Buddhism Ordination of Woman - Tibetans to re-establish 'Bhikkhuni Sangha'


Tibetan Buddhists will soon witness the revival of Bhikkhuni ordination and any delay on the part of their Theravada counterparts would be considered a serious "setback", said leading scholar and female monk Jampa Tsedroen.

Venerable Jampa Tsedroen made the remark during her lecture at Chulalongkorn University yesterday on the role of Vajrayana Buddhism in the age of globalisation. Last week, the German-born Bhikkhuni was named one of the twenty recipients of the United Nations Award for Outstanding Buddhist Women for 2007.

Ordained over two decades ago, Venerable Jampa Tsedroen is a key coordinator for the First International Buddhist Congress on Buddhist Women's Roles in the Sangha, in Hamburg, Germany, in July.

Lay and monastic experts on Buddhist canons will present their research on the possibility of restoring the Bhikkhuni lineage. At present, Tibetan Buddhism only allows ordination of women as novices, or Samaneri.

"Tibetans are very close to re-establishing the Bhikkhuni Sangha," said Venerable Jampa Tsedroen.

"In Mahayana Buddhism, we have Sangha in equity, but not in the Theravada, which somehow leads us a step back. It is a pity because Theravada is the basis of all of our traditions."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama will join the historic event on the last day. Venerable Jampa Tsedroen said the exiled Tibetan leader has given full and continuous support on this issue, including a personal donation equivalent to about 50,000 Swiss francs.

It is expected that some form of "supportive" declaration will be reached during the congress, she said.

Representing Thailand at the Hamburg Congress will be Venerable Bhikkhuni Dhammananda of Watra Songdhamkalayanee. In 2001, her ordination as a Theravada samaneri in Sri Lanka stirred a debate within the ecclesiastical community.

© Copyright The Post Publishing Public Co., Ltd. 2005

Published in "Bangkok Post", 03/13/07