Buduruvagala Stone Sculptures

Seven statues sculptured on relief on one gigantic rock in the 9th -10th c A.D. The 51 foot high Buddha is in the centre and is flanked by three smaller statues on either side. Photo ©Chulie de Silva circa 2000.

Seven relief sculptures on one gigantic rock in the 9th -10th c A.D. The 13 m. high Buddha is in the centre and is flanked by three smaller statues on either side. Photo ©Chulie de Silva circa 2000.

The photos of Buduruvāgala (also spelt Buduruwagala) taken nearly two decades ago tumbled out of a shoe box of old letters and cards I was rummaging in.  With it came the memories of that journey to see Buddha’s rock with the remarkable Mahayana sculptures in Sri Lanka. We were holidaying in Ella. A last ditch effort on my part to rekindle the old romance. That was a lost cause but we did drive from Ella, turning South at Wellawaya to see this colossus of Buduruwagala.

The land was parched dry, spent and desolate, like an aged wrinkled parched man waiting for a drink. We walked on foot, the last stretch, in blistering heat with little respite. No throngs of tourists. This was late 1990s, and with us were just a couple of local visitors. We didn’t talk much, but that was par for the course where the marriage was.

Buduruvāgala  means the rock with the Buddha images and is a composite of the words Buddha=Budu; Ruva=images and Gala=rock. The gigantic rock when it came into view was at first glimpse so surreal in the barren landscape. I remembered the descriptions of the rock comparing it to a huge elephant reposing, bowing and paying homage to the seven statues sculptured in to it.

My search for more information, unearthed some interesting facts. This is Sri Lanka’s finest example of Mahayana sculpture and is dated around 9th -10th c A.D., and it was possibly a site for a monastery. The statues and the writings on it indicated that the worship and practice of Mahayana Buddhism was more widespread in Lanka than I first thought. Mahayana influence began  to take hold in Sri Lanka around the 7 Century, and reached its zenith during the rule of King Mahasen (A.D. 276-303) says Janaka Perera in an article The Impact of Mahayana Buddhism on Sri Lanka “By the 7th and 8th Centuries the centres of Mahayana practices were the Abhayagiri and Jethawana monasteries (which also includes the country’s largest stupa) complexes in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka’s ancient capital.”

The imposing central Buddha image is the tallest in Sri Lanka and is 13 m. in height and is sid to be of Dipankara Buddha and not Gautama Buddha as I assumed earlier. The Buddha is said to be in the Samabhanga posture and the right hand is held in the Abhaya Mudra position.  This could very well be the tallest stone sculpture of a Buddha, now that the Bamiyan statues are no more.

The six carved statues on either side are all of bodhisattvas. In very simple terms bodhisattvas are ones who aspires to be a Buddha. Mahāyāna Buddhism encourages everyone to become bodhisattvas and to take the bodhisattva vows.

On the right of the main Buddha statue are statues of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva in the centre, a bare breasted Goddess Tara to his left and Prince Sudhanakumara to his right.

On the right of the Standing Buddha image are the sculptures attributed to be of 3 Bodhisatvas Left: Sudhanakumara (height 6.530m) Center: Avalokitesvara (height 7.160m) and Tara (height 5.980m) .Buduruwagala stone sculptures, Wellawaya, Sri Lanka. circa 2000. Photo©Chulie de Silva

On the right of the Standing Buddha image are the statues of 3 bodhisatvas Left: Sudhanakumara (height 6.530m) Center: Avalokitesvara (height 7.160m) and Tara (height 5.980m) .Buduruvāgala stone sculptures, Wellawaya, Sri Lanka. circa 2000. Photo©Chulie de Silva

Avalokiteshvara (height 7.160m) is the bodhisattva of compassion. He has eyes that are half closed, long ear lobes, wears a cloth round his waist (dhoti), and his matted hair crown holds an effigy of Amitabha. His hands are in the ahvana mudra  (gesture of calling) position. The male figure on the right of Avalokiteshvara, is supposed to be of Prince Sudhanakumara. He too has a matted hair crown and holds a book in his right hand and his left hand is in the ahvana mudra position too. On the left of  Avalokiteshvara, is the only female bodhisattva of the group and is identified as Tara. This statue standing at 5.980m., is probably the largest statue of Tara found in Sri Lanka. She is portrayed here in the Tribhaṅga or Tribunga posture –  a tri-bent body position in the traditional Indian sculpture.  She also has a matted hair crown and holds a water pot in her lowered left hand and her right hand is in the ahvana mudra position.

There are three more male bodhisattva sculptures to the left of the central Dipankara Buddha statue. The central bodhisattva is attributed to be Maitreya ( the next Buddha according to Theravadha Buddhism) and is 7.3 m in height. His eyes are half closed, he wears a necklace and his hands too are in the ahvana mudra position. The 6.17 m. statue on the right hand side of Maitreya with both hands in the ahvana mudra position is supposed to be an unidentified variation of Avalokiteshvara.  The figure on the left of Maitreya holding a vertical vajra in the right hand uplifted in kartari mudra position with the left hand in the ahvana mudra  position and is identified as Vajrapani (Vajra-bearer height 6.4m).

The statues to the right of the main Buddha statue and on the left are the sculptures of Maitree Bodhisatva, in the centre, Vajrapani Bodhisatva and an unidentifiable deity. Buduruwagala stone sculptures, Wellawaya, Sri Lanka. circa 2000. Photo©Chulie de Silva

The statues to the left of the main Buddha statue are the sculptures of Maitree Bodhisatva, in the centre, Vajrapani Bodhisatva and an unidentifiable deity. Buduruwaāagala stone sculptures, Wellawaya, Sri Lanka. circa 2000. Photo©Chulie de Silva

The descriptions and identification of the statues are from a paper by Mahinda Degalle titled Buddha’s Rock – Mahayana Legacy at Buduruvagala.

Deegalle states that identification problems have risen in two statues — Sudhankumara on the right hand group and Maitreya on the left hand group.Both are also identified, variously, as Manjusri.

Janaka Perera’s article The Impact of Mahayana Buddhism on Sri Lanka  states that “By the 10th Century, pillars of a temple within the precincts of the Thuparama were identified as tridents (vajra), similar to the dorja or thunderbolt of Tibet which is usually held by Mahayana Bodhisattvas (A.M. Hocart, ‘Archaeological Summary).” He also states that many practices such as the 7th day almsgiving for a dead relative to transfer to him/her merit gained by giving alms to the Sangha stems from the belief in gandhabba – a state of mind that exists between the death and rebirth of a being.  It is widely accepted that the idea of gandhabba spread in Sri Lanka via Mahayana sects that emerged during the Anuradhapura period of Sri Lanka’s history.

Further, he quotes Sri Lanka’s former Archaeology Commissioner Dr. Raja De Silva in his scholarly assessment of Sri Lanka’s World Heritage site Sigiriya. De Silva states that King Kassapa I (478-496) who figures prominently in the history of the famous rock was a follower of Abhayagiri monks and that available evidence reveals a strong possibility that the site was a Mahayana monastery. He also identifies the famous Sigiriya frescoes  of Tara – the consort of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Sigiriya and its Significance /Digging into the Past).

See also my post of the Sri Lankan Gilded Tara statue at the British Museum

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Meeting Ananga, the God of Love at the Telwatte Temple

There are about three stories jostling in my mind, each one wanting to be the first on the blog for 2015. Not quite good to have my own thoughts hustling to win like the politicians. Cut to the chase, the decision is to leave the sadness of 2014 behind, embrace the new and do a happy post. Post tsunami 10th anniversary almsgiving, I went wandering with my new love, my Nikon camera. First stop was to meet Ananga, a.k.a. Kamadeva, son of Vishnu and Laxmi . His wife is Rati but he lives alone at this abode — the Purana Totagama Raja Maha Viharaya in Telwatte, Hikkaduwa.. He and Rati were favourites of my father and a number of other writers. Ananga is the god of sexual love, like Eros of the Greeks and Cupid of the Romans.

Statue of Anangaya at Purana Thotagama Temple, Telwatte, Hikkaduwa. 26 Dec. 2014. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

Statue of Anangaya at Purana Thotagama Temple, Telwatte, Hikkaduwa. 26 Dec. 2014. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am not sure, what he is doing or supposed to be doing standing larger than life size at the entrance to the shrine room of the temple but there he is, holding a sugar cane bow in his left hand and a sheaf of arrows in the right.

While our giant neighbhour, India, widely worshipped Ananga there are not many references to for the prevalence of this cult in Sri Lanka. In fact, as far as I know this is the only statue of Ananga in Lanka. He has a variety of names .  e,g. Kandapa, Naranga, Malkehella, Madana, Malsara, Makaradvaja and Kama.

Buddha Statue inner shrine, Purana Thotagama Raja Maha Viharaya, Telwatte, Hikkaduwa. 27 Dec. 2014. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

Buddha Statue inner shrine room or Viharage, Purana Thotagama Raja Maha Viharaya, Telwatte, Hikkaduwa. 27 Dec. 2014. Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

In the inner shrine room, facing the huge reclining Buddha, is another giant standing statue, of God Vishnu, father of Ananga.  There is not enough room for me to back up to take the photo, but I do manage to capture some of the majestic stance of God Vishnu.

Statue of God Vishnu at Purana Thotagama Temple, Telwatte, Hikkaduwa. 26 Dec. 2014 . Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

Statue of God Vishnu at  Thotagama Raja Maha Viharaya Temple, Telwatte, Hikkaduwa. 26 Dec. 2014 . Photo copyright Chulie de Silva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vishnu is also known as Narayana, and  Upulvan (blue lotus colour), is represented as a black or deep blue man — sometimes with four arms,  club in one, a shell in another, a discuss in the third, and a lotus in the fourth. His vehicle is the bird Garuda. He is the guardian God of Buddhism.

To the left of the Ananga statue is another colossal statue of God Natha (Avalokiteshwara), surrounded by murals. Two guardian lions stand on either side of the God.

Statue of God Natha at Purana Thotagama Temple, Telwatte, Hikkaduwa. 26 Dec. 2014. Photo Copyright Chulie de Silva

The statue of God Natha ) at Thotagama Temple, Telwatte, Hikkaduwa. 26 Dec. 2014. Photo Copyright Chulie de Silva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aryapala in his  Book on Society in Medieval Ceylon, quotes Senarath Paranavitane ad states that there was an inscription containing invocations to Tara and Avalokiteshvara, affording evidence that Mahayana Gods and goddesses were objects of popular worship.

The Guard (Doratupalaya) to the right of the God Natha, with the guardian lion. Purana Totagama Raja Maha Viharaya, Telwatte, Hikkaduwa. 26 Dec. 2014. Copyright Chulie de Silva

The Guard (Doratupalaya) to the right of the God Natha, with the guardian lion.  Totagama Raja Maha Viharaya, Telwatte, Hikkaduwa. 26 Dec. 2014. Copyright Chulie de Silva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manjusri dates the Telwatte Purana Viharaya as 1799. The inscription n the doorway dates this “Aluth Viharage” pintings and sculpture to 1805, but despite this Senake Bandaranayake says these are much more likely to be of mid-century vintage.

Inscription above the door to the shrine room. Purana Totgama Raja Maha Viharaya, Telwatte, Hikkaduwa. 26 Dec. 2014. Copyright Chulie de Silva

Inscription above the door to the shrine room. Purana Totgama Raja Maha Viharaya, Telwatte, Hikkaduwa. 26 Dec. 2014. Copyright Chulie de Silva

Many who visit the temple have little idea of the historical value of the statues or the frescoes, let alone the names of the gods in the statues. For them its a temple in the village that they come to worship.

An elderly woman worships at the Purana Totgama Raja Maha Viharaya, Telwatte, Hikkaduwa. Copyright Chulie de Silva

An elderly woman worships at the Purana Totgama Raja Maha Viharaya, Telwatte, Hikkaduwa. Copyright Chulie de Silva

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This lady had no answers for her grandson when he asked for the names of the Gods. It is difficult to account for the presence of Ananga in the temple says Ariyapala adding that “It may have been a warning to the lay-devotees against indulgence in sexual pleasures.” Whatever the reason for building the statue, its a part of our heritage that will be lost as there is no visible plans to save them. Learning to accept impermanence and decay is an essential requirement of Buddhism. Maybe we have lessons to learn.

Frescoes on the wall to the left side of the Ananga statue. Purana Totgama Raja Maha Viharaya; 26 Dec. 2015. Copyright Chulie de Silva

Frescoes on the wall to the left side of the Ananga statue. Purana Totgama Raja Maha Viharaya; 26 Dec. 2015. Copyright Chulie de Silva

The Mystique of Gal Viharaya, Polonnaruwa

At six a.m.  I set off for my fifth visit to the Gal Vihara. … like a pilgrim to Nirvana the jungle still dark but with shafts of dawn now appearing. The head of the standing figure — which I like to believe represents Ananda — was haloed with the first light , while the Master was in deepest shadow. The anguish on the face of the disciple seemed more delineated as he stood protectively over the reclining figure. Little scrappy dogs of all colours kept guard, and I was alone on this great plateau of gneiss,” so wrote Roloff Beny, a passage from his diary quoted in his most prized book in my collection “Island Ceylon.”

The standing statue Gal viharaya, Polonnauwa. AD 1153-86. One of the four great  medieval statues supposed to be of Buddha sculptured from a streaked granite rock during the reign of Parakramabahu the Great. The statue was earlier thought t be of Buddha's disciple Ananda. 12 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The standing statue Gal viharaya, Polonnauwa. AD 1153-86. One of the four great medieval statues supposed to be of Buddha sculptured from a streaked granite rock during the reign of Parakramabahu the Great. The statue was earlier thought to be of Buddha’s disciple Ananda. 12 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

Beny, a charismatic reputed photographer uses a blue suffused surreal Gal Vihara image with the standing and reclining statues on the cover of his book.  “No words can adequately describe the feeling of exaltation that I experienced when the spirit of the Island took possession of me,” he says. On his diary notes he asks “How many times down the centuries had the dawn touched the sorrowing face and gradually painted the rippling robes of the Buddha and brought to life the dying features?

The standing Buddha is considered to be of the finest of sculptures and is 22 feet 9 inches (6.93 m) tall. “The expression is clear and precise, while utterly transcending the limits of spatial and temporal experience,” says Beny adding that “the statue recalls Greek modelling of the sixth century BC.”

Some like Beny are of the opinion that this statue is that of Ananda Maha Thera but Dr. S. Paranavitana identifies it as that of Lord Buddha in the attitude described as Para dukkha dukkhita – “He who sorrows for the sorrows of others”.

The reclining Parinirvana statue of Buddha, Gal viharaya, Polonnauwa . AD 1153-86. One of the four great  medieval statues supposed to be of Buddha sculptured from a streaked granite rock during the Parakramabahu the Great. 12 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The reclining Parinirvana statue of Buddha, Gal viharaya, Polonnauwa . AD 1153-86. One of the four great medieval statues supposed to be of Buddha sculptured from a streaked granite rock during the Parakramabahu the Great. 12 March 2005. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The reclining image is 46 feet 4 inches (14.12 m) in length, and is the biggest statue in Gal Vihara,and is also supposed to be one of the largest sculptures in Southeast Asia.

The colour and texture of the rock with the banded striations gives an extraordinary effect almost differentiating the textures between clothing and skin. The carving on the pillow is beautifully executed too, with indentations which looks like the crushing of a pillow, with the weight of the head. The pillow has the wheel or chakra, the symbol, which is also found on the underside of the soles of the feet of the reclining Buddha. The slight drawing back of the upper foot in this statue is an indication that this is his withdrawal into parinirvana.

The reclining Parinirvana statue of Buddha, Gal viharaya, Polonnauwa . AD 1153-86. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The reclining Parinirvana statue of Buddha, Gal viharaya, Polonnauwa . AD 1153-86. Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The wheel – chakra – in Buddhist art symbolizes  Buddha as the one who in his first  sermon at Saranath, set the wheels of Dhamma in motion — Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta: Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion. His subsequent discourses at Rajgir and Shravasti are known as the “second and third turnings of the wheel of dharma.” The eight spokes of the wheel symbolize the Noble Eightfold Path set out by the Buddha in his teachings.

The wheel also represents the endless cycle of samsara, or rebirth, which can only be escaped by means of the Buddha’s teachings. And some Buddhists regard the the wheel’s three basic parts as symbols of the “three trainings” in Buddhist practice: The hub symbolizes moral discipline, which stabilizes the mind. The spokes (usually there are eight) represent wisdom which is applied to defeat ignorance. The rim represents training in concentration, which holds everything else together.

The  Gal viharaya, compound Polonnauwa. AD 1153-86, once the "Uttararama" or Northern Monastery  built by King Parakramabahu the Great Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The Gal viharaya, compound Polonnauwa. AD 1153-86, once the “Uttararama” or Northern Monastery built by King Parakramabahu the Great
Photograph©Chulie de Silva

The Gal Vihara or Gal Viharaya is so called because of the rock/granite ( Sinhala = Gal) face that was used to carve the four statues and it was part of “Uttararama” (the northern monastery), in the city of Polonnaruwa.

Wikipedia quoting the chronicle Chulavamsa says “the Vihara was one of the more prominent of the 100 temples built throughout ancient Sri Lanka by King Parakramabahu I (1153 – 1186). The chronicle mentions that Parakramabahu I,  had his workmen build three caves in the rock after finishing the temple: the Vijjadhara Guha (cave of the spirits of knowledge), the Nissina Patima Lena (cave of the sitting image), and the Nipanna Patima Guha (cave of the sleeping image). Although they are described as “caves”, only the Vijjadhara Guha is a cave, while the others were image houses similar to the Thivanka and Lankathilaka, with their walls connected to the rock face. These walls, which were evidently decorated with frescoes] have since been destroyed and only their bases now remain.

Vijjadhara Guha, Gal Viharaya, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. Photograph Jerzy Strzelecki. This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.

Vijjadhara Guha, Gal Viharaya, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka. Photograph Jerzy Strzelecki. This is a file from the Wikimedia Commons.

While visiting Angkor Wat in 1993, I first noticed that there in Angkor was a temple very similar to the Sathmahal Prasadaya at Polonnaruwa and heard about the ties between Lanka and Cambodia during this period.

See Bernard VanCuylenburg’s article about; Lanka and Cambodian connections: http://lankavisions.weebly.com/the-cambodian-connection.html

[ See also Wikipedia for more history and images of the seated Buddha statues]

Reference:

Island Ceylon by Roloff Beny (1971, Hardcover)

Roloff Beny | ISBN-10: 0670402095 | ISBN-13: 9780670402090

Binara Poya, Women Power & Therigatha

Today is Binara Pura Pasalosvaka Poya day the 2557th year, since the passing away of Sakyamuni Siddhartha Gauthama Buddha. It was on a full moon day like today that Lord Buddha consented to admit women in to the Buddhist Order on the fourth appeal made by his stepmother Maha Prajapati Gotami.

A damaged and fading frescoe of Buddhist Priests pay homage to Lord Buddha. Telwatte Purana Thotagamuva Rajamaha Viharaya. Telwatte. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

A damaged and fading frescoe of Lord Buddha and the future Buddhas, who are seeking “Niyatha vivarana (prediction of future Buddhahood). Telwatte Purana Thotagamuva Rajamaha Viharaya. Telwatte. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

According to Premasiri Epasinghe, writing in the Island newspaper in 2010, Buddha turned down the request thrice. Then the women, 500 of them banded together under Maha Prajapati Gotami, shaved their heads, wore yellow robes and made another appeal via Venerable Ananda Thera – the “Dharmabandagarika” (Keeper of the Dharma). That was good activism and good sense to seek the support of Ven. Ananda who was, Buddha’s cousin. son of Amitodana, the brother of Buddha’s father Suddodana.

According to the scriptures and stated by both Epasinhe and Walter Wijenayake writing in today’s Island “the Buddha gave womenfolk permission to enter the order subject to observances of eight chief precepts (ashta garu dharma). They are:

1. A Bhikkhuni has to worship a day old higher ordained Bhikkhu even if she was 100 years old in higher ordination. She should get up from her seat and show her due respects to the Bhikkhus who observe the major precepts.2. A Bhikkuni should not observe the rainy season precepts in an area where there are no Bhikkhus.

3. Every fortnight a Bhikkuni has to request for ‘Pohoya kamma’ from the Bhikkus. She has to know the time she should obtain advice from the Bhikkhus.

4. When a Bhikkuni concludes her rainy seasonal precepts observation, she has to do it in front of both Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis.

5. A Bhikkhuni who has committed a major mistake should confess it in the presence of both Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis.

6. A Bhikkhuni has to undergo two years as a special trainee and then become a higher ordained Bhikkhuni in presence of both Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis.

7. A Bhikkhuni should not scold a Bhikkhu under any circumstance.

8. A Bhikkhuni should not advise Bhikkhus, however, Bhikkhus should advise Bhikkhunis.”

Both writers point out as many have done before, that Buddha gave equal status to women. Reading these ashta guru dharma, I wonder whether Bhikkunis are on par with Bhikkus. To my understanding of these 8 rules Bhikkunis are not. I feel the rules do not giving any credit to a woman of being able to follow the path laid out independently. Some of these rules seem to be justified as no. 2, when you think that most of the 500 women might have lived very sheltered lives. In any case, the admittance of women into the Sangha community was a gigantic step forward and recognition as being suitable to lead the hard life as Bhikkuni.

Part of the statues that are at the entrance to the  shrine room at the Pulinathararamaya Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Part of the statues that are at the entrance to the shrine room at the Pulinathararamaya Photograph© Chulie de Silva

However, in Buddhism if a woman aspires to be a Buddha, the first step is to do enough “ping” –good karma- so she will be born a man. Then the real door opens for the long samsara journey, and she now a he, can ask for niyatha vivarana (prediction of future Buddhahood).

Goddess with many hands. Welle Devale. Unawatuna. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Goddess with many hands. Welle Devale. Unawatuna. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

In the Hindu Pantheon of Gods there are many absolutely gorgeous female Gods– Saraswathi, Lakshmi, Pattini, Durga, Kali , etc but in all their temples found within Buddhist temples, its male priests who perform rites.Women are not even allowed into the inner sanctums of these temples, unless they are accompanied by a well known male. Why Buddhists need these temples and follow these rites is another debate.

A Priest blesses a little girl at Welle Devale. Unawatuna. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

A Priest blesses a little girl at Welle Devale. Unawatuna. Photograph© Chulie de Silva

Musing on all these on this poya day, I went searching for the Terigatha and found the Teragatha translations too.

 The Bhikkuni order is credited with the Therigatha, which are translated as Verses of the Elder Nuns (Pāli: theri elder (feminine) + gatha verse), a collection of short delightful poems supposedly recited by early members of the community of Buddhist priests — the Sangha — in India around 600 BC.

In the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism, the Therigatha is classified as part of the Khuddaka Nikaya, the collection of short books in the Sutta Pitaka. It consists of 73 poems, organized into 16 chapters. It is the earliest known collection of women’s literature.

This poem from  Chapter 1: The Single Verses (excerpt) translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu, is a honest and clear expression.

I.11 — Mutta {v. 11}   

So freed! So thoroughly freed am I! —
from three crooked things set free:
from mortar, pestle,
& crooked old husband.

Having uprooted the craving
that leads to becoming,
I’m set free from aging & death.

So in the final analysis it is Buddha’s teachings and one’s mind that is important. A verse in the Theragathas  -i.e the bhikkus’ verses says it all.

Vappa (Thag 1.61) {Thag 61}   

One who sees
sees who sees,
sees who doesn’t.

One who doesn’t see
doesn’t
see who sees
or who doesn’t

The Bhikkuni order went into decline in Sri Lanka and was virtually none existent for nine centuries or so. However, there now exists in Sri Lanka a functional bhikkuni sangha holding regular patimokkha (the twice monthly recitation of the precepts) and properly supported by bhikkus. Read more on the Contemporary Bhikkuni Ordination in Sri Lanka by Bhikkuini Sobhana.

Verses reproduced here with consent as per citation below:

“Therigatha: Verses of the Elder Nuns”, & “Theragatha: Verses of the Elder Monks”,edited by Access to Insight. Access to Insight, 23 April 2012, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/thig/index.html . Retrieved on 19 September 2013.