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Second International
Bhikkhuni Day
September 29, 2012
This Year Honoring:
Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta Theri
Sanghamitta means
“Friend of the Sangha”
What. is a Bhikkhuni/Bhikshuni?
A bhikkhuni (Pali) or bhikshuni (Sanskrit) is a
fully-ordained female Buddhist monastic.
A bhikkhu/bhikshu is a fully-ordained male
Both bhikkhus & bhikkhunis are ordained by
receiving the precepts of the Vinaya (monastic
Sites associated
with the life of
The Buddha
“Buddhism”, Kevin Trainor, Ed.
Beginnings of the Bhikkhuni Order
Many Enlightened Bhikkhunis
The Thirteen
Great Arahant
Disciples, mural
in Wat Pho,
The Fourfold Sangha
The Buddha said: “I will not pass
away…until I have bhikkhu
disciples...bhikkhuni disciples...layman
disciples… laywoman disciples who are
accomplished, disciplined, skilled,
learned, expert in the Dhamma.”
From the Mahaparinibbana Sutta.
Mural of Fourfold Assembly at Wat
Pho, Bangkok, Thailand
The Early Spread of Buddhism in India
And then to Sri Lanka
Emperor Asoka, Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta’s Father
•By the time of
Emperor Asoka (304232 BC), Buddhism
was well established
in India.
Pillar in
birthplace of
the Buddha
Ashoka’s visit
to Lumbini
• Asoka made
Ahimsa (nonviolence) a policy.
• He was a devotee of:
– Love
– Truth
– Tolerance
– Vegetarianism
One of the many pillars erected by Emperor Asoka
After her
was raised
according to
Asoka Sent out Missionaries
to Spread Buddhism
A ‘Liberated’ Woman!
She is recorded to have said to her father,
“My brother’s word has importance to me,
King, together with the request of the great
Queen and the thousand women. Further, I
suppose, this is not just my brother’s word
and many are waiting for the going-forth,
which I also desire to give, Great King, and
so now I must go.”
sails to Sri
Lanka with a
cutting from
the Bodhi
with the
sapling, lands
in Sri Lanka,
greeted by
King Tissa.
Sanghamitta & the Bodhi Tree
are Escorted to Anuradhapura
The Bodhi Tree in
Sri Lanka is said to
be the oldest living
tree in the world.
Sanghamitta’s Stupa
As it was found
After being restored
Bhikkhuni Sangha Spreads to China
In 429 CE, Sri Lankan Bhikkhuni Devasara traveled to China with a group of
bhikkhunis to establish a bhikkhuni sangha there.
Sri Lankan Bhikkhunis Establish Unbroken Bhikkhuni Lineage
China’s bhikkhuni lineage has continued to the present day in an unbroken
upasampada (ordination) lineage. This lineage eventually spread to
Taiwan, Korea, and Vietnam.
Disappearance of the Bhikkhuni Sangha in India and Sri Lanka
Between the 11th and 14th centuries CE both the Bhikkhu and Bhikkhuni Sanghas died out in
India and Sri Lanka due to invasions, war, and famine.
Sanghamitta Shrine, Kelaniya, Sri Lanka
Ayutthaya Historic Park, the ancient Thai Capital
•The Bhikkhu Sangha revived multiple times.
•The Bhikkhuni Sangha was not revived.
•In 1928, the Thai Bhikkhu Sangha decreed that the
bhikkhuni lineage had died out and could not be revived.
One Major Thing Prevented the Spread
of the Bhiksuni Order to Tibet
Bhikkhunis Worldwide!
Today there are now bhikkhunis &
bhiksunis in the U.S., India, Italy, Germany,
Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Sri Lanka,
Thailand and Vietnam.
Mahayana Bhikshunis Helped Revive
the Bhikkhuni/Bhiksuni Sanghas
in the Theravada & Tibetan Traditions
Unmoonsa Bhikkhuni Monastery & Sangha University, South
Mahayana ordination almost identical to
Thai ordination ceremony
“In all the Mahayana
schools whether in
Tibet, China, Korea, or
Vietnam, they follow
mostly a Dharmagupta
Vinaya. Dharmagupta is
one of the Theravada
sects. ”
Ajahn Brahm
1998 International Full Ordination
Ceremony in Bodhgaya, India
Bhikshunis-to-be pay respects to their
preceptors, Bhiksunis Thubten Chodron &
Karma Lekshe Tsomo
Theravada Bhikkhuni reestablished
in Sri Lanka.
• 1996 – The Korean Bhikkhu Sangha and Sri
Lankan monks sponsored another bhikkhuni
ordination for 10 Sri Lankan dasasilmatas in
Sarnath, India.
First Modern Bhikkhuni Ordination in
Sri Lanka
• 2003 - First bhikkhuni higher
ordinations in modern times on Sri
Lankan soil. (American Bhikkhuni Ayya
Sudhamma, Thailand’s Ven. Dhammananda, and
Burmese born Ayya Gunasari & Ayya Saccavadi
were ordained at this time.)
In 2006, in a secret ceremony in the ancient ruins at Ayutthaya in
Thailand, three more Thai women ordained as bhikkhunis −
Bhikkhunis Rattanavali, Dhammamitta, and Silananda.
Hamburg Congress, 2007
Bhikkhunis and bhikshunis ordained earlier help
to mentor and ordain new bhikkhunis.
August 2010 Bhikkhuni
Ordination of four
bhikkhunis at Aranya
Bodhi Hermitage,
Northern California
October 2010
Ordinations at
Dharma Vijaya in
Los Angeles
Three More North American Bhikkhunis
Spirit Rock Meditation Hall – Oct. 17, 2011
L-R: Ayya Nimmala, Sate Saraniya Hermitage, Ontario, Canada; Ayya
Santacitta and Ayya Anandabodhi, Aloka Vihara, San Francisco, California
A Sima of Flowers
Alliance for Bhikkhunis
Alliance for
(AFB) was
founded in 2007
to support the
creation of a
Sangha in the
U.S. and its
revival overseas.
Bhikkhunis near Joshua Tree National Park,
Mohave Desert, Southern California, USA
What Do We Do?
• AFB educates lay practitioners about the
essential role bhikkhunis play in preserving
the Dhamma.
• AFB offers financial assistance to monastics
four their four requisites: food, clothing,
shelter and medicine/health care
AfB Raises Funds for Financial
Assistance for Monastics
Contributed to the
construction of living
quarters .
Contributed to a “new
used” kitchen trailer for
Aranya Bodhi Monastery in
Northern California.
Health Insurance and Medicine
•Paid for bhikkhunis’
medical and dental care.
•Paid insurance premiums
for some bhikkhunis with
no health insurance.
Assist in Travel to Conferences,
Retreats, and Travel for Vassa
Bhikshunis chanting at Sakyadhita conference in Bangkok, Thailand 2011.
Inform and
International Bhikkhuni Day
I’ve been waiting for
bhikkhuni ordination
for such a long time…
From Santi Forest Monastery Website
Alliance for Bhikkhunis
Protecting bhikkhunis, we protect
ourselves and future generations.
May all beings be happy!
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