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Keeping track of the revival of bhikkhuni ordination in Sri Lanka.

热度 1已有 3450 次阅读2010-5-1 20:49 |个人分类:比丘尼僧团|

Keeping Track of the Revival of Bhikkhuni Ordination in Sri Lanka

My ordination lineage received since 2001 is from Sri Lanka, so it is utter importance for my academic interest and my personal commitment that the history of this significant event of turning the new page in the History of Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Theravada be kept to its proper details.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]


The First Wave of Bhikkhuni Ordination
Bhikkhuni ordination in Sri lanka started as early as 1988 when a group of 11 Sri Lankan dasasilmatas were invited to go to Los Angeles to receive full ordination at Hsi Lai temple, Hacienda Heights in Los Angeles. None of them spoke English, there was one Mrs. Rajpakse who accompanied them on this trip. Upon arrival in Los Angeles, they did not quite know what they were getting themselves into. The local Sri Lankan monks living in Los Angeles were quite supportive and tried to encourage them. But at the actual ordination only five of them took the ordination. The rest simply had a free ride to visit the West.

The five newly ordained bhikkhunis upon returning to Sri Lanka had no structural support neither from the Sangha nor from the lay society. As a result they returned to their way of life like any other dasasilmatas. Each of them took separate residence and there was no sangha training. Each newly ordained bhikkhuni had a copy of the bhikkhuni patimokkha to recite twice a month but it was in English which they could not read and they did not come together as a sangha to do the necessary sanghakamma. Eventually they returned to their previous lifestyle no matter how hard they tried to maintain bhikkhuni status.

To start a bhikkhuni movement, we learn that the emphasis, more than the ordination itself is the individual commitment and necessary training in a sangha context. The individual readiness and commitment must be coupled with the proper knowledge of what it means to be a bhikkhuni.

When the Buddha established Buddhism, he trusted the responsibility on the fourfold Buddhists namely bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, laymen and laywomen. By establishing Buddhism he clearly mentioned that he expected the fourfold Buddhists to study his teaching, put it into practice and lastly should there be any outsider making a false statement about the teaching, they should be able to defend.

To start a bhikkhuni sangha (and for that matter even bhikkhu sangha) the emphasis on meditation training alone will not suffice to answer to the responsibility as the Buddha expected us to uphold Buddhism.

The first wave of the bhikkhuni ordination in Sri Lanka was aborted. However, some of these bhikkhunis emerged again and received proper ordination in 1998 when the ordination was given by the Sri Lankan bhikkhu and bhikkhuni sanghas.


The Second Wave of Bhikkhuni Ordination
In 1996 The Korean Bhikkhu Sangha organized and sponsored yet another bhikkhuni ordination for 10 Sri Lankan dasasilmatas in Samath.

This ordination was criticized as it was not dual ordination. There were ten Korean bhikkhus but only 2 Korean bhikkhunis, and the bhikkhunis were not officiating the ordination. But as I understand that possibly during that time that was how the bhikkhuni ordination in Korean tradition was performed. That is, only by bhikkhu sangha.

The existing Sri Lankan bhikkhunis tend not to take this ordination seriously as one of the women ordained did not spend the necessary 2 years training as samaneri or sikkhamana before taking this ordination. At least one of them took another ordination again in Sri Lanka. However, I know one of the younger bhikkhunis who was in this batch, she is a serious practitioner and wrote an ordination procedure for bhikkhuni in Sinhalese. Her text is very helpful for the future bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka. In 2003 she was invited to teach in the US, with this exposure she should be a good teacher at an international level.


The Third Wave of Bhikkhuni Ordination
Fo Guang Shan sangha who organized the first international conference in 1988 must have done a great deal of research, and came up with an international monastic meeting in Fo Guang Shan in 1997. In this meeting the bhikkhuni ordination was the main concern. At the end of the meeting, those who attended signed a petition requesting Ven.Master Hsing Yun, Director of Fo Guang Shan to organize yet another international ordination for both the sanghas.

In 1998 an International Ordination was organized by Fo Guang Shan in Bodh Gaya and there were some 140 monastics, both male and female ordained at that time.

From Sri Lanka some 20 dasilmatas were selected to be ordained in this history making event.

A little back ground will be necessary as to how the screening was done. Ven.Somalankara MahaThera gave an interview and explained that application forms were sent to all the dasasilmatas on the island. Twenty of them were selected judging from the long years standing as dasilmatas, their educational background, their Buddhist background, their position in monastic environment, etc. In short the cream of the crop. Most of the dasasilmatas are the chiefs of their own aramas. Some of them have long years standing for 3-4 decades as dasasilmatas. Some of them were already established and recognized both by the sangha and lay society.

At this ordination senior monks from all traditions were presented. From Thailand there were 4 monks, and from Sri Lanka there were at least 10 senior monks of Maha Thera status, that is they have at least 20 years standing as monks. Among them were Ven.Dhammaloka Anunayaka Maha Thera, Ven.Gunaratna Maha Thera from West Virginia, Ven.Sumangalo Maha Thera of Dambulla, Ven.Somalankara Maha Thera, etc.

The ordination lasted one month as performed in Chinese style, the training period was within this said period. They were aware of the objection posed against the Korean ordination in Sarnath in 1996, so it was properly done by dual sanghas, both senior bhikkhunis and bhikkhus.


Only Theravada Ordination
It is interesting to note that after this dual ordination in Bodh Gaya, the Theravada bhikkhu sangha were concern as to the acceptance of the Sri Lankan sangha back home. It is a common belief both in Sri Lanka and Thailand that by taking the dual ordination with the assistance of Chinese bhikkhuni sangha it eventually make the lineage Mahayana.

Also it might be of their concern if the ordination in Bodh Gaya would be considered nanasamvasa (mixed sanghas) by the strict Theravadins back in Sri Lanka. Nobody really knew the reason in their mind, but the fact was, they moved to Sarnath and gave another ordination to the 20 newly ordained Sri lankan bhikkhunis. They quoted the vinaya authority from the Buddha when the Buddha allowed,... "I allow you O monks, to give ordination to bhikkhunis" (Cullavagga, Vinaya Pitaka)

Please read also my explanation for dual sangha ordination.

It may be argued that later the Buddha introduced dual ordination of both bhikkhuni and bhikkhu sangha, but it must be reminded that ordination by single sangha was never lifted, so it must still be valid.

A point to support this argument as pointed out Ven.Kosila Maha Thera from Thailand, in the development for the bhikkhu ordination started out by the simple ordination by the Buddha (Ehibhikkhu Upasampada), then by receiving the refuge in the Triple Gem (Tisaranagamana) then by the pronouncement of the Sangha (natti catutthakammavaca). But on his death bed, the Buddha went back to still give Ehibhikkhu upasampada to Subhadda. This is a proof that when latter requirement of the ordination were added, the Buddha never uplift the previously given allowances.

The fact that the Sri Lankan Theravada bhikkhu Sangha resorted to give ordination to bhikkhunis by single ordination may be taken as valid for this reason.

By single ordination, the newly ordained bhikkhuni sangha can overcome both the objection of nanasamvasa (mixed sangha) and Mahayana lineage.

In the spirit of the Buddha, when the Buddha gave ordination, there was neither Theravada nor Mahayana.

The Bhikkhuni ordination took root in Sri Lanka.

In the same year 1998, Ven.Sumangalo Maha Thero (Now Maha Nayaka of Dambulla, Syamvamsa) and his sangha appointed two newly ordained bhikkhunis with long standing in monastic life as upajjhayas. He also for the first time in the history of Sri lanka and in fact Theravada, arranged for ordination for bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka.

There were some hundred of Sri Lankan monks participating at this history making event. Since then Dambulla has been hosting the ordination for bhikkhunis on a yearly basis. Up to date (2006) there are already 350 bhikkhunis in his lineage, strongest bhikkhuni sangha in Sri Lanka. These bhikkhunis do not stay in one place but rather scattered throughout the island. However, they come to perform the samghakamma of recitation of patimokkha together twice a month.

Dambulla provides for 3-month training for those who have been selected to receive the annual bhikkhuni ordination. Once ordained they are registered and given ID card. Even after ordination the bhikkhunis are still under the instruction from the chief monk. A point to note also, that both the Maha Nayaka of Malwata and Asgiri, the most senior of the Maha Nayakas of Syamvamsa supported the Dambulla bhikkhuni ordination. Early in 2005 Ven.Sumangalo Maha Thera was given the title of Maha Nayaka. This proved the acceptance from the Syamvamsa sangha.

There is yet another source of bhikkhuni ordination ... Naugala. This is also supported by the chief monk of Naugala. The most senior bhikkhuni, Ven.Khemacari has also long years of practice and standing. They have 50 bhikkhunis in this group.

Apart from these two main groups of bhikkhunis, there are Sri Lankan bhikkhunis who received ordination from Taiwan in 2000, and also locally organized by the arrangement of Sakyadhita Sri Lanka. This third group of bhikkhunis do not come directly under any of the two sanghas mentioned above, and they have not formed themselves under the same umbrella. Instead they are scattered in their own aramas. However, this group is only a handful as compared to Dambulla and Naugala.


International Bhikkhunis
There are bhikkhunis and samaneris in Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Australia and U.S.A. who received the ordination from Sri Lanka. Some of them still remain connected to their teachers in Sri Lanka, some not. It will take a while before the establishment of the bhikkhuni sangha will be rooted in other countries.

The key word for the success of the bhikkhuni lineage is the sangha. If the newly ordained bhikkhunis and samaneris having received ordination and return to live in a sangha, they will be more successful to survive than those who are on their own without the support from the Sangha. Ordination of bhikkhunis goes together with the establishment of the bhikkhuni sangha. Therefore those who are considering ordination must make sure they have a sangha to return to, hence their monastic lifestyle will be supported.

Dhammananda Bhikkhuni
June 2006

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发表评论 评论 (1 个评论)

回复 梁继伟 2010-5-3 15:37
南无阿弥陀佛!

facelist doodle 涂鸦板

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