Six small plates filled with side dishes and fresh fruit are ready to be served for lunch for the monks and nuns who are temporarily staying at the Prasadha Jinarakkhita (PJ) Building, West Jakarta.
Four monks sat together at a table with a red cloth. The only nun there, Thitacarini, sat alone accompanied by three empty chairs. Before eating, the five women who served the food prayed together. Monks and nuns sat on chairs, while five other women sat around the chairs while praying for a while.
Thitacarini was born with the real name Julia Surya 32 years ago in Bengkalis, Riau.
After graduating from high school, she continued her studies at the Smaratungga School of Buddhist Studies (STIAB) in Boyolali, Central Java. At that time she also became a samaneri (prospective nun). Her name changed from Julia Surya to Thitacarini which means persistence in living life.
Exactly in the fourth year, Thitacarini completed her studies. She holds a cum laude degree in Buddhist Education (S.Pd.B) with a GPA of 3.87. She then continued her master’s degree at Kelaniya University, Sri Lanka.
The long wait to become a nun arrived, good karma overshadowed Thitacarini’s steps. May 12, 2012 at the Dekanduwala Dharma Center, Sri Lanka, Thitacarini was ordained as a nun.
Her goal was achieved. Like the happy story of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama who was only able to enter her territory after more than five decades. “I am very happy because my dream of living as a nun has been achieved,” said Thitacarini.
Thitacarini is listed as the first nun of the Theravada tradition in the Great Sangha of Indonesia. Citing the website dhammawheel.com, there are only about 1,000 nuns worldwide, a very small number when compared to the monks numbering more than 500,000.
After her ordination, it only took him two years to finally get her master of arts (MA) degree.
Not only on time, Thitacarini is also the only student in the history of the oldest Buddhist university in the world who won a silver medal (summa cum laude) for a master’s diploma and a gold medal (summa cum laude) for a master’s degree in a row. . “Incidentally, when I got my diploma and master’s in Sri Lanka, I was the only student to win silver and gold medals in a row,” explained Thitacarini.
In contrast to postgraduate studies in Indonesia, in Sri Lanka some students are required to take a master’s degree diploma before actually moving on to take a master’s degree. The best graduate of the S-2 diploma is rewarded with a silver medal, while the master of S-2 gets a gold medal.
After completing her master’s degree, she then took a higher education at the same campus.
Thitacarini hopes that the level of equality of education in Buddhism in Indonesia can be the same as other religions and there is no need to go abroad to study. “I hope one day there will be a big Buddhist university like our brothers from other religions,” she concluded.