A sāmaṇera (Pali); Sanskrit śrāmaṇera, is a novice male monastic in a Buddhist context.[1] A female novice is a śrāmaṇerī or śrāmaṇerikā (Sanskrit; Pāli: sāmaṇerī).

Novices meditating
Śrāmaṇeras in Thailand
Chogye Buddhist monks
Śrāmaṇeras from the tradition of Korean Buddhism


The sāmaṇera is a Pali language diminutive equivalent to the Sanskrit term śrāmaṇera, which indicates an ascetic practitioner. Therefore, sāmaṇera might be said to mean "small or young renunciate". In some South and Southeast Asian Buddhist traditions, the term refers to someone who has taken the initial pravrajya vows but not the upasampada or full ordination. The pratimokṣa rules do not apply to them and they do not take part in the recital of the rules on uposatha days.

The Sanskrit word śrāmaṇerikā is the feminine form of śrāmaṇera.


The account provided in the literature of South Asian Buddhism (and adopted by other Buddhist sects) is that when Gautama Buddha's son Rāhula was seven years old, he followed the Buddha, saying "Give me my inheritance." The Buddha called Sariputta and asked him to ordain Rāhula, who became the first sāmaṇera.

The King (Suddhodana), discovering that now his grandson and a number of young men in the royal family had requested ordination, asked the Buddha only to ordain a minor with the consent of his parents or guardian. The Buddha assented. This rule was expanded to include the spouses of those intending to join the Order of monks and nuns".[2]


Novices sweeping
Thai novices sweeping temple grounds.

In the Vinaya (monastic regulations) used by many South Asian Buddhist sects, a man under the age of 20 cannot ordain as a bhikṣu (monk) but can ordain as a sāmaṇera. Sāmaṇeras (and sāmaṇerīs – the equivalent term for girls) keep the Ten Precepts as their code of behaviour and devote themselves to the religious life during breaks from secular schooling, or in conjunction with it if devoted to formal ordination. In other cultures and Buddhist traditions (particularly North East Asia, and those in the West that derive from these lineages), monks take different sets of vows, and follow different customary rules.

The Ten Precepts upheld by sāmaṇeras are:

  1. Refrain from killing living things.
  2. Refrain from stealing.
  3. Refrain from unchastity (sensuality, sexuality, lust).
  4. Refrain from lying.
  5. Refrain from taking intoxicants.
  6. Refrain from taking food at inappropriate times (after noon).
  7. Refrain from singing, dancing, playing music or attending entertainment programs (performances).
  8. Refrain from wearing perfume, cosmetics and garland (decorative accessories).
  9. Refrain from sitting on high chairs and sleeping on luxurious, soft beds.
  10. Refrain from accepting money.

Ordination differs between sāmaṇeras and srāmaṇerīs.

Transition to full ordination

After a year or at the age of 20, a sāmaṇera will be considered for the upasampada or higher ordination as a bhikṣu. Some monasteries will require people who want to ordain as a monk to be a novice for a set period of time, as a period of preparation and familiarization. Adults would normally wear the white robes of a Brahmin.

Ordination of women

A woman is to be ordained, according to the traditional vinayas, by both a monk and a nun, first as a śrāmaṇerī. Śrāmaṇeras and śrāmaṇerīs keep the Ten Precepts as their code of behaviour, and are devoted to the Buddhist religious life during a break from secular schooling, or in conjunction with it if devoted to formal ordination.

After a year or at the age of 20, she will be ordained as a full bhikṣuṇī (Pali: bhikkhunī).

See also

External links


  1. ^ Sumedho, Ajahn (2014). Peace is a Simple Step (PDF). Amaravati Publications. p. 36. ISBN 978-1-78432-000-3.
  2. ^ "Wall paintings ·· coming home, see section Buddha's son". Retrieved 2013-11-06.

In Buddhism, an anagārika (Pali, 'homeless one', [əˈnəɡɑːrɪkə]; f. anagārikā [əˈnəɡɑːrɪkɑː]) is a person who has given up most or all of their worldly possessions and responsibilities to commit full-time to Buddhist practice. It is a midway status between a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni (fully ordained monastics) and laypersons. An anagārika takes the Eight Precepts, and might remain in this state for life.

Anagārikas usually wear white clothes or robes, depending on the tradition they follow. Some traditions have special ordination ceremonies for anagārikas, while others simply take the eight precepts with a special intention.

Given the lack of full ordination for women in modern Theravada Buddhism, women who wish to renounce live as anagārikās under names such as maechi in Thailand, thilashin in Myanmar, and dasa sil mata in Sri Lanka. In Vajrayana Buddhism, many nuns are technically anagārikās or śrāmaṇerikās (novitiates).


A bhikkhu (Pali; Sanskrit: bhikṣu) is an ordained male monastic ("monk") in Buddhism. Male and female monastics ("nun", bhikkhuni, Sanskrit bhikṣuṇī) are members of the Buddhist community.The lives of all Buddhist monastics are governed by a set of rules called the prātimokṣa or pātimokkha. Their lifestyles are shaped to support their spiritual practice: to live a simple and meditative life and attain nirvana.A person under the age of 20 cannot be ordained as a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni but can be ordained as a śrāmaṇera or śrāmaṇērī.

Coming of age

Coming of age is a young person's transition from being a child to being an adult. It continues through the teenage years of life. The certain age at which this transition takes place changes in society, as does the nature of the change. It can be a simple legal convention or can be part of a ritual or spiritual event, as practiced by many societies. In the past, and in some societies today, such a change is associated with the age of sexual maturity (early adolescence), especially menarche and spermarche. In others, it is associated with an age of religious responsibility. Particularly in western societies, modern legal conventions which stipulate points in late adolescence or early adulthood (most commonly 17-21 when adolescents are generally no longer considered minors and are granted the full rights and responsibilities of an adult) are the focus of the transition. In either case, many cultures retain ceremonies to confirm the coming of age, and coming-of-age stories are a well established sub genre in literature, film industry and even comics.


A kyaung (Burmese: ဘုန်းကြီးကျောင်း [pʰóʊɴdʑí tɕáʊɴ]) is a monastery (vihara), comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of Buddhist monks. Burmese kyaungs are sometimes also occupied by novice monks (samanera), lay attendants (kappiya), nuns, and young acolytes observing the five precepts (ဖိုးသူတော် phothudaw). Kyaungs are typically built of wood, meaning that few historical monasteries built before the 1800s are extant. Kyaungs exist in Myanmar (Burma), as well as in neighboring countries with Theravada Buddhist communities, including neighboring China (e.g., Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture).

The kyaung has traditionally been the center of village life in Burma, serving as both the educational institution for children and a community center, especially for merit-making activities such as construction of buildings, offering of food to monks and celebration of Buddhist festivals, and observance of uposatha.

Monasteries are not established by members of the sangha, but by laypersons who donate land or money to support the establishment.

Mintha Maungshin

Mintha Maungshin (Burmese: မင်းသားမောင်ရှင် [mɪ́ɴðá màʊɴ ʃɪ̀ɴ]), is one of 37 recognized in the Burmese pantheon of nats. He was a grandson of King Alaungsithu of Pagan (Bagan), son of Min Shin Saw. While he was still a young novice monk (samanera), he fell off a swing and died.


Pabbajja (Pali; Skt.: pravrajya) literally means "to go forth" and refers to when a layperson leaves home to live the life of a Buddhist renunciate among a community of bhikkhus (fully ordained monks). This generally involves preliminary ordination as a novice (m. samanera, f. samaneri). It is sometimes referred to as "lower ordination". After a period or when the novice reaches 20 years of age, the novice can be considered for the upasampada ordination (or "higher ordination") whereby the novice becomes a monk (bhikkhu) or nun (bhikkhuni).

In some traditional Theravada countries, such as Myanmar, boys undergo pabbajja (Shinbyu) at the age of puberty. In Mahayana countries such as China and Japan, the pabbajja is preceded by a probationary period.

Path Press

Path Press is a non-profit entity, which handles legal matters and holds the copyrights of all Ven. Ñāṇavīra Thera's writings together with some the writings from others; Path Press Publications is an independent non-profit publisher of books by Ven. Ñāṇavīra Thera and the writings of Samanera Bodhesako. It has its office in the Netherlands.

The Path Press is also a society whose goal is to explain and spread the doctrine of the Buddha. It was founded in Sri Lanka in 1987 by Samanera Bodhesako. Originally conceived as a limited effort to publish Clearing the Path but later become an entity who is holding copyrights of writing of Ñāṇavīra Thera and it consist of the small group of 4 bhikkhus and 5 layman (upāsakas) who are aspiring to make late Ven. Ñāṇavīra Thera's teachings more available for those who are interested.

Poy Sang Long

Poy Sang Long (Shan: ပွႆးသၢင်ႇလွင်း) is a rite of passage ceremony among the Shan peoples, in Myanmar and in neighbouring northern Thailand, undergone by boys at some point between seven and fourteen years of age. It consists of taking novice monastic vows and participating in monastery life for a period of time that can vary from a week to many months or more. Usually, a large group of boys are ordained as sāmaṇera (novitiate monk) at the same time.

The name derives from three Tai Yai words: poy meaning 'event'; sang, thought to come from either khun sang ('brahman') or sang ('novice monk'); and long, from along meaning Bodhisattva or 'the king's lineage'.In neighbouring Thailand, where Shan immigrants have brought over the traditions from Myanmar, the ceremony goes on for three days, as the boys (dressed like princes in imitation of Gautama Buddha, who was himself a prince before setting out on the religious path) spend the entire time being carried around on the shoulders of their older male relatives. On the third day, they are ordained, and enter the monastery for a period of at least one week, and perhaps many years.

Samanera Bodhesako

Sāmanera Bodhesako (born Robert Smith, 1939-1988; known also as Ven. Vinayadhara and Ven. Ñāṇasuci in his early monastic life) was an American Buddhist monk. Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1939, he studied at the University of Iowa, specializing in Literature and Creative Writing. He embraced Buddhism in 1966 in India, where he was ordained at the Bengal Buddhist Association of Calcutta, and spent several years as a monk in Island Hermitage and elsewhere in Sri Lanka. (His autobiography of his early monastic life can be found in the book called Getting Off: A Portrait.) After leaving the robe in 1971, in 1980 he again took ordination, this time in Thailand under the Venerable Somdet Ñāṇasamvara (Supreme Patriarch of Thailand) of Wat Bovornives. In 1982 he returned to Sri Lanka, living mostly in the upcountry region of Bandarawela. In 1988, while on a return journey to the United States to join his father for the latter's eightieth birthday celebration, Ven. Bodhesako died from a sudden intestinal hernia while in Kathmandu.

During the last years of his life he founded the Path Press for which he edited Clearing the Path: Writings of Ñāṇavīra Thera (Colombo, 1987). For the BPS he edited The Tragic, the comic and the Personal: Selected Letters of Ñāṇavīra Thera (Wheel Publication series No. 339–41, 1987.)

In 2008 BPS published Beginnings: Collected Essays by S. Bodhesako. This book contains all the known published and unpublished essays by S. Bodhesako: Beginnings, Change, The Buddha and Catch-22, The Myth of Sisyphus, Faith, and Being and Craving.


Shinbyu (Burmese: ရှင်ပြု; MLCTS: hrang pru.; pronounced [ʃɪ̀ɴbjṵ], also spelt shinpyu) is the Burmese term for a novitiation ceremony (pabbajja) in the tradition of Theravada Buddhism, referring to the celebrations marking the sāmaṇera (novitiate) monastic ordination of a boy under the age of 20.

It is deemed the most important duty that parents owe to their son by letting him go forth and embrace the legacy of Gautama Buddha, join the sangha and become immersed in the teachings of the Buddha, the Dhamma, at least for a short while, perhaps longer if not for the rest of his life. A boy may become a novice on more than one occasion, but by the age of twenty there will be another great occasion, the upasampada ordination, in which the boy becomes a fully ordained bhikkhu (ပဉ္စင်း bazin). Those who are not blessed with a male child will seek for an orphan boy or a boy from very poor families in order to receive this special dispensation by the Buddha and hence gain great merit by the act. Shinbyu may well be regarded as a rite of passage or coming of age ceremony as in other religions. Allowing a son to spend some time however short it may be, in a kyaung (Burmese Buddhist monastery) is regarded by most Burmese Buddhists as the best religious gift that his parents can give him and it is believed to have a lasting effect on his life.


U Sīlānanda (Burmese: သီလာနန္ဒ) was a Burmese Buddhist monk and scholar of vipassana meditation. Born in Mandalay, he first ordained as a novice monk (samanera) on 14 April 1943 at the age of 16, during Thingyan celebrations. He was ordained under Sayadaw U Pannavata at the Mahavijjodaya Chaung Monastery on the Sagaing Hills and given the Dharma name Sīlānanda. He attended the Kelly High School, an American Baptist mission school, before entering the monkhood.

On 2 July 1947, he underwent higher ordination at the same monastery. Four days later, he was re-ordained at Mandalay's Payagyi monastery. From 1946 to 1948, he passed three grades of the Burmese government religious examinations and given the status of Dhammacariya (Master of the Dhamma in 1950 and was conferred the title Sasanadhaja Siripavara Dhammacariya. In 1950, he was ordained once again, at Rangoon's Kyaungtawya Shwegyin monastery. In 1954, he gained an honorific suffix -abhivamsa for passing the religious examination of the Pariyattisasanahita Association in Mandalay. He travelled to University College Columbo and passed GCE Advanced Level Examinations with distinctions in Sanskrit and Pali.

In 1960, he became the chief abbot of the Mahavijjodaya Chaung monastery, where he had been ordained as a novice monk. In 1968, he moved to Abyarama Shwegu Taik monastery in Mandalay, and presided as chief abbot. He also served as the spiritual advisor of the Theravada Buddhist Society of America (TBSA) and abbot of TBSA's Dhammananda Vihara monastery in the United States.

He taught Buddhist scriptures at Sagaing's Atothokdayone Pali University and Mandalay Arts and Sciences University and compiled the Tipitaka Pali-Burmese dictionary and became a distinguished editor of the Pali Canon at the Sixth Buddhist council in Rangoon. More recently, he taught at Mandalay University and International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University.

He died of a brain tumor on 13 August 2005 at the age of 78 in Northern California.


Sujiva is a Malaysian Buddhist monk (samanera) and well known teacher of Vipassana in the Theravāda Buddhist tradition. Ven. Sujiva is one the Buddhist teachers, who are responsible for developing a keen interest in vipassana meditation in the Western countries. He has written many books on vipassana and metta meditation. He has also published several collections of poems.

Temple boy

A temple boy (Thai: เด็กวัด dek wat) is a boy in Thailand who lives in a wat and assists Buddhist monks.

The temple boys carry the alms bowls of the monks during the morning alms collection, and subsequently prepare the monks’ food before eating the leftovers themselves. They follow the ten precepts. Some are sent to become temple boys to acquire merit; others, because they are given free room and board; and others to receive religious and moral instruction. Some temple boys go on to be ordained as monks themselves. Temple boys may undertake the formal step of sāmaṇera ordination as part of their role, depending on their age and local custom.

Ten Principal Disciples

The ten principal disciples were the main disciples of Gautama Buddha. Depending on the scripture, the disciples included in this group vary. The Vimalakirti Sutra includes:


Śāripūtra (Sanskrit), or Sāriputta (Pāli), is a top master of Wisdom. In Heart Sutra, the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara preaches to him.


Maudgalyāyana (Sk.) or Moggallāna(Pl.), also known as Mahāmaudgalyāyana or Mahāmoggallāna. He is a top master of supernatural powers. Maudgalyayana and Śāriputra were once disciples of Sañjaya Belaṭṭhaputta, the skeptic, but they became disciples of the Buddha. In Chinese Buddhism, the Mass that Maudgalyayana held to save his mother who had gone to the Hungry Ghost realm (one of the Six realms) is the foundation of ullambana (Ghost Festival).


Mahākāśyapa (Sk.) or Mahākassapa (Pl.). He was a top master of ascetic training. After the death of Shakyamuni Buddha, he assumes the leadership of the sangha, compiled the Buddha's sayings (suttas) with 500 other disciples (First Buddhist councils), and became the first man who preached the Buddha's teachings directly.


Subhūti (Sk. & Pl.) understood the potency of emptiness. He appears in several Sutras of Mahāyāna Buddhism which teach Śūnyatā (Emptiness or Voidness). He is the subject of the Subhūti Sutta.

Purna Maitrayani-putra

Pūrṇa Maitrāyaniputra (Sk.) or Puṇṇa Mantānīputta (Pl.). He was also called Purna for short. He was the greatest teacher of the Law out of all the disciples. He was the top master of preaching.


Kātyāyana or Mahākātyāyana (Sk.) or Mahākaccāna (Pl.). He understood Shakyamuni Buddha's lecture the best. Although he had only five master in the rural areas, he was permitted to learn Vinaya by the Buddha.


Anuruddha (Pl.) or Aniruddha (Sk.) was a top master of clairvoyance and the practice of the four foundations of mindfulness (satipatthana). Aniruddha was a cousin of Shakyamuni Buddha. He and Ananda became monks at the same time.


Upāli (Sk. & Pl.) was a top master of Vinaya. He was born in the Shudra class and worked as a barber, ayurveda vaidya. Buddha had denied the class system, he ranked his disciples according to the order in which they joined. So Upali was ranked ahead of the ex-princes. In the First Buddhist council, the Vinaya was compiled based on his memory.


Rāhula (Sk. & Pl.) was the only son of the Buddha (when he was still Prince Siddhartha) and his wife Princess Pṛthī. He was a scrupulous, strict and shrewd person. When the Buddha went to his hometown, he became the first Sāmanera (novice monk).


Ānanda (Sk. & Pl.) listened to the Buddha's teachings the most among the disciples. He was a cousin of the Buddha. Ananda means great delight. After he became a monk, he took care of the Buddha for 25 years, until the Buddha died. In the First Buddhist council, the suttas/sutras were compiled based on his memory. He lived to 120 years old.

Upali Thera

Upali Thera (Thai: อุบาลี; RTGS: U-bali) was a Thai Theravada monk and founder of the Siam Nikaya order of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. He visited Kandy in 1753 and there performed upasampada (higher ordination, as distinct from samanera or novice ordination) for a group of Sinhala monks. The upasampada was not observed in Sri Lanka for centuries until this time. Upali Thera believed the Buddhist Sangha in Kandy was suffering from a state of corruption, and his efforts were aimed at "purifying" the practices - which included astrology - of the monastic order there. To this end he founded the new monastic order.

It was also through the efforts of Upali Thera that the "procession of the tooth" came into being. Annually in Kandy there is a celebration which includes a parade in which the focus is a relic believed to be a tooth of the Buddha. This procession was originally focussed on honor to Hindu deities, particularly those incorporated into Mahayana Buddhism. Upali Thera believed this to be inappropriate in a Buddhist nation, and his influence led to the king declaring that "Henceforth Gods and men are to follow the Buddha".


Upasampadā (Pali) literally denotes "approaching or nearing the ascetic tradition." In more common parlance it specifically refers to the rite and ritual of ascetic vetting (ordination) by which a candidate, if deemed acceptable, enters the community as upasampadān (ordained) and authorised to undertake ascetic life.According to Buddhist monastic codes (Vinaya), a person must be 20 years old in order to become a monk or nun. A person under the age of 20 years cannot undertake upasampada (i.e., become a monk (bhikkhu) or nun (bhikkhuni)), but can become a novice (m. samanera, f. samaneri). After a year or at the age of 20, a novice will be considered for upasampada.Traditionally, the upasampada ritual is performed within a well-demarcated and consecrated area called sima (sima malaka) and needs to be attended by a specified number of monks: "ten or even five in a remoter area".

Wat Ananda Metyarama Thai Buddhist Temple

Wat Ananda Metyarama Thai Buddhist Temple is a Theravada Buddhist monastery and temple in Singapore. The monastery was originally set up by Venerable Luang Phor Hong Dhammaratano with his disciple Samanera Boonler. The temple is located at 50B Jalan Bukit Merah.

Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thero

Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thero (19 June 1698 – 18 July 1778) was a Buddhist monk, who was the last Sangharaja of Sri Lanka. He was the pioneer in the revival of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, after the decline of the religion in the 17th and 18th centuries. Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thero was bestowed with the Sangharaja title by king Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe in 1753, the same year he received the Upasampada (higher ordination of Buddhist monks) and re-established the Upasampada in Sri Lanka with the help of Mahasangha in Thailand. He is also credited with the establishment of Silvath Samagama (pious group), a union of monks who lived in accordance with the Buddhist monastic discipline.


Ashin Yazeinda (Burmese: အရှင်ရာဇိန္ဒ, Rājinda), better known by his pen name Yawai Nwe (ရဝေနွယ်), is a prominent Burmese Theravada Buddhist monk and writer.Ashin Yazeinda was born on 18 June 1969 in the town of Inma, Thegon Township, Pegu Division to parents U Thein Ni Sein and Daw Kyin Nu. He ordained as a novice (Pali: samanera) in 1979, and again in 1980. He began penning stories for the Flower magazine in 1985.In 1989, he was fully ordained as a bhikkhu, and studied at Rangoon's Mahavisuddhāruṃ Pali University and Monastery (မဟာဝိသုဒ္ဓါရုံ ပါဠိတက္ကသိုလ် ကျောင်းတိုက်). The following year, he began publishing Dhamma articles in the Myat Mingala journal.In 2000, the Burmese government conferred him the title of Sāsanadhaja Dhammācariya (သာသနဓဇ ဓမ္မာစရိယဘွဲ့). In January 2003, he published a seminal religious work, Would You Like to Meet Every Existence? (ဘဝတိုင်းဆုံတွေ့ချင်ပါသလား).He currently resides at the Dhammayawei Monastery (ဓမ္မရဝေကျောင်းတိုက်) in Thingangyungyi ward, Mingaladon Township, Yangon.

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