Buddhism, Women, & Gender (A Bibliography)

I’m discovering that there are many works on the subject. This wiki is simply a listing of relevant works, as well as threads on this forum which address the matter, since there’s actually a lot. Please do add to it whatever you find useful.

Grrr! I put a lot of effort in that thing but it does not seem to be working! I wanted to put the “Reviews” in a drop-down box, otherwise it’s not nice! :confused: HELP!



On women & gender:

● Women in Early Indian Buddhism: Comparative Textual Studies.
Alice Collett (editor). Oxford university press. 2013.


The path of practice as taught in ancient India by Gotama Buddha was open to both women and men. The texts of early Indian Buddhism show that women were lay followers of the Buddha and were also granted the right to ordain and become nuns. Certain women were known as influential teachers of men and women alike and considered experts in certain aspects of Gotama’s dhamma. For this to occur in an ancient religion practiced within traditional societies is really quite extraordinary. This is apparent especially in light of the continued problems experienced by practitioners of many religions today involved in challenging instilled norms and practices and conferring the status of any high office upon women. In this collection, Alice Collett brings together a sampling of the plethora of Buddhist texts from early Indian Buddhism in which women figure centrally. It is true that there are negative conceptualizations of and attitudes towards women expressed in early Buddhist texts, but for so many texts concerning women to have been composed, collated and preserved is worthy of note. The simple fact that the Buddhist textual record names so many nuns and laywomen, and preserves biographies of them, attests to a relatively positive situation for women at that time. With the possible exception of the reverence accorded Egyptian queens, there is no textual record of named women from an ancient civilization that comes close to that of early Indian Buddhism. This volume offers comparative study of texts in five different languages - Gandhari, Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese and Sinhala. Each chapter is a study and translation, with some chapters focusing more on translation and some more on comparisons between parallel and similar texts, whilst others are more discursive and thematic. About the editor (2014): Alice Collett is a Fellow of the Arts and Humanities Council of Great Britain (AHRC) and Lecturer at York St John University. She has worked in different universities in North America and the UK, and published several articles on women in early Indian Buddhism, including two which look at reception history and review the modern scholarly debate on the subject. She is currently working on a monograph entitled Pali Biographies of Buddhist Nuns, for which she is in receipt of an Arts and Humanities Research Council award.

● WOMEN’S BUDDHISM … BUDDHISM’S WOMEN. Tradition, Revision, Renewal.
By Ellison Banks Findly. Wisdom publications. 2000.


Throughout Buddhism’s history, women have been hindered in their efforts to actualize the fullness of their spiritual lives; they face more obstacles to reaching full ordination, have fewer opportunities to cultivate advanced practice, and receive diminished recognition for their spiritual accomplishments. Here, a diverse array of scholars, activists, and practitioners explore how women have always managed to sustain a vital place for themselves within the tradition and continue to bring about change in the forms, practices, and institutions of Buddhism. In essays ranging from the scholarly to the personal, Women’s Buddhism, Buddhism’s Women describes how women have significantly shaped Buddhism to meet their own needs and the demands of contemporary life.

● The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity, and Gender. Bernard Faure. Princeton University Press, 2003.


Innumerable studies have appeared in recent decades about practically every aspect of women’s lives in Western societies. The few such works on Buddhism have been quite limited in scope. In The Power of Denial, Bernard Faure takes an important step toward redressing this situation by boldly asking: does Buddhism offer women liberation or limitation? Continuing the innovative exploration of sexuality in Buddhism he began in The Red Thread, here he moves from his earlier focus on male monastic sexuality to Buddhist conceptions of women and constructions of gender. Faure argues that Buddhism is neither as sexist nor as egalitarian as is usually thought. Above all, he asserts, the study of Buddhism through the gender lens leads us to question what we uncritically call Buddhism, in the singular. Faure challenges the conventional view that the history of women in Buddhism is a linear narrative of progress from oppression to liberation. Examining Buddhist discourse on gender in traditions such as that of Japan, he shows that patriarchy–indeed, misogyny–has long been central to Buddhism. But women were not always silent, passive victims. Faure points to the central role not only of nuns and mothers (and wives) of monks but of female mediums and courtesans, whose colorful relations with Buddhist monks he considers in particular. Ultimately, Faure concludes that while Buddhism is, in practice, relentlessly misogynist, as far as misogynist discourses go it is one of the most flexible and open to contradiction. And, he suggests, unyielding in-depth examination can help revitalize Buddhism’s deeper, more ancient egalitarianism and thus subvert its existing gender hierarchy. This groundbreaking book offers a fresh, comprehensive understanding of what Buddhism has to say about gender, and of what this really says about Buddhism, singular or plural.

● The Red Thread: Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality. Bernard Faure. Princeton University Press. 1998.


Is there a Buddhist discourse on sex? In this innovative study, Bernard Faure reveals Buddhism’s paradoxical attitudes toward sexuality. His remarkably broad range covers the entire geography of this religion, and its long evolution from the time of its founder, Xvkyamuni, to the premodern age. The author’s anthropological approach uncovers the inherent discrepancies between the normative teachings of Buddhism and what its followers practice.

Framing his discussion on some of the most prominent Western thinkers of sexuality–Georges Bataille and Michel Foucault–Faure draws from different reservoirs of writings, such as the orthodox and heterodox “doctrines” of Buddhism, and its monastic codes. Virtually untapped mythological as well as legal sources are also used. The dialectics inherent in Mahvyvna Buddhism, in particular in the Tantric and Chan/Zen traditions, seemed to allow for greater laxity and even encouraged breaking of taboos.

Faure also offers a history of Buddhist monastic life, which has been buffeted by anticlerical attitudes, and by attempts to regulate sexual behavior from both within and beyond the monastery. In two chapters devoted to Buddhist homosexuality, he examines the way in which this sexual behavior was simultaneously condemned and idealized in medieval Japan.

This book will appeal especially to those interested in the cultural history of Buddhism and in premodern Japanese culture. But the story of how one of the world’s oldest religions has faced one of life’s greatest problems makes fascinating reading for all.

● Buddhist Women Across Cultures (SUNY Series in Feminist Philosophy) - by Karma Lekshe Tsomo. 1999.

● Hellmuth Hecker, “Buddhist Women at the Time of the Buddha”, translated by Sister Khema, Buddhist Publication Society (Kandy, Sri Lanka), 1982.

On nuns & monastic issues:

● Susan Elbaum Jootla, “Inspiration from Enlightened Nuns”, Buddhist Publication Society (Kandy, Sri Lanka), 1988.

● Mohan Wijayaratna, “Buddhist Nuns. The Birth and Development of a Women’s Monastic Order”, Wisdom (Colombo, Sri Lanka), 2001.

● Freeing the Heart. Dhamma teachings from the Nuns’ Community at Amaravati & Cittaviveka Buddhist Monasteries. - Sister Kovida et al. Amaravati Publications. 2001.

● Taiwan’s Buddhist Nuns. Elise Anne DeVido. SUNY Press. 2010.


Taiwan’s Buddhist nuns are as unique as they are noteworthy. Boasting the greatest number of Buddhist nuns of any country, Taiwan has a much greater number of nuns than monks. These women are well known and well regarded as dharma teachers and for the social service work that has made them a central part of Taiwan’s civil society. In this, the first English-language book on Taiwanese women and Buddhism, author Elise Ann DeVido introduces readers to Taiwan’s Buddhist nuns, but also looks at the larger question of how Taiwan’s Buddhism shapes and is shaped by women–mainly nuns but also laywomen, who like their clerical sisters flourish in that country. Providing an historical overview of Buddhist women in China and Taiwan, DeVido discusses various reasons for the vibrancy of Taiwan’s nuns’ orders. She introduces us to the nuns of the best-known of order, the Buddhist Compassion-Relief Foundation (Ciji) as well as those of the Luminary Buddhist Institute. Discussing “Buddhism for the Human Realm,” DeVido asks whether this popular philosophy has encouraged and supported the singular strength of Taiwan’s Buddhism women.

● Himalayan Hermitess: The Life of a Tibetan Buddhist Nun. Kurtis R. Schaeffer. Oxford University Press, 2004.


Orgyan Chokyi (1675-1729) spent her life in Dolpo, the highest inhabited region of the Nepal Himalayas. Illiterate and expressly forbidden by her master to write her own life story, Orgyan Chokyi received divine inspiration to compose one of the most forthright and engaging spiritual autobiographies of the Tibetan literary tradition. Her life story is the oldest of only four Tibetan autobiographies authored by women. It is also a rare example of writing by a pre-modern Buddhist woman, and thus holds a unique place in Buddhist literature as a whole. Translator Kurtis Schaeffer prefaces the text with an illuminating study of the life and times of Orgyan Chokyi and an extended analysis of the hermitess’s view of the relation between gender, suffering, and liberation. Based almost entirely on primary Tibetan documents never before translated, this fascinating book will be of interest to those studying Buddhism, gender and religion, and the culture of the Tibetan world.

● Women Living Zen: Japanese Soto Buddhist Nuns. Paula Kane Robinson Arai. Oxford University Press, 2012.


Based on both historical evidence and ethnographic data, this book shows that nuns were central agents in the foundation of Buddhism in Japan in the sixth century. They were active participants in the Sōtō Zen sect, and have continued to contribute to the advancement of the sect to the present day. Drawing on fieldwork among the Sōtō nuns, the book demonstrates that the lives of many of these women embody classical Buddhist ideals. They have chosen to lead a strictly disciplined monastic life over successful careers and the unconstrained contemporary secular lifestyle.

● Being a Buddhist Nun: The Struggle for Enlightenment in the Himalayas. Kim Gutschow. Harvard University Press. 2009.


They may shave their heads, don simple robes, and renounce materialism and worldly desires. But the women seeking enlightenment in a Buddhist nunnery high in the folds of Himalayan Kashmir invariably find themselves subject to the tyrannies of subsistence, subordination, and sexuality. Ultimately, Buddhist monasticism reflects the very world it is supposed to renounce. Butter and barley prove to be as critical to monastic life as merit and meditation. Kim Gutschow lived for more than three years among these women, collecting their stories, observing their ways, studying their lives. Her book offers the first ethnography of Tibetan Buddhist society from the perspective of its nuns.

Gutschow depicts a gender hierarchy where nuns serve and monks direct, where monks bless the fields and kitchens while nuns toil in them. Monasteries may retain historical endowments and significant political and social power, yet global flows of capitalism, tourism, and feminism have begun to erode the balance of power between monks and nuns. Despite the obstacles of being considered impure and inferior, nuns engage in everyday forms of resistance to pursue their ascetic and personal goals.

A richly textured picture of the little known culture of a Buddhist nunnery, the book offers moving narratives of nuns struggling with the Buddhist discipline of detachment. Its analysis of the way in which gender and sexuality construct ritual and social power provides valuable insight into the relationship between women and religion in South Asia today.


D&D Forum topics

On women:

On nuns & monastic issues:












On Gender:














I’ve been interested in the dialog on gender roles on the forum and have been using the tag ‘gender’ to track such things. Some of the above are and aren’t included.

The tag 'bhukkhuni-ordination might be relevant too


@Pasanna Yes I believe the more economic way is to tag the threads rather than post them individually here. I might actually do both, but for now will keep posting! You know this data could be very important for other people interested in this, including for researchers and writers, so it’s worth the effort to collect them in one place. And the day is not yet done and I have had two instead of one cup of coffee today!!


@anon61506839, the women seeing this forum will be very pleased with these actions! I hope you can keep them up. :bhikkhuni::bhikkhuni::bhikkhuni::bhikkhuni::bhikkhuni:

with metta


Ok I edited and added many more posts above, now in three categories, on women, nuns, and gender.


I added another one to the “gender” section.


Just some books:

The Journey of One Buddhist Nun: Even Against the Wind
Sid Brown

Buddha’s Daughters: Teachings from Women who are Shaping Buddhism in the West
Andrea Miller

Being a Buddhist Nun: The Struggle for Enlightenment in the Himalayas
Kim Gutschow

Blossoms of the Dharma: Living as a Buddhist Nun
Thubten Chodron

And of course, the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion.

The thread should maybe be called “Buddhism, Women, and Gender”.


Some more books and articles:

Naomi Appleton - Women and the Bodhisatta Path in Theravada, 2011

Kathryn Blackstone - Women in the Footsteps of the Buddha, Struggle for Liberation in the Therigatha

Alice Collett - Historio-Critical Hermeneutics in the Study of Women in Early Indian Buddhism, 2009

Bh. Dhammadinna - Women’s Aspirations and Soteriological Agency in Sarvāstivāda and Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya Narratives

Pascale Engelmajer - Women in Pali Buddhism

Sue Hamilton - Buddhism, The Doctrinal Case for Feminism

Oskar von Hinuber - The Advent of the First Nuns in Early Buddhism

Douglas Osto - Soteriology, Asceticism and the Female Body in Two Indian Buddhist Narratives, 2006

Peter Skilling - Nuns, Laywoman, Donors, Goddesses. Female Roles in Early Indian Buddhism, 2001

Ingo Strauch - Mahāprajāpatī Gautamī and the Order of Nuns in a Gandhāran version of the Dakṣiṇāvibhaṅgasūtra

Bh. Sujato - White Bones Red Rot Black Snakes


The Sati Journal, sporadically issued by the Sati Institute here in the Bay Area, released a issue on Women’s contributions to Theravada Buddhism:



Dr Caroline Starkey has the forthcoming title, “Women in British Buddhism: Ordination, Connection and Community”.

She also co-wrote the chapter Cyber Sisters: Buddhist Women’s Online Activism and Practice. (2015)

This woman actually has quite a mixed response and will probably only feel a bit more comfortable with it when she notices a parallel thread: “Buddhism, Man, & Gender (A Bibliography)”.


This will include every book ever except the ones in this thread, so that’s basically already in place. But the worry seems off-target: the point here (I thought?) is not to emphasize gender or women, it is to rectify imbalances by improving access to a category of research & literature which has been (and as yet virtually always is) underrepresented.

I grok modern issues about gender and identity; women in general still experience minor & major subjugation in many ways, though, and it’s this broader issue to which this thread applies, those other complexities notwithstanding.


It depends what lens you use, I guess. I rather imagine extremely few books* have looked at manhood in Buddhism… as is the implication of your comment, it is so ‘taken as a given’ it has completely (as far as can tell, although I must admit to not having looked) avoided examination.

Not a worry, just a short reply to a previous comment so as to note the fact that there are boarder, more nuanced views in the mix.

Likewise. All the same that needn’t negate the point that there are invariably multiple approaches to how to balance imbalances. My view is that exploring the specifics of manhood may be one tool that could redress the scales a little.

The purpose of the thread wasn’t actually set out, however, naturally I don’t want to sidetrack from the main task as given. So will promptly wrap up with a quick thanks for your reply.


* I did just now remember there had at least one thread considering men has been posted to the forum. I guess it fits here, too, as the thread includes gender in its focus:


Thanks to everyone for your contributions. Yes! That’s exactly what I realised, there is a lot of material concerning this subject that I believe many of us didn’t know exists. And the discussions on this forum would fill at least a couple of books I believe; good, informative, and useful discussions.

Friend @Gabriel you have quite a big collection there! Thanks a lot for sharing.

Friend @Aminah thanks so much for fixing the reviews drop-down feature. It turned out to be much simpler than I thought! :slight_smile: (is there actually some kind of “manual” here listing the syntax used for the various features? For example, I still haven’t an idea about how to embed a link in a text!)

As regards the “purpose” of making this thread, it actually is stated at post no. 4. And thank you, friend @daverupa for being able to discern and express, quite eloquently, my intentions behind starting this wiki. Although my interest in this subject would be only very limited in comparison to others, nevertheless it was for the sake of “those others”, including some who are long-time friends of mine, that I have put effort in starting this wiki. I am confident that they would be very interested and impressed by it, even by the very fact that that much has been written on the subject in connection with Buddhism. Perhaps we sometimes begin to take things for granted, simply because they are always available, forgetting that there are others out there who don’t even know about or have access to the same opportunities of discussion and the acquisition of knowledge. A simple list like this can possibly be the one thing which could bring forth “hope” in some people, or get them to change their minds about how all religions are -not necessarily- “the same”!

But Let’s keep in mind that this is a thread dedicated to a listing and linking of resources on the specified subject but not really about discussing that subject. Friend @Aminah that interesting post by Ven. Sujato was actually already added, I put it there, having judged that it is of relevance to the subject of nuns’ ordination. And as for …

I would only be happy and curious about something like that, and appreciative to the effort done by its initiator, and quite independently of whether it was concomitant with a similar list on women or not.

Okay please remember that this is a Wiki, so butcher it as you please (gently I hope!). And also note that you can add your contributions by directly editing the initial lists instead of making new posts.

Thanks all.


Here’s one such book:

A Bull of a Man: Images of Masculinity, Sex, and the Body in Indian Buddhism. by John Powers. Harvard University Press. 2009.


The androgynous, asexual Buddha of contemporary popular imagination stands in stark contrast to the muscular, virile, and sensual figure presented in Indian Buddhist texts. In early Buddhist literature and art, the Buddha’s perfect physique and sexual prowess are important components of his legend as the world’s “ultimate man.” He is both the scholarly, religiously inclined brahman and the warrior ruler who excels in martial arts, athletic pursuits, and sexual exploits. The Buddha effortlessly performs these dual roles, combining his society’s norms for ideal manhood and creating a powerful image taken up by later followers in promoting their tradition in a hotly contested religious marketplace.

In this groundbreaking study of previously unexplored aspects of the early Buddhist tradition, John Powers skillfully adapts methodological approaches from European and North American historiography to the study of early Buddhist literature, art, and iconography, highlighting aspects of the tradition that have been surprisingly invisible in earlier scholarship. The book focuses on the figure of the Buddha and his monastic followers to show how they were constructed as paragons of masculinity, whose powerful bodies and compelling sexuality attracted women, elicited admiration from men, and convinced skeptics of their spiritual attainments.

Author: John Powers is Professor in Asian Studies at the College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University.

There’s no reason we can’t include a section in this wiki on “man”; it’s only a question of actually finding people interested in the subject enough to search and find resources.


Apologies for my mistake, I just referred to the OP and very quickly skimmed through the rest. Likewise, apologies for missing the earlier addition of the thread I mentioned.

Thank you, Bhante, it is incredibly gracious of you to find and post this title here. :anjal:

Just going by the review, in the way that I look at things, the book seems very pertinent to your original endeavour (rather than as a separate issue requiring a different focus of interest), but of course I understand there are different approaches to things.

I’m extremely hesitant to say anything further, wishing to respect the fact that this isn’t a thread for discussion, but will just add that, most certainly, it is a beautiful thing that you wish to find ways of offering some people hope - I’m very confident what you have initiated will do exactly that for many and I’ve naught but happiness for that.

I’ll set aside attempting to explain why my response was mixed (both sympathetic and difficulty strewn), and just let you know (now that you’ve taken up good works in this area) that the thing that I personally find offers me the most hope isn’t necessarily lots of talk about women, but lots of women talking about the Dhamma. As such, knowing that you do translation work, I’ll keep my hopes high for the appearance of a new translation of the Therigatha at some point or other. :smiling_imp:


By all means do add it where ever you think it fits; it’s an open Wiki now and I am no longer in possession of it. :upside_down_face:

Well since i am not a woman, there is nothing that I can do, myself, which would satisfy that preferred criterion of yours (“Let more women talk about Dhamma”). The best I can do is to help, whether directly or indirectly, to promote “women talk about the Dhamma or their own issues” and at least not hamper them. In fact, by developing a bibliography on Buddhism and women issues I have only acted in a way which complies to precisely your own preferred criterion; since the majority of books and posts listed here actually represent precisely the very voice of women (at least in connection with Dhamma), and help make that voice available and accessible.

As for the Therigatha, you must be careful before presuming that this is so purely “women talking of Dhamma”! For it might involve a lot of “talk about women” also, and such that is even done by “men”!! These verses may well have been “men” reporting on the experience of women, and moreover, mostly “men” memorising and reciting those remarkable experiences of women, and later, again “men” translating it from Pali to a language that you understand, now at the 21st century CE. Unfortunately there is never any “pure” thing! For in everything that is real, there is only dukkha!

So what’s the bottom line here? The bottom line, for me, is that it has never been and will never be about “who” is doing the talkin’, but rather “what” is being said, and with what spirit it is being said. That which arises from fear, aversion, delusion, and obsession, is not worth listening to, even if uttered by the “legitimate” ones. But so long the speech is founded in compassion and wisdom, I am willing to listen and listen, and listen, even if the speaker was … you guessed it:

The Venerable Frog!

Please open new thread for further discussions on these or other off topics. Appreciate your engagement, that’s why … :upside_down_face:


Thanks so much for this thread, Bhante! How about literally everything by Amy Langenberg? She just released a new book, (Birth in Buddhism: The Suffering Fetus and Female Freedom. New York: Routledge, 2017) which I’m just itching to read.

And then there’s:

Buddhist Blood Taboo: Mary Douglas, Female Impurity, and Classical Indian Buddhism.” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 84, 1 (2016): 157–191.

Pregnant Words: South Asian Buddhist Tales of Fertility and Child Protection.History of Religions 52, 4 (2013): 340-369.

And also the pivotal:

Buddhism, Sexuality, and Gender. Edited by José I Cabezón. Albany: SUNY Press, 1992.

Cabezón, José I. Sexuality in Classical South Asian Buddhism. Somerville: Wisdom Publications, 2017.

I have so many more…


The Revolutionary Life of Freda Bedi: British Feminist, Indian Nationalist, Buddhist Nun. Vicki Mackenzie. Shambhala.


British journalist Mackenzie (Cave in the Snow) crafts a concise, well-rounded portrait of Freda Bedi (1911–1977), the first Western woman to become a Tibetan Buddhist nun. Freda Houlston was drawn early in life to the lives of the saints and to Eastern thought. Her father’s death in the trenches of World War I was her first taste of universal suffering. At Oxford University she met her husband, Indian Sikh and fellow socialist Baba Phyare Lal Bedi, and wore Indian dress from their wedding onward. The couple settled in India, where Bedi taught English and campaigned for independence from British rule. She first encountered Buddhism on a Unesco mission to Burma and recognized it as her destiny. Taking a vow of chastity and abandoning her three children, she founded a democratic nunnery and school for Tibetan refugees and in 1966 was ordained Sister Palmo. “Is it possible for a woman to be Che Guevara, Mother Teresa, and a physical mother at the same time?” Mackenzie asks. Drawing on interviews with Bedi’s family and acquaintances, and passages from her letters and journals, the fascinating book sensitively explores her contradictory roles while celebrating her part in bringing Buddhism to the West and helping to spark its feminist revolution. (Apr.)

Phabongkha and the Yoginī: The Life, Patronage and Devotion of the Lhasa Aristocrat, Lady Lhalu Lhacham Yangdzom Tsering. by Joona Repo. vol. 9. 2015. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies


Phabongkha Dechen Nyingpo (pha bong kha bde chen snying po, 1878-1941) was one of the most popular and influential Gelug religious figures in the Lhasa Valley during the first half of the twentieth-century. His students included not only lay people and monks from all of the most important religious institutions in the region, but also an impressive array of some of the highest-ranking aristocrats and government officials of the day. This article is focused on the life of one of Phabongkha’s most important aristocratic students, Lhalu Lhacham Yangdzom Tsering (g.yang ‘dzom tshe ring, 1880-1963) and her relationship to her teacher and his lineage teachings. The development of her devotion to Phabongkha, and her and her family’s sponsorship of the sustenance and popularization of his lineage in general will be considered with an aim of giving us a wider understanding of Phabongkha and his “movement”. The Lhacham’s devotion to the controversial protector deity Dorje Shugden (rdo rje shugs ldan), whose practice she received from Phabongkha, will also be discussed in detail, especially with regard to a number of tragedies which befell her, and which were portrayed by the later lineage as being the results of the wrathful activity of this deity.

Orality, Memory, and Spiritual Practice: Outstanding Female Thai Buddhists in the Early 20th Century. Martin Seeger. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies.

In Search of the Khmer Bhikkhunī: Reading Between the Lines in Late Classical and Early Middle Cambodia (13th–18th Centuries). Trude Jacobsen. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies.

Semen, Viagra and Pandaka: Ancient Endocrinology and Modern Day Discrimination*. by Paisarn Likhitpreechakul. vol 3. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies.


In a Vinaya passage, the Buddha laid down a rule to bar pandakas from ordination. Although there have been several attempts to shed light on whom the word pandaka referred to, all of these were based on the circumstantial evidence in the Vinaya. This article argues that this approach is a red herring and conclusions drawn from it are at odds with other parts of the Canon.

Based on an overlooked Abhidhamma passage which characterises pandakas as those unable to emit semen, the author reconstructs an Indian proto-endocrinology – with support from ancient medical treatises – to identify pandakas as impotent men, and to reveal the connection between different pandaka types and related terms. He then examines various considerations which the Buddha may have had in banning them from the Order.

The article finally discusses the implications of all this for modern Buddhist societies where gay men and transgenders are often confusedly categorised as pandakas and discriminated against for that reason.

Chinese Nuns and their Ordination in Fifth Century China. Ann Heirman. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. (24/2, 2001)

Changing the Female Body: Wise Women and the Bodhisattva Career in Some Mahāratnakūṭasūtras. Nancy Schuster. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. (1981).

Buddhism, miraculous powers, and gender - Rethinking the stories of Theravāda nuns. Rachelle M. Scott. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. Volume 33 Number 1–2 2010 (2011)


Their stories and the stories of contemporary nuns, such as Mae chi Thosaphon and Khun Yay Ubasika Chan, do not negate the undeniable presence and impact of misogynistic ideas about women in Buddhist texts and societies; they do off er, however, another interpretive lens for examining the lives of Theravāda nuns and their followers. In so doing, their examples change the discourse on Buddhist nuns from a discourse focused solely on the diffi culties faced by contemporary Theravāda nuns to a discourse about how some Theravāda nuns attained religious authority despite the substantial prejudice against female renunciation in South and Southeast Asia.

ANN HEIRMAN What Happened to the Nun Maitreyl? Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies Volume 23 • Number 1 • 2000.

REIKO OHNUMA. The Story of RupavatI: A Female Past Birth of the Buddha. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies Volume 23 • Number 1 • 2000.

Walters, Jonathon. “A Voice from the Silence: The Buddha’s Mother’s Story.” History of Religions 33/4 (May 1994), 358–379.
_____. “Gotamī’s Story,” in Buddhism in Practice, ed. by Donald Lopez. Princeton: Princeton University Press 1995, 113–138.

Sanitsuda Ekachai, “Crusading for Nun’s Rights,” Bangkok Post, September 4, 1996.

Second to None: The Biography of Khun Yay Maharatana Upasika Chandra Khon-nok-yoong. Pathumthani: Dhammakaya Foundation 2005.

Seeger, Martin, “The Bhikkhunī-Ordination Controversy in Thailand,” Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 29/1 (2008) 155–184.

Horner, I.B. Women Under Primitive Buddhism: Lay women and Alms women. New York: E.P. Dutton 1930.

Karen C. Lang, “Lord Death’s Snare: Gender Related Imagery in the ‘Theragatha’ and the ‘Therigathaʼ,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 2 (1986) 63–79.

Lindberg Falk, Monica. Making Fields of Merit: Buddhist Female Ascetics and Gendered Orders in Thailand. Seattle: University of Washington Press 2007.

Paul, Diana. Women in Buddhism: Images of the Feminine in the Mahayana Tradition. Berkeley: University of California Press 1985.

Collett, Alice. “Buddhism and Gender: Reframing and Refocusing the Debate,” Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion 22/2 (2006) 55–84.

Gender and Salvation: Jaina Debates on the Spiritual Liberation of Women (Padmanabh S. Jaini). Serinity Young. Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies. 16/1 (1993).

The Female Renunciates of Sri Lanka: the Dasasilamattawa. Lowell W. Boss.
JIABS 10/1 (1987)

The Bhikkhunī-ordination controversy in Thailand . Martin Seeger. JIABS.

Some Remarks on the Rise of the bhiksunīsangha and on the Ordination Ceremony for bhikṣunīs according to the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya. Ann Heirman.
JIABS 20/2 (1997)

Nuns, Laywoman, Donors, Goddesses. Female Roles in Early Indian Buddhism. Peter Skilling. JIABS (24/2, 2001)

Dogen’s Raihaitokuzui and Women Teaching in Sung Ch’an. JIABS 21/1 (1998)

"This inferior female body:” Reflections on life as a Tibetan visionary through the autobiographical eyes of Se ra mkha’ ’gro (bde ba’i rdo rje, 1892–1940). Sarah H. Jacoby. JIABS 32/1-2 (2009[2010])

Eṣā agrā; Images of Nuns in (Mūla-)Sarvāstivādin Literature. Peter Skilling. JIABS (24/2, 2001).

The Life of dGe slong ma dPal mo: The Experience of a Leper, Founder of a Fasting Ritual, a Transmitter of Buddhist Teachings on Suffering and Renunciation in Tibetan Religious History. Ivette M. Vargas-O’Brian. JIABS (24/2, 2001).

What Makes a Nun? Apprenticeship and Ritual Passage in Zanskar, North India. Kim Gutschow. JIABS (24/2, 2001).

The Fincances of a Twentieth Century Buddhist Mission: Building Support for the Theravāda Nuns’ Order of Nepal. Sarah Le Vine. JIABS (24/2, 2001).

Chinese Nuns and their Ordination in Fifth Century China. Ann Heirman. JIABS (24/2, 2001).

The Story of Rūpāvatī: A Female Past Birth of the Buddha. Reiko Ohnuma. JIABS 23/1 (2000)

The Religious Standing of Burmese Buddhist Nuns (thilá-shin): The Ten Precepts and Religious Respect Words. Hiroko Kawanami. JIABS 13/1 (1990)

Tessa J. Bartholomeusz, Women Under the Bo Tree: Buddhist Nuns in Sri Lanka (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008).