Two sided Bhikkhuni ordination - status of nuns half way

Yesterday saw the ordination of another 4 Bhikkhunis at Newbury Buddhist Monastery in Victoria. I spoke to one of the nuns afterward and she asked whether we should refer to her as a Bhikkhuni. So, is she a Bhikkhuni, or as she was before the ceremony took place or is there a special term for a half ordained nun?

Of course this got me speculating - what if she were to commit a grave offense, say a Sanghadisesa, before the monks perform the second ceremony?


No, she is not yet a bhikkhunī. She has the inspiring title: “One who is ordianed on one side.” :slightly_smiling_face:


Hmmm… does this mean the Bhikkhuni’s rules don’t apply to her?

Also, I think I’ve heard mention, perhaps by Bhante @sujato that the two-sided ordination may be a later edition to the texts.

Regardless, I guess this is what we have today and what we have to work with - not in terms of the rightness or wrongness or even the historical accuracy/validity; but rather in terms of working with different groups of people who will have different thoughts and feelings on such matters. And really they have to, being conditioned as they are by different life stories.

We all operate within different paradigms. It makes the business of communication/interaction fertile ground for misunderstanding, insensitivity and conflict even when nobody wants this. The language we use, assumes a background knowledge that our listeners/readers will not always have access to but is one that we implicitly work through and view through, and speak through.

So when we want to look at issues of accuracy and the rightness/wrongness of these matters; we really have to be incredibly careful…lest we contribute to an even greater mess for future Practitioners to inherit. Sometimes, opening our mouth/typing a sentence, is a potentially perilious undertaking. Often, it’s better to listen and be guided by metta.


Right, the bhikkhunī rules do not yet apply. I am basing myself on the information in the Vinaya-vibhaṅga, not on any historical reconstruction of what may actually have happened. I don’t discount Bhante @Sujato’s ideas.


Would Bhante please explain what “one side” is about?

På forhånd takk! :anjal:


Of course, Ajahn’s answer will be shiny and authoritative, but in the meantime: I believe it simply refers to the fact that so far she has been ordained by the bhikkhunī community but not yet the bhikkhu community. A second ordination ceremony will be conducted by the community of bhikkhus after which she will be come a bhikkhunī.


Hi again, it still puzzles me here this “two sides”, because I’ve come to see the dhamma as being “no sided” and just “this”, but he might be wrong … !?

So then, which side of a monk is deciding?

I’m might be 1/4 of a god knows what, just now … :wink:

Perhaps viewing the ordination procedure as a gathering in a large room with bhikkhus on one side and bhikkhunis on the other side it might help.


Yeah, it is possible that your right, but then again i don’t bow down to the content of a robe, because the path is but no traveller is seen … !?


Jeepers! Either you are Norwegian or you have used Google translate very skilfully. In either case: ingen årsak!

“One side” just means that the prospective bhikkhunī has been ordained by the nuns’ order, but not yet by the monks. She is in a sort of limbo, and it’s far clear exactly what her status is. My guess is that she is still technically a sikkhamānā. It’s just an expression to say the ordination is not yet complete. I wouldn’t read too much into it.

@Aminah, you are pretty authoritative yourself!


Venerable Sir, you are right on the spot - we’ve met in 2015 in Østfold - short touch and go, sorry to say, but I love listening to you and Dear Ajahn Brahm , so: Anumodana to both of you “Dhamma dad’s” for helping this son of yours :yellow_heart::green_heart::blue_heart:

I think I got what you say in the matter of OP, not crystal clear but tantalizing enough, so that it will be held by the citta in the background somewhere, until the gemstone shines through by some more effortless pondering here

Be well - you all doing a great job just doing it fully!

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Nice to hear from you again. Good luck with your practice! :grinning:


Dear Venerables,
Thank you for your responses so far.

From Ajahn Hiriko’s recent essay (which is discussed here) I was under the impression that the nuns would indeed be Bhikkhūnī at this point.

The Bhikkhu Saṅgha and the Bhikkhunī Saṅgha are two legally separate entities and subsequently one cannot exert its will on the other. It follows, therefore, that the Bhikkhu Saṅgha cannot determine the legality of the Bhikkhunī Saṅgha. The legality of bhikkhunī ordination is a choice to be made by bhikkhunīs, not for bhikkhunīs. This is the argument based on Vinaya

I humbly respect your greater understanding on such matters and would be interested to understand more clearly where your views differ.