Women in Buddhism: Questions & Answers


Are there bhikkhunis also in other countries?


Apart from bhikkhunis in Asian countries, in the past 2 to 3 decades Buddhism has spread westward.

An important wave of Buddhists going west is the Tibetan lineage, since H.H. the Dalai Lama escaped from Tibet in 1959. Many Tibetan monks and teachers followed suit. The success of Buddhism in the U.S.A. is mainly the Tibetan lineage. Women ordained in the Tibetan lineage are mainly female novices as is available in the Tibetan lineage.

Later when more and more western women joined the Tibetan lineage, H.H. the Dalai Lama suggested that they could receive higher ordination from the existing Chinese lineage in Taiwan and Hong Kong. As a result there are some leading bhikkhunis in the Tibetan lineage now.

Hsi Lai Temple, a branch from Fo Kuang Shan in Taiwan, also plays an important role in offering ordination for women since 1988.

As the number of Western bhikkhunis in the Tibetan lineage grew, there was a training course on vinaya offered for them in Bodh Gaya (1996) where more than 100 bhikkhunis and female novices attended.

In December 1996, an ordination for 10 Sri Lankan women was offered and organise by the Korean bhikkhu Sangha in Sarnath, India.

Fo Kuang Shan is also planning to host an ordination for bhikkhunis in Bodh Gaya, India scheduled for February 15-23, 1998.

The need for women to enjoy and lead a religious life is felt worldwide and we now see helping hands extending from the Chinese and Korean Sanghas to help support and establish the bhikkhuni Sangha in countries where ordination of women is still not available.