Abstract: The Foundation of the Bhikkunisamgha as a Model for a Revival

by Prof. Dr. Oskar von Hinüber

If it is intended to revive the ordination of nuns in the Theravada tradition, the Vinaya of this school must be scrutinized in order to trace possible obstacles or to find opportunities. The best starting point seems to be the story of foundation of order of nuns as related in the Cullavagga of the Theravada Vinaya. Beginning with the controversial LXVth Pcittiya (nuns) and investigating the meaning of the word gihigata-, an attempt will be made to demonstrate by using mostly linguistic arguments that the order of nuns originated when a group of female ascetics lead according to our sources by Mahaprajapati Gotami joined the Buddhist community.

Another result is that there is much reason to assume that the bhikkhuni sangha was founded only after the nibbana, and, consequently, that the very first nuns were ordained by monks only. Therefore, nothing prevents Theravada monks of today to act in exactly the same way, and to revive the ordination of nuns by simply following the model of the foundation of the order of nuns.