Bhikkhunī

A bhikkhunī (Pali) or bhikṣuṇī (Sanskrit) 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. From conservative perspectives, none of the contemporary bhikkuni ordinations are valid.[1]

In Buddhism, women are as capable of reaching nirvana as men. According to Buddhist scriptures, the order of bhikkhunis was first created by the Buddha at the specific request of his aunt and foster-mother Mahapajapati Gotami, who became the first ordained bhikkhuni. A famous work of the early Buddhist schools is the Therigatha, a collection of poems by elder nuns about enlightenment that was preserved in the Pāli Canon.

Bhikkhunis are required to take extra vows, the Eight Garudhammas, and are subordinate to and reliant upon the bhikkhu order. In places where the bhikkhuni lineage was historically missing or has died out, due to hardship, alternative forms of renunciation have developed. In Tibetan Buddhism, women officially take the vows of śrāmaṇerīs (novitiates); Theravadin women may choose to take an informal and limited set of vows similar to the historical vows of the sāmaṇerī, like the maechi of Thailand and thilashin of Myanmar.

Translations of
भिक्खुनी
Englishnun
Paliभिक्खुनी
(bhikkhunī)
Sanskritभिक्षुणी
(IAST: bhikṣuṇī)
Bengaliভিক্ষুনী
Burmeseဘိက္ခုနီ
(IPA: [beiʔkʰṵnì])
Chinese比丘尼
(Pinyinbǐqiūní)
Japanese比丘尼/尼
(rōmaji: bikuni/ama)
Khmerភិក្ខុនី
(Phikkhonei)
Korean비구니
(RR: biguni)
Sinhalaභික්ෂුණිය
Tibetanདགེ་སློང་མ་
(gelongma (dge slong ma))
Thaiภิกษุณี
( [pʰiksuniː])
VietnameseTỉ-khâu-ni
Glossary of Buddhism

History

The tradition of the ordained monastic community (sangha) began with the Buddha, who established an order of Bhikkhus (monks).[2] According to the scriptures,[3] later, after an initial reluctance, he also established an order of Bhikkhunis (nuns or women monks). However, according to the scriptural account, not only did the Buddha lay down more rules of discipline for the bhikkhunis (311 compared to the bhikkhu's 227 in the Theravada version), he also made it more difficult for them to be ordained, and made them subordinate to monks. The bhikkhuni order was established five years after the bhikkhu order of monks at the request of a group of women whose spokesperson was Mahapajapati Gotami, the aunt who raised Gautama Buddha after his mother died.

The historicity of this account has been questioned,[4] sometimes to the extent of regarding nuns as a later invention.[5] The stories, sayings and deeds of a substantial number of the preeminent Bhikkhuni disciples of the Buddha as well as numerous distinguished bhikkhunis of early Buddhism are recorded in many places in the Pali Canon, most notably in the Therigatha and Theri Apadana as well as the Anguttara Nikaya and Bhikkhuni Samyutta. Additionally the ancient bhikkhunis feature in the Sanskrit Avadana texts and the first Sri Lankan Buddhist historical chronicle, the Dipavamsa, itself speculated to be authored by the Sri Lankan Bhikkhuni Sangha.

According to Peter Harvey, "The Buddha's apparent hesitation on this matter is reminiscent of his hesitation on whether to teach at all", something he only does after persuasion from various devas.[6] Since the special rules for female monastics were given by the founder of Buddhism they have been upheld to this day. Buddhists nowadays are still concerned with that fact, as shows at an International Congress on Buddhist Women's Role in the Sangha held at the University of Hamburg, Germany, in 2007.

In Buddhism, women can openly aspire to and practice for the highest level of spiritual attainment. Buddhism is unique among Indian religions in that the Buddha as founder of a spiritual tradition explicitly states in canonical literature that a woman is as capable of nirvana as men and can fully attain all four stages of enlightenment.[7][8] There is no equivalent in other traditions to the accounts found in the Therigatha or the Apadanas that speak of high levels of spiritual attainment by women.[9]

In a similar vein, major canonical Mahayana sutras such as the Lotus Sutra, chapter 12,[10] records 6000 bhikkhuni arhantis receiving predictions of bodhisattvahood and future buddhahood by Gautama Buddha.[10]

The Eight Garudharmas

Female monastics are required to follow special rules that male monastics do not, the Eight Garudhammas. The origin of the Eight Garudhammas, the special vows taken by female monastics, is unclear. The Buddha is quoted by Thannisaro Bhikkhu as saying, "Ananda, if Mahaprajapati Gotami accepts eight vows of respect, that will be her full ordination (upasampada)."[11] Modern scholars have shown that this story abounds in textual problems, and cannot possibly be a factual account.[12] According to the scriptural accounts, the reason the Buddha gave for his actions was that admission of women to the sangha would weaken it and shorten its lifetime to 500 years. This prophecy occurs only once in the Canon and is the only prophecy involving time in the Canon.[13]

In Young Chung noticed that society as recorded in the Vinaya always criticized the bhikkhunis more harshly using "shaven headed strumpets or whores", whereas the bhikkhus were simply called "shaven headed". "This harsher treatment (which also included rape and assault) of bhikkhunis by society required greater protection. Within these social conditions, Gautama Buddha opened up new horizons for women by founding the bhikkhuni sangha. This social and spiritual advancement for women was ahead of the times and, therefore, drew many objections from men, including bhikkhus. He was probably well aware of the controversy that would be caused by the harassment of his female disciples."[14]

The Vinaya does not allow for any power-based relationship between the monks and nuns. Dhammananda Bhikkhuni wrote:

Nuns at the time of the Buddha had equal rights and an equal share in everything. In one case, eight robes were offered to both sanghas at a place where there was only one nun and four monks. The Buddha divided the robes in half, giving four to the nun and four to the monks, because the robes were for both sanghas and had to be divided equally however many were in each group. Because the nuns tended to receive fewer invitations to lay-people's homes, the Buddha had all offerings brought to the monastery and equally divided between the two sanghas. He protected the nuns and was fair to both parties. They are subordinate in the sense of being younger sisters and elder brothers, not in the sense of being masters and slaves.[15]

Ian Astley argues that under the conditions of society where there is such great discrimination and threat to women, Buddha could not be blamed for the steps he took in trying to secure the Sangha from negative public opinion:

In those days (and this still applies to much of present Indian society) a woman who had left the life of the household would otherwise have been regarded more or less as a harlot and subjected to the appropriate harassment. By being formally associated with the monks, the nuns were able to enjoy the benefits of leaving the household life without incurring immediate harm. Whilst it is one thing to abhor, as any civilized person must do, the attitudes and behavior towards women which underlie the necessity for such protection, it is surely misplaced to criticize the Buddha and his community for adopting this particular policy.[14]

Becoming a Bhikkhuni

The progression to ordination as a bhikkhuni is taken in four steps. A layperson takes the Five Precepts. The next step is to enter the pabbajja (Sanskrit: pravrajya) or monastic way of life, which includes wearing the monastic's robes. After that, one can become a śrāmaṇerī or "novitiate". The last and final step is to take the full vows of a bhikkhuni.

The Fourteen Precepts of the Order of Interbeing

The Order of Interbeing, established in 1964 and associated with the Plum Village movement, has fourteen precepts observed by all monastics.[16] They were written by Thích Nhất Hạnh. In an interview, Chân Không described his approach:

In Plum Village, the Eight Observations of Respect that nuns have to observe towards Buddhist monks are not observed, as Nhat Hanh claims they were invented only to help the stepmother of the Buddha, and that one need only keep Nhat Hanh's 14 precepts properly. That's all. But of course he doesn't despise the traditional precepts. And I can accept them just to give joy to the monks who practice in the traditional way. If I can give them joy, I will have a chance to share my insights about women with them, and then they will be unblocked in their understanding.[17]

Gelongma

A gelongma (Wylie: dge slong ma) is the Standard Tibetan term for a bhikṣuṇī, a monastic who observes the full set of vows outlined in the vinaya. While the exact number of vows observed varies from one ordination lineage to another, generally the female monastic observes 360 vows while the male monastic observes 265.

A getsulma (Wylie: dge tshul ma) is a śrāmaṇerikā or novice, a preparation monastic level prior to full vows. Novices, both male and female, adhere to twenty-five main vows. A layperson or child monk too young to take the full vows may take the Five Vows called "approaching virtue" (Wylie: dge snyan, THL: genyen). These five vows can be practiced as a monastic, where the genyen maintains celibacy, or as a lay practitioner, where the married genyen maintains fidelity.

Starting with the novice ordination, some may choose to take forty years to gradually arrive at the vows of a fully ordained monastic.[18][19] Others take the getsulma and gelongma vows on the same day and practice as a gelongma from the beginning, as the getsulma vows are included within the gelongma.

Tradition in South and East Asia

Taiwanese Buddhist Nun Black Robes.jpeg
A Taiwanese bhikṣuṇī, a member of the Dharmaguptaka ordination lineage.
Venerabletzuchuang-cropped
A high-ranking bhikṣuṇī in the Chinese Buddhist tradition during an alms round.
Chinese Bhiksuni Taiwan Vesak Festival.jpeg
Full bhikṣuṇī ordination is common in the Dharmaguptaka lineage. Vesak, Taiwan

The tradition flourished for centuries throughout South and East Asia, but appears to have lapsed in the Theravada tradition of Sri Lanka in the 11th century C.E.[20] It survived in Burma to about the 13th century, but died out there too.[21] Although it is commonly said to have never been introduced to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia or Tibet, there is substantial historical evidence to the contrary, especially in Thailand.

However, the Mahayana tradition in China, Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan and Hong Kong has retained the practice, where female monastics are full bhikṣuṇīs.

In 13th century Japan, Mugai Nyodai was ordained the first female abbess and thus the first female Zen master.[22] Prajñātārā is the twenty-seventh Indian Patriarch of Zen and is believed to have been a woman.[23]

In Theravada Buddhism

The traditional appearance of Theravada bhikkhunis is nearly identical to that of male monks, including a shaved head, shaved eyebrows and saffron robes. In some countries, nuns wear dark chocolate robes or sometimes the same colour as monks. In the Theravada tradition, some scholars believe that the bhikkhuni lineage became extinct in the 11th to 13th centuries and that no new bhikkhunis could be ordained since there were no bhikkhunis left to give ordination. For this reason, the leadership of the Theravada bhikkhu Sangha in Burma and Thailand deem fully ordained bhikkhunis as impossible. "Equal rights for men and women are denied by the Ecclesiastical Council. No woman can be ordained as a Theravada Buddhist nun or bhikkhuni in Thailand. The Council has issued a national warning that any monk who ordains female monks will be punished."[24] Based on the spread of the bhikkhuni lineage to countries like China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Japan and Sri Lanka, other scholars support ordination of Theravada bhikkhunis.[25]

Without ordination available to them, women traditionally voluntarily take limited vows to live as renunciants. These women attempt to lead a life following the teachings of the Buddha. They observe 8–10 precepts, but do not follow exactly the same codes as bhikkhunis. They receive popular recognition for their role. But they are not granted official endorsement or the educational support offered to monks. Some cook while others practise and teach meditation.[26][27][28][29][30][31]

White or pink robes are worn by Theravada women renunciants who are not fully ordained. These women are known as dasa sil mata in Sri Lankan Buddhism, thilashin in Burmese Buddhism, Maechi in Thai Buddhism, guruma in Nepal and Laos and siladharas at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery in England.

Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, now known as Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, is a Thai scholar who took bhikkhuni ordination in Sri Lanka and returned to Thailand, where bhikkhuni ordination is forbidden and can result in arrest or imprisonment for a woman.[32] She is considered a pioneer by many in Thailand.[33][34]

In 1996, through the efforts of Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women, the Theravada bhikkhuni order was revived when 11 Sri Lankan women received full ordination in Sarnath, India, in a procedure held by Dodangoda Revata Mahāthera and the late Mapalagama Vipulasāra Mahāthera of the Maha Bodhi Society in India with assistance from monks and nuns of the Jogye Order of Korean Seon.[35] [36][37][38]

The first Theravada bhikkhuni ordination in Australia was held in Perth, 22 October 2009, at Bodhinyana Monastery. Four nuns from Dhammasara Nun's Monastery, Ajahn Vayama, Nirodha, Seri and Hasapanna, were ordained as bhikkhunis in full accordance with the Pali vinaya.[39]

Re-establishing Bhikkhuni Ordination

In July 2007 a meeting of Buddhist leaders and scholars of all traditions met at the International Congress on Buddhist Women's Role in the Sangha,[40] in Hamburg, Germany to work toward a worldwide consensus on the re-establishment of bhikshuni ordination. 65 delegates, bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, Vinaya masters and elders from traditional Buddhist countries and Western-trained Buddhologists attended. The Summary Report from the Congress[41] states that all delegates "were in unanimous agreement that Mulasarvastivada bhikshuni ordination should be re-established," and cites the Dalai Lama's full support of bhikkhuni ordination (already in 1987 H. H. XIVth Dalai Lama had demanded the re-establishment of full ordination for nuns in Tibet).

The aim of the congress has been rated by the organizers of utmost importance for equality and liberation of Buddhist women (nuns). "The re-establishment of nuns’ ordination in Tibet via H. H. XIVth Dalai Lama and the international monks and nuns sanghas will lead to further equality and liberation of Buddhist women. This is a congress of historical significance which will give women the possibility to teach Buddha's doctrines worldwide."[42]

To help establish the Bhikshuni Sangha (community of fully ordained nuns) where it does not currently exist has also been declared one of the objectives of Sakyadhita,[43] as expressed at its founding meeting in 1987 in Bodhgaya, India.

In Part Four of Alexander Berzin's Summary Report: Day Three and Final Comments by His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama it is said: "But Buddha gave the basic rights equally to both sangha groups. There is no point in discussing whether or not to revive the bhikshuni ordination; the question is merely how to do so properly within the context of the Vinaya."[44]

The Eight Garudhammas belong to the context of the Vinaya. Bhikkhuni Kusuma writes: "In the Pali, the eight garudhammas appear in the tenth khandhaka of the Cullavagga." However, they are to be found in the actual ordination process for Bhikkhunis.

The text is not allowed to be studied before ordination. "The traditional custom is that one is only allowed to study the bhikshu or bhikshuni vows after having taken them", Karma Lekshe Tsomo stated during congress while talking about Gender Equality and Human Rights: "It would be helpful if Tibetan nuns could study the bhikshuni vows before the ordination is established. The traditional custom is that one is only allowed to study the bhikshu or bhikshuni vows after having taken them."[45] Ven. Tenzin Palmo is quoted with saying: "To raise the status of Tibetan nuns, it is important not only to re-establish the Mulasarvastivada bhikshuni ordination, but also for the new bhikshunis to ignore the eight gurudharmas that have regulated their lower status. These eight, after all, were formulated for the sole purpose of avoiding censure by the lay society. In the modern world, disallowing the re-establishment of the Mulasarvastivada bhikshuni ordination and honoring these eight risk that very censure."[46]

According to the Summary Report as well as according to the other texts available from the congress there has not been a discussion on how and which of the eight gurudharmas discriminate against Buddhist nuns and how this can be changed in detail in the process of re-establishing the Mulasarvastivada bhikshuni ordination.

In Burma, the governing council of Burmese Buddhism has ruled that there can be no valid ordination of women in modern times, though some Burmese monks disagree. In 2003, Saccavadi and Gunasari were ordained as bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka, thus becoming the first female Burmese novices in modern times to receive higher ordination in Sri Lanka.[47][48]

In Indonesia, the first Theravada ordination of bhikkhunis in Indonesia after more than a thousand years occurred in 2015 at Wisma Kusalayani in Lembang, Bandung.[49] Those ordained included Vajiradevi Sadhika Bhikkhuni from Indonesia, Medha Bhikkhuni from Sri Lanka, Anula Bhikkhuni from Japan, Santasukha Santamana Bhikkhuni from Vietnam, Sukhi Bhikkhuni and Sumangala Bhikkhuni from Malaysia, and Jenti Bhikkhuni from Australia.[49]

There have been some attempts in recent years to revive the tradition of women in the sangha within Theravada Buddhism in India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand, with many women ordained in Sri Lanka since 1996.[50] Some of these were carried out with the assistance of nuns from the East Asian tradition;[51] others were carried out by the Theravada monk's Order alone.[52] Since 2005, many ordination ceremonies for women have been organized by the head of the Dambulla chapter of the Siyam Nikaya in Sri Lanka.[52]

In Thailand, in 1928, the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, responding to the attempted ordination of two women, issued an edict that monks must not ordain women as samaneris (novices), sikkhamanas (probationers) or bhikkhunis. The two women were reportedly arrested and jailed briefly. A 55-year-old Thai Buddhist 8-precept white-robed maechee nun, Varanggana Vanavichayen, became the first woman to receive the going-forth ceremony of a Theravada novice (and the gold robe) in Thailand, in 2002.[53] Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, previously a professor of Buddhist philosophy known as Dr Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, was controversially ordained as first a novice and then a bhikkhuni in Sri Lanka in 2003 upon the revival of the full ordination of women there. Since then, the Thai Senate has reviewed and revoked the secular law banning women's full ordination in Buddhism as unconstitutional for being counter to laws protecting freedom of religion. More than 20 further Thai women have followed in Dhammananda Bhikkhuni's footsteps, with temples, monasteries and meditations centers led by Thai bhikkhunis emerging in Samut Sakhon, Chiang Mai and Rayong. The stance of the Thai Sangha hierarchy has largely changed from one of denial of the existence of bhikkhunis to one of acceptance of bhikkhunis as of foreign (non-Thai) traditions. However Thailand's two main Theravada Buddhist orders, the Mahanikaya and Dhammayutika Nikaya, have yet to officially accept fully ordained women into their ranks. Despite substantial and growing support inside the religious hierarchy, sometimes fierce opposition to the ordination of women within the sangha remains.

In 2010, Ayya Tathaaloka and Bhante Henepola Gunaratana oversaw a dual ordination ceremony at Aranya Bodhi forest refuge in Sonoma County, California where four women became fully ordained nuns in the Theravada tradition.[54]

Concerns about lineage and legitimacy

The only women's ordination lineage that remains is the Dharmaguptaka one, which is in use in East Asian Buddhism.[55] Nuns from this tradition have assisted in the ordination of nuns in other lineages (e.g. Theravada), where the presence of nuns is a prerequisite for new nuns to be ordained.

This is problematic from a legalist point of view, as a woman from one Buddhist tradition ordained by nuns in another invalidates the notion of lineage. Inauthentic nuns cannot legitimately go on to ordain other women in their own traditions and thus it is impossible to validly re-establish bhikkhuni ordination in lineages where it has ended.[1]

Defense against criticism

However, the German monk Bhikkhu Analayo, who was a presenter at the International Congress on Buddhist Women's Role in the Sangha,[56] has argued that it is possible for bhikkhus alone to ordain bhikkhunis if necessary.[1][57][58] By exploring attitudes towards bhikkhunis in early Buddhist texts and the story of the foundation of the bhikkhuni order[59] he advocates for the continuing validity of "single ordination" (i.e. by monks only),[60] which is a matter of controversy in the Theravada and Tibetan traditions.[61]

Recent developments

America

In 1997 Dhamma Cetiya Vihara in Boston[62] was founded by Ven. Gotami of Thailand, then a 10 precept nun. Ven. Gotami received full ordination in 2000, at which time her dwelling became America's first Theravada Buddhist bhikkhuni vihara. "Vihara" translates as monastery or nunnery, and may be both dwelling and community center where one or more bhikkhus or bhikkhunis offer teachings on Buddhist scriptures, conduct traditional ceremonies, teach meditation, offer counseling and other community services, receive alms, and reside. In 2003 Ven. Sudhamma Bhikkhuni took the role of resident female-monk at the Carolina Buddhist Vihara[63] in Greenville, SC (founded by Sri Lankan monks in 2000); her new dwelling thus became the second such community-oriented bhikkhuni vihara in the eastern United States. The first such women's monastic residence in the western United States, Dhammadharini Vihara (now the Dhammadharini Monastery in Penngrove, CA[64] was founded in Fremont, CA, by Ven. Tathaaloka of the US, in 2005. Soon afterwards, Samadhi Meditation Center[65] in Pinellas Park, Florida, was founded by Ven. Sudarshana Bhikkhuni of Sri Lanka.

Sravasti Abbey, the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery for Western nuns and monks in the U.S., was established in Washington State by Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron in 2003. The Abbey practices in the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya. It is situated on 300 acres forest and meadows, 11 miles (18 km) outside of Newport, Washington, near the Idaho state line. It is open to visitors who want to learn about community life in a Tibetan Buddhist monastic setting. The name Sravasti Abbey was chosen by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron had suggested the name, as Sravasti was the place in India where comes from the fact that, the Buddha spent 25 rains retreats (varsa in Sanskrit and yarne in Tibetan), and communities of both nuns and monks had resided there. This seemed auspicious to ensure the Buddha's teachings would be abundantly available to both male and female monastics at the monastery.[66]

Sravasti Abbey is notable because it is home to a growing group of fully ordained bhikshuni (Buddhist nuns) practicing in the Tibetan tradition. This is special because the tradition of full ordination for women was not transmitted from India to Tibet. Ordained women practicing in the Tibetan tradition usually hold an ordination that is, in effect, a novice ordination. Venerable Thubten Chodron, while faithfully following the teachings of her Tibetan teachers, has arranged for her students to seek full ordination as bhikshunis in Taiwan.[67]

In January 2014, the Abbey, which then had seven bhikshunis and three novices, formally began its first winter varsa (three-month monastic retreat), which lasted until 13 April 2014. As far as the Abbey knows, this was the first time a Western bhikshuni sangha practicing in the Tibetan tradition had done this ritual in the United States and in English. On 19 April 2014 the Abbey held its first kathina ceremony to mark the end of the varsa. Also in 2014 the Abbey held its first Pavarana rite at the end of the varsa.[67][68] In October 2015 the Annual Western Buddhist Monastic Gathering was held at the Abbey for the first time; it was the 21st such gathering.[69]

More recently established Theravada bhikkhuni viharas include: Mahapajapati Monastery[70] where several nuns (bhikkhunis and novices) live together in the desert of southern California near Joshua Tree, founded by Ven. Gunasari Bhikkhuni of Burma in 2008; Aranya Bodhi Hermitage[71] founded by Ven. Tathaaloka Bhikkhuni in the forest near Jenner, CA, with Ven. Sobhana Bhikkhuni as Prioress, which opened officially in July 2010, where several bhikkhunis reside together along with trainees and lay supporters; and Sati Saraniya[72] in Ontario, founded by Ven. Medhanandi in appx 2009, where two bhikkhunis reside. (There are also quiet residences of individual bhikkhunis where they may receive visitors and give teachings, such as the residence of Ven. Amma Thanasanti Bhikkhuni[73] in 2009-2010 in Colorado Springs; and the Los Angeles residence of Ven. Susila Bhikkhuni; and the residence of Ven. Wimala Bhikkhuni in the mid-west.)

In 2010 the first Tibetan Buddhist nunnery in North America was established in Vermont,[74] called Vajra Dakini Nunnery, offering novice ordination.[74] The abbot of this nunnery is an American woman named Khenmo Drolma who is the first "bhikkhunni," a fully ordained Buddhist nun, in the Drikung Kagyu tradition of Buddhism, having been ordained in Taiwan in 2002.[74] She is also the first westerner, male or female, to be installed as a Buddhist abbot, having been installed as abbot of Vajra Dakini Nunnery in 2004.[75]

Also in 2010, in Northern California, four novice nuns were given the full bhikkhuni ordination in the Thai Theravada tradition, which included the double ordination ceremony. Bhante Gunaratana and other monks and nuns were in attendance. It was the first such ordination ever in the Western hemisphere.[76] The following month, more bhikkhuni ordinations were completed in Southern California, led by Walpola Piyananda and other monks and nuns. The bhikkhunis ordained in Southern California were Lakshapathiye Samadhi (born in Sri Lanka), Cariyapanna, Susila, Sammasati (all three born in Vietnam), and Uttamanyana (born in Myanmar).[77]

Australia

In 2009 in Australia four women received bhikkhuni ordination as Theravada nuns, the first time such ordination had occurred in Australia.[78] It was performed in Perth, Australia, on 22 October 2009 at Bodhinyana Monastery. Abbess Vayama together with Venerables Nirodha, Seri, and Hasapanna were ordained as Bhikkhunis by a dual Sangha act of Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis in full accordance with the Pali Vinaya.[79]

Burma

The governing council of Burmese Buddhism has ruled that there can be no valid ordination of women in modern times, though some Burmese monks disagree. In 2003, Saccavadi and Gunasari were ordained as bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka, thus becoming the first female Burmese novices in modern times to receive higher ordination in Sri Lanka.[47][48]

Germany

The International Congress on Buddhist Women's Role in the Sangha: Bhikshuni Vinaya and Ordination Lineages took place in Germany, in 18–20 July 2007.

The first bhikkhuni ordination in Germany, the ordination of German nun Samaneri Dhira, occurred on 21 June 2015 at Anenja Vihara.[80]

Indonesia

The first Theravada ordination of bhikkhunis in Indonesia after more than a thousand years occurred in 2015 at Wisma Kusalayani in Lembang, Bandung.[49] Those ordained included Vajiradevi Sadhika Bhikkhuni from Indonesia, Medha Bhikkhuni from Sri Lanka, Anula Bhikkhuni from Japan, Santasukha Santamana Bhikkhuni from Vietnam, Sukhi Bhikkhuni and Sumangala Bhikkhuni from Malaysia, and Jenti Bhikkhuni from Australia.[49]

Sri Lanka

There have been some attempts revive the tradition of women in the sangha within Theravada Buddhism in Thailand, India and Sri Lanka, with many women ordained in Sri Lanka since 1996.[50] In 1996 through the efforts of Sakyadhita, an International Buddhist Women Association, Theravada bhikkhuni order was revived, when 11 Sri Lankan women received full ordination in Sarnath, India, in a procedure held by Ven. Dodangoda Revata Mahāthera and the late Ven. Mapalagama Vipulasāra Mahāthera of the Mahābodhi Society in India with assistance from monks and nuns of Korean Chogyo order.[81] [82][83][84] Some bhikkhuni ordinations were carried out with the assistance of nuns from the East Asian tradition;[51] others were carried out by the Theravada monk's Order alone.[52] Since 2005, many ordination ceremonies for women have been organized by the head of the Dambulla chapter of the Siyam Nikaya in Sri Lanka.[52]

Thailand

In 1928, the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, responding to the attempted ordination of two women, issued an edict that monks must not ordain women as samaneris (novices), sikkhamanas (probationers) or bhikkhunis. The two women were reportedly arrested and jailed briefly. Varanggana Vanavichayen became the first female monk to be ordained in Thailand in 2002.[53] Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, previously a professor of Buddhist philosophy known as Dr Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, was controversially ordained as first a novice and then a bhikkhuni in Sri Lanka in 2003 upon the revival of the full ordination of women there. Since then, the Thai Senate has reviewed and revoked the secular law banning women's full ordination in Buddhism (enacted 1928) as unconstitutional for being counter to laws protecting freedom of religion. More than 20 further Thai women have followed in Dhammananda Bhikkhuni's footsteps, with temples, monasteries and meditations centers led by Thai bhikkhunis emerging in Samut Sakhon, Chiang Mai and Rayong. The stance of the Thai Sangha hierarchy has largely changed from one of denial of the existence of bhikkhunis to one of acceptance of bhikkhunis as of foreign (non-Thai) traditions. However Thailand's two main Theravada Buddhist orders, the Mahanikaya and Dhammayutika Nikaya, have yet to officially accept fully ordained women into their ranks. Despite substantial and growing support inside the religious hierarchy, sometimes fierce opposition to the ordination of women within the sangha remains.

Tibetan tradition

Spiti 3-7-04 (80)
Head shaving before a Tibetan Buddhist nun's ordination. Spiti, India 2004

When Buddhism traveled from India to Tibet, apparently the quorum of twelve fully ordained nuns required for bestowing full ordination never reached Tibet. There are singular accounts of fully ordained Tibetan women, such as the Samding Dorje Phagmo (1422-1455), who was once ranked the highest female master in Tibet, but very little is known about the exact circumstances of their ordination.[85]

The Dalai Lama has authorized followers of the Tibetan tradition to be ordained as nuns in traditions that have such ordination.

According to Thubten Chodron, the current Dalai Lama has said on this issue:[86]

  1. In 2005, the Dalai Lama repeatedly spoke about the bhikshuni ordination in public gatherings. In Dharamsala, he encouraged, "We need to bring this to a conclusion. We Tibetans alone can't decide this. Rather, it should be decided in collaboration with Buddhists from all over the world. Speaking in general terms, were the Buddha to come to this 21st century world, I feel that most likely, seeing the actual situation in the world now, he might change the rules somewhat...."
  2. Later, in Zurich during a 2005 conference of Tibetan Buddhist Centers, His Holiness said, "Now I think the time has come; we should start a working group or committee" to meet with monks from other Buddhist traditions. Looking at the German bhikshuni, Ven. Jampa Tsedroen, he instructed, "I prefer that Western Buddhist nuns carry out this work…Go to different places for further research and discuss with senior monks (from various Buddhist countries). I think, first, senior bhikshunis need to correct the monks' way of thinking."

"This is the 21st century. Everywhere we are talking about equality….Basically Buddhism needs equality. There are some really minor things to remember as a Buddhist--a bhikshu always goes first, then a bhikshuni….The key thing is the restoration of the bhikshuni vow."

Alexander Berzin referred to the Dalai Lama having said on occasion of the 2007 Hamburg congress

Sometimes in religion there has been an emphasis on male importance. In Buddhism, however, the highest vows, namely the bhikshu and bhikshuni ones, are equal and entail the same rights. This is the case despite the fact that in some ritual areas, due to social custom, bhikshus go first. But Buddha gave the basic rights equally to both sangha groups. There is no point in discussing whether or not to revive the bhikshuni ordination; the question is merely how to do so properly within the context of the Vinaya.[87]

Ogyen Trinley Dorje, one of the two claimants to the title of 17th Karmapa, has announced a plan to restore nuns’ ordination.[88]

No matter how others see it, I feel this is something necessary. In order to uphold the Buddhist teachings it is necessary to have the fourfold community (fully ordained monks (gelongs), fully ordained nuns (gelongmas), and both male and female lay precept holders). As the Buddha said, the fourfold community are the four pillars of the Buddhist teachings. This is the reason why I’m taking interest in this.[88]

The Tibetan community is taking its own steps to figure out how to approach conferring bhikshuni ordination to women ordained under the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya system. Meanwhile, steps have already been taken to cultivate the bhiksuni monastic community in the West. Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron established Sravasti Abbey in 2003.[89] It is the only Tibetan Buddhist training monastery for Western nuns and monks in the United States. Whilst the Abbey primarily practices under the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, it practices in the Chinese Dharmaguptaka Vinaya lineage. This has allowed the female monastics to take full ordination, travelling to Taiwan to take part in 6-8 week training programmes. In January 2014, the Abbey, which then had seven bhikshunis and three novices, formally began its first winter varsa (three-month monastic retreat), which lasted until 13 April 2014. As far as the Abbey knows, this was the first time a Western bhikshuni sangha practicing in the Tibetan tradition had done this riSrtual in the United States and in English. On 19 April 2014 the Abbey held its first kathina ceremony to mark the end of the varsa. Also in 2014 the Abbey held its first Pavarana rite at the end of the varsa.[68] The Abbey currently has ten fully ordained bhikshunis and five novices.[90]

Discriminating against nuns

In March 1993 in Dharmasala, Sylvia Wetzel spoke in front of the Dalai Lama and other luminaries to highlight the sexism of Buddhist practices, imagery and teachings.[91]

Two senior male monastics vocally supported her, reinforcing her points with their own experiences. Ajahn Amaro, a Theravada bhikkhu of Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, said, "Seeing the nuns not receiving the respect given to the monks is very painful. It is like having a spear in your heart".[92]

American Tibetan Buddhist monk Thubten Pende gave his views: "When I translated the texts concerning the ordination ceremony I got such a shock. It said that even the most senior nun had to sit behind the most novice monk because, although her ordination was superior, the basis of that ordination, her body, was inferior. I thought, "There it is." I'd heard about this belief but I'd never found evidence of it. I had to recite this text at the ceremony. I was embarrassed to say it and ashamed of the institution I was representing. I wondered, "Why doesn't she get up and leave?" I would.[92]

Family

The former wife of Buddha—Yasodharā, mother of his son Rāhula, according to legend also became a bhikkhuni and an arahant.

Poems

There is the quite famous Therigatha collection of poems call Verses of the Elder Nuns[93] and a less known collection called Discourses of the Ancient Nuns.[94]

See also

References

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  3. ^ Book of the Discipline, Pali Text Society, volume V, Chapter X
  4. ^ Routledge Encyclopedia of Buddhism, page 822
  5. ^ Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, Kansai University of Foreign Studies, Hirakata, Japan, 1980, reprinted Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1987, 1989, pages 57-9, point (6)
  6. ^ Harvey, Peter (2000). An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics. Cambridge University Press. p. 384. ISBN 978-0-521-55640-8.
  7. ^ Ven. Professor Dhammavihari, Women and the religious order of the Buddha
  8. ^ Padmanabh S. Jaini (1991). Gender and Salvation Jaina Debates on the Spiritual Liberation of Women. University of California Press, Berkeley. ISBN 0-520-06820-3. this is in contrast to Jain tradition which is always compared to with Buddhism as they emerged almost at the same time, which is non-conclusive in a woman's ability to attain final liberation Digambara makes the opening statement: There is moksa for men only, not for women; #9 The Svetambara answers: There is moksa for women;
  9. ^ Alice Collett (2006). "BUDDHISM AND GENDER Reframing and Refocusing the Debate". The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. 22 (2): 55–84. A brief digression into comparative analysis should help to illustrate the significance of these central texts. Although it is possible to ascertain (however, unfortunately from just a few references) that women within the Jain śramaṇa tradition possessed similar freedoms to Buddhist women, Jaina literature leaves to posterity no Therīgāthā equivalent. There are also no extant Jain texts from that period to match stories in the Avadānaśataka of women converts who attained high levels of religious experience. Nor is there any equivalent of the forty Apadānas attributed to the nuns who were the Buddha's close disciples. In Brahminism, again, although Stephanie Jamison has eruditely and insightfully drawn out the vicissitudes of the role of women within the Brahmanic ritual of sacrifice, the literature of Brahmanism does not supply us with voices of women from the ancient world, nor with stories of women who renounced their roles in the domestic sphere in favor of the fervent practice of religious observances.
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Bibliography

External links

Abhidharmadīpa

The Abhidharmadīpa or Lamp of Abhidharma is an Abhidharma text thought to have been authored by Vasumitra as a response to Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakośakārikā.

The text consists of verse and prose commentary. It currently survives as an incomplete collection of Sanskrit fragments. However, the text is valuable insofar as it confirms the identity of Vasubandhu as author of the Abhidharmakośakārikā.

Ajahn

Ajahn (Thai: อาจารย์, RTGS: achan, IPA: [ʔāː.tɕāːn], also romanized ajaan, aajaan, ajarn, ajahn, acharn and achaan) is a Thai language term which translates as "professor" or "teacher." It is derived from the Pali word ācariya, and is a term of respect, similar in meaning to the Japanese sensei, and is used as a title of address for high-school and university teachers, and for Buddhist monks who have passed ten vassa. The term "ajahn" is customarily used to address forest tradition monks and the term Luang Por, "Venerable father" is customarily used to address city tradition monks in Thai Buddhism.

Buddhism in Venezuela

Buddhism in Venezuela is practiced by over 52,000 people (roughly 0.2% of the population). The Buddhist community is made up mainly of Chinese, Japanese, and Koreans.

Most identify with the Mahayana tradition, reflecting the religious heritage of their emigrant countries.

However, in the mid-1990s Keun-Tshen Goba (né Ezequiel Hernandez Urdaneta), together with Jigme Rinzen, founded a meditation center using the Shambhala Training method.

There are Buddhist centers in Caracas, Maracay, Mérida, Puerto Ordáz, San Felipe, and Valencia.

Buddhism in the Maldives

Buddhism in the Maldives was the predominant religion at least until the 12th century CE. It is not clear how Buddhism was introduced into the islands.

Dhammadharini Vihara

Dhammadharini Vihara is a Buddhist women's monastic residence (vihara) in the Sonoma Hills of Santa Rosa, California. The name "Dhammadharini" is interpreted as a "holder" or "upholder" (in the feminine) of the Buddhadhamma as a "flowing" or "streaming" reality, teaching and practice. A "vihara" is a monastic residence, and place of Dhamma and meditation teaching and practice.Dhammadharini Vihara opened the doors at its first temporary, rented location in August 2005, with room for three residents: bhikkhunīs, aspirants and stewards. In 2009, with the offering of a parcel of rescued redwood forest on the Sonoma Coast, Dhammadharini's Awakening Forest Hermitage, Aranya Bodhi, was born. With the development of the hermitage, the original Fremont, CA vihara was transferred to an offered wing in an urban residence near Lake Elizabeth in Fremont. This second temporary lodging for the bhikkhunīs was named the "Bodhi House," and was an in-town outpost related to Aranya Bodhi. After establishment of very basic rustic and rugged facilities at Aranya Bodhi, the Bodhi House was closed, and for one year, the Dhammadharini Sangha lived only at Aranya Bodhi. Meanwhile, a room was offered by Ven. Bhikkhunī Hanhtri Sakya for the Dhammadharini bhikkhunīs with the "I'm for World Peace Foundation" at the Peace Pagoda in Fremont's Niles district nearby the original vihara for the bhikkhunīs to stay when teaching in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Following that year, recognizing the community's need for a more accessible vihara, the Dhammadharini supporters once again rented a temporary vihara, this time in Santa Rosa between Bennett Valley and Sonoma Valley within an hour of Aranya Bodhi Hermitage but closer to the San Francisco Bay Area, while a permanent vihara/monastery venue was sought. After a three year long search, the new Dhammadharini monastery property was found on the full moon of February in 2016 (Sangha Day & the lunar anniversary of Mahapajapati Gotami's parinibbāna) and the property purchase completed by the Dhammadharini Support Foundation on Earth Day of 2016. The new monastery property is located at the western foot of Sonoma Mountain in Penngrove, and is currently being repaired and renovated for the monastic community's occupancy for the 2016 Vassa, with Opening Blessings scheduled on July 16 & 17.The original Dhammadharini Vihara was notable as the first Theravāda monastery for women monastics and especially for bhikkhunīs in the western United States. In the Theravada tradition in North America, Buddhist monasteries for women have been rare as compared to in Theravada Buddhism in Asia, in large part due to the lack of equal full ordination for women in the traditions. When Dhammadharini was founded, it became the third bhikkhunī vihara in the entire United States, and the first in Northern California, as compared to more than 60 viharas for bhikkhus (male monks) of Theravada traditions.

A focus of Dhammadharini Support Foundation's mission from the beginning has been to support bhikkhunīs, fully ordained Buddhist women monastics (known as both "female monks" and "fully ordained nuns" in English), and their full living of the monastic life, teaching and leadership. The Vihara observes the annual Vassa of the Theravada South and Southeast Asian traditions, and bhikkhunīs train in the 311 precepts of the Pāli-text Bhikkhunī Paṭimokkha, as well as elements of the Thai Forest Tradition's extra-Vinaya discipline known as Kor Wat. The teaching and practice incorporates elements of the Thai Forest Traditions of Ajahn Chah and Luang Ta Maha Bua, the Sri Lanka forest and Dhamma-teaching related to Ven. Henepola Gunaratana (popularly known as "Bhante G") and other teachers, and the Burmese Vipassana traditions related to both the lineage of Mahasi Sayadaw and the Pa-Auk Sayadaw.

The founding abbess, Ven. Ayyā Tathālokā Therī began her entry into monastic life in 1987 at the age of 19, leaving university to do so. She became an anagārikā at age 20 and a novice ten-precept renunciate at age 22, first training and practicing in Europe and then India. She later sought and found a senior bhikkhunī mentor with the well-established Bhikkhunī Sanghas of East Asia in South Korea, undertook dependency with her bhikkhunī mentor in 2003, and undertook samanerī pabbajjā under her mentor's auspices at Haein-sa Monastery in 2005, for the sake of training for bhikkhunī ordination. Expatriated to the United States in 1996, she had the unexpected rare opportunity to fully ordain as a bhikkhunī in Southern California in 1997, with the late most venerable Havanpola Ratanasāra Mahāthero as bhikkhu preceptor, thanks to the organizational support of the first American bhikkhunī, the late Ven. Karuna Dharma.

Since the founding of Dhammadharini in 2005, Ayyā Tathālokā and her bhikkhunī peers, in partnership with the Dhammadharini Support Foundation, have welcomed monastic life aspirants and bhikkhunīs, sāmanerīs and women renunciates from various Buddhist traditions at Dhammadharini Vihara, the Bodhi House and Aranya Bodhi Hermitage. Ayyā Tathālokā offered the first and second anagārikā ordinations at Dhammadharini Vihara in Fremont in 2005 and 2006, and after attaining ten years seniority as a bhikkhunī, she offered the first sāmanerī pabbajjās (going forth as a "female sāmaṇa in training") in Australia and the land that was to become Aranya Bodhi in 2008. She and the Dhammadharini community further offered a series of bhikkhunī camps at Aranya Bodhi, and the first entirely-Theravada Dual Bhikkhunī Ordination in Western Australia in 2009 followed in North America with Dhammadharini at Aranya Bodhi Hermitage in 2010.

For five years, she regularly served as a bhikkhunī preceptor for women, granting various levels of ordination to around 30 women in USA, Australia and Thailand in the ten-year period between 2005 and 2015. For its first ten years Ven. Tathālokā Therī served as abbess of Dhammadharini, retiring from that role in 2014, with a shift to shared, communal leadership among three resident bhikkhunī teachers, including herself, Ven. Sobhanā Therī, and Ven. Suvijjānā Bhikkhunī who has been with the Dhammadharini community for the past ten years. She continues to serve as pavattinī-upajjhāyā (preceptor) and sanghatherī (senior-most monastic in residence) with the Dhammadharini Sangha at Dhammadharini Vihara, and plans to also do so at the new permanent Dhammadharini Monastery in Penngrove when the old vihara closes in July 2016. Dhammadharini has served as host to Ven. Tathālokā Therī's ongoing research into and writings on the history (or her-story) of the Bhikkhunī Sangha, as well as hosting and supporting the Bhikkhunī Vibhanga Project, the Bhikkhunī Patimokkha Third Edition, and numerous other works with and classes on the bhikkhunīs' monastic Vinaya discipline.

The Dhammadharini bhikkhunīs' community and teachers do not ever charge for their teachings and services. Rather, they live as the Buddha did, as alms mendicants, with what is freely given in the spirit of support and generosity. The Dhammadharini bhikkhunīs, from the beginning at Dhammadharini Vihara in Fremont, went on pindapata almsrounds daily, and they continue to go on pindapata almsrounds regularly in the local town of Sebastopol and elsewhere in their area. People also bring foods, medicines and supplies to offer at the vihara, monastery and hermitage when visiting, together with freewill charitable financial donations, which allow the support foundation to cover all operational expenses. The monastics regularly freely offer Dhamma and meditation groups and teachings both at the vihara and with outside meditation groups and at schools and other venues when invited, and they offer sutta study and discussion groups and the opportunity to undertake silā (precepts) at the vihara.

Both the new Dhammadharini Monastery and the Aranya Bodhi Hermitage also offer times of personal retreat for their monastics, trainees and stewards, residential opportunities for exploring monastic life through short and extended-stay visits, and temporary ordination as an 8-precept anagarika; as well as opportunities for highly dedicated aspirants to go forth as a sāmaṇeri and fully ordain and train as a bhikkhunī. As it becomes more and more socially acceptable and common, the number of women who are converting from being other forms of Theravada female monastics such as dasasilamatas, maechees and thilashins is on the rise, as are the number of bhikkhunīs from East Asian Mahāyanā traditions who wish to, and now have the opportunity, to transfer to the Theravāda bhikkhunī way of life, in accordance with their aspirations. Dhammadharini serves among bhikkhunī locations in supporting and facilitating these traditions, for qualified aspirants.

With the closing of the old temporary Dhammadharini Vihara in Santa Rosa in July 2016, and the opening of the new Dhammadharini Monastery (Dhammadharini Sonoma Mountain Bhikkhunī Aramaya) this same month, a longterm wish and dream of the Dhammadharini community and support foundation, to offer a place for the young Bo tree of the Bhikkhunī Sangha to be able to put down roots in native American soil, will be fulfilled. The Buddhist women's monastic community, and the Bhikkhunī Sangha, as an essential part of the Buddha Catuparisa (Fourfold Sangha of the Buddha), is taking root in North America.

Dharma talk

A Dharma talk (Sanskrit) or Dhamma talk (Pali) or Dharma sermon (Japanese: 法語 (ほうご, Hōgo), Chinese: 法語) is a public discourse on Buddhism by a Buddhist teacher.In some Zen traditions a Dharma talk may be referred to as a teisho (提唱). However, according to Taizan Maezumi and Bernard Glassman, a teisho is "a formal commentary by a Zen master on a koan or Zen text. In its strictest sense, teisho is non-dualistic and is thus distinguished from a Dharma talk, which is a lecture on a Buddhist topic." In this sense, a teisho is thus a formal Dharma talk. Vietnamese master Thich Nhat Hanh says the following about Dharma talks:

A Dharma talk must always be appropriate in two ways: it must accord perfectly with the spirit of the Dharma and it must also respond perfectly to the situation in which it is given. If it only corresponds perfectly with the teachings but does not meet the needs of the listeners, it's not a good Dharma talk; it's not appropriate.

Khema

Kṣemā (Sanskrit; Pali: Khemā) was one of the two chief female disciples of Buddha (the other being Uppalavanna). The Sutta Nipata mention her to be the wife of Bimbisara, king of Magadha, and a follower of Buddhism.

Koliya

The Koliyas were Kshatriya of the Adicca (Iksvaku) clan of the Solar Dynasty from the Indian subcontinent, during the time of Gautama Buddha.The family members of the two royal families, that is the Koliyas and Sakyas married only among themselves. Both clans were very proud of the purity of their royal blood and had practised this tradition of inter-marriage since ancient times. For example, Suddhodana's paternal aunt was married to the Koliyan ruler Añjana. Their daughters, Mahamaya and Mahapajapati Gotami, were married to Śuddhodana, the chief of the Sakyans. Similarly, Yashodhara, daughter of Suppabuddha, who was Añjana’s son, was married to the Sakyan prince, Gautama Buddha. Thus, the two royal families were related by marriage bonds between maternal and paternal cousins since ancient times. In spite of such close blood-ties, there would be occasional rifts between the two royal families, which sometimes turned into open hostility.

List of Buddhas

This is a list of historical, contemporary, and legendary figures which at least one school of Buddhism considers to be a Buddha and which have an article on Wikipedia:

Acala

Adi-Buddha

Akshobhya

Amitābha, principal Buddha of Pure Land Buddhism

Amoghasiddhi

Bhaisajyaguru

Budai

Dīpankara Buddha

Five Tathagatas

Gautama Buddha

Kakusandha

Kassapa Buddha

Koṇāgamana Buddha

Lokesvararaja

Nairatmya

Nichiren Daishonin, Buddha of the Latter Day of the Law (Nikko Lineage)

Padumuttara Buddha

Padmasambhava

Ratnasambhava

Satyanama

Sumedha Buddha

Tara

Tonpa Shenrab

Vairocana, embodiment of the Dharmakaya

Vajradhara

Vajrayogini

Yeshe Tsogyal

List of suttas

Suttas from the Sutta Pitaka of the Pali Canon.

List of Digha Nikaya suttas

List of Majjhima Nikaya suttas

List of Samyutta Nikaya suttas

List of Anguttara Nikaya suttas

List of Khuddaka Nikaya suttas

Rinpoche

Rinpoche, also spelled Rimboche and Rinboku (Tibetan: རིན་པོ་ཆེ་, Wylie: rin po che, THL: Rinpoché, ZYPY: Rinboqê), is an honorific term used in the Tibetan language. It literally means "precious one", and may be used to refer to a person, place, or thing--like the words "gem" or "jewel" (Sanskrit Ratna).

The word consists of rin(value) and po(nominative suffix) and chen(big).

The word is used in the context of Tibetan Buddhism as a way of showing respect when addressing those recognized as reincarnated, older, respected, notable, learned and/or an accomplished Lamas or teachers of the Dharma. It is also used as an honorific for abbots of monasteries.

Samanera

A sāmaṇera (Pali); Sanskrit śrāmaṇera, is a novice male monastic in a Buddhist context. A female novice is a śrāmaṇerī or śrāmaṇerikā (Sanskrit; Pāli: sāmaṇerī).

Threefold Training

The Buddha identified the threefold training (sikkhā) as training in:

higher virtue (adhisīla-sikkhā)

higher mind (adhicitta-sikkhā)

higher wisdom (adhipaññā-sikkhā)

Uppalavanna

Uppalavannā (Chinese: 蓮華色比丘尼 or 優缽華色比丘尼) was considered to be one of the two chief female disciples of the Buddha, the other being Khema.

She was the daughter of a wealthy merchant and was known for her great beauty. Her name means "one with the hue of the blue lotus".

Vinaya

The Vinaya (Pali and Sanskrit, literally meaning "leading out", "education", "discipline") is the regulatory framework for the sangha or monastic community of Buddhism based on the canonical texts called the Vinaya Pitaka. The teachings of the Gautama Buddha can be divided into two broad categories: Dharma "doctrine" and Vinaya "discipline".

Extant vinaya texts include those of the Theravada (the only one in Pali), the Kāśyapīya, the Mahāsāṃghika, the Mahīśāsaka, the Dharmaguptaka, the Sarvāstivāda and the Mūlasarvāstivāda.

Yaśodharā

Yaśodharā (Pali: Yasodharā) was the former wife of Gautama Buddha—before he left his home to become a śramaṇa—the mother of Rāhula, and the sister of Devadatta. She later became a bhikkhunī and is considered an arahatā.

Ānanda

Ānanda (5th–4th century BCE) was the primary attendant of the Buddha and one of his ten principal disciples. Among the Buddha's many disciples, Ānanda stood out for having the best memory. Most of the texts of the early Buddhist Sutta-Piṭaka (Pāli; Sanskrit: Sūtra-Piṭaka) are attributed to his recollection of the Buddha's teachings during the First Buddhist Council. For that reason, he is known as the Treasurer of the Dhamma, with Dhamma (Sanskrit: Dharma) referring to the Buddha's teaching. In Early Buddhist Texts, Ānanda was the first cousin of the Buddha. Although the early texts do not agree on many parts of Ānanda's early life, they do agree that Ānanda was ordained as a monk and that Puṇṇa Mantāniputta (Sanskrit: Pūrṇa Maitrāyaṇīputra) became his teacher. Twenty years in the Buddha's ministry, Ānanda became the attendant of the Buddha, when the Buddha selected him for this task. Ānanda performed his duties with great devotion and care, and acted as an intermediary between the Buddha and the laypeople, as well as the saṅgha (Sanskrit: saṃgha, lit. 'monastic community'). He accompanied the Buddha for the rest of his life, acting not only as an assistant, but also a secretary and a mouthpiece.

Scholars are skeptical about the historicity of many events in Ānanda's life, especially the First Council, and consensus about this has yet to be established. A traditional account can be drawn from early texts, commentaries, and post-canonical chronicles. Ānanda had an important role in establishing the order of bhikkhunīs (Sanskrit: bhikṣuṇī, lit. 'nun'), when he requested the Buddha on behalf of the latter's foster-mother Mahāpajāpati Gotamī (Sanskrit: Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī) to allow her to be ordained. Ānanda also accompanied the Buddha in the last year of his life, and therefore was witness to many tenets and principles that the Buddha conveyed before his death, including the well-known principle that the Buddhist community should take his teaching and discipline as their refuge, and that he would not appoint a new leader. The final period of the Buddha's life also shows that Ānanda was very much attached to the Buddha's person, and he saw the Buddha's passing with great sorrow.

Shortly after the Buddha's death, the First Council was convened, and Ānanda managed to attain enlightenment just before the council started, which was a requirement. He had a historical role during the council as the living memory of the Buddha, reciting many of the Buddha's discourses and checking them for accuracy. During the same council, however, he was chastised by Mahākassapa (Sanskrit: Mahākāśyapa) and the rest of the saṅgha for allowing women to be ordained and failing to understand or respect the Buddha at several crucial moments. Ānanda continued to teach until the end of his life, passing on his spiritual heritage to his pupils Sāṇavāsī (Sanskrit: Śāṇakavāsī) and Majjhantika (Sanskrit: Madhyāntika), among others, who later assumed leading roles in the Second and Third Councils. Ānanda died 20 years after the Buddha, and stūpas (monuments) were erected at the river where he died.

Ānanda is one of the most loved figures in Buddhism. He was known for his memory, erudition and compassion, and was often praised by the Buddha for these matters. He functioned as a foil to the Buddha, however, in that he still had worldly attachments and was not yet enlightened, as opposed to the Buddha. In the Sanskrit textual traditions, Ānanda is considered the patriarch of the Dhamma, who stood in a spiritual lineage, receiving the teaching from Mahākassapa and passing them on to his own pupils. Ānanda has been honored by bhikkhunīs since early medieval times for his merits in establishing the nun's order. In recent times, the composer Richard Wagner and Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore were inspired by stories about Ānanda in their work.

Ōtomo-Nata Jezebel

Ōtomo-Nata Jezebel or Lady Nata (奈多夫人) was a woman from the Sengoku period. Daughter of Nata Akimoto, she was a high priestess of Usa Jingū. She was the first wife of christian daimyo Ōtomo Sōrin. She actively resist against the Jesuit mission in Japan and the spread of Christianity in Kyushu.

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