Is bhikkhuni ordination illicit/wrong?

Hello once again users of the forum. Today I wanted to ask a question about something that bugs me. I read some arguments online saying that the bhikkhuni order has been revived illegally because in the vinaya an ordination needs to be bilateral, performed by both monks and nuns. And the bhikkhuni order has died out, so we are left with no bhikkhunis to ordain new ones. If that’s the case why don’t we invite mahayana bhikkhunis to ordain theravadin ones, since their lineage hasn’t died out. Why not find a middle way, a solution, why go to a measure as extreme as “women can’t ordain”?

Somebody on a different forum told me I shouldn’t ordain at all because it will generate bad kamma “impersonating” a bhikkhuni without being “properly ordained”. His words, not mine. He said if I want I can be a Mae chee or an 8 precept nun, but I don’t want that, I want to be a bhikkhuni, I want full ordination just Iike me. Is that wrong or illegal in some way or contrary to the Dhamma? This guy sent me bhikkhu Thanassiro’s essay and it kind of discourage me. Is my aspiration here wrong?

Thank you a lot for your time. Metta.

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In short, of course not. I’m sorry you’ve had to hear such nonsense from people.

I learned quite a lot through reading Bhante Sujato’s blog posts as he was writing a lot about it back in the day. bhikkhuni | Sujato’s Blog

Might be a good place to start, especially with Ajahn Brahm’s Vesak paper.


Hi @Amrapali, just replying to mention that this topic has been covered many times before on this forum. It’s a good idea to use the search function before posting to find older threads.

This is especially useful for posts about so called controversial topics, as inevitably the threads get derailed and become unpleasant. For example, posting your question with the title you’ve chosen: “is bhikkhuni ordination illicit/wrong” is just an open invitation for people to tell you that it bhikkhuni ordination IS wrong… I’m not sure if that’s what you want? I’m not sure that’s what most users on this forum want to see either.

This issue has been debated so many times in so many places and has been settled. Whilst you may be new to the debate, many others are not and find having this issue raised over and over again is unproductive and emotionally draining. Sometimes the debate becomes very ugly, leading women practitioners to stop using forums like this because of such bad responses.

Bhikkhuni ordination is valid and bhikkhunis simply do not need to justify their existence.

It might be useful to do some research of your own firstly before asking random people on a forum if your chosen future path is “illicit/wrong”.


if you click the tag at the top of your post you will find all the information you need.

This video is also a good outline.


That is, in fact, precisely what we did! There were a series of ordinations supported by Korean, Taiwanese, and Vietnamese bhikkhunis together with mostly Indian and Sri Lankan monks, based on which the modern bhikkhunis were founded.

But to clarify, the category of “Mahayana” refers to a school of doctrine and practice. In terms of monastic Vinaya, there is no such thing as “Mahayana”.

Mahayanist monastics in East Asia follow the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, which is in all relevant respects identical to the Pali Vinaya. The Dharmaguptakas were basically a variety of Theravada found in north-west India. Differences in practice that you see are cultural.

In around 44 CE, Sri Lankan nuns, led by a nun named Sārā, traveled by ship to China, where they performed ordination together with local Chinese monks. That is where the East Asian bhikkhuni lineage comes from. In modern times, they have returned the favor by helping us establish a modern Theravada bhikkhuni order.

Incidentally, the Pali Vinaya also makes an explicit allowance for monks to ordain nuns. So the bhikkhuni order is validly established by two means:

  • the re-establishment by means of dual ordination with East Asian bhikkhunis and south Asian bhikkhus
  • the re-establishment by means of bhikkhus alone

Following the lead of the Sanghas of India and Sri Lanka, we now find Theravada bhikkhunis in many countries where Buddhism flourishes. I hope you can find your people! :pray:


No. It is valid in my opinion and for many others within Buddhism and Theravada. See my brief (not complete) timeline of bhikkhuni ordinations I have here:


As a bhikkhu, I will say that ordaining as a bhikkhuni will create good karma, and your aspiration is beautiful and right.

If you’re concerned about the legality of bhikkhuni ordination, have a look at the following essays:

They and others wrote more essays on the subject, which are nicely indexed here.

To summarize these essays in response to your question: