From Sri Lanka to Australia: How women are remaking Buddhism

Full ordination as a Buddhist nun, or Bhikkhuni, is life-changing for women like Ayya Suvira.

“My ordination day was the best 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.”

Buddhist bowls(Pexels: cottonbro)

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

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

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

Ayya ​​Suvira is a Theravada Buddhist nun and author of “Walking in the Sunshine of the Bhikkhunis: A biography of Ranjani de Silva, the woman behind the Bhikkhuni revival”.(Provided)

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

It was an outdated practice for about 1,000 years. Then, on December 8, 1996, a small group of pioneering 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?