Pursuing the Path to Inner Peace

by Barbara Yen

1st Theravada Buddhist Nuns’ Novitiate (Samaneri) Program at SJBA, Malaysia

7th - 16th November, 2014

 Pursuing the Path to Inner Peace

Barb1

Gotami Vihara Society Malaysia is very pleased and priviledged to be part of this Program. As a small gesture of appreciation and support, we contributed RM600 towards lunch dana on the last day.

Barb2It was the first time that I attended a nuns’ novitiate program in Malaysia and it was an emotional one for me as I sat in front of them watching the emotions of the women (24 of them) as their hair, which some of them had treasured so much, fell silently to the ground. Some with long hair felt joyful, knowing that they will be put to good use by a charity, ‘Little Princess’ of UK to be made into wigs for people living with cancer.

Another activity which moved me and which got some of the audience sobbing, was when the novices knelt before their parents, parent’s representatives or sponsors and expressed their gratitude to them for bringing them up and to get their blessings for their temporary going forth. A father was seen quietly wiping away a tear. It was a very touching moment for all.

The Pabbajja or Going Forth Ceremony, graced by Ven. Saranankara Thera, was a dignified and meaningful event. Robes and bowls were handed to the Samaneris, the Ten Precepts administered and Dhamma names were given to them by Ven Hasapanna, the preceptor teacher. This was witnessed by relatives, devotees and well-wishers. The ceremony went in clock-work precision, ending just in time for lunch dana. I also had the opportunity to touch base with Ven Hasapanna, whom I had not seen for quite a while.

On the last day, the long line of Sangha members – 5 monks and 30 nuns walking mindfully across the over-head bridge back to the Vihara after the pindapata, was a sight to behold. This was the finale of the Program. I felt joyful to see so many young volunteers, some of whom were college students from Indonesia, busy sorting out the loads of food donated by devotees during the pindapata.

We salute the dedication shown by the Venerables, especially the leadership of Ven Dr Dhammapala and Ven Hasapanna and their able team – Ven Sister Sumangala, Ven Sister Dhammadinna and Ven Sister Dhammavati, Exco Members of SJBA, Organising Committee, volunteers and participants who did a wonderful job and worked tirelessly and peacefully to make this a great success. Ajahn Sujato also came to do 3 Dhamma sharing sessions.  They have given everyone an opportunity to participate in this meritorious act of recognizing the importance of the Four-fold Sangha in the propagation of the Dhamma.

Barb3Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!  

Barbara Yen,

President,  

Gotami Vihara Society Malaysia

Commemorating the Contribution of Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta

by Samaneri Sumangala

Commemorating the Contribution of Bhikkhuni Sanghamitta: The 1st Female Missioner in the  World History

Sanghamitta2Full moon day 6th December 2014  is dedicated as Sanghamitta Day – a day to reflect upon the arrival of Venerable Sanghamitta Theri to Sri Lanka to bring forth the Bhikkhuni Sasana oversea and to spread the Buddha-Dhamma far from her homeland Pataliputra, India back in 3rd BC. It is also an observance day of Uposatha (taking refuge in the Triple Gem and observing the 5 or 8 precepts) to mark the arrival of the Great Bodhi Tree, the tree under which the Buddha gained Enlightenment. It was brought by Venerable Sanghamitta Theri from India and planted by King Devanampiya Tissa in the Mahameghavana, Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. This Bodhi Tree, the oldest tree in the world is still alive until today (2300 years) to inspire people on the Buddha’s Enlightenment and the Path to and the practice of Enlightenment. It is also synonym to the arrival and contribution of Venerable Sanghamitta Theri.

Venerable Sanghamitta Theri was the daughter of King Ashoka (the great Buddhist king of Maurya Dynasty who initiated the 3rd Buddhist Council and sent 9 missionaries group to spread the Buddha-Dhamma and Buddha Sasana far and wide). She was also the sister of Venerable Mahinda Thera who started the Bhikkhu Sasana and Buddha-Dhamma in Sri Lanka. Sanghamitta was married at the age of 14 and had a son. Later her husband Aggibrahma joined the Bhikkhu Order and when her son grew up, he too became a samanera who follow Venerable Mahinda Thera to Sri Lanka.

SanghamittaAt a very young age of 18 Sanghamitta too renounced her royal household life and became a bhikkhuni. She was known as a profound learner of the Dhamma-Vinaya and referred to as Arahat Sanghamitta. At the age of 32, upon the request of King Devanampiya Tissa for the ordination of her sister in-law Princess Anula and many women in Sri Lanka, Venerable Sanghamitta Theri took the courage and determination to start the Bhikkhuni Sasana in the far distance land. Escorted by the Sri Lanka ambassador Prince Arittha and together with ten bhikkhunis and the eight representatives from each: the royal family, the nobility, Brahmins, traders and many skilled personnel from different castes, she sailed to Sri Lanka with the Bodhi Tree placed in a golden vase. With Ven. Mahinda Thera’s injunction, her effort completes the Buddha’s Fourfold Sangha (bhikkhu, bhikkhuni, upasaka and upasika) in Sri Lanka.

Her arrival was well received and Princess Anula was ordained as the 1st Bhikkhuni in Sri Lanka, followed by a thousand women from different ranks of society. Since then, Bhikkhuni Order continued to flourish and brought about the wellbeing, status and contribution of women as well as the people in the country. As the bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka were so illustrious and well learnt in Dhamma-Vinaya, around 5th CE, recorded in the Chinese history, a delegation of bhikkhuni from Sri Lanka led by Bhikkhuni Devasara went to China to ordain Chinese women by the Dharmaguptaka vinaya, which was also a lineage of Theravada. Thus bhikkhuni sasana continues to flourish untill today although in the 11th CE, when Cholian king from South India invaded Sri Lanka, the bhikkhu and bhikkhuni Order disappeared due to war and famine. In the late 20th CE, the Theravada bhikkhuni sasana in Sri Lanka was re-established with the ordination of ten bhikkhunis by the Theravada monks at Sarnath, India, where the Buddha’s first sermon was preached and the 1st Sangha or Buddha’s 1st Community of the Nobles was established. Since then the bhikkhuni Sangha in Sri Lanka continued to grow. Women in Sri Lanka play a vital role in spiritual life and contribute to the well being of the people and the country. In Sri Lanka, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, a Buddhist woman became the world’s first female head of government on 21 July 1960.

Indeed, it was a remarkable move for Venerable Sanghamitta Theri, a female to break through the tradition of a no..no… from the caste system, from the gender differences, from status and above all from “the belief system of the day.” She was the 1st women ever recorded in history (Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa of Sri Lanka) to take on this missionary task and her influence is immeasurable. Her exemplary practice and attainment, courage and determination, dedication and diligence in propagating and promoting the Buddha-Dhamma and Buddha-Sasana should be taken at heart and be followed for one’s wellbeing, happiness and benefit and for the good of the many.

On this Sanghamitta Day reflect and be inspired to recall to mind:

Be the 1st to travel out of the comfort zone for a good and noble cause

Be the 1st to learn and master the profound Dhamma – the Noble Eightfold Path

Be the 1st to take the courage to be a Dhamma missioner

Be the 1st to support the Bhikkhuni sasana and continue to support the Fourfold Sangha

Be the 1st to set the goal for enlightenment and walk the Path of Enlightenment

As you take the 1st step, the door to liberation is open. Every one step leads nearer to the ultimate Nibbana. This is the step for all your noble wishes to be fulfilled soon.

May you be well and safe. May you be free from the ill of defilements. May your heart be happy.

Namo Buddhaya, Namo Dhammaya, Namo Sanghaya

Sanghamitta3

Long live the Buddha Dhamma and Buddha Sasana

by Samaneri Sumangala

The 1st Theravada Buddhist Nuns’ Novitiate (Samaneri) Program at SJBA, Malaysia

32.1

Samaneri2In the Nidanasamyutta (SN12.65) the Buddha spoke – “Having followed the Noble Eightfold Path and penetrated the links of dependent origination, I explained them to the bhikkhus (monks), bhikkhunis (nuns), upasaka (male followers) and upasika (female followers) so that this spiritual life has become successful, prosperous, extended, popular and wide spread, well proclaimed among gods and humans.”

Around 6th BCE, in the 6th year after the Buddha established the Bhikkhu Sangha, the Buddha established the Bhikkhuni Sangha. With the ordination of Venerable Mahapajapati Gotami and many other women, it marked the liberation of women from all kinds of taboo and beliefs and above all liberation from the cycle of samsara, the ability for enlightenment. It gave women the platform for practice, the opportunity for development and attainment. Since then Bhikkhuni Sangha continue to flourish.

Around two hundred fifty years later 3rd BCE, Venerable Sanghamitta became the 1st Bhikkhuni who travel far from her home land from Pataliputra, India to Sri Lanka to ordain and start the Bhikkhuni Sangha in Sri Lanka. Princess Anula was the 1st to be ordained and the Bhikkhuni Order flourished for more than a thousand year. In 5th CE, bhikkhuni Devasara from Sri Lanka travelled to China to give ordination for Chinese women. Today, with one mission to propagate the Buddha’s teaching and promote the Buddha’s lineage so this spiritual life is well proclaimed, the Bhikkhuni Order spread to many parts of the world – Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Australia, USA and etc.

In Malaysia, following the footstep of the Buddha and inspired by the remarkable eminent Bhikkhunis of the past and present, the 1st Theravada Buddhist Nuns Novitiate Program (TBNNP) was held in Subang Jaya Buddhist Association, Malaysia from 7th to 16th November 2014 by a dedicated team of TBNNP Organising Committee. This program was initiated by Venerable Dhammapala as Program Director and Teacher of TBNNP. The preceptor teacher for the novitiate nuns was Venerable Hasapanna – one of the earliest Theravada bhikkhuni from Malaysia who is a co-abbess of Dhammasara Nuns Monastery, Perth. The Advisor of the TBNNP was Venerable Saranankara Nayaka Maha Thera, the Chief Judiciary Monk of Malaysia.  The event was organised by Subang Jaya Buddhist Association (SJBA) in collaboration with Bodhinyana International Foundation, Australia and the Centre of Mindfulness Limited, Hong Kong. It was also welcome and supported by other Buddhist Organisations such as Theravada Buddhist Council Malaysia, Gotami Vihara Society and all the faithful and generous helpers, supporters and well wishers.

In this program, the Fourfold Sangha came together to support one another and propagate the Buddha-Dhamma and Buddha Sasana harmoniously with lovely thoughts, lovely speech and lovely actions and with deep reverence to the Triple Gem. This TBNNP gave opportunity for not only women in Malaysia but also those who come from a far – Hong Kong, Australia, Singapore and China to experience the life of an ordained novice nun or samaneri. The 1st mission is to pave way for potential candidates to step forward to lead a peaceful and fruitful renounce life and be a good example to others as Dhamma is a way of life. The youngest samaneri was 22 years old and the oldest 69. We even have an upasika of 80 years old. They came from all walks of life – a housewife, undergraduate, director of company and etc.

Although it was only 10 days, this program has inspired many people to walk the Dhamma’s way. The following are some of the participants’ insights into their experiences and realizations – a stepping stone to growth. With confidence, dedication and diligence, the Buddha’s dispensation will continue to thrive for the well being, happiness and benefit of the many.

Manori Tan KC

  1. I have a better understanding of monastic life and a deeper understanding of dharma.
  2. It makes me aware of the challenges that Theravada nuns are facing in the current environment.
  3. I think we need to do more to help the Bhikkhuni Order.
  4. I always rejoice with this wholesome experience.

Sumita Lim EB

  1. Those 10-days monastic experience will be very dear and deep in my heart for my constant contemplation.
  2. During alms-round, I experienced a very strong feeling of inter-dependency and mutual support of the 4-fold Sangha.
  3. The advice of “if the condition is not favourable for you to be a bhikkhuni, BE A BHIKKHUNI IN THE HEART” truly touched my inner heart. It will long be a part of this karmic nature for now!
  4. I was in tears when this question was asked and understood deep inside me: everyone has to walk this purification path alone.
  5. However, the bhikkhuni, samaneri and upasika need to be united, to be strong mentally and physically. They have to stay strong together to care for each other sincerely while walking this Noble 8-Fold Path.

Sundari Yu MY

  1. Samaneri1A great pity that we could not interact though we have the same target in life. We were advised to observe noble silence.
  2. However, I could concentrate learning the meaning and the Buddhist goal in life.
  3. The monks and the nuns transmitted and conveyed true metta – loving kindness for us to experience.
  4. I enjoyed and grasped the essence of the dhamma talks.
  5. Hmm… we are well fed with tenderly care.
    Thanks.

Varuna Ng PH

Patience and perseverance are the two beautiful and great experiences which helped me throughout the 10 days program. They may sound simple to others, however not easy to practise, especially to someone who is impatient like me. We learnt how to put on robes with different styles without dropping it off! It’s a challenging mission – got to be mindful all the time. However, never give up things easily as the success could be just after that very moment while we felt giving up. So I learnt, I practised, I gained and benefited.’ Humbly and sincerely I would like to thank all Venerables for their patience, compassion and guidance. Thanks to Venerable Sumangala for being so understanding and patience with me – thank you for allowing me to stay on till the end of the BNNP. I wish I could get well and join Venerable very soon.

Jayanti Ong PH

In this novitiate programme, I learnt to be mindful, graceful in my action and remind myself I am leading a different way of life now. There is something I learnt from the Kappiya (attendant) during the pindapata which I would like to share. Each time when there are steps, she will alert me to ensure I don’t fall down. She also offer plaster if I need it (as we walk barefoot for more than 2 km and on certain stretch spiky tar road). When we return to SJBA, she squat down and wash my feet. Quite surprise but the respect, humility she showed to “the robe” impressed me. Hope I have merits to share with her and everyone :-)

Samaneri3Nandani Lai MC

A short experience for a lay person, the closest as can be with the Sangha. The Living of this kind is most excellent. The Sangha are worthy of offering, salutation and support – is the conclusion.

Sumana Koh MH

Putting on the robes, cleaning the temple ground, listen to insightful Dhamma talks, living harmoniously, lead a simple life is just a wonderful and memorable days for me although it is just only for 10days. It will remain with me for the rest of my life and this is what l benefited from the program. “EHI PASSIKO” Come and see for yourself …

Kishani

It was a truly enriching experience and no appropriate words can describe the joy I felt after completing the ten days’ program.

Kusuma Ng NH

  1. Mindfulness can be applied everywhere, including house-keeping activities, eating and physical exercises. As long as we know what we are doing, moment to moment (here and now). Mindfulness is not necessarily only through sitting and walking meditation.
  2. No expectation for meditation, I faced hindrances and end up physically and mentally tired the first 2 days. After clarification from Venerables, I found my mind and body relax and I can perform better in my meditation.
  3. To experience Dhamma, it must be through practice and implementation and not through how many suttas or knowledge we knew.

Sati, Rita Lai, Hong Kong

Coming from a Mahayana Buddhist school, this is the first time I came into contact with Pali chanting, the rituals and theology of Theravada Buddhism. It is not without surprise to me.  In the end, I do admire the beauty in the simplicity of Theravada Buddhism, of following only what the Buddha said and focus on putting Buddha’s teachings into practice.

Deeply moved and most grateful to the Ven.Dhammapala, the Ven. ladies and the impressive Subang Jaya Buddhist Association, supporters and laity for the well-thought programme, the teachings, the enthusiasm and sincere attendance to participants with genuine loving kindness. Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu !

Thank you, sisters, for being such an amicable community. I can see and feel the positivity radiating from the group. Come on, future nuns. Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu !

View the 1st Theravada Buddhist Nuns Novitiate Program booklet.

105

Ajahn Sujato is available for Dhamma talks in Klang Valley in December, 2014

Dear Kalyana Mitras,

Namo Budaya

Bhante-SujatoAjahn Sujato was in town in November for the SJBA Nun Novitiate Program from 11-13 Nov, 2014. Presently, he is in Singapore for a training program with Buddhist Fellowship and will be back in KL again from 4-10 Dec, 2014.

He is available for invitations to share the Dhamma in your organisation. Ajahn was the former abbot of Santi Forest Monastery, Sydney but have since then passed it to the nuns to run. It has now a total of 8 nuns staying there.

Ajahn will be staying at SJBA when he is in KL. I have sent an earlier mail to the Buddhist societies in the Klang Valley and the following have responded. His schedule is as follows:

Date                    Time          Event

Thurs 4 Dec                        Arriving from Ipoh

Fri 5 Dec            All day       Free

Sat 6 Dec           8.30am      Nalanda, Happy Garden branch, KL

                                        Pindapata followed by lunch dana & Dhamma talk

Sat                    8pm          Gotami Vihara - Dhamma talk at on Is it Easy to Practise Non-self?’

Sun 7 Dec          11.30am    Ti-Ratana Penchala Centre, PJ – Lunch dana & Dhamma talk

Sun                   Evening     Free

Mon 8 Dec          All day       Free

Tues 9 Dec         Morning     Free

Tues                  8pm          Dhamma talk at Buddhist Maha Vihara, Brickfields, KL

                                        Novitiaite Program

Wed 10 Dec                        Ajahn returns to Australia

Below is a profile of Ajahn and the contacts of places where he will be speaking.

Profile of Ajahn Sujato

Bhante-Sujato1Ajahn Sujato (Anthony Best) is an Australian Buddhist Monk. In 1994 he left his music career to take higher ordination in Thailand in the forest lineage of Ajahn Chah. As well as living for several years in forest monasteries and remote hermitages in Thailand, he spent three years in Bodhinyana Monastery (Perth) as secretary of Ajahn Brahmavamso, and over a year in a cave in Malaysia. 

He has combined his love of meditation with study of the Buddha’s Teachings, and in 2001 published his first book, “A Swift Pair of Messengers”, a compilation of Sutta passages on the theme of tranquillity and insight. 

He now resides at Citta Bhavana Hermitage, Bundanoon, Australia

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Addresses of Buddhist societies hosting Ajahn:

Subang Jaya Buddhist Association – SJBA                                                                                                                              office@sjba.org, SS13, Jln Kewajipan, Subang Jaya, PJ.             Tel: 03-56348181.

Gotami Vihara Society

K37-C, Jalan TK 1/11A, Taman Kinrara, Jln Puchong, 47180 Puchong, Selangor.   Tel: +6010 2580 737 (2 storey shop lot on main road, directly opp. Old Army camp quarters).  Tel: +6010 2580  737

http://snfwrenms.wordpress.com/      https://www.facebook.com/snfwrenms?fref=ts

Buddhist Maha Vihara

Brickfields, KL.  Tel: 03-22741141   info@buddhistmahavihara.com,

Ti-Ratana Penchala Community Centre
21, Jalan Penchala, 46000 Petaling Jaya
Selangor, Malaysia.  Tel : 03-7784 9002                                     

Nalanda Buddhist Society

Sri Kembangan, Serdang, Selangor   info@nalanda.org.my    Tel: 03-89381500/1.

Please contact these Societies directly for further information.

Please let me know if you wish to invite Ajahn for a Dhamma talk on the remaining dates. 

Thank you.

With metta,

barbara yen

012-2072735

Thailand – Venerable Dhammananda, (1943 – ) The Pioneering Bhikkhuni and Her Faith in the Buddha

by Dr Lai Suat Yan

This article is written by Dr Lai Suat Yan in conjunction with 2014 International Bhikkhuni Day Celebration at Gotami Vihara Society Malaysia Honouring Eminent Asian Buddhist Women in the Modern Era.

Thailand – Venerable Dhammananda, (1943 – )
The Pioneering Bhikkhuni and Her Faith in the Buddha

VenDhammanandaPindapatMany understood Ven. Dhammananda’s aspiration and action to be ordained as a bhikkhuni (female monk) in the Theravada tradition as brave or courageous since the religious authority and government do not officially sanction it. In fact, there is a law that penalizes monks who give ordination to women as samaneri (novice) to full ordination as bhikkhuni in Thailand. Furthermore, in Thai history, women have also been jailed for refusing to disrobe after being ordained. As Ven. Dhammananda’s mother, Voramai Kabilsingh, ordained in the Mahayana tradition, she observed first hand that while her mother had supporters, none followed her footsteps to be a female monastic.[1] This is because mainstream Thailand identifies with Theravada Buddhism. Therefore, when the time came for her to renounce her lay life, she decided to seek ordination in the Theravada tradition in Sri Lanka first as a samaneri in 2001 and later as a bhikkhuni in 2003. Specifically, Ven. Dhammananda chose to be ordained under the Syamvamsa lineage that was established by Thai bhikkhus there.  While her supporters greeted her with joy upon her ordination, she also received a fair share of criticism from her detractors. Yet, she remained undeterred and emphasized that her faith in the Buddha has enabled her to follow the path of renunciation as a female monastic. She would have completed 12 vassa (rain retreat) by end of 2014 at 71 years old.

Prior to her ordination, she was married with three grown-up sons and was a former Associate Professor, with the lay name, Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, at Thammasat University. She received her B.A. with Honours in Philosophy from India and her M.A. in Religion from McMaster University, Canada. Her doctoral thesis was on “A Comparative Study of the Bhikkhuni Patimokkha” and she has published numerous works in Thai and English, including Thai Woman in Buddhism.

As the daughter of a former journalist and later a female Mahayana monastic and a politician father, Kokiat Shatsena, who was a Member of Parliament and later a Theravada monk, her education, upbringing and exposure has enabled her to skillfully manage the press and the authority, religious or otherwise.

From only one female Theravada Buddhist monastic in the early 2000s, there are now altogether around 100 female monastics in Thailand. From her base at the Songdhammakalyani Kalyani monastery in the province of Nakhonpathum, where Ven. Dhammananda is abbess, female monastics can now be found in many provinces in Thailand, for example, in Chiang Mai, Yasodhorn, Rayong, Uthai Thani and Songkhla.[2] The Monastery also acts as the coordinating center of the Network of Thai Theravada Bhikkhuni Sangha formed in 2013. Ven. Dhammananda’s greatest gift to the Thai people, particularly women, is her unwavering faith in the Buddha’s founding of the female monastic order that she found a way for the female monastic order to take root and blossom in Thailand.

Educating the Public on the Bhikkhuni Lineage and Heritage in Buddhism

Significantly, Ven. Dhammananda incorporates knowledge of the Bhikkhuni lineage in the program at the Songdhammakalyani Monastery. She addresses the arguments that detractors in Thailand deploy to delegitimize bhikkhuni ordination. In response to doubts cast on the bhikkhuni lineage in Sri Lanka that bhikkhuni Sanghamitta Theri established, she refers to sources, that documents their existences, namely, Dipavamsa, a fourth century Sri Lankan chronicle, and  archaeological findings.[3] In addition, she also referred to materials that went as far as to show that the Chinese invited Sri Lankan bhikkhunis to establish the female monastic order in China around the 4th-5th centuries. Furthermore, she pointed out that the recorders of the Buddhist texts are monks who, coloured by their own worldviews, could have rendered invisible bhikkhunis and highlight accounts that are more favorable to monks.

Ven. Dhammananda educates the public on the bhikkhuni lineage in Buddhism in many forms, for example, giving talks, having discussions or publishing accessible booklets. Distinctively, the practices at Songdhammakalyani itself illustrate the rich heritage of the bhikkhuni lineage that women are bestowed with. Only at this monastery in Thailand that most, if not all, would have experienced the chant of the “Thirteen Arahat Theris” that signifies respect and a celebration of the spiritual attainment of the thirteen foremost bhikkhunis and the “Gotami Sutta” that portrays the determination of Mahapajati Gotami’s, the first bhikkhuni’s, quest for ordination. In addition, she organized educational tour to Wat Thepthidaram to pay respect to the 52 statues of bhikkhunis with Mahapajapati in the lead.

Since 2009, Thai women themselves have the opportunity to personally experience what it is like to live the ordained life through the temporary samaneri ordination organized. It is held twice annually at the Songdhammakalayani Monastery on April 6 to honour Ven. Dhammananda’s mother who founded the monastery and on December 5th to commemorate the reigning King’s birthday with the merits dedicated to him.

Samaneri Ordination 2009, courtesy of Songdhammakalyani Temple

Samaneri Ordination 2009, courtesy of Songdhammakalyani Temple

Ven. Dhammananda skillfully organized the temporary ordination to reflect the monastery respect for the three main pillars of Thailand, namely, the nation, Buddhism and the monarchy with the procession of the Thai and Buddhist flags as well as a photo of His Majesty, the King during the dedication of merit session. This subverts the perception that any may have that samaneri ordination is an act of disrespect towards any of the three main pillars.  In total, Ven. Dhammananda has ordained around 280 females as temporary samaneri not only at her monastery but also in other provinces, that is, Payao and Songhla.[4]

Significantly, the temporary ordination provides many women with the chance to show their gratitude to their parents by dedicating the merits to them.  Prior to this, only sons are able to do that. The temporary ordination further popularized the idea and acceptance of ordination for women as besides the presence of family members, relatives, and friends of the novitiate, the media will also be there. Her temple also produces Yasodhara, a newsletter that provides information on global Buddhist women’s activities with a specific focus on Thailand.

Recognition

Ven. Dhammanda’s contribution to the dharma has won her accolades and recognition nationally and internationally. In 2012, the Ashwagosh Foundation in Nagpur, India awarded her the Sakyamuni International Award for her work globally to spread Buddhism. The United Nations selected her as one of the fifteen Buddhist women recipients from world-wide to receive the “Outstanding Buddhist Women Award” in 2004. She has been on the list of individuals honoured by two Thai English newspapers, namely, Bangkok Post, on its fiftieth anniversary and the Nation in conjunction with its thirtieth anniversary. The Prestige magazine conferred upon her the Woman of the Year Award in 2007 for her contribution to the understanding of Buddhist principles and Eastern Philosophy. She also received the Surindraraja Outstanding Translator’s Award in 2012 for her translation of over 30 books from English to Thai with the most well-known being the Saddharmapundarika Sutra (Lotus Sutra) and Freedom in Exile: The Autobiography of The Dalai Lama.

She was on the screening committee of Japan’s Niwano Peace Award from 2003-2006 and was a past President of Sakyaditha, International Association of Buddhist Women. She is also one of the Spiritual Advisors of Gotami Vihara Society, Malaysia.

Socially Engaged Buddhism

As a socially engaged Buddhist and a member of the Asian Theravada Bhikkhuni Association, Ven. Dhammananda has provided training on the Dhamma Vinaya to strengthen the Indian bhikkhuni in 2013.[5] She also worked closely with the International Network of Engaged Buddhist (INEB) to support the growth of Buddhism in India and has provided bursaries to the Youth Buddhist Society, in Sankissa, India to come to the Sondghammakalyani Bhikkhuni Arama to further enhance their spiritual capabilities.[6] In addition, she facilitated and assisted in the full ordination of ten monks from Sankissa in Thailand.[7] Reflecting her commitment to socially engaged Buddhism, she is a member of the Advisory Board of INEB.

Most notably, the bhikkhunis at Songdhammakalyani has started to spread the dhamma to female inmates in prison since 2011.[8] Initially, it started with donation of the surplus of sanitary napkins and expanded to other basic toiletries such as shampoo, soap and toothbrush. After working with the inmates for a while the bhikkhunis found that the most effective way was to focus on a message each visit, with time for meditation, questions and answers followed with the sharing of skills of head, hand and foot massage.

Two of the inmates, upon being released, attended a seven-day retreat at the Sondghammakalyani temple, while another joined the temporary ordination. Her work on socially engaged Buddhism is not limited to these two areas as she had also been invited for inter-faith dialogue with the Muslims in Thailand and incorporates environmental concerns in the program of the temple, for example, a recycling project and spreading the dhamma to preserve the environment.

 

Written by

Dr Lai Suat Yan

Vice-President Gotami Vihara Society, Malaysia, and

Asian Public Intellectual (API) Fellow Year 13 (2013/14).

Some of the materials of the write-up are collected during the API Fellow Grant

 

Notes: 

[1] For details see Members of the Seeds of Peace staff, “Feel the Beauty of the Lotus: An Interview with Dhammananda,” Yasodhara, Vol 17/3, 2001.

[2] For more details on this and the activities of the Songdhammakalyani Temple, see Yasodhara Vol. 29/1, No. 113, October –December 2012.

[3] For details of the discussions and arguments see Lai Suat Yan, Engendering Buddhism: Female Ordination and Women’s ‘Voices’ in Thailand.” PhD dissertation, Claremont Graduate University, USA, 2011.

[4] For further details of temporary ordination see Thakur, “Winter Temporary Ordination,”  Yasodhara, Vol 30/2, No. 114, October-December 2013.

[5] For details see, “Training Program for All Indian Bhikkhuni Sangha,” Yasodhara, Vol 31/1, No. 117, October-December 2013.

[6] For details see, “Developing Spiritual Leadership of Buddhist Youth in India,” Yasodhara, Vol 30/2, No. 114, January-March  2013.

[7] For details see, “Ordination of the Sakyas in Thailand,” Yasodhara, Vol 31/1, No. 117, October-December 2013.

[8] For more details on this aspect, see Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, “Engaged Buddhism: Bhikkhunis’ Work with Inmates in Prison,” Yasodhara, Vol 31/1, No. 117, October-December 2013.

Gotami Vihara Society Malaysia – Appreciation & Report on Gotami Vihara Society’s 3rd Annual International Bhikkhuni Day Celebration on 16 September 2014

by Barbara Yen, President

Dear Dhamma Sisters & Brothers,

Sukhi hotu!  Gotami Vihara wishes to thank everyone who turned up on an early morning of a public holiday, to rejoice with us and to walk with the Sangha members on their pindacara. My sincere apologies for this delayed message.

Pindacara and Dhamma Talks at Gotami Vihara
Gotami Vihara was honoured with the presence of Venerable Bhikkhu Dr Dhammapala and four nuns, Ven Badranirmala, Ven Samaneri Dhammadinna, Ven Samaneri Sumangala and Ven Samaneri Dhammavati to grace the occasion by participating in the pindacara and partaking the lunch dana.

Initially, Ven Sing Kan had agreed to join us in the pindacara but was out of town and she could only join us later in the morning for the Dhamma sharing and lunch dana. The auspicious day was blessed with a light sprinkling of early morning shower. At 8 am, they set off with their umbrella bearing kapiyas. When they arrived at the market, which was about ten minutes away, the shower stopped.

20140916_084137Most of the stall owners were informed of the event two days earlier by some of the committee members who distributed flyers to them. We requested our supporters to spread ourselves around when we offered food to enable the people at the market and eating shops to observe what we did and how we did it. At some spots where the Sangha members felt they were not obstructing human traffic, they stood silently for a while, to give opportunity to the devotees to offer food.

As the public had never experienced an alms round before, some were curious and asked questions. We then shared with them about having the opportunity to offer dana to the monastics. I happened to stand in front of a stall selling prayer items and the man said he couldn’t possibly offer his wares to them. His wife quickly went off to buy a bag of uncooked rice. A lady came running with an ‘ang pau’ (a small, red envelope with money inside). When she was informed that the monastics did not accept money, she quickly bought some cooked food instead.

In Appreciation
20140916_105830We really appreciate everyone’s generosity in offering food to the Sangha. We received cooked vegetarian foods, fried noodles, ‘nasi lemak,’ dumplings, maize, tau fu fah, biscuits, cakes and two cartons of oranges and apples.

We are very glad and thankful that many of the Buddhist community came to help, especially to sort out the donated food. At least sixty friends and family members were at the lunch dana.

Special thanks go to Bro KC Tan, sister Jenny and sister Paru of Kinrara Metta Buddhist Society, bro Jerry Khoo of Setenang Buddhist Society, bro Jeen Lim of Buddhist Business Network and some friends from the Buddhist Gem Fellowship Counselling Unit who joined us at the pindapata, helped prepare the lunch dana and provided transport to the Sangha.

20140916_110532Peaceful Fellowship
We felt rejoiced, peaceful and valued the fellowship that abounded. More friends would have attended if not for the school holidays and public holiday. This is the first time that GV organised a pindacara and we have a lot to learn from it. We apologise for any short-coming and we welcome feed-back and suggestions on the areas that we can improve for future events.

More photographs at our facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.770152099708782.1073741830.176556942401637&type=3

Providing Facilities and Support to Female Renunciants at GV, 2014
27 Feb – 30 May    Maechee Punnisa, Malaysia
27 Feb – 7 March  Maechee Dr Chemnian and 4 Maechees, Thailand
28 Feb – 3 March  Ven Samaneri Dhammadina, Italy
11 Mar – 8 April    Ven Samaneri Clara (Vajrayana tradition), Portugal
19 May – 30 May  Ven Suddhartta (Mahayana tradition), Malaysia
9 Oct                     Maechee Punnisa, Malaysia
28Oct, 30 Nov-4 Dec   Ven Samaneri Sitananda, Japan. She is here to attend Ven Punnaji’s retreat in BMV, Brickfields, KL

Dhamma Talks at GV, 2014
2 Mar       Ven Samaneri Dhammadina: ‘My Experience in Going Forth’
14 June   Ven Samaneri Paramacari: ‘Empowering Oneself and Others – the Path to Enlightenment’
16 Sept    Ven Bhikkhu Dr Dhammapala: ‘Chanting and Blessings during Puja’
16 Sept    Ven Sing Kan: ‘The Importance of Dana’
16 Sept    Ven Samaneri Sumangala: ‘The Significance and Update on the Bhikkhuni’s Future Development in Malaysia’

Events for 2014
25 May – Arrangement was made for Ven Suddhartta and Maechee Punnisa to receive medical screening at Tzu Chi Free Clinic in KL.  They were able to apply for their visas to Myanmar to spend their vassa under Ven U Tejaniya

15 July – Ven Samaneri Sumangala, who is one of GVS spiritual advisors, received her Samaneri Ordination under Ayya Santini in Indonesia.  We rejoice with her and as a gesture of gratitude and good wishes, GVS contributed RM400 for her travel expenses.

16 Sept – Commemorate International Bhikkhuni Day
1. a pindacara by Ven Bhikkhu Dr Dhammapala, Ven Badranirmala, Ven Samaneri Dhammadinna, Ven Samaneri Sumangala, Ven Samaneri Dhammavati was held to educate the public to receive the blessings of seeing samana (renunciants) and the opportunity to make offerings and receive the field of merits.
2. To honour the lives and contributions of Eminent Asian Bhikkhunis and Buddhist Women in the Modern Era, a selections of write-ups are uploaded in the blog:

http://snfwrenms.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/honouring-eminent-asian-buddhist-women-in-the-modern-era-great-meditation-masters/

http://snfwrenms.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/honouring-eminent-asian-buddhist-women-in-the-modern-era-pioneers-in-dhamma-propagation-scholars-and-teachers/

http://snfwrenms.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/honouring-eminent-asian-buddhist-women-in-the-modern-era-compassion-in-actionengaged-buddhism-buddhism-beyond-borders/

http://snfwrenms.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/honouring-eminent-asian-buddhist-women-in-the-modern-era-skills-and-resilience-in-spiritual-practice-in-challenging-conditions/

http://snfwrenms.wordpress.com/2014/09/09/honouring-eminent-asian-buddhist-women-in-the-modern-era-finale/

Membership Drive

We have only one category, that is, Life Membership. The fee is RM300, payable by three installments. It is free for Sangha members.

Wish List
1. One unit of LCD projector. (It will be very helpful for speakers who use slides for their talks)
2. To repair some parts of the roof which is leaking. (The kind owner has given the place for Dhammaduta work without charging any rental)

We appreciate your contributions in kind or cash. Please contact our treasurer, Sister Hooi Yoon Chun at yoonnn@gmail.com. Our Public Bank account number is 3187086916 – Gotami Vihara Society. No amount is ever too small for our mission. The Society’s registration number is PPM-046-10-09072013.

Thank you and maha sadhu to all our Dhamma friends who continue to provide and support us – support the Fourfold Sangha.  May you and your family be blessed with a peaceful, healthy and happy life and continue to grow in the Dhamma.

Anumodana.
Barbara Yen,
President,
Gotami Vihara Society, Malaysia
20.10.2014

SJBA’s 1st Buddhist Nun’s Novitiate Programme in Theravada Tradition from 7-16 November, 2014

Subang Jaya Buddhist Association’s 1st Buddhist Nun’s Novitiate Programme in Theravada Tradition from 7-16 November, 2014.

Further details of programme and registration forms are available at SJBA Office. Please contact Sis Lily at 03-56315299

Click here for on-line registration: BNNP 2014 Information r3

Closing Date : 17 Oct 2014 (Early submission of application form is encouraged)

SJBA.2014Nov-PosterNunNovitiate