Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī (Mahāprājāpati Gautmī) was foster mother of Gautama Buddha. She was younger sister of Mahāmāyā (mother of Buddha). King Suddhodhana married both the sisters, and when Mahāmāyā died, seven days after the birth of the Buddha, Pajāpati looked after the Buddha and nursed him.
After King Suddhodhana, father of the Buddha, died, Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī, foster mother of the Buddha, along with 500 Sākyan women, met the Buddha during his visit to Kapilavatthu (Kapilavstu) and expressed a willingness to join the Saṅgha. The Buddha’s response was ‘no’ (AA.i.186). Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī along with the 500 Sākyan women, who were firm with their resolve to get ordained, traveled to Kūtāgārasālā (Vaiśālī), where the Buddha along with the Saṅgha was residing. They again approached the Buddha with the same request and received the same answer as before. Disheartened but still hoping to find a solution, they approached Ānanda. Ānanda, at his persuasive best, answered all the queries of the Buddha who finally consented to the Bhikkhunī order with some additional vinaya rules for the Bhikkhunīs(Vin.ii.253ff).
Nirvāṇa of Mahāprajāpatī Gotamī
When Gotamī learnt about the impending parinirvāṇa of the Buddha. She met the Buddha and told, ‘I cannot bear that you quit this world while I am living. I want to die before you.’ Having returned to their monastery, she along with many other nuns sat down to meditate. Immediately Prajāpatī lifted herself in sky, exhibited all the gifts of ṛṣi, traversing in space at will, and emitting rays of light. Her followers did the same. Finally all of them passed from ecstasy into nirvāṇa. It is said that the marvels which attended her cremation rites were second only to those of the Buddha. (Cited from Mahāprajāpatī-Parinirvāṇa-Sūtra)
Episode of cremation of Mahāprjāpatī Gotamī as Illustrated in Ming Woodcuts. [Line drawings from Shih-shis yüan-liu (Origin of the Buddha) compiled from several Sūtra-s by Monk Pao-ch’eng during Ming period(1368–1644 CE)]