bhikkhuni lost her husband, her young son and a newborn son in a storm in just one day. When she returned to her hometown to take refuge in her family, she found her parents and brother were killed in a house fire just one day before she arrived. She lost her mind with her misfortunes. Venerable Patacara Bhikkhuni met the Buddha and the Buddha opened her eyes to see the Dhamma. She practiced the Dhamma and became fully enlightened.
Ploughing the field with their ploughs,
Sowing seeds upon the ground,
Maintaining their wives and children,
Young men acquire wealth.
Then why, when I am pure in virtue,
Practising the Master’s Teaching,
Have I not attained Nibbana –
For I am not lazy, nor puffed up?
Having washed my feet,
I reflected upon the waters,
when I saw the foot water flow,
from the high ground down the slope,
my mind became concentrated
like an excellent thoroughbred steed.
Having taken a lamp, I entered my cell,
I inspected the bed and sat down on the couch.
Then, having taken a needle,
I pulled down the wick,
The liberation of the mind
was like the quenching of the lamp.
(Thig. 112-16 by Venerable Arahat Bhikkhuni Patacara)