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Monks & nuns reflect on rights of women

Focus on revival of bhikkhuni order at academic session of Buddhist conference [reproduced from here]


International Buddhist Sangha Conference

Speakers at an academic session during the International Buddhist Sangha Conference at Buddha Smriti Park on Sunday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh

The nationwide deliberation on the dignity of women echoed at the international Buddhist Sangha Conference in Patna on Sunday.

At the academic session, the subject of animated discussion was the revival of bhikkhuni ordination. The departure of the Dalai Lama, who had come to Patna on Friday, in the morning did not discourage the monks and scholars attending the conference. They also reflected on equal opportunities for women in every sphere of life, including religious and spiritual practices.

According to the Buddhist traditions, the Buddha at the request of his foster-mother Mahapajapati Gotami created the order of bhikkhunis or fully ordained nun.

Carola Roloff (Bhikkhuni Jampa Tsedroen), a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Hamburg in Germany, said: “The Buddha established equal opportunities for men and women in 500 BC. Religious leaders now have an important role in protecting the dignity of women, who face rampant gender discrimination. The recent gang rape of the 23-year-old paramedical student in New Delhi is disturbing. This is not acceptable.”

She also spoke on the process of ordinance of an aspiring nun. “A trainee is taught the life of brahmcharya (celibacy) by a group of 12 bhikkhunis. She takes the vow of lifetime chastity in front of two sangha members — one male; the other female. The entire process can take up to 12 years.”

Venerable Pannasami, a lecturer at Central University of Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, said: “The Buddha’s teachings are not only for men but also for women. The tradition of bhikkhuni grew after Sanghamitra, the daughter of Mauryan emperor Ashoka established a sangha in Sri Lanka. It prospered in countries like India and Sri Lanka and many others for 1,200 years but slowly disappeared in Thailand and Cambodia. It is time to revive the bhukkhuni tradition.”

The visitors to the conference were also enlivened by the enlightening discussions. Joelle, a Swiss devotee who has been attending the sessions, said: “I have come with my teacher. The large gathering of Buddhist leaders and devotees at the conference is a learning experience for me — a student of Buddhist philosophy.”

She added that Buddhist meditation techniques had attracted her to the religion.

Ven. Bodhicitta: The Path to Heaven and Beyond

Ven. Bodhicitta gave the first of these talks on International Bhikkhuni Day, September 29th, 2012 at the Vivekavana Buddhist Society in Penang, Malaysia.

The rest of the talks were given in the following weeks as she elaborated on the subject, and explained it in a methodical way.

The talks discuss the worthy aims a Buddhist should have, the various realms one can be born into, how one gets to them, and encourages everyone to strive for Awakening, rather than rebirth.

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Bhante Anandajoti: The Bhikkhuni Lineage

A short talk given by Bhante Anandajoti on International Bhikkhuni Day, September 29th, 2012, to introduce some of the issues around the ordination of women in the Theravada tradition. The talk covers such topics as the Buddha’s original intention inorganising the Dispensation, the teachings given by Bhikkhunis, the missions and their results, passing the lineage to China and more.

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Ven. Bodhicitta: Mindfulness in Daily Life

Video recording of Ven. Bodhicitta talking about mindfulness in everyday life, and how to fulfil the eightfold noble path and the factors of awakening. Includes a short question and answer session at the end.

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Ven Bodhicitta: Retreat Talks

This is a collection of retreat talks given by Ven Bodhicitta in March 2012 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

To download these and other talks by Ven. Bodhicitta please go to this page: http://archive.org/details/Ven-Bodhicitta-Retreat-Talks-in-March-2012

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Ven Bodhicitta: How to Bring up Children to be Virtuous

Video of Ven. Bhikkhuni Bodhicitta discussing the best way to bring up children from a Buddhist perspective, and how the example set in a family is teaching children how to behave.

Recorded at Buddhist Maha Vihara, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on July 15, 2012 by Teik Leong Lim.

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Sister Sumangala: Joys and Challenges in Going Forth

Sister Sumangala talks about how she first came into Buddhism and started meditation; her meeting with her teacher, Ven. Mahinda of Malacca; her pilgrimage to the Holy Places in India; the resistance from her family to her ordination; and her eventual going forth. Sister also explains how she got her name, which means “auspicious blessings”.

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