One of my names is ‘Amrapali’. Actually, my name is three,difficult, long-ish words along with a long-ish surname too. My Dad decided to shorten it because for admission into kindergarten, it was a pre-requisite that the child had to be able to write down his /her name and also say it with reasonable clarity and confidence. My Dad , perhaps, was terrified that I ‘d flunk the test..and he’d have to deal with an extra year of me at home! I was, I guess a little too mischievous 😀
‘Amrapali’ was chosen by my Ma, which comes from two Sanskrit words, “amra” (mango) and (“pali”), which means leaves. This is usually interpreted as “(a child) of the mango grove”. My Ma was greatly impressed with the story of ‘Amrapali’, who was a woman of great beauty. She became a well known courtesan of Vaishali, in Ancient India, and it is said that she did much to increase the prestige and importance of the city.She was very intelligent and had a great yearning for truth. When Buddha came to the area, she went to hear him. It is said that he was struck with her wisdom.During this first encounter, Amrapali invited Buddha and his disciples to dine with her; an invitation he accepted despite the advice of others who thought he should not go.Having heard him talk, she gave her lands to him and his followers. She became a disciple of the Buddha . She proposed to the Buddha to take her in his ‘Sangha’ as a ‘Bhikkhuni (Nun), but the Buddha refused to do so. He told her that there was no arrangement for ‘Bhikkhuni in the ‘Sangha’. Only ‘Bhikkhus’ (monks) were allowed. Amrapali asked boldly why the arrangement was like that. The Buddha replied that a woman could break the sanctity of the monks. Amrapali again argued with courage whether the monks of the Buddha were so weak that they could break their vow if in touch with a woman? Buddha could not reply and took the most beautiful woman in his Sangha. It is said that Amrapali attained the status of ‘arhant’ or a perfect person. ( Read about her here :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amrapali )
One of my Ma’s favorite films was also ‘Amrapali’, starring the legendary Vyajanthimala & Sunil Dutt , 1966 :http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amrapali_%28film%29
I asked my Ma as to why she chose this name for me.She told me that she found Amrapali to be very strong and independent.She was also a woman of rare courage.That is ,not only did she dare to question the shackles and thinking, which dominated a traditional male dominated society but she also dared to follow her convictions.She was fearless in her approach to the Buddha. And she was equally fearless when she gave up female vanity and ego to become a ‘Bhikuni”.
Sometime back a Facebook friend told me that I would look nice even with my hair/head shaved. That got me thinking, whether I am courageous like ‘Amrapali’ whom I am named after ? I can only say that I try to be.And Budhha tells me “He is able who thinks he is able” . What about renunciation ? I am reminded of Thiruvalluvar,Kural “Cling to the One who clings to nothing;And so clinging, cease to cling”.
Must tell you about my my favorite ‘Amrapalis’ :
1. Mango :Amrapali is a mango variety introduced in 1971. It was developed as a hybrid variety of ‘Dasheri’ and ‘Neelam’ by the Indian Agricultural Research Institute at Pusa, Delhi. It is sweet, fleshy with a heavenly fragrance 🙂
2. Jewellery : ‘Amrapali’ jewels is a major weakness of the accidental sufi’s. The designs are well, just divine 🙂 Read about it here : http://www.amrapalijewels.com/index.php
Time for my afternoon Darjeeling tea, now 🙂 Adieu, guys! Listen to this: