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.
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.]
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.