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The bhikkhunī ordination debate: global aspirations, local concerns, with special emphasis on the views of the monastic community in Burma.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date11/2007
JournalBuddhist Studies Review
Journal number2
Volume24
Number of pages19
Pages226-244
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This paper examines the recent events following the bhikkhunī revival in Sri Lanka, and looks at the position of the Burmese Saṅgha, which has traditionally seen itself as the custodian of an ‘authentic’ Buddhist legacy, thrown into a debate by the action of a Burmese bhikkhunī who was recently ordained in Sri Lanka. It introduces the early initiatives of revivalist monks in Burma as well as the viewpoints of Burmese Saṅgha and the nuns in regard to the bhikkhunī issue. Since most debate on the position of nuns take place without much reference to the local political contexts in which they stand, the state monastic organization in Burma is introduced to aid understanding of the framework in which the nuns operate today. At another level, the paper draws attention to the tension created between the international bhikkhunīs who promote liberal ideologies of gender equality, individual rights and universalism into a faith based community, and local nuns who adhere to the traditional norms of religious duty, moral discipline and service to the community, and questions the ultimate aim in endorsing such secular ideals.