Formation of the Sangha

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The Formation of the Sangha

The formation of the Sangha began after Buddha had attained enlightenment and was resting under the Bodhi Tree. He was visited by two merchants called Tapussa and Bhalluka who promptly took the two fold refuge in the Buddha and the Dharma. It was these two men as well as the original five ascetics who Buddha had originally practiced with, who formed the Sangha.

Buddha authorized admission into the Sangha and rules began to develop as the Sangha's code of conduct was formulated. To gain admittance into the Sangha, he hair and beard must be shaved off, a yellow robe adorned and arranged over one shoulder and homage must be paid at the monks feet. This became the "going forth" ceremony for all those wishing to enter the Sangha.

The Sangha became an increasingly recognized presence as it grew from the original 7 monks to thousands. Monasteries (viharas) were built for the Sangha, one of the most famous was built on Prince Jeta's park and became the Jeta Grove Monastery. Ten rules were originally followed by the Sangha.

1. No taking of life.
2. No stealing.
3. No sexual intercourse (later changed to no wrongful sexual activity) 4. No lying
5. No taking of intoxicants
6. No eating at the wrong time (after midday, before dawn) 7. No dancing or music
8. No decorations or cosmetics
9. No sleeping on raised beds.
10. No acceptance of money.
Buddhist evangelism by the Sangha usually consisted of a few monks entering a village and begging from door to door with their begging bowls, until they had enough for their one daily meal. They would then go to the outskirts of the town, often followed by those impressed. The monks would share with these followers their teachings before moving on to the next village.

Originally, although women could be ordained and become Buddhists, they could not leave their daily life and become part of the Sangha. Mahaprajapti, Buddha's aunt and foster mother,...
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