Author Topic: Yasodara, the Role Model for Women  (Read 8659 times)


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Yasodara, the Role Model for Women
« on: December 02, 2013, 02:20:37 AM »
by Premasara Epasinghe
During the Buddha's time, over 2,500 years ago, women occupied a very servile place in the Indian society. For many years even before the advent of Buddhism, Brahamin hegemony was so dominant that the entire country was in their iron grip and women were reduced to a very low position.

When King Kosala was in the company of the Buddha, one of his ministers broke the news that his Queen Mallika was blessed with a daughter. The King was distraught. Then the Buddha told him, "Do not be perturbed or upset. A female child may prove even better if she grows up wise and virtuous." In Buddhism, gender difference is no impediment to the attainment of Nibbana.

Princess Yasodhara was the beloved wife of Prince Siddhartha. For thousands of years, she perfected her wish to be the wife of the future Buddha aspirant. She completed the Dasa Paramita in her past births.

Yasodara was born to King Supprabuddha and Queen Amita on the same day Prince Siddhartha was born at Lumbini Park. Yasodhara's father was Prince Siddhartha's mother's brother. They were cousins. Yasodhara was a beautiful princess. She was so beautiful that she was known as 'Bimba' (gold image). Eventually Yasodhara became the consort of Prince Siddhartha.

The royal couple had three palaces, Ramya, Suyramya and Subha. One wonders at times, how Prince Siddhartha, who lived with so much of luxury had the will power to leave such a beautiful wife and a sweet little baby Rahula at the age of 29. He possessed a strong will power. He sacrificed all his luxuries to achieve the ultimate goal in bliss of Nibbana.

Prince Yasodhara lived an exemplary life. On a Medin Full Moon Poya Day, the Buddha visited Kimbulwathpura and called on Yasodhara. She offered alms to the Buddha. After the Buddha instructed Sariputta and Kassapa to ordain Rahula, Yasodhara too joined the Bhikkhuni Sasana.

As a Bhikkhuni Yasodhara meditated and within a short time attained Nibbana. In the history of Buddhist order only four people achieved the greatness and efficiency in four forms of analytical knowledge. They were Ven. Sariputta, Moggallana, Bakkula and Bhikkhuni Yasodhara. The Buddha elevated Yasodhara to the rank of the foremost of Bhkkhunis with great efficiency in the four analytical, knowledge. When Yasodhara turned 78, she realised that some of the very senior Bhikkhunis and Bhikkhus had passed away and decided to meet Buddha and expressed that the time was ripe for her to depart from the world.

Yasodhara recited many verses praising the Buddha in front of the congregaton and walked back to her monastery. Bhikkhuni Yasodhara sat in meditation and passed away peacefully.

Yasodhara is a role model to all women.


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Re: Yasodara, the Role Model for Women
« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2013, 03:08:56 AM »
Yasodhara set the pace for women to ordain into the order of Bhikkhuni in the man's world of Bhikkhus during the Lord Buddha's time, more than 2,500 years ago.  From India the Bhikkhuni ordination had spread to Sri Lanka and from Sri Lanka to Thailand, Burma, Korea, China, Japan and other parts of the world.

However the tradition of Bhikkhuni ordination in Sri Lanka was lost for a thousand years.  It is interesting to note that Bhikkhuni Resurrection in Sri Lanka begun with Venerable Kusuma Bhikkhuni's ordination by Korean Sangha at Saranath in 1996.  The revival of Theravadan Bhikkhuni Ordination started with much difficulty in Sri Lanka in a male dominated Sangha.

Watch her on interview describing her difficulties and journey to ordination:

Bhikkhuni Resurrection - The Revival of Bhikkhuni Ordination in Sri Lanka

Ven Bhikkuni Kusuma, MA, PhD, is a fully ordained Buddhist nun from Sri Lanka who has pioneered the re-establishment of the Theravada Female Buddhist Order in Sri Lanka. She is the first woman in Sri Lanka to don the robes of a Bhikkuni after a lapse the Bhikkhuni order for nearly 1,000 years. She holds a BA (1974), and a MA (1982) in Theravada Buddhism. She received her PhD (1999) from the Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka. Her doctoral dissertation on Bhikkuni Vinaya (rules of discipline for ordained Buddhist nuns) is regarded as a handbook for Buddhist nuns in Sri Lanka. She is a well published scholar and has participated in several international conferences. Now in her eighties, she continues to be active in bringing the higher ordination of Buddhism to women in Sri Lanka as well as abroad.


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Re: Yasodara, the Role Model for Women
« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2013, 03:27:58 AM »
I wonder why Theravadan senior monks are so much against Bhikkhuni's ordination.  Ajahn Brahm of Buddhist Society Western Australia was excommunicated by Wat Pah Pong associated group of monasteries for starting Bhikkhuni's ordination in Perth. 

I applaud the respond by Ajahn Brahm and the Buddhist Society of Western Australia for standing firm and committed to their belief and action to disseminate and flourish the teaching of Lord Buddha not succumbing to the pressure of Wat Pah Pong.

Bhikkhuni Ordination Fallout


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Re: Yasodara, the Role Model for Women
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2014, 01:34:44 PM »
An interesting read of Gender Equality presented by Ajahn Brahm in the Theravadan tradition.

Gender Equality paper by Ajahn Brahm
Last week the International Committee for the United Nations Day of Vesak, led by the rector of a Buddhist University prevented  Ajahn Brahm from delivering his pre-approved speech on Gender Equality at the United Nations Day of Vesak convention in Vietnam. Ajahn Brahm's paper had been pre approved by conference authorities.

Although Gender Equality is one of the declared UN millennium goals and although Ajahn Brahm’s paper on Gender Equality had been officially accepted for the convention, he was told at the last moment while he was in Vietnam last week that he would not be allowed to present his paper.

In 2009 Ajahn Brahm helped in the ordination of four women of the Theravada school of Buddhism in WA. He was strongly opposed by a sector of the Thailand-based Buddhist clergy and this made headlines in Buddhist world and continues to be a point of contention today despite the growth of the female Sangha in Australia.

Ajahn Brahm was invited by Vietnam but was not a delegate of Australia.

Also of concern was a report that the Australian flag was flown upside down, a most disrespectful action, especially at a UN event.

We are deeply disappointed at this missed opportunity to promote this important issue at a UN Buddhist event.

Below you can read the text of Ajahn Brahm’s banned paper:

Theravada Buddhism and MDG 3:

Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women in Theravada Buddhism

By Ajahn Brahm


On December1 1955, in Montgomery Alabama, an African-American woman refused to obey a bus driver’s order to give up her seat on the bus to a white passenger. That simple act of defiance for the cause of social justice became one of the most important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movements in the USA. That woman was Rosa Parks. The United States Congress called her “the first lady of civil rights” and “the mother of the freedom movement”. December 1 is commemorated in the US states of California and Ohio as “Rosa Parks Day”. Rosa Parks became a Buddhist before she passed away in 2005 aged 92. One can speculate that this female icon against discrimination chose Buddhism because it is well suited to advancing social justice issues.

In this paper, I will discuss how Buddhism may advance the particular social justice issue of Millennium Development Goal No. 3: Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. I will focus on the need for Theravada Buddhism’s current male leadership to clearly demonstrate its own commitment to MDG 3 through acceptance of the bhikkhuni ordination. Only then can it use its considerable influence to make our world more fair, one where people are judged on their character and not on their gender.

Gender Inequality in Australia and the Contributions of Buddhist Leaders

.In a report on gender equity issued by the Council of Australian Governments on Tuesday 19 November 2013, the median salary of new female graduates in Australia was found to be 10% less than that of male graduates. Even though they were equally qualified, women received less pay than men. Thus even in a developed country such as Australia, gender inequality still persists. In less developed countries it is far worse.

My colleague, Ajahn Sujato, recently attended the 2013 Religions for Peace World Assembly in Vienna, sponsored by the government of Saudi Arabia. He reported in his blog: One panel was devoted to the role of women in religion, and that was, predictably, powerful and moving. Rape, domestic violence, trafficking in women, forced prostitution, maternal mortality: these are all-too-painful realities for many women; and meanwhile male-dominated religious morality obsesses about correct doctrine and stopping gays. The suffering of women is rarely featured in religious discourse, and as one of the delegates said, when it is mentioned it is tepid and equivocal. Yet as those working in development know well, empowerment of women is the single most effective means of lifting countries out of poverty.

As Buddhists who espouse the ideal of unconditional loving kindness and respect, judging people on their behavior instead of their birth, we should be well positioned to show leadership on the development of gender equality in the modern world and the consequent reduction of suffering for half the world’s population. Moreover, if Buddhism is to remain relevant and grow, we must address these issues head on. But how can we speak about gender equality when some of our own Theravada Buddhist organizations are gender biased?

In Australia, the Anglican Christian Church represents 17.1% of the population (2011 National Census) and is maintaining its relevance by ordaining female bishops. In May 2008, in Perth, I was invited to attend the ordination of the world’s first female bishop in the Anglican Christian Church, Rev. Kay Goldsworthy. The media response to the recognition of women in the Anglican Church was overwhelmingly positive. Such initiatives shine a damming spotlight on other religions in Australia that still discriminate on the basis of gender. But it shone a positive light on Theravada Buddhism in Perth that has fully ordained nuns.

Unfortunately, other Theravada Buddhist temples and monasteries in Australia and in other parts of the world still adhere to excluding women from full membership of the Sangha. I will later argue that there is no legal basis in the Vinaya, the ancient Buddhist Monastic Code, to deny women full ordination. Moreover, when parts of Theravada Buddhism are generally considered to unreasonably prevent women from full membership of the Sangha, then they have no moral authority to speak on gender equality. They have lost the opportunity to speak for the empowerment of women in other parts of society and advance the Third Millennium Development Goal.

When Mahatma Gandhi was a law student in London, the landlady of his boarding house asked him to have a talk with her son. Her boy was eating too much sugar and would not listen to his mother when she told him to stop. Yet the boy had a fondness for the young Mr. Gandhi. She suggested that if Mr. Gandhi advised her son not to eat so much sugar then he might follow the good advice. A week or two went by and the landlady’s son was still eating lots of sugar. So she took Mr. Gandhi aside and asked him why he had not kept his promise to talk with her son. “But I did talk with your son” Mr. Gandhi replied, “but only this morning.” “So why did you wait so long?” “Because it was only yesterday that I gave up eating sugar”. Such was the reply of the great man.

Religious leaders, above all others, must practice what they preach to be taken seriously and for their advice to be effective.

The Power of Leading by Example

According to the latest figures from Wikipedia, there are between 506 million to 1,146 million Buddhists in our world. Even at the lower estimate that is a significant proportion of the global population. The vast majority of these look to their monks and lamas for inspiration, guidance and moral leadership. Moreover, many of these Buddhists are in undeveloped or developing countries where the empowerment of women is crucial for those countries’ economic development and social progress. In today’s highly connected world, words are not enough. Actions are demanded.

Master Cheng Yen, the female founder of the International Tzu Chi Foundation, is an example of the power of an ordained Buddhist Nun. Ordained in Taiwan in 1962, at a time when women had little influence in social policy, she is now regarded as an icon throughout her homeland as well as internationally. She has built state-of-the-art earthquake-proof hospitals in Taiwan, led the way in encouraging recycling of waste in her country, and established the largest Buddhist Relief Organization in our world. When I visited Tzu Chi Foundation in Taiwan in May 2013, I was shown how discarded plastic bottles were turned into blankets to be sent to natural disaster zones, such as the areas devastated by the recent Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Much of the work was done by retired men and women who gained meaning in their lives together with the considerable emotional and health benefitsthat such a social activity provides. They were enjoying their twilight years instead of wasting away at home. No monk or lama has done anything comparable.

For Buddhism to grow in our modern world, we need to do more than teach meditation, preach inspiring sermons, and make the Sutras available over the internet. We are good at studying, publishing and spreading the word of Buddhism. What we have not been very successful at is showcasing the compassion and selflessness of the Dharma by our actions. We have written many more words in our books than what few kind words we have spoken to the poor, lonely and desperate. We have built so many more temples than orphanages.

Female Leadership in Theravada Buddhist Countries.

Sri Lanka, a majority Theravada Buddhist country, can be proud of having the modern world’s first female Prime Minister, Mrs Sirimavo Bandaranaike, in 1960. Myanmar would have had its first female head of government in 1990 when Aung San Su Kyi and her NLD party won 59% of the popular vote in the national election, but the election result was not accepted. In 2013, Thailand elected their first female Prime Minister, Yingluk Shinawatara.

This shows that Theravada Buddhist laypeople can accept women in leadership roles, why can’t the Sangha?


Theravada Buddhist monks, generally speaking, are very conservative. They often claim that they are the guardians of “Original Buddhism” from the time of the Lord Buddha Himself. They consider that one of their most important duties is to preserve these precious and authentic early teachings. In this context, what was the tradition in the time of The Lord Buddha with regard to women in the Sangha?

All monks of all traditions in all countries, and all Buddhist lay scholars as well, fully accept that there were fully ordained women, called Bhikkhuni, in the lifetime of the Buddha. Moreover, it is clearly stated in these early teachings that one of the goals of the Lord Buddha’s mission was to give the full ordination to women:

Ananda, once I was staying at Uruvela on the bank of the river Neranjara (present day Bodh Gaya) under the Goatherd’s Banyan tree, when I had just attained supreme enlightenment. And Mara the Evil One had come to me, stood to one side and said “May the Blessed One now attain final Nibbana, may the Sugata now attain final Nibbana. Now is the time for the Blessed Lord’s final Nibbana.”

At this, I said to Mara: “Evil One, I will not take final Nibbana until I have bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, lay men and lay women followers, who are accomplished, trained, skilled, learned, knowers of the Dhamma, trained in conformity with the Dhamma, correctly trained and walking in the path of the Dhamma, who will pass on what they have gained from their Teacher, teach it, declare it, establish it, expound it, analyse it, make it clear, until they shall be able by means of the Dhamma to refute false teachings that have arisen, and teach the Dhamma of wondrous effect (MahaparinibbanaSutta 3. 34-35)

Theravada Buddhists should have an advantage over other major world religions because their tradition explicitly gives such equity to women. Christianity has no tradition of gender equality in their priesthood. Nor does Islam, Judaism or the various schools of Hinduism. Buddhism stands apart and ahead of its time in granting such status to women from “when I (the Lord Buddha) had just attained supreme enlightenment” at Bodh Gaya.

Therefore, full ordination of women is part of the earliest tradition. It is also the declared wish of the Lord Buddha

Obstacles to Gender Equality in the Theravada Sangha

There are two main obstacles to the acceptance of the Bhikkhuni Ordination in Theravada Buddhism: 1) Ignorance about who makes the decisions that govern the Sangha, and 2) Ignorance of the Vinaya, the rules established by the Lord Buddha that restrict what decisions may be made.

1. Many monks in Thailand argue that a ruling from the Sangharaja of Thailand in 1928 bans the ordination of female monks:


“It is unallowable for any Bhikkhu to give the Going-Forth to Women.

Any woman who wishes to ordain as a Samaneri, in accordance with the Buddha’s allowances, has to be ordained by a fully ordained Bhikkhuni. The Buddha laid down the rule that only a Bhikkhuni over 12 vassas is eligible to be a Preceptor (pavattini).

The Buddha did not allow for a Bhikkhu to be the preceptor in this ceremony. Unfortunately, the Bhikkhuni lineage has since faded and died out. Since there is no more fully-fledged Bhikkhunis to pass on the lineage, there is henceforth no Samaneris who have obtained a proper ordination from a fully-fledged Bhikkhuni.

Therefore both the Bhikkhuni and Samaneri lineage has died out. So any Bhikkhu who gives the going forth to a woman to become a Samaneri, it can be said that the Bhikkhu is not acting in accordance with the regulations the Buddha laid down. In essence, he is following his own guidelines and diverging from the guidelines that the Buddha laid down. This is something that will jeopardize the Buddhist Religion and is not a good example for other Bhikkhus.

Therefore, all monks and novices in both Nikayas are forbidden to ordain any woman as a Bhikkhuni, Sikkhamana, or Samaneri from this day forth.”

Phra Bancha Somdet Phra Sangharacha Jiao Gromluang Jinawarn Siriwad (18 June 2471)

(An official announcement from the Sangha Committee Meeting minutes, Book 16 pp 157)

As well as noting the antiquity of this ruling, it should also be pointed out that the Sangharaja of Thailand, together with the Thai Council of Elders (Mahatherasamakom), are only permitted by their legally binding constitution to rule on matters directly concerning the monks and novices of the main two Thai Buddhist sects, Mahanikaya and Dhammayuttanikaya. They are legally not empowered to rule on the affairs of other monastic groups, such as Chinese Mahayana monks in Thailand, nor on nuns. For those well meaning monks waiting for the Thai Council of Elders to decide on the legitimacy of Theravada Bhikkhunis, they will need to wait forever. The Thai Council of Elders is not legally entitled to rule on matters beyond its remit.

As the Late Somdet Phra Pootajarn, the then acting leader of the Thai Council of Elders, told me in 2009 regarding the question of Bhikkhuni ordination “Thai law does not extend beyond Thailand”.In essence, a Sangha in Thailand cannot rule on the proceedings of a Sangha in Sri Lanka, nor in Australia.

Indeed, the Buddha established that all Sanghakamma (monastic acts), such as the ordination of Bhikkhunis, are to be decided on by the local monastic community, defined as those monks or nuns within the same monastic boundary. Decisions or opinions of other monastic communities are not binding. Governance of the Sangha is devolved to each monastic community. This is the ruling of the Lord Buddha.

2. However, each monastic community is bound to act within the rules called the Vinaya. So are these rules an obstacle to Bhikkhuni Ordination?

The Thai Sangharaja’s 1928 ruling judged that a bhikkhu Sangha cannot give ordination to a bhikkhuni, because one needs other bhikkhunis to ordain a bhikkhuni. This is a moot point. In a recent publication “The Revival of the Bhikkhuni Order and the Decline of the Sasana” by the renowned scholar monk Bhikkhu Analayo (Journal of Buddhist Ethics, Vol. 20 2013, available on-line at, the author argues that such an ordination is valid. In short, he argues that at first the Lord Buddha gave the bhikkhus authority to ordain bhikkhunis. Later, the Buddha gave authority for bhikkhunis to be ordained by a dual ordination ceremony; first in a Sangha of bhikkhunis and then in a Sangha of bhikkhus. However, in contrast with the history of the bhikkhu ordination, where one finds that whenever a new ordination is allowed by the Lord Buddha then the previous method is immediately abolished, the original ordination of bhikkhunis by bhikkhus was not abolished by the Lord Buddha. It is a general principle of Theravada Buddhism “Not to abolish what has been authorized by the Buddha” (one of the seven causes for the longevity of the Buddhist religion – Anguttara Sevens, 23). This, then, is a strong argument for the legitimacy of ordination of bhikkhunis by bhikkhus alone.

It is generally regarded that the first bhikkhuni ordination of modern times was that which occurred in 1998 in Bodh Gaya. This was a dual ordination performed first by Chinese bhikkhunis following the “Dharmagupta” Vinaya and then by an international Theravada Sangha of bhikkhus. Was this legitimate?

There are four, and only four,ways that an ordination may be judged illegitimate:

Simavipatti: when there is a monk or nun within the monastic boundary who should be present but is absent.

Parisavipatti: when there is not an adequate quorum.

Vatthuvipatti: (for ordinations) when the candidate is disqualified from ordination such as being underage.

Kammavacavipatti: when the procedure is chanted incorrectly, e.g. an ordination ceremony being chanted without a motion and three announcements.

In regard to the Bodh Gaya ordination, there is no doubt that:

1. All the monks and nuns within the monastic boundary were present,

3. The candidates were well qualified and

4. The procedure was chanted correctly.

But was there a quorum? May Mahayana bhikkhunis qualify as a quorum?

There are no reasonable grounds to suspect that the Chinese Mahayana nuns who performed the Bodh Gaya ordination are not legitimate bhikkhunis. The records show that their lineage came from Sri Lanka. Their own ordination procedure does not fail for any of the four reasons given above. They perform the ceremony with all present within a boundary (which they call a “platform”). There is always a quorum. They ensure that the candidate is qualified. And the ceremony is enacted by the same motion and three announcements as in Theravada, albeit chanted in Chinese. They are bhikkhunis according to the Vinaya and so can ordain other bhikkhunis.

But what about a quorum of one sect (Mahayana) ordaining nuns of another sect (Theravada)?

Sects in Buddhism

The different sects of Theravada are called “nanasamvasa” in the Vinaya. They are separate communities each performing their own acts of governance (Sanghakamma), even within the same monastic boundary. The Vinaya states that there are only two origins of separate communities (nanasamvasabhumi – Vinaya Mahavagga, chapter 10, verse 1.10):
1. A monk decides for himself to belong to a community separate from others, or

2. The Sangha forces a monk out of their community by enacting the severe penalty of Ukkhepaniyakamma by a motion and three announcements.

The second cause for a separate community is not used these days. This leaves only the first, that of personal choice. Put simply, according to Vinaya, a monk may choose to perform Sanghakamma with any group of monks he feels comfortable with. There is no legal impediment preventing a Theravada bhikkhu from performing a Sanghakamma with a Mahayana bhikksu. Indeed, it may be accurately said that there are no Theravada or Mahayana bhikkhus, there are just bhikkhus, according to the Vinaya, who happen to follow Theravada customs or Mahayana practices. Thus, a monk ordained in a Theravada ceremony may join a Mahayana monastery without needing to be re-ordained.

Thus, according to the Vinaya, Mahayana bhikkhunis may perform the first part of the ordination ceremony for a new bhikkhuni, and then she may take the second part of the dual ordination in a gathering of Theravada bhikkhus. This is what happened in Bodh Gaya. There is no reasonable argument based on the Vinaya to invalidate this. And what sect to those bhikkhunis ordained at Bodh Gaya belong to? They choose!

The Perth Bhikkhuni Ordination in 2009

Once there were Theravada bhikkhunis, it was relatively easy to arrange for the ordination of four women as bhikkhunis in Perth in October 2009. Even though it caused some trouble at the time, the bhikkhunis that were ordained are now recognized by all as bhikkhunis according to the Vinaya. As the old saying goes: “One cannot make an omelette without cracking eggs”.

The Bhikkhuni Sangha is growing. In Perth, the Dhammasara Nuns Monastery currently has 11 members of the Sangha with a waiting list of women from around the world wanting to ordain. Recently, a Thai TV channel visited Dhammasara and interviewed the bhikkhunis. In Thailand there are around 100 bhikkhunis (Murray Hunter, ANU, 2/1/2014) and in Sri Lanka around 800 bhikkhunis (The Sunday Leader, Sri Lanka, 3 March 2013). They may not be respected by all monks but they are becoming ever more respected by the lay Buddhist community, especially in Western countries. The Perth bhikkhunis are giving talks and teaching meditation. They are taking their place in the fourfold assembly of Buddhism as the Lord Buddha wanted. They are getting ample support.

The Need for the Current Leadership of Theravada to Embrace Bhikkhuni Ordination

It may be of interest to Thai monks to know that the Preceptor (pavattini) at the Perth Bhikkhuni ordination, Ayya Tathhaaloka, visited Ajahn Maha Boowa at Wat Bahn That in Udon shortly before the Perth Bhikkhuni ordination. Ajahn Maha Boowa invited her to stay in the female quarters overnight, and gave her ordination recognition by inviting her up onto the monks’ platform and then addressing her as a bhikkhuni, in front of the Sangha together with the assembled laity.

Many influential leaders in Thailand respect Ajahn Maha Boowa to such an extent that this incident may encourage other senior monks to accept the existence of Theravada bhikkhunis in Thailand. Such acceptance by Buddhist monk leaders will result in greater respect for the status of bhikkhunis among the lay Buddhist followers. Then those women will be empowered to lead in many other areas for the benefit and progress of their nation.

The Relevance of Bhikkhuni Ordination for the Third Millennium Development Goal

In a recently published paper by Emma Tomalin and Caroline Starkey (Sakyadhita newsletter, Winter 2012), the authors explored the role that Buddhism in Thailand and Cambodia plays in maintaining gender disparity in education and, “ultimately ask what is the relationship between the reassertion of women’s traditional ordination rights and female empowerment through education?” They noted that “Several scholars, both Thai and Western, have implicated Buddhism as one explanatory factor for the historical inequality between genders, particularly in the poorest areas.” Also that “Many advocates of the bhikkhuni ordination consider that that there is a direct relationship between the low status of women in many Buddhist traditions and the inferior status of women within Buddhist societies.

Thus, by restoring equity to women in the Theravada Sangha through the reinstating of the bhikkhuni ordination, we will be addressing the inferior status of women in many Theravada countries, promoting gender equity in education and, thereby, making a strong statement in support of the Third UN Millennium Development Goal.

By fixing our own house first, we have the considerable opportunity and moral authority through our books and sermons to inspire and encourage our Buddhist followers to also work towards gender equality in spheres other than religion. That will lead to a world with less violence, better health and more prosperity.

Ajahn Brahm, Perth, January 2014


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Re: Yasodara, the Role Model for Women
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2014, 04:59:46 AM »
Certainly more so than the time of the Buddha, in these times where gender equality in society, politics and even the corporate world dictates that women should be treated equally, the ordination of Bikkhuni should be the norm. I salute Yasodara and Ajahn Brahm for being the role models. Ajahn Brahm is even kinder as he is steadfast in the act of compassion and equanimity in face to ignorance. I rejoice for the Buddhist Society of Western Australia also for their courage also.


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Re: Yasodara, the Role Model for Women
« Reply #5 on: May 28, 2014, 11:12:23 AM »
I totally agree with Eyesoftara. In the current generation we are working very hard to reduce or eliminate any gender discrimination. There is less differences mainly in the more developed countries where women are empowered with more knowledge and opportunities. Unfortunately, in many under developed countries the gender equality is still far from acceptable. Some gross areas include female infanticide, sex determined births and abortions, child brides, female denied the opportunities to education etc etc. But to deny women from having the same opportunities to practice Buddhism is absolutely absurd ! All sentient beings are entitled to be ENLIGHTENED ! More must be done to champion this cause.


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Re: Yasodara, the Role Model for Women
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2014, 12:24:06 PM »
When the Lord Buddha visited Kapilavatthu after enlightenment, Yasodhar? did not go to see her former husband but ask Rahula to go to Buddha to seek inheritance. For herself, she thought: "Surely if I have gained any virtue at all the Lord will come to my presence."According to fulfill her wish Lord Buddha came to her presence and admired her patience and sacrifice will helped him to fulfill his wishes not in this birth but also in previous birth, by quoting Chandrakinnara Jathakaya.

Some time after her son R?hula became a novice monk, Yasodhar? also entered the Order of Monks and Nuns and within time attained Arahantship. She was ordained as Bhikkhuni included among the five hundred ladies following Mahapajapati Gotami to establish Bhikkhuni Order. She died at 78, two years before Buddha's Parinibb?na.


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Re: Yasodara, the Role Model for Women
« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2014, 06:52:09 AM »

Another role model who is alive and still promoting Buddhism and women's role in Buddhism is Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo. She's been lobbying for women to be accepted for higher teachings in the male dominated monasteries and she has built a nunnery, Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery, to house the nuns and provide facilities for their spiritual development.

"Tenzin Palmo was given the rare title of Jetsunma, which means Venerable Master, by His Holiness the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, Head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage in recognition of her spiritual achievements as a nun and her efforts in promoting the status of female practitioners in Tibetan Buddhism.

Tenzin Palmo spends most of the year at Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery and occasionaly tours to give teachings and raise funds for the ongoing needs of the DGL nuns and Nunnery." 

For more info on Tenzin Palmo, please click here] [url][/url]


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Re: Yasodara, the Role Model for Women
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2014, 01:37:03 AM »
United Nations Day of Vesak (UNDV): Invite Ajahn Brahm to present his gender equality paper @ the 2015 UNDV conference which was rejected and banned for 2014.  Even becoming a nun to become enlighten is a big issue for women.  I pray this shall not be.  I fully support and appreciate what Ajahn Brahm is actively working on to bring equality to women in the Theravadan tradition.  I pray he will be able to break the ice.

Why this is important to me by Ajahn Brahm

We, the undersigned, are astounded and deeply disappointed by the banning of Ajahn Brahm's paper on gender equality at the 2014 United Nations Day of Vesak (UNDV) conference in Vietnam.
The paper was clearly aligned with the UN’s Millennium Development Goal 3 (Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women), which the UNDV is committed to uphold through its connection with the UN. Moreover, Ajahn Brahm's paper had already been approved for presentation when it was suddenly banned 36 hours before its scheduled presentation.
We value free and open dialogue. We therefore ask that the UNDV, in accordance with Millennium Development Goal 3, promotes dialogue about the participation of women in contemporary Theravada Buddhism by inviting Ajahn Brahm to publicly present his gender equality paper at the next UNDV conference in 2015.

Ajahn Brahm's paper can be read here:


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Re: Yasodara, the Role Model for Women
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2014, 05:53:01 PM »
Ajahn Brahm is a sincere and amazing monk. I listened to his teachings many times online.

Yes of course he will face rejection, in fact I'm not surprised that the Theravada monastery did not see eye to eye with his decision. It is true that the Bhikkhuni lineage somewhat died off, but didn't Tsongkhapa appeared when Buddhadharma and the morale discipline in monasteries was at it's decline? There will always be a great enlightened master whom will appear to uplift the teachings of Buddha... and who knows, perhaps Ajahn Brahm is one of these enlightened masters.

I hope in Vajrayana, the same will take place. If only the DL would spend his time on composing and allowing Bhikkhuni full ordination in this tradition instead of wasting time convincing people that DS is evil.