Should a Bhikkhuni pay respect to a Samanera?

(In the ancient period or where bhikkhunis are accepted)
should a bhikkhuni pay respect to a Samanera?
( or vice-versa or avoid contact ?)

What is the coin for such payment? What is exchanged, goods, services, something else?

No. A sāmaṇera is classed as anupasampanna (one who hasn’t received upasampadā, or higher ordination). And so for a bhikkhu or bhikkhunī (who are both upasampanna) to salute a sāmaṇera would be a dukkaṭa offence, just as it would be if they saluted a householder.


So bhante, if a samanera and a bhikkhuni meet at a monastery what should they do? Should the samanera pay respect to the bhikkhuni ?

I’ve no idea – I don’t recall what (if anything) the Vinaya stipulates in this situation. But I’m sure one of the other bhikkhus or bhikkhunīs here will know.


Interesting, I had no idea that this was the case. Bhante, could you indicate where can I find this passage in one of the Vinaya book in English?
What kind of salutation is implied in this rule?

as someone new to EBT I am very surprised that this kind of questions is debated.
I understood that this path is about kindness and compassion. Instead, this kind of considerations (paying respect to, bowing to, etc) seems to relate to hierarchy, power structure etc.
If someone operates in the world and clearly states that their aim in life are wordly things like being at the top of the hierarchy, then I am not surprised that they may give values to this type of considerations. Thus when Donald Trump expressed his appreciation for the fact that when Kim Jong-un speaks, all his people pay attention and have a respect for him that people don’t usually have for Western leaders, that made sense to me. The man clearly stated that the aim of his life was to be a ‘winner’ in questions of money and power and that comment was consistent with his stated goals in life.
When however I see the importance of hierarchy and power in monastic Buddhism I am really surprised. People state that they abandon all craving (which includes craving for power and status) and then they are in a system which seems to be very preoccupied with status… To me it seems a contradiction, but perhaps it’s just due to my limited understanding of this path.

In the Vinaya, both the following rules are mentioned.

  1. Matugamo Avandiyo (A bhikkhu should never bow down to a woman)
  2. Anupasampanno Avandiyo (A bhikkhu should never bow down to a non-high-ordained person)

Can this second rule also applied by bhikkhunis towards samaneras ?

Or is samanera-bhikkhuni precedence a paradox ?

Aparepi, upāli, pañca avandiyā. Katame pañca? Pure upasampannena pacchā upasampanno avandiyo, anupasampanno avandiyo, nānāsaṃvāsako vuḍḍhataro adhammavādī avandiyo, mātugāmo avandiyo, paṇḍako avandiyo—ime kho, upāli, pañca avandiyā.

I am a laywoman, and of limited knowledge about vinaya or monastic life. However, in protocols there can be subtle affirming support for disciplines in the mind. Protocol for formal interactions can be simultaneously impersonal yet personal. The View, Intention, and Effort of the life one has chosen can be made manifest, in a small social way.

The practice can be a support, though it might also at times feel like a burden. (Feelings rise; can be observed; pass away…)

But perhaps one of the Venerables might have a moee helpful response.

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Try turning this logic on its head (pardon the vertical metaphor in the context of hierarchy). Perhaps it is not the individual receiving deference who craves status and therefore demands said deference, but instead, the person showing deference who seeks to relinquish his or her preoccupation with status by adopting a deferential position. In this case, the person receiving deference is showing benevolence towards the person showing deference by generously allowing the person showing deference to relinquish his/her position of status.

To put it another way, when the student bows to the master, the master merely receives the bow dispassionately and with equanimity, conscious of the fact that the bow is for the benefit of the student (to relinquish a craving for status), not for the benefit of the master. At least, that has been my experience. When I bow to the monks at the Wat I attend, they receive the bow with equanimity. It is for me, to lessen my desire for status. It is not for them. They are simply kind enough to receive the bow with loving kindness.


Hierarchy and conventions such as this are not good or bad on their own. These are Buddhist monks living the holy life for spiritual liberation, not politicians. This is a good place to be mindful of your cultural conditioning.


"Here, student, some woman or man is obdurate and haughty; he does not pay homage to whom he should pay homage, or rise up for whom he should rise up, or give a seat to whom he should give a seat, or make way for whom he should make way, or worship him who should be worshipped, or respect him who should be respected, or revere him who should be revered, or honor him who should be honored. Due to having performed and completed such kammas, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a state of deprivation… If instead he comes to the human state, he is low-born wherever he is reborn. This is the way that leads to low birth, that is to say, to be obdurate and haughty, not to pay homage to whom he should pay homage, nor rise up for…, nor give a seat to…, nor make way for…, nor worship…, nor respect…, nor revere…, nor honor him who should be honored.
Cula-kammavibhanga Sutta: The Shorter Exposition of Kamma

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That’s an interesting point. If one doesn’t look at the robe and just listens, this talk doesn’t sound very different from that of an angry politician (except that politicians are usually much more articulate), who believes that the pie should be divided more equitably (funnily enough the monk speaks as if the ‘pie’ is a desirable thing, even though possessions and greed are taught to be suffering). Perhaps a politicians wouldn’t be able to refer to the ‘Rothschilds as maniacs with greedy little fingers’ as the monk does in this talk though, because of defamation laws.

Anyway, I didn’t want to go off topic, I just find it weird that because someone has a robe and no hair, they can deliver a talk with plenty of insults and a political message - and people still consider them as someone with lofty ideals, not to be confused with a lowly politician.

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thank you for sharing your experience; my own has been very different - perhaps I have just been to the wrong Wat :wink:

It’s actually an inference that I draw from several passages.

That the term “one not ordained” would include sāmaṇeras can be seen from the Vinaya Piṭaka’s stock definition:

“Anupasampanno” nāma bhikkhuñca bhikkhuniñca ṭhapetvā avaseso anupasampanno nāma.”

“Not ordained” means: setting aside bhikkhu and bhikkhunī, the rest are called “not ordained.”
(Vin. iv. 14)

That a monk should not salute one who is not ordained is stated in the Cūḷavagga:

“Monks, there are these ten who are not to be saluted (avandiya): one ordained later is not to be saluted by one ordained earlier; one not ordained (anupasampanna) is not to be saluted…”
(Vin. ii. 162)

And that the same goes for nuns too is implicit in the Vinaya Atthakathā’s commentary on the following episode:

Now at that time the group of six monks sprinkled nuns with muddy water, thinking: “Perhaps they may be attracted to us.” They told this matter to the Lord. He said: “Monks, nuns should not be sprinkled with muddy water by monks. Whoever should (so) sprinkle them, there is an offence of wrong-doing. I allow you, monks, to inflict a penalty on that monk.” Then it occurred to monks: “Now, how is the penalty to be inflicted?” They told this matter to the Lord. He said:

“Monks, that monk is to be made one who is not to be saluted by the Order of nuns.”

The Atthakathā then compares the nuns’ non-saluting of the group of six monks to their non-saluting of sāmaṇeras:

yathā sāmaṇere disvā na vandanti; evameva disvāpi na vanditabbo

Just as, having seen sāmaṇeras [bhikkhunīs] don’t salute, even so, [the errant bhikkhu] must not be saluted.

I think it means bowing.


Very well said, and a good observation.

But take some woman or man who does approach an ascetic or brahmin to ask: ‘Sir, what is skillful and what is unskillful? What is blameworthy and what is blameless? What should be cultivated and what should not be cultivated? What kind of action will lead to my lasting harm and suffering? Or what kind of action will lead to my lasting welfare and happiness?’ Because of undertaking such deeds, when their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in a good place, a heavenly realm. If they’re not reborn in a heavenly realm, but return to the human realm, then wherever they’re reborn they’re very wise. For asking questions of ascetics or brahmins is the path leading to wisdom.

i have understood this sutta as drawing one’s attention to knowlwdge that deeds in this life rather than caste distinguish superior and inferior. Asking questions related to sila or disciplines or practices seems to be good; not asking, not good.

Sentient beings are the owners of their deeds and heir to their deeds. Deeds are their womb, their relative, and their refuge. It is deeds that divide beings into inferior and superior.

It seems to resonate with this from the Dhammapada:

Let none find fault with others; let none see the omissions and commissions of others. But let one see one’s own acts, done and undone.

We have to consider both sides.

  1. Bhikkhuni is high-ordained while Samanera is not high-rdained.
  2. Bhikkhuni is a nun while Samanera is a monk.
  3. Bhikkhuni represents Bhikkhuni Sangha (second priority) while Samanera represents Bhikkhu Sangha (first priority)

Bhikkhuni vs. Samanera = 1 vs. 2+3

Quotes on above points:

1.anupasampanno avandiyo SuttaCentral

2.1. Initial refusal of ordaining women

“Enough, Gotamī. Don’t advocate women’s Going-forth from the home life into homelessness in the Dhamma & Vinaya made known by the Tathāgata.” AN 8:51  Gotamī Sutta | To Gotamī

“Enough, Ānanda. Don’t advocate women’s Going-forth from the home life into homelessness in the Dhamma & Vinaya made known by the Tathāgata.”

2.2. Attha garu dhamma

[1] “A nun who has been fully accepted even for a century must bow down, rise up from her seat, salute with hands palm-to-palm over her heart, and perform forms of respect due to superiors to a monk even if he has been fully accepted on that very day. This rule is to be honored, respected, revered, venerated, never to be transgressed as long as she lives.

[8] “From this day forward, the admonition of a monk by a nun is forbidden, but the admonition of a nun by a monk is not forbidden. This rule, too, is to be honored, respected, revered, venerated, never to be transgressed as long as she lives." AN 8:51  Gotamī Sutta | To Gotamī

2.3. Refusal of equal status

“mahāpajāpati, bhante, gotamī evamāha—‘ekāhaṃ, bhante ānanda, bhagavantaṃ varaṃ yācāmi. Sādhu, bhante, bhagavā anujāneyya bhikkhūnañca bhikkhunīnañca yathāvuḍḍhaṃ abhivādanaṃ paccuṭṭhānaṃ añjalikammaṃ sāmīcikamman’”ti.

“Aṭṭhānametaṃ, ānanda, anavakāso, yaṃ tathāgato anujāneyya mātugāmassa abhivādanaṃ paccuṭṭhānaṃ añjalikammaṃ sāmīcikammaṃ. Imehi nāma, ānanda, aññatitthiyā durakkhātadhammā mātugāmassa abhivādanaṃ paccuṭṭhānaṃ añjalikammaṃ sāmīcikammaṃ na karissanti; kimaṅgaṃ pana tathāgato anujānissati mātugāmassa abhivādanaṃ paccuṭṭhānaṃ añjalikammaṃ sāmīcikamman”ti?

Atha kho bhagavā etasmiṃ nidāne etasmiṃ pakaraṇe dhammiṃ kathaṃ katvā bhikkhū āmantesi—“na, bhikkhave, mātugāmassa abhivādanaṃ paccuṭṭhānaṃ añjalikammaṃ sāmīcikammaṃ kātabbaṃ. Yo kareyya, āpatti dukkaṭassā”ti. SuttaCentral

2.4. Matugamo avandiyo SuttaCentral

3.1. In offering alms, both bhikkhus and samaneras represent the Bhikkhu Sangha which has first priority and both bhikkhunis and samaneris represent Bhikkhuni Sangha which has second priority.

Bhikkhusaṅghe dānaṃ deti—ayaṃ tatiyā saṅghagatā dakkhiṇā. Bhikkhunisaṅghe dānaṃ deti—ayaṃ catutthī saṅghagatā dakkhiṇā. SuttaCentral

3.2 Instances of bhikkhunis serving and offering dana to male sangha. (male sangha includes samaneras when alms offering)

In case bhikkhus, being invited, are eating in family residences, and if a bhikkhunī is standing there as though giving directions, (saying,) “Give curry here, give rice here,” then the bhikkhus are to dismiss her: “Go away, sister, while the bhikkhus are eating.” If not one of the bhikkhus should speak to dismiss her, “Go away, sister, while the bhikkhus are eating,” the bhikkhus are to acknowledge it: “Friends, we have committed a blameworthy, unsuitable act that ought to be acknowledged. We acknowledge it.” Bhikkhu Pāṭimokkha (rules for male monks)

Hi @thang
Can you provide textual references to support your view that samaneras are part of the Bhikkhu Sangha?
I have never seen anything to support that understanding!

Just a few reflections

The vinaya is a complex system, and designed for monastic communities. It is a discipline in line with renunciation and seeking liberation.

I believe that unless one has taken that life-changing step of complete renunciation it is hard to appreciate the more subtle aspects. It is an advanced training.

Furthermore, with regards to specific things that some ordained individuals may occasionally say, especially when speaking without a script or preparation, I think it is important to note that just because someone has ordained does not mean they are enlightened, or stream winners etc. All it means is that they are devoted to following the Noble 8 fold path as well as they can. These days with recording of all talks etc, it is like everything that is uttered, is treated equally. What I mean is that at times the talk may not be that good, and other times amazingly good. But the ‘audience’ watching online only sees what has been posted without the context - Putting these 2 factors together, I think that those listening or reading need to do so with a filter of compassion and forgiveness for not being perfect. Indeed to expect monastics to be perfect is setting everybody up for failure. Personally what I have greatest respect for is the dedication of monastics to renunciation and the devotion of their lives to developing wholesome states, wisdom and compassion.

One thing that I have learned that has been really helpful, is to adopt an attitude of letting things wash over me gently. Understanding grows naturally over time - let go of the need to know the answer now… Listen and watch everything and spend time in contemplation. Indeed, I think that for every thing heard/seen 50 x as much time should be spent contemplating it. None of these things are obvious or straight forward. Contemplate from within samadhi.