<Previous Section>
<Next Section>


寶賢。本姓陳。陳郡人也。十六丁母憂。三年不食穀。以葛芋自資。不衣繒纊不坐床席。 十九出家住建安寺。操行精修博通禪律。宋文皇帝深加禮遇供以衣食。及孝武雅相敬待。月給錢一萬。明帝即位賞接彌崇。以泰始元年敕為普賢寺主。二年又敕為都邑僧正。甚有威風明斷如神。善論物理屈抂必釋。秉性剛直無所傾撓。初晉興平中淨檢尼。 是比丘尼之始也。初受具戒指從大僧。影福寺惠果淨音等。以諮求那跋摩。求那跋摩云。 國土無二眾。但從大僧受得具戒。

惠果等後遇外國鐵薩羅尼等至。以元嘉十一年。從僧伽跋摩於南林寺壇重受具戒。非謂先受不得。謂是增長戒善耳。後諸好異者。盛相傳習典制稍虧。元徽二年法律穎師。於晉興寺開十誦律。潁其日有十餘尼。因下講欲重受戒。賢乃遣僧局齎命到講座。鳴木宣令諸尼。 不得輒復重受戒。若年歲審未滿者。請人監檢方得受耳。若有違拒即加擯斥。 因茲已後矯競暫息。在任清簡。才兼事義。安眾惠下。蕭然寡欲。世益高之。年七十七。昇明元年卒也

2.21 (Tsai no.34) Pao-hsien

The nun Pao-hsien (Precious Virtue) (401-477) of Universal Wisdom Convent

Pao-hsien's secular surname was Ch'en, and her family was originally from Ch'en Commandery [in the Huai River valley, some distance to the northwest of the Sung capital].

At age 16 Pao-hsien went into mourning for her mother who had died. For three years she did not eat any cereals but sustained herself instead on arrowroot and taro; neither did she wear decorated silks nor use a bed or sitting mat during the mourning period.

Leaving the household life at age 19, Pao-hsien took up residence in Establishing Peace Convent. With pure conduct and vigorous application she thoroughly mastered both meditation and the monastic observance.

Emperor Wen of the Sung dynasty (407-424-453) treated her with reverend courtesy, presenting her with gifts of clothing and food. Emperor Hsiao-wu (430-454-464) also treated her with great respect, giving her ten thousand in cash every month. When Emperor Ming (439-465-472) ascended the throne he gave her the honor of receiving her, treating her with exceeding respect. In the first year of the t'ai-shih reign period (465), he named her by imperial appointment to serve as the abbess of Universal Wisdom Convent. In the second year (466), he issued another decree making her the rector of the assembly in the capital. In this capacity she was imposing and majestic, making decisions with divine insight. She was good at discussing the principles of things and was able to set errors aright. She was morally upright in character; nothing could deflect her from the proper course.

Previously, during the sheng-p'ing reign period (357-361) of the Eastern Chin dynasty, the nun Ching-chien (no. 1) was the first Chinese Buddhist nun. That first reception, by women, of the monastic obligation, was from the Assembly of Monks only. Later the nuns Hui-kuo (no. 14), Ching-yin and others of Luminous Blessings Convent consulted [the central Asian missionary monk] Gunavarman about the situation.

He said, "China did not have both the Assembly of Monks and the Assembly of Nuns, so the women accepted the full monastic obligation from the Assembly of Monks only."

Later, the nun Hui-kuo and the other nuns met the foreign nun Tessara and her companions when they arrived in China. In the eleventh year of the yüan-chia reign period (434) [of the Sung dynasty], the [Chinese nuns] once again received the full monastic obligation from the Indian missionary monk Sanghavarman on the ceremonial platform at Southern Grove Monastery, and this time both the Assembly of Monks and the Assembly of Nuns [comprising the women from Sri Lanka] were present. [Thus the lineage and tradition of the monastic obligation for women from the time of the Buddha's stepmother had finally been properly transmitted to China.] [Gunavarman] had not said that the first transmission to China, from the Assembly of Monks only, was invalid. He had said, rather, that the second transmission [that included the Assembly of Nuns] was augmenting the good value of the obligation that had already been received.

[After this second transmission of the monastic rules, however] those who were fond of unorthodox practices handed them on widely and repeatedly, causing the orthodox norms gradually to disappear. In the second year of the yüan-hui reign period (474), an expert in the study of the monastic rules, the Master of Monastic Rules Fa-ying (416-482), delivered a lecture on The Sarvāstivāda Monastic Rules in Ten Recitations at Prospering of Chin Monastery. On the day of the lecture there were ten-some nuns who, after the lecture, wished to receive again the obligation to observe the monastic rules. Pao-hsien then sent someone from the office of rector of assembly to present her orders to the lecture hall. The envoy sounded the gavel and issued the order to all the nuns that they were not at that time to receive the obligations again. If on examination it was found that any nun was not of sufficient age, the instructors had first to bring together the Assembly of Nuns, and after public confession of this fact they were to report to the office of the assembly. If the office approved, it would request someone to investigate to see whether the nuns were suitable candidates, and only then could they receive the obligation a second time. Anyone who opposed this plan would be subject to expulsion. On account of Pao-hsien's decisive action in this matter, quarrels came to an end, and the rest of her tenure in the office of rector was without untoward incident.

With great skill Pao-hsien brought matters into conformity with the spirit of the monastic life; she pacified all elements in the assembly. Detached from wordly affairs and having few desires, she was increasingly esteemed by the world. She was seventy-seven when she died in the first year of the sheng-ming reign period (477).

<Previous Section>
<Next Section>
IATHPublished by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia