Skip to main content

Mahapajapati (fl. 570 BCE)

Mahapajapati (fl. 570 bce)

Indian nun who was aunt and foster mother to Prince Siddhartha Gautama, also known as the Buddha . Name variations: Mahaprajapati; Mahaprajapati Gautami; Gautami Mahapajapati. Flourished around 570 bce in Nepal, near the Indian border; younger sister of Maya; married Suddhodana or Suddhodanaa (who was also married to her sister Maya); aunt and foster mother to Prince Siddhartha Gautama or Gautami, also known as the Buddha (c. 563–483 bce).

During the 45 years between the Buddha's enlightenment and his death, he traveled and preached in central India, staying primarily in Magadha and Kausala. He won many converts to the religion and established a community of monks, nuns and laity to live and teach his message. Mahapajapati, Buddha's aunt and foster mother (his own mother Maya had died seven days after his birth), expressed her desire to become a nun. At first the Buddha refused her request but later reluctantly agreed after Ananda, his beloved disciple, interceded. To govern the relations between monks and nuns and to prevent sexual activity, the Buddha established stringent restrictions concerning the interactions between them. In addition to the already existing rules (Vinaya) for the community of monks, eight weighty rules were added that made the nuns subordinate to the order of monks. Despite such restrictions, many able nuns were active during the lifetime of the Buddha. Considering the very limited options for women at the time, the community of Buddhist nuns afforded some women the opportunity to exercise a considerable amount of control over their lives.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Mahapajapati (fl. 570 BCE)." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 15 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Mahapajapati (fl. 570 BCE)." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 15, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/women/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/mahapajapati-fl-570-bce

"Mahapajapati (fl. 570 BCE)." Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia. . Retrieved November 15, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/women/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/mahapajapati-fl-570-bce

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.