On the illegality of Bhik(kh/s)uni Ordination

Oh thanks. I wasn’t aware, but thanks :slight_smile:

Civil laws don’t even have to be discriminatory to be harmful. As someone who has worked in government, I have a healthy respect for the power that government agencies have to enforce any action they see fit. Well meaning bureaucrats can for instance enthusiastically take up the cause of providing moral succor to the masses and introduce laws for compulsory five year monastic training (in the religion of the person’s choice, of course…and so much better than drafting them into military service! ), all funded directly by government grants. Great, right? Government can and should then go on to provide free land and build temples, churches and monasteries to fulfill the need of the populace. All hunky- dory till the time that certain religious figures have differences with government … this can arise over something as small as not inviting the local politico over for the Vassa ceremony. And then the full force and majesty of Government will become apparent.

These are not straw-man arguments. Such things have happened time and again in the history of Buddhism in India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Cambodia. They continue to happen in Myanmar and China.

Western nations have by and large never experienced whole scale government interference in religion (perhaps the Catholics of England and the Jews of Europe would disagree- let us also not forget that those pogroms had immense popular support from the majority of people at that time)… certainly the younger nations of USA and Australia have no experience of such things. Western concepts such as the separation of Religion from Government are looked up to with admiration by the people of the East, who suffer under the brutal diktat of their own rulers about how they should or should not meditate and even what they should or should not eat. That is likely what conditions the differing views expressed on this thread.


I hope this forum will not become another quagmire of pointless arguments. From my point of view, the hidden purpose of this thread has always been to dismantle the eight garudhammas. This is the elephant in the room. Why don’t say it loud and clear and unhidden: “Based on our views, we do not like the eight garudhammas set out by our religion founder, the Lord Buddha himself, so we want to change it.”

I personally support the revival of Theravada Bhikkhuni ordinations, but in order for this revival to be long lasting, it has to be based on humility, not on the conceited views: “This is my right!” Or else short-lived will it be indeed. Plus, the Theravada Bhikkhuni lineage has just been revived for less then 20 years (and yet to be formally accepted in Theravada countries), and now people has already talked about abolishing the eight garudhammas, which has been the foundation upon which the Bhikkhuni Sangha was established from millennia. This is just very unwise as a strategy alone, not to mention that it is going right against the Lord Buddha’s Dharma.

I also caution my dhamma friends here, titles and honours will always come with dishonour, shame and disgrace eventually, it has happened to me, and so my advice is this, all of this discussion should be treaded very carefully, lest the bad karma one will create upon the act of showing contempt for the Vinaya set out by the Lord Buddha.

May you all remember the declaration when you first entered the sangha:

Wish you all well on the path :pray:t3::pray:t3::pray:t3:

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The Theravada Bhikkhuni Lineage was revived in 1988 btw: http://present.bhikkhuni.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Honoring-those-Worthy-of-Honor.pdf


I can only speak for America, but this isn’t entirely accurate. By and large, the American Government had an active preference for mainline Protestant denominations for the first 150 so years of its existence. Not so much on paper, but as a byproduct of the fact that local and national governments were overwhelmingly stocked with protestants.

This hasn’t been studied much in american history classes, because it doesn’t make for good propaganda, but as an ex-catholic, it most definitely informs my leeriness of government involvement with anything to do with religion


As I recall, people who have looked in-depth at the eight garudhammas across texts in Pali, Chinese, Sanskrit, etc., typically end up regarding them as late (i.e. not coming from the Buddha). For how traditions read and interpret Vinaya texts, it seems to me that is mostly up to the monastery.

Actually this brings up a big problem with EBT’s. People will take some highly unusual and idiosyncratic text or formula (e.g. blatantly misogynistic), and then try to apply it to all of Buddhism. We see the same thing with the “original mind” controversy.

We should expect that the most important things would be repeated many times across the canon. The details should also be reflected in the larger structure of the collection(s). We need to look at the big picture, compare texts, and weigh statements carefully. Not everything in the EBT’s was spoken by the Buddha.


If they are late then they were possibly included so as to conform to the norms of the time, which is what was suggested in the OP.


Yeah. It’s irreverent whether the historical Buddha himself imposed the 8 garudhammas, or later monks. Either way it’s a precedent for absorbing discriminatory social mores into the Vinaya.

But it is an interesting question — if social mores can be used to accept the garudhammas , can they also be used to eliminate them?


IMO, it was precisely to allow for this very possibility of change in social mores requiring change in Vinaya rules over time that the Buddha allowed the Sangha to do away with certain rules. Keeping the Training fresh and effective means being able to remove outdated rules (as long as the integrity of the Training itself is not disturbed).

Digging around the forum, I find that this topic has been discussed endlessly all the way back since 2016! Reading through all the threads, the summary is:

  1. Though the Theravada Bhikkhuni line died out in Thailand, it can and has been revived since (1988 being the earliest effort, a notable later effort being that of Bodhinyana).
  2. The overall consensus is that the revival of the line is in keeping with the Vinaya. There are precedents for revival of monk’s lineages by infusion from parallel lineages from other countries which are also held as valid.
  3. The Garudhammas can be abolished under the permission given by the Buddha to the Sangha to abolish minor rules.
  4. Such action is acceptable to many, though resisted by some. Chiefly those who resist are traditionalists from the Thai Theravada line - some also from Sri Lanka.
  5. Communities currently exist where people can seek full ordination, regardless of gender. Similarly, there are communities where the garudhammas are not implemented.
  6. People are free to attend and ordain at whatsoever community they see fit. However, their ordination may not be recognized by those who disagree with the revival of the Bhikkhuni line.
  7. There is an overall reluctance on the part of any western Theravada community to ‘come out’ with an outright declaration of following a gender neutral ordination and vinaya practice. Its not quite clear why. (? fear of being accused of causing a schism, ?? fear of lack of support)
  8. Therefore, stalemate.

IMO, it is impossible in the presence of such entrenched views to seek rapprochement. Hence the desire for an outside agency (Government) to impose our preferred outcome on those who resist.A risk-free win for the good guys!!

Do we really need to impose our view on those who disagree? Can we not simply accept that they disagree and allow them to go their way, while we go our way?

Liberal Buddhists need to look within themselves. If they know that a path of action is skillful and beneficial they need to ‘walk their talk’. If that means starting a new ‘Western’ tradition, so be it! Certainly, trying unsuccessfully to accept things the way they are is causing suffering for many… so by the Buddha’s advice to Rahula, such a course of action should be abandoned.

What is needed here is a person that will step up and be the change they want to see. A person that is secure and confident of their own moral uprightness, not afraid of being accused of schism or of lack of support, or of going it alone if need be.

We need a person that will roar their Lion’s Roar of a Gender Equal Theravada Buddhist lineage, even if all the Buddhist world rocks in response! Such a one will be truly worthy of being called an offspring of the Sakyan Sage.


I don’t think that is possible

Pañcasatikakkhandhaka vinaya
Discussion of the lesser training rules
Ānanda said to the senior monks, “At the time of his final extinguishment, the Buddha said to me, ‘After my passing away, Ānanda, if the Sangha wishes, it may abolish the lesser training rules.’”

“But, Ānanda, did you ask the Buddha which are the lesser training rules?”

“No, I didn’t.”

Some senior monks said, “Apart from the four rules entailing expulsion, the rest are the lesser training rules.” Others said, “Apart from the four rules entailing expulsion and the thirteen rules entailing suspension, the rest are the lesser training rules.” Still others said, “Apart from the four rules entailing expulsion, the thirteen rules entailing suspension, and the two undetermined rules, the rest are the lesser training rules.” Still others said, “Apart from the four rules entailing expulsion, the thirteen rules entailing suspension, the two undetermined rules, and the thirty rules entailing relinquishment and confession, the rest are the lesser training rules.” Still others said, “Apart from the four rules entailing expulsion, the thirteen rules entailing suspension, the two undetermined rules, the thirty rules entailing relinquishment and confession, and the ninety-two rules entailing confession, the rest are the lesser training rules.” Still others said, “Apart from the four rules entailing expulsion, the thirteen rules entailing suspension, the two undetermined rules, the thirty rules entailing relinquishment and confession, the ninety-two rules entailing confession, and the four rules entailing acknowledgment, the rest are the lesser training rules.”

Then Venerable Mahākassapa informed the Sangha:

“Please, I ask the Sangha to listen. We have training rules that relate to householders. The householders know what is allowable for us and what is not. If we abolish the lesser training rules, some people will say, ‘The ascetic Gotama laid down training rules for his disciples until the time of his death. But they practice the training rules only as long as their teacher is alive. Since their teacher has now attained final extinguishment, they no longer practice the training rules.’ If it seems appropriate to the Sangha, the Sangha should not lay down new rules, nor get rid of the existing ones, and it should undertake to practice the training rules as they are. This is the motion.

So it’s ananda’s fault I say

As I have said, these matters have been endlessly discussed already. I have presented a summary of the consensus opinion.

With regard to your point, please see :

and many others.

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Can you imagine the logic in this thread about discrimination in other parts of society?

If you don’t want to encounter racism in a restaurant, then you can start your own restaurant.

If you want schools for LGBTQ students, then you can start your own schools.

If you want equal employment opportunities, then you can find businesses that support equality.

If you want wheelchair access for stores, then start your own stores that have that access.

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No my friend.

The logic is-

Racism exists till someone starts a restaurant which doesn’t practice discrimination.

Safe Schools for LGBTQ students don’t exist till someone steps up to ensure a safe environment in their school.

Unequal employment opportunities exist till such a time that someone decides to take a stand in favor of what they know is right.

Wheelchair access for stores doesn’t exist till someone decides to proactively install it.

Seeing the brave act of that pioneer, others follow. Seeing the emerging trend, politicians get in on the act and pass the laws which ensure that the change flourishes.

We cannot just legislate inequality away. If we could, the world would be a utopia already. We have to step up and lead the way. Remember Rosa Parks? Or how about Malala Yousafzai?


I do remember Rosa Parks, and I also remember the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that was required to end institutionalized racial segregation in the United States. The history of putting an end to protections for discrimination is also the history of legislation to that effect. Nobody needs to wait for a “great leader” to show up before they can advocate for equality.

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Nor are we lacking in that advocacy … both of us, as indeed most of the forum’s lay members support the cause. So do a very large number of very good monks! But, we still need a female monastic to step up and lead such a gender equal Sangha, as well as people who will ordain under the new dispensation. Those pioneers will tread a lonely and difficult path indeed. All the laws in the world won’t change that.

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Are you saying then that the state should enforce the ordination of nuns like it does with wheelchair access on businesses? Isn’t that a violation of freedom of religion and association?

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Seeing the flagged posts on this thread blaming women for discrimination against them, or saying that equality somehow “isn’t Buddhist” is really depressing. Given the Buddha said about unenlightened beings trying to fathom the workings of kamma and the many other factors involved, it’s generally good practice not to (mis)use the doctrine of kamma as a weapon to attack others or some kind of “gotcha, it’s all your fault” argument.

In terms of the recent history of disability, the “medical model” (“there’s something wrong with your body and that’s why you can’t get in the building”) was used to justify a lack of action and disinterest in providing access to members of our society. However the social model recognised that it wasn’t the individual’s fault but our shared responsibility as a society (“we prevented your legitimate access by not planning for your needs and not providing alternative access, it was our bad not yours”. )

Generally, because people often can’t see their own privilege, discrimination doesn’t matter to
us till it affects us personally or someone we know. So we need to listen to the voices of those people impacted and learn to develop empathy. Everything else just ends up feeling like a lot of views and opinions about stuff that doesn’t affect actually us.

Notice the absence of nuns here talking about how they observe or feel about the garudhammas or how ordination requirements affect them. They have learnt not to speak out about their actual experiences because of the types of opinionated criticism and holier than thou reactionary views from people who neither have any experience of the issues, nor are likely to be affected by such things, as seen here and in many other threads about women in Buddhism.


If a religious organization is provided with tax exemptions and other government benefits, then it should provide equal opportunities to pursue leadership or clergy type positions. If full ordination opportunities are available for men, then they should also be available for women.

I’m sure someone will have an excuse about why gender equality needs to be put off until something else happens, or someone else comes along, or whatever. Frankly, those are just excuses.

What you say is both correct. Real change happens when these things work in tandem, inspiring and reinforcing each other in a reciprocal process. :smiley:


Yes I fully agree with this post

Now according to the left ,this “someone” is the state not individual and I agree with this only when there’s no one who provides the LGBT friendly school,etc

Sweden is the most women’s friendly nation so in countries like that in order for buddhism to thrive then it must adapt while in sexist countries like Afghanistan for example buddhism should be the way it’s without changing anything

Now sexist is right too because they base their opinion on gotami sutta

Feminist is right too because they base their opinion on mahaparinibbana sutta

So both are right here