Khema was a Buddhist bhikkhuni, or nun, who was one of the top female disciples of the Buddha. She is considered the first of the Buddha's two chief female disciples, along with Uppalavanna. Khema was born into the royal family of the ancient Kingdom of Madra, and was the wife of King Bimbisara of the ancient Indian kingdom of Magadha. Khema was convinced to visit the Buddha by her husband, who hired poets to sing about the beauty of the monastery he was staying at to her. She attained enlightenment as a laywoman while listening to one of the Buddha's sermons, considered a rare feat in Buddhist texts. Following her attainment, Khema entered the monastic life under the Buddha as a bhikkhuni. According to Buddhist tradition, the Buddha declared her his female disciple foremost in wisdom. Her male counterpart was Sariputta.
Apart from the Vedic Brahmins, the Buddha's lifetime coincided with the flourishing of influential śramaṇa schools of thought like Ājīvika, Cārvāka, Jainism, and Ajñana.
Śāriputra and Moggallāna, two of the foremost disciples of the Buddha, were formerly the foremost disciples of Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta, the sceptic; and the Pāli canon frequently depicts Buddha engaging in debate with the adherents of rival schools of thought.
When the Buddha's community had grown to around sixty awakened monks, he instructed .
In Buddhism, an arahant or arhat is one who has gained insight into the true nature of existence and has achieved Nibbana and liberated from the endless cycle of rebirth.
Mahayana Buddhist traditions have used the term for people far advanced along the path of Enlightenment, but who may not have reached full Buddhahood.
The understanding of the concept has changed over the centuries, and varies between different schools of Buddhism and different regions.
A bhikkhunī or bhikṣuṇī is a fully ordained female monastic in Buddhism.
Male monastics are called bhikkhus. Both bhikkhunis and bhikkhus live by the Vinaya, a set of rules.
Until recently, the lineages of female monastics only remained in Mahayana Buddhism and thus are prevalent in countries such as China, Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam but a few women have taken the full monastic vows in the Theravada and Vajrayana schools over the last decade. .