ABC article on Bhikkhuni ordination in Thailand

Interesting as to why they are writing such an article, but I’m glad to see it.

Perhaps Ajahn @sujato may want to write something to them regarding the topic?


The more Bhikkhunis, the better.

The Ayyas bring to mind Von Goethe’s old quote, if you’ll permit the masculine phrasing: “Against unjust criticism, a man can neither protest, nor defend himself. He must act in spite of it; and gradually, it will yield to him”


When they hear a harsh word spoken,
a mendicant should endure with no anger in heart.

~ Ud 4.8

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There is a program on it tonight, 8pm on Foreign Correspondent on ABC.

I’m curious why the ABC refers to bhikkunis as ‘monks’ (usually reserved for male renunciates) rather than ‘nuns’ (I assume the non-gendered term ‘monastic’ would be thought too obscure for a general audience).

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The term “monastic” was used:

Achara might feel ready for monastic life, but her goal to become a fully ordained monk puts her in sharp conflict with Thailand’s religious authorities.

Sorry, I meant used as a noun.

ABC = Australian Broadcasting Commission. It seems it might be a uniquely ‘Australian’ way of viewing things, i.e., women being monks. Australia was one of the 1st white nations allowing white women to vote. :australia:

Women’s suffrage in Australia was one of the early achievements of Australian democracy. Following the progressive establishment of male suffrage in the Australian colonies from the 1840s to the 1890s, an organised push for women’s enfranchisement gathered momentum from the 1880s, and began to be legislated from the 1890s, decades in advance of Europe and North America… In 1902, the newly established Australian Parliament passed the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 , which set a uniform law enabling women to vote at federal elections and to stand for the federal parliament (although up until 1962, “aboriginal natives” could be excluded from voting rights based on state legislation :boomerang:).


According this ABC program, currently only Sri Lanka Theravada tradition has re-established, and officially recognised Theravada Bhikkhuni ordination. The Thai nuns have to go to Sri Lanka for their Bhikkhuni ordination.

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It’s a usage that you hear around the place. It is, I think, ultimately derived from the fact that in Thailand, a “nun” is a mae chi, which technically means a white-robed householder living on eight precepts. “Monk” translates the Thai pra, which is gender-neutral.


Re: the terms monk and nun in Thailand

As Aj @sujato explained above. Not only that, but also our habit (here = mental habit). When a Thai sees the word ‘nun’, they will translate it as ‘Mae Chee’ as this type of female monastics is the only one they know of. When I speak about Bhikkhunis to Thai people, I have to use the word ‘female monk’ (= Phra Phuying).

The concept of Bhikkhunis is foreign to a large number of Thai people, funnily enough, including some in Perth who go to Dhammasara. They call Dhammasara ‘Wat Mae Chee’.


I wish ABC would report how proud Australia should be that we do have female monk monasteries here in Western Australia and in New South Wales.


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I will answer only what is related to Thailand.

We have Sangha Act, which stipulates legal rules and regulations covering several aspects of the community of monks, including issuance of monks IDs. (Please don’t get distracted and talk about why a government should not involve in religious affairs.) พระราชบัญญัติคณะสงฆ์ พ.ศ.2505 ซึ่งแก้ไขเพิ่มเติมโดยพระราชบัญญัติคณะสงฆ์ (ฉบับที่ 2) พ.ศ.2535 (Royal Proclamation Emblem) Sangha Act, B.E. 2505 as amended by Sangha Act (No. 2), B.E. 2535 Sections in numerical order

We don’t need the ‘male’ to okay their actions, but to be publicly recognised as ‘female monks’, they have to meet legal requirements. At the moment, there are no legal regulations for female monks. So, female monks are just laywomen, legally speaking. When we have a law for female monks, then they are legally and spiritually bhikkhunis. So, is the government male? No. But most senior government officials are male, especially at the National Office of Buddhism.

We now have an increasing number of female monks, and most are well accepted as part of the community.

The government doesn’t charge them with impersonating Buddhist monks, but let them be. Strictly and legally speaking, that is generous.

But of course, most of these female monks are really good monastics and have gained respect from the community where they reside, so attempts to arrest them for practicing the dhamma might not be met well with the people.


Aah, that makes sense. Thanks, Bhante.

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Wow, another dear friend ordaining :heart: :pray:
I couldn’t be happier for a more genuine and dedicated renunciant
A joy and blesssing to see friends enter the holy life and the bhikkhuni sangha grow
Makes sense the ABC would cover.
Bhikkhunis’ rights are women’s rights, and women’s rights are human rights.


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