Wise Women … Sri Laksminkara
I am presently a scholar of Sanskrit and classical Tibetan and previously of Greek and Latin; also a voluntary librarian in a library that services an Institute of Tibetan and Asian Studies. Also a library assistant in an Academic Library. So I come across many literary works that celebrate women and their lives. Works from 5th century BC to 21st century. It is my intention to dip in to ‘my’ collections over the next few weeks and remind myself why I collect such works and commemorate the women their contribution to a male dominated society.
For instance Laksminkara (c 8th Century AD) who was a princess entitled to privilege and a fine education. Laksminkara was destined to marry the King of Ceylon and become a queen. When she discovered that he was an impious barbarian she declined his offer and became a wandering yogi, living in remote caves until she became enlightened. Because she was educated and able to document and record her practices – they are now preserved in Tibetan canon. She wrote songs and poetry one in particular was called Advayavajra , extant in Tibetan and Sanskrit encouraging Buddhist practitioners ‘not to disparage women, to worship women from all castes and to realise women embody nondual wisdom’ (Willis 1989)
She was in time and with her spiritual resolve able to convert her brother King Indrabhuti who became a great siddha. Also her fiancé became a student of a low caste teacher and devoted his life to Buddhist practice.
Laksminkara still remains an inspiring role model for Buddhists as a goddess of wealth, abundance and good fortune. Her epithet Sri means glorious … Glorious fortune.(Shaw 2006)
Shaw, M. (2006). Buddhist Goddesses of India Oxford, Princeton University Press.
Willis, J. (1989). Feminine ground : Essays on women and Tibet. New York, N.Y., Snow Lion Publications