(Not) keeping the Garudhammas

Hello Dhamma friends,
Vinaya seems to be a living thing so I’m curious to discuss the way different monasteries and monastics work with the rules of respect which suggest a junior bhikku is senior to a Bhikkhūnī of some years.

It’s something I’ve been asked a bit about lately by laity and to wriggle out of the awkwardness I just answer that it’s open to interpretation.

I can see that it makes some monks uncomfortable too. Having a senior Bhikkhūnī bow to a more junior Bhikkhu.

Are there places where the junior monks will bow to a senior Bhikkhūnī?

I’ve seen certain Californian Bhikkhus say that they choose to not interfere with Bhikkhūnī bussiness. Which I took to infer discomfort in these rules. It seems in other situations too that the more junior Bhikkhus just don’t visit the Bhikkhūnīs, but in some circumstances this is unavoidable and as the Bhikkhūnī sangha regenerates this will increase. It seems like the pink elephant in the room.

I’ve heard lovely tales of Korean Bhikkhūnīs leading the Santi pindapat line in days gone by. This warms my heart.

How is this addressed currently? How can we make this a less awkward thing for the entire 4-fold community in the future?


I just want to make it clear this isn’t only for vinaya experts or Sangha.

I believe it’s going to take many discussions amongst the entire 4-fold community over many years until we reach a place of balance. So please contribute in any way you would like to the discussion.

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With reference to EBTs, the category is a late concept built on a sloppy mash-up of misunderstood bhikkuni Vinaya history & practice.

There is Vinaya for both genders, and there are Vinaya sections called Patimokkha and Vibhanga and so on, and it really can be that simple, it ought to be that simple. “The Garudhammas”, as a concept, has value due to offering teaching opportunities for anyone learning about these things as history, etc.

But with respect to actual monastic goings-on, they are an antiquated, baroque, and paternalistic extraneity.