Ordination in Dambulla, 2007

Report from Sri lanka

Since 1998 Most Venerable Inamaluwe Sri Sumangalo Maha Thero, now Maha Nayaka of Dambulla Syamopali Sect has organized ordination for bhikkhunis regularly. This year also the ordination was given on July 21,2007. There are 9 new bhikkhunis, seven Sri lankans and two Thais.

 Ven.Dhammadhira from Songdhammakalyani Temple arrived in Sri Lanka on May 20 with the understanding that the ordination would be held on June 21 and the examination would be held on June 14 only to realize that it had been postponed to July 14 and July 21 respectively.
 The seven Sri Lankan samaneri candidates were at the Bhikkhuni training center in Kalundewa earlier, the three samaneris from Thailand joined them only from July 1. Ven.Bhikkhuni Sumedha, director of the Bhikkhuni Training center received all the bhikkunis warmly. She reminded the Thai bhikkhunis the topics that they should prepare for the coming exam on July 14.
 The training center came alive with the sound of the younger samaneris practicing the chanting, and reciting the various sutras that might come in their exam questions.
 July 14, early in the morning a bhikkhu came from Dambulla with the exam questions. The ten samaneris gathered in the hall at the Bhikkhuni Training Center eagerly. They sat with their questions but no answering sheets, they soon learned that they have to provide themselves for the answering sheets. The older samaneris passed on her exercise book, others shared with her some sheets of paper. The questions for both Sinhalese and English were the same. The exam started from 8.30 AM and ended at 11.30 AM.
 There were 5 questions, 20 marks for each. One was on the establishment and the lineage of the bhikkhuni from the Buddha’s time up to present. This was well prepared by Ven.Dhammananda for her students who attended BWR 2005. Dhammadhira  thought she did very well for this question. Then there was one on the first ten of the Dhammapada, she chose to answer the first Dhammapada which in fact was in the daily morning chanting at the temple. The third one was on the eight Parajika for bhikkhuni with the emphasis on the second parajika. The fourth one was on the Eightfold path with the emphasis on Right speech, again this is incoorperated in the evening chanting at the temple, Dhammadhira smiled. But she missed out the detail explanation. The fifth one was on the third council but  she ran out of time and did not attend to it.
 As a preparation to the exam at Dambulla, at Songdhammakalyani Temple in Thailand Ven.Dhammananda tries to train the samaneris so that they get to chant various sutras that might come in the examination with the hope that when they actually have to write their exam it will be only natural response.
 Since 2006 Ven.Dhammananda also added romanization to help the samaneris to get acquainted with writing all  the sutras in English. Many of them know by heart but without learning the technique of romanization they will not be able to write in English.
 On July 17 all the ten samaneris gathered again at the office of Most Ven.Inamaluwe Sri Sumangalo Maha Nayaka. The samaneris seated on the floor around him and he called  out their names one by one, announcing the marks they got.
One Thai samaneri got only 16 marks, Maha Nayaka suggested that she sat for the exam again next year. So she was the only one that did not have the full ordination.
Right away seniority was arranged according to the marks  they got, between the two samaneris from Thailand, Dhammadhira came second, so she was placed the last of the nine would-be bhikkhunis.
 The ordination was organized on July 21. The samaneri candidates had to go back to wearing white and asked for the ten precepts before receiving the full ordination. They went  in pair, and there were  2 upajjhayas to alternate along with two Kammavacacarya (teachers).
 The ordination from bhikkhuni sangha was done in the morning, then they broke for lunch. In the afternoon, the bhikkhuni sangha with the newly ordained bhikkhunis (only by bhikkhuni sangha) went to invite the bhikkhu sangha. Again Maha Nayaka led the procession walking under the official white umbrella with the retinue of bhikkhus and bhikkhunis back to the Uposatha hall.The bhikkhuni kammavacacaraya officially brought the newly ordained bhikkhunis in pair and the dual ordination continued yet for another hour before its completion.
 Ven.Ananda, Maha Nayaka’s assistant was the one to give  the three Nissaya and the eight parajikas to the nine newly ordained
 The actual sanghakamma was completed and all of them went up to the hall in Dambulla to receive their ordination certificates and ID cards.
  So the fully ordination was drawn to a close for 2007.
 The samaneri ordination will be held on Sanghamitta’s day in December 2007.
 More good news, further discussion has been the preparation for all the dasasilmata (ten-precept nuns) in Sri Lanka to be recognized by the Government and all of them will receive full ordination as bhikkhunis. This is now in the making and goes in the same direction to support the Hamburg Congress, July,2007 to re-introduce bhikkhuni ordination in Mulasarvastivadin tradition of the Tibetan lineage.