Can an Arahant be against bhikkhuni ordination?

That’s extremely vague. Perhaps you could give a clearer answer with greater basis.

Yes, it does. Patriarchial society subordinates and tramples women -> less women joining the order -> less opportunities for women to practice -> less women have the potential to pursue renunciation as a path.

I wouldn’t be the best person to answer this, but I think the Jains had a female order? Some bhikkhunis were ascetics and renunciants of other sects and crossed over to Buddhism when they heard the Dhamma, i.e. Bhadda Kundalakesa.

Yes. They do. They make it harder for women to become nuns. People constantly criticize nuns’ keeping of vinaya because it’s so unreasonable most expect no-one will do it (just see higher in this thread!)

If women cannot access opportunities of renunciation, they cannot develop as fully spiritually. For example, because of the difficulty of keeping Bhikkhuni vinaya, I fear ordaining. Therefore I have to work to support myself. Therefore I have less time to practice. Having to work means I can’t be secluded, which is also an important support to practice. So yes, this does have real impacts on real people. Of course it’s difficult to see them when they don’t affect you personally, believe me, I do get that.


I speculate that to those who came up with it, having women able to ordain could contribute to making harder for Buddhist families to be formed.

When we look at the mythos around stream entry present in EBTs and the idea of kolaṅkola sotāpanna, it is possible that guaranteeing the continuity of Buddhist clans into the future would have been a way to guaranteeing the gradual awakening would reach its conclusion within the span of Buddha Gotama’s dispensation.

Now, let me make clear I don’t subscribe to this view and am here only trying to make sense of the hypothesis. :sweat_smile:

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You could also speculate that the push for bhikkhuni ordination today will shorten the lifespan of Dhamma because of the strife in the sangha it has/will cause(d).

Playing devil’s advocate there FYI.


To get back on topic :stuck_out_tongue:, it seems to me that an Arahant would, out of pure loving-kindness and compassion, dust off any negative cultural views regarding women, and ordain any woman willing and worthy of becoming a bhikkhuni. The Buddha set the example, and I don’t see why others should go against it.


Haha, sure! No sweat :wink: But I disagree. Women could still have families before they ordained.

Bhante addressed this in White Bones… as well. True, bringing women into an order of men creates certain issues that need to be addressed, as he says namely sex and power. And these are with certain rules in the Vinaya. So here I also disagree.

Anyway, a reason for this assessment is in fact given in the sutta, that allowing women into the Sangha would weaken it, like a house with many women and few men can’t stand up to robbers. Or a stream with no dam will overflow destroy a village. As Bhante points out in White Bones… These are irrational fears pushed by deep unconscious associations. My question is rhetorical. The answer is, it wouldn’t.


Ānanda, if women did not obtain the going forth from the household as homeless, in the dispensation of the Thus Gone One, the dispensation would have lasted longer a thousand years Ānanda, as women have obtined the going forth from the household to become homeless, it will not last long, the good Teaching will last only five hundred years.
Ānanda, just as families which have more women and few men are attacked by robbers and cheaters in the same manner in a dispensation in which there is the going forth for women, the holy life does not last long.
Ānanda, just as in an accomplished rice field, there falls an illness named white seeds and it does not last long. In the same manner in a dispensation in which there is the going forth for women, the holy life does not last long.
Ānanda, just as in an accomplished cane field, there comes an illness named turning red and it does not last long. In the same manner in a dispensation in which there is the going forth for women, the holy life does not last long.
Ānanda, just as a man was to build an embankment as a future protection for a huge reservoir, so that water would not reach over the boundary these eight strong rules are declared to the bhikkhunis not to be thrown out until life lasts, as future protection.

Not that I liked this too, but this is how it’s stated.

Will it be harder than in the times of the Buddha? Why was it possible for women to reap the fruits of the Dhamma and follow Vinaya back then but is not nowadays? I would even dare to voice an opinion that the reason behind perceiving the nuns’ Vinaya to be “impossible” comes from the the mundane equality ideas where a woman bowing before the man is retarded and unthinkable.
I know of successful Maechi communities in Thailand and Myanmar.

I don’t think it’s completely true.
AN7.50: Laywoman Uttara Nandamata is a non-returner
AN5.176: Buddha tells laypeople to practice reclusion
Most importantly, MN73 states that many laypeople will achieve non-returner fruit.

Buddha had irrational fears and was commanded by deep unconscious associations?.. o_O

That is stating the sutta not answering why these assertions are stated.

You yourself said times are different now, some ways it is harder, some easier.

The vinaya is certainly an early text, yet we find other early texts describing bhikkhunis doing things that break the bhikkhuni vinaya, such as wandering alone/abiding alone. So even then, the theris were not keeping these absurd rules!

Yes but what about arahantship? What about the highest spiritual goal? Mate I’ve seen suffering as a woman, I’m not here to muck around :wink:


This is just a question , not opinion .
Would you think being a female is a kind of kamma (negatively) by birth ? Not being inferior but disadvantages . Just like being born intelligent versus low IQ .

In my humble opinion, the fact that many bhukunis became arahants in the Buddha’s time and afterwards suggests to me that ordination for them is the right thing to do.
As for the extra vinaya rules that reflexts the patriarchal society of ancient India, for the protection of the Bhikunis themselves. Obviously some Vinaya rules no longer apply or are transformed for modern living, eg., not driving a cart (maybe having to whip a horse or bullock)= not driving a car.
The 8 garudammas could be a later addition to the texts as there are inconsistencies in its application, ie., it was mandatory for Mahapatti, his aunt and the 500 ladies of her court but there is no mention of them with some other female ordinations such as Baddha.


The above translated tales make it clear that in the Buddhist traditions
responsible for the arising and transmission of these stories, female birth
was not seen as something negative.

Karma and Female Birth by Analayo.


But then , is there any way that existence of the Buddha in female form whether aeons before or aeons in the future ?

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errrrm I’m not sure. If you have a different question, you might have to start a new topic.

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I think no one should against female to enter bhikkhunis ordination .
But , surely living in this world by existing conditions , the living proof is that as you said you have seen suffering as a woman .
Isn’t that is a kind of kamma then ? Of course it is unfair , just like being born as a darker skin people constantly being look down upon by fairer skin people .

I don’t use Kamma to judge my condition, only to use it to guide my future actions.
Maybe kamma has something to do with it, maybe not. Either way, what matters is what I do next.


Fair enough , I have many female friends , the way I see it, they are all my brother and sister and uncle and aunt . Unless they turn nasty , otherwise I get along with them quite comfortably .


See a list of non-Buddhist female renunciants in this other thread here.

For a collection of sutta quotes regarding the most restrictive rules and how they were not applied by senior arahant bhikkhunis in the Buddha’s time, see this thread here. It seems the rules didn’t exist, or must have meant something else entirely back then.

There is also the Buddha’s advice to the Sangha shortly before his passing in DN 16.

Desiring to do so, Ānanda, the Community after my passing away, can abolish the minor and subsidiary training rules.

The minor rules weren’t meant to be fixed for his entire dispensation.


Stricter, more difficult, more obstructive: I hadn’t quite noticed this in the original materials, though it certainly comes to the fore over time. My impression was that the additional rules were added because women needed extra protections in a misogynistic culture. It wasn’t about gender identification, it was about individual & communal safety.

Bhikkhuni Vinaya Studies, by Sujato:

In insisting that bhikkhunis can have no place within the Thai Buddhism, the Sangha is placing more emphasis on the modern legal structures derived from Western models, rather than the Buddhist scriptures on which their tradition, and the modern reform of that tradition, is supposed to be based. And while bhikkhuni ordination is sometimes decried as a Western, feminist interpolation in the Asian tradition, the reality is that the four-fold community, including the bhikkhuni Sangha, is the authentic heritage, while the insistence on a male-only Sangha is a modern, Western-derived innovation.

Stodgy Buddhist legalism kinda disgusts me.


This is exactly my speculation. Obviously the Buddha didn’t give the reasons for it shortening the survival of the Dhamma, but he did give specifics about how the Sangha and Dhamma declines and he often gives divisiveness within the Sangha and clinging to opinions as the most common reasons. Both are occurring on some level regarding Bhikkhuni ordination.

The vast majority of the debate about female monastics is a “how to do it” not “if”. I am sure there are misogynistic monks out there but mostly I just hear opinions about how its to be done.

But yes I do think an arahant could be against Bhikkhuni ordination.

We could always flip this question :stuck_out_tongue:
can an arahant be against Bhikkhu ordination?

Then come up with a list of things like

  • they are more violent
  • they are more prone to anger
  • in the Buddha’s time all leaders were men’s so if all the good men became monks then the country would fall apart
  • men need to provide for their families

To me this seems ridiculous! Of course men don’t need ordination to progress on the spiritual path. :wink: so there is no need for the Bhikkhu sangha


This question involves an Arahants perception. If perception is derived from memory then our cultural background must influence the way we perceive. We remember our sociocultural background - Arahants remember their sociocultural background. If that background includes the practice of ordaining men and not women they may not be involved in the ordination of women.

What is the knowledge and vision that an Arahant has that sets them apart? It is the realisation of complete freedom and the knowledge that with the break-up of the body there will be no more coming to any state of being.

An Arahant does not have to know everything under the sun. They may not know every entry in the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Likewise, they may not know if ordaining women is a good idea!

Even the Buddha did not know everything - he said he had the ability to understand completely anything he turned his attention to! The Buddha didn’t seem to know that slavery was a bad idea? If the Buddha can mispercieve the significance of owning people like farm-yard animals then, what to speak of poor old Arahants and what they know and don’t know about female rights?

Our Buddha’s an Arahants are not like the cosmic Buddha’s of the Mahayana with their celestial entourages.

The mythical Buddha’s are said to be completely omniscient - a bit like Jehovah - not a blade of grass moves without Jehovah knowing about it.

Praise the lord and pass the ammunition! :slightly_smiling_face: