Buddhist Nuns - Bhikkhunis in Theravada

Bhikkhunis in Theravada

People of the Pali Canon

Pali English

Community of Buddhist Disciples

Monastic Sangha

Bhikkhu, Bhikkhunī
Samaṇera, Samaṇerī

Monk, Nun
Nun trainee
Novice (m., f.)


Upāsaka and Upāsikā
Gahattha, Gahapati
Anagārika, Anagāriya

Lay devotee (m., f.)

Related Religions



The traditional appearance of Theravadan 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. White or pink robes are worn by Theravadan nuns who are not fully ordained. These nuns are known as Dasa sil mata in Sri Lanka, silashin in Myanmar (Burma), Mae ji in Thailand and Laos and siladharas (which originated at Amaravati Monastery, in the United Kingdom).

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 "untrue." Based on the spread of the bhikkhuni lineage to countries like China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Japan and Sri Lanka, other scholars support ordination of Theravadan bhikkhunis.

Dr. 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. She is considered a pioneer by many in Thailand

The first Theravadan bhikkhuni ordination in Australia was held in Perth, October 22, 2009, at Bodhinyana Monastery. Four nuns from Dhammasara Nun's Monastery, Venerable Ajahn Vayama (no longer there), and Venerables Nirodha, Seri and Hasapanna, were ordained as bhikkhunis by a Bhikkhuni Sangha and confirmed by a Bhikkhu Sangha, in full accordance with the Pali vinaya.

Read more about this topic:  Buddhist Nuns

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