Women in Buddhism: Questions & Answers


Why is there no bhikkhuni Ordination in Thailand?


Bhikkhuni Ordination as mentioned earlier requires dual ordinations, that is, a woman is first ordained by the bhikkhuni Sangha then bhikkhu Sangha. Because the bhikkhuni Sangha never came to Thailand hence there is neither bhikkhuni ordination nor bhikkhuni Sangha.

The Sukhothai period, 12th to 13th century, has been considered the golden age of Buddhism. Both men and women were seen practising Buddhism, observing precepts. The king not only practised Buddhism himself but was learned enough to give preaching on every full moon day. During the 417 years of Ayudhya, the following period, where the Thai capital shifted south to Ayudhya, Thailand went through difficult time. There was constant warfare both with invaders and among the mighty powers within the country. The disturbing social context was not an ideal seat for either Buddhist learning or practice.

There were fewer people interested to study Buddhism. The immediate concern of leading day-to-day life took its precedence. It is unthinkable that women would have ample time to think of practising Buddhism enough to commit themselves to ordained life.

From a comparative study we find one common factor responsible for the ordination of women: it is that women are committed to Buddhism deeply enough to inspire them to think of leading an ordained life. This is true in Sri Lanka, China, Korea, and Japan, but in Thailand, Thai women do not yet have that opportunity.