Report on the International Theravada bhikkhuni ordination


I am reporting this on a happy note. The bhikkhunis in Thailand are ready to form the bhikkhuni chapter necessary for the ceremony. Ven.Bhikkhuni Dhammananda has completed 12 vassas and appointed to become the first Pavattini in Thailand. The appointment was given on Nov.29,2014 by Most Ven.Mahindavamsa, Maha Nayaka of Amarpura who came to act as Upajjhaya at the ordination given to 8 bhikkhunis in Thailand. The appointment was made in front of a chapter of 20 bhikkhus, Sri Lankan and Thai, and 12 bhikkhunis from Thailand,Vietnam,Sri Lanka and Indonesia.

But as a result of the order from the Council of Elders in Thailand, Dec.11,2014 denying any Theravada bhikkhuni ordination in Thailand. Thai monks cannot go against such order. Therefore, we have to seek ordination in the land where both bhikkhu and bhikkhuni sanghas are more friendly.

Ven.Vijithananda, Vassa 14, director of Sakyadhita Training and Meditation Center, Sri Lanka answered to our call. She was instrumental in organizing this event. The date was fixed for January 30,2016.
Three candidates came from Thailand, 3 from Vietnam and 5 from Bangladesh. For Bangladesh group, this is the very first batch of Theravada bhikkhuni in their country. Apart from 5 bhikkhunis, there were 2 women who also received temporary samaneri ordination.
Ven.Dr Lieuphap (from Vietnam)  came in early to offer vinaya training to the candidates, on the last day before the actual ordination, the candidates had to sit for exam to prove their vinaya knowledge.
The venue was at the water sima which is a wooden structure surrounded by water at Sakyadhita center.
On the bhikkhuni side there were 12 senior bhikkhunis each one has more than 12 vassas, on the bhikkhu side there were 5 bhikkhus from Amarapura, Syamvamsa  and Ramanna. The preceptor or Upajjhaya was Ven.Sobhita, Anunayaka of Amarapura. The two kammavacacaryas were Ven.Dr.Kalupahana and Ven.Sudhamma.

As the bhikkhus arrived, Ven.Dhammananda approached them in front of both the sanghas, and requested them to consider appointment of Ven.Dr Lieuphap and Ven.Vijithananda as pavattinis, both of them have 14 vassas and have been giving training to candidates for the past few years.
The bhikkhu sangha promptly appointed them and issued certificates for three of them including Ven.Dhammananda who was appointed 2 years earlier.

The candidates already received the training and purification from bhikkhuni sangha, Ven.Dhammananda was pavattini for the Thai candidates, Ven.Dr lieuphap was pavattini for the Vietnamese candidates, etc. When this was done, all the bhikkhunis came out to invite the bhikkhu sangha. The procession was very much Sri Lankan style with the drummers and dancers leading the line of sanghas and the candidates back to the sima in the water.

The sima is completely disconnected from the land, even the plug was removed so that the building was not connected even by electric wire. The candidates received upsampada three at a time as prescribed in the vinaya. The candidates had to bow nine times to each of the kammavacacarya, and another nine bows to Upajjhaya.
All the candidates were well trained in their recitation asking for ordination, thanks to Ven.Vijithananda.

We are most grateful for all the sanghas, and laypeople who were so generous in supporting the coming of the new bhikkhuni sangha. This is a history of the establishment of the bhikkhuni sangha in Thailand, in Vietnam and latest in Bangladesh.
There will be obstacles for the bhikkhuni sangha but obstacles are to be seen as exercise for us to overcome.
Modana Sadhu.

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