In the early period of His ministry, the Buddha did not lay down any regulations regarding dwelling places. The monks lived in the forests, at the roots of trees and in caves.
After 2600 years, however, the Order of Monks is well established and is well supported. They do not lack dwelling places or educational facilities to pursue their path to enlightenment.
Unfortunately, however, the Order of Nuns, at least of the Theravada Order, had much lesser support, such that in the present time, they have few aramas of their own. According to the Vinaya (Code of Discipline for the Monks and Nuns) Nuns are not allowed to live in unsafe places, but have to live in enclosed places such as monasteries that ensure their safety.
When the Buddha went to take up residence at the new “Anathapindika’s Monastery” He expressed his appreciation in Verses (Vin II 147-48; 2:164-65):
“They ward off cold and heat and beasts of prey from here
And creeping things and gnats and rains in the wet season.
When the dreaded hot wind arises, that is warded off.
To meditate and obtain insight in a shelter and at ease-
A dwelling place is praised by the Awakened One
As chief gift to the Order.”
A Theravada bhikkhuni is now attempting to build a monastery for Theravada nuns in Sri Lanka.
Ven. Bhikkhuni Bodhicitta is a Sri Lankan Buddhist nun based in Melbourne. Her path of secular higher studies in medicine saw her graduate in Bio Medicine. However, her career as a medical scientist in Australia however took a turn when the Dhamma made her view life in a different paradigm.
She was an Anagarika in 2006 under the Ajahn Chah’s Forest tradition before she ordained as a Samaneri in 2007. In 2010, Venerable received her Upasampada in Sri Lanka under the tutelage of Ven. Dr. M. Punnaji Maha Thera, Ven. Prof. Dr. Bhikkhuni Kusuma and several Senior Sangha members in Sri Lanka.
She is now attempting to raise funds to found the Nisala Arana, a forest monastery for Nuns and meditation centre in Molkava, Agalawatta, Kalutara District Sri Lanka. The land borders the scenic Sinharaja Rain Forest and will offer physical isolation and solitude for the spiritual development in the Dhamma. It is intended that emphasis will be given to train women who would like to ordain.
Ven Bodhicitta said “When I first returned to Sri Lanka, after completing the work at Nisala Arana, Melbourne, I was surprised and saddened as I could not find a single place that has been set up for the Nuns to practice serious meditation and to actualize our final goal of Nibbana. Also there are only one or two meditation centres that allow the Nuns and lay people to practice their own method of meditation.
The Nuns do not have the facilities that are available for the Monks and it is due to this inequality that I wish to establish the Nisala Arana Forest Monastery in Sri Lanka. This will provide a safe environment for the Nuns to practice serious meditation and progress with their Dhamma studies.”
However, the lack of financial support has currently brought the work to the Main Building to a halt.
More information on our project could be found at their website Nisala Arana.