Wat Phra Chetupon Vimolmangalaram Rajwaramahaviharn
Vasa Vara Jetavana Vimalamangala Arama Raja Maha Vihara
The Foremost Women Disciples of the Buddha wall mural painting is behind the reclining Buddha image in the Hall of the Reclining Buddha at the famous Wat Pho in Bangkok. (You can see it behind the Buddha's head here.) The great wall mural is composed of a coordinated series of excellent paintings illustrating the life stories of the Thirteen Foremost Bhikkhuni Disciples of the Buddha -- the Etadagga Bhikkhuni Savaka -- and the Ten Foremost Laywomen Disciples of the Buddha -- Etadagga Upasika Savaka-- as recorded in the Tipitaka of the Pali Texts.
"Royal Visit". This part of the great wall mural shows a bhikkhuni monastery or "upassaya" (lit "refuge" or "sanctuary") with bhikkhunis inside and a bhikkhuni welcoming the queen who has come with her ladies in waiting bearing gifts. This shows the days before European jackets and shirts became popular in tropical Asian countries! At that time male and female royalty would often wear vestiments of bands of jewels on their chests, while other folks might wear strips of cloth around their chests and one shoulder. The Thai people used short hair for both men and women then, like the ancient Kambojans. According to the decorations on the gateway, it looks like this monastery is depicted as one with royal patronage.
"Ubhato Sangha". Another photo from the Foremost Women Disciples of the Buddha mural in the Hall of the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho in Bangkok. This one shows the Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni Sangha gathered to share blessings together with the queen making a ceremonial offering. In the Dakkhinavibhanga Sutta, the Buddha says that offerings to the Ubhato Sangha -the Dual Sangha- are of the greatest merit, even greater than to the Buddha himself alone. This is a link to the Dakkhina Vibhanga Sutta -- the Exposition on Offerings -- Majjhima Nikaya 142 as translated by Sr Uppalavanna: http://tipitaka.wikia.com/wiki/Dakkhinavibhanga_Sutta.
Photograph of the 'Borisat-si' - Fourfold Assembly of the Buddha wall mural behind the great reclining Buddha image in the Hall of the Reclining Buddha (Viharn Phranon) at Wat Pho (Ayutthayan Period Monastery Wat Bodharam) in Bangkok. Restored by King Rama III and his son Prince Laddawan.
The degree to which the existence of the Bhikkhuni Sangha is an integral requirement for the welfare of the Buddha Sasana and for its stability is highlighted in a teaching of the Buddha's in the Samyutta Nikaya. This teaching points out that for ensuring the healthy and long duration of the Dhamma and for preventing its disappearance, all four assemblies, including the bhikkhunis, should live with respect towards the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha, the Discipline and the development of Samadhi. This passage thus treats the existence of bhikkhunis, and of all four assemblies practicing well, as an integral requirement for the welfare and stability of the Buddha Sasana
[SN 16.13 at SN II 225,8: bhikkhu bhikkhuniyo upasaka upasikayo satthari ... dhamme ... sa ghe ... sikkhaya ...samadhismi sagarava viharanti sappaissa. Ime kho ... pañca dhamma saddhammassa hitiya asammosaya anantaradhanaya sa vattanti.]
To learn more about the Fourfold Assemby of the Buddha aka the Fourfold Sangha see Dignity and Discipline pg 65 - click on the link here.
"The Foremost Teacher". The photo is of painting of the Buddha's bhikkhuni disciple Foremost in Dhamma Teaching - Arahant Theri Dhammadinna Bhikkhuni.
This part of the great mural painting shows the venerable Dhammadinna at her kuti privately and personally speaking with a laywoman. It is said that some women seem to learn better from women, and some from men; and this may vary during one's lifetime. The same holds true for men. It is very important for women to have shining examples, paragons of virtue and enlightened knowledge, together with the experiencial knowledge and compassion of having lived as a woman in this world. This is one of the great blessings and brilliances of the Fourfold Assembly of the Buddha; everyone has someone in their own category -- the category of life that they identify with -- to serve as an enlightened example and guide.
The Venerable Dhammadinna's teaching is uniquely distinguished amongst the bhikkhunis as praised by the Buddha as "Buddhavacana" or the "Buddha's Words". You can find her excellent teaching on the subject of the origin, cessation and the way leading to the cessation of sakkaya - self - personality or identity views in the Culavedalla Sutta, no 44 of the Majjhima Nikaya - the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: MN 44: Culavedalla Sutta: http://dhammaweb.net/Tipit
"One should be eager, determinate, mind suffused with awareness.
One whose thought is not attached to sensual pleasures
is called 'she who goes upstream'."
This is the venerable Dhammadinna Theri's single gatha - her single verse of advice directed to her fellow women - that remains to us in the Therigatha (v12) to this day.