The ordination of bhikkhunīs: from Trojan horse to St. Bernard dog


Does anyone have the patience to objectively summarize and lay out the bare skeleton arguments both against and for Bhikkhuni ordination?

This could give those (of us) who are new to this topic get an overall picture of the current arguments for and against.


Yes, very easily actually! The main argument against it is that for the last few hundred years in the Theravada world, it hasn’t been done. And the main argument for it is that the Vinaya allows it.


Further material is in links in the OP (post #1).

Maybe another brief way of looking at it is to say that the argument FOR are based in compassion and the arguments AGAINST are based in fine legal wrangling.

The legal wrangling seems to work both FOR and AGAINST tho. Personally I can’t make a judgement in this territory and therefore wouldn’t be game to offer a summary.


Oh! I guess I should add, that since Theravada Bhikkhunis have been ordained again, this debate is basically closed. The real “debate” at this point in time is about legally (in secular law) recognizing them in Theravada countries, since in e.g. Thailand or Sri Lanka (as indeed in Western countries) there are many legal benefits to being recognized as ordained clergy, legal accomodations that the Bhikkhunis today are not receiving. Such as, for example, the right to not be thrown in prison which is what happens to Bhikkhunis in Burma :pensive:

Do I have this right, Ajahn @sujato? Anything to add or correct?


So basically (Theravada) tradition?

Can you refer to where in the Vinaya I might look for relevant rules regarding this issue of Bhikkhuni ordination?

My concern is that western liberal ideas regarding “gender equality” as opposed to say Buddhist ideas of “gender fairness” might be used to argue in favor of Bhikkhuni ordination - so even if it was the right side, it could be doing the right thing for the wrong reason, which could lead to a mix of sad and happy results for the being arguing in this way.


Yep. “My teacher said…” and “But what tradition will they follow?” etc Mostly practical concerns.

Amazingly though, the Buddha, in his incomparable foresight, actually made an allowance for reviving the Bhikkhunī order.

Ven Anālayo has written on the subject. this essay (and, if you have time, this book) are perhaps the best overview of the subject from the legalistic-Vinaya perspective.


Sorry, no; I can only refer you to the links in the OP. The ‘legalities’ are complicated, and, as a layperson, I leave study of the vinaya to those whom it concerns. As @Khemarato.bhikkhu says, the debate has concluded.


I believe the Pāli used was this line, which gives monks the ability to ordain nuns unilaterally (ie without necessitating a “dual” ordination) (but I am not a vinaya scholar, so please see Ven Anālayo’s work linked above for the authoritative analysis)


Ven Analayos essay (linked above) is clear, thorough, and an easy pleasant read. An excellent investment of 15 minutes reading time. Highly recommended :anjal: