From Sri Lanka to Australia: how women are remaking Buddhism

Ayya SuviraFull ordination as a Buddhist nun, or Bhikkhuni, is lifechanging for women like Ayya Suvira. “My ordination day was the happiest day of my life,” says Suvira Bhikkhuni. “The motion is passed to accept you as a member of the sangha – it’s a very special experience.”

Suvira Bhikkhuni was ordained in 2019. She’s originally from a farming community on the Darling Downs in Queensland, but now is a resident nun at the Mettārāma Nuns’ Monastery in western Sydney.

“It’s quite involved because to keep the precepts, there’s significant renunciation involved,” Suvira Bhikkhuni.

“I don’t have a bank account … I don’t use money,” she says. “Unless someone gives me something to eat, I don’t actually eat.

Join Dr Meredith Lake and Suvira Bhikkhuni as they trace the revival of the ordination of Theravada women – one of the most important recent reforms within global Buddhism.

It was a lapsed practice for around 1,000 years. Then on 8 December 1996, a small group of trailblazing Sri Lankan Theravada women received the first contemporary ordination as Bhikkhuni.

How did it all happen, who were the key players, and what did it mean for women in contemporary Buddhism?

Listen to (or download) this broadcast

Duration: 53min 57sec
Broadcast: Sun 5 Dec 2021, 6:05pm

More Information
Presenter: Meredith Lake
Producers: Karen Tong, Nadyat El Gawley
Sound engineer: Ann-Marie Debettencor

Further Information

Mettārāma Nuns’ Monastery

Mettārāma Nuns’ Monastery’s Resident Bhikkhunī, Ayyā Suvīrā

Book: Walking in the Sunshine of the Bhikkhunis: A biography of Ranjani de Silva, the woman behind the Bhikkhuni revival (free pdf version)


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