Damcho Diana Finnegan and Dr. Carola Roloff (Bhiksuni Jampa Tsedroen) report on Thursday’s historic ceremony that noticed the complete ordination of 144 feminine monastics in Bhutan, establishing a bhikshuni sangha. All pictures courtesy of Dongyu Gatsal Ling.
The primary ceremony to totally ordain girls inside Tibetan Buddhism in fashionable instances concluded Thursday, June 23, 2022 in Bhutan. On the request of the King of Bhutan, His Holiness the Je Khenpo, the religious head of Bhutan’s largest Buddhist college, the Drugpa Kagyu, presided over a ceremony to grant bhikshuni vows to 144 girls.
This initiative marks a significant step towards addressing the inequality between women and men in Tibetan Buddhist monasticism. Till Thursday, girls have been solely granted novice ordination, whereas males may obtain full ordination, guaranteeing that girls may by no means assume full roles throughout the monastic order.
This historic occasion establishes a bhikshuni sangha — an order of absolutely ordained girls — inside Tibetan Buddhism for the primary time. Till now, senior leaders inside Tibetan Buddhism corresponding to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Karmapa have spoken publicly in favor of granting full ordination to girls, however have stopped in need of organizing a bhikshuni ordination for girls of their communities.
In a prolonged assertion describing the choice to supply full ordination, Je Khenpo described the occasion as aimed toward “serving sentient beings by means of the buddhadharma, engendering spiritual freedom and serving to human rights.” He added, ”…at any time when I take a look at pictures of Buddha Shakyamuni lately, each one among them seems to be radiantly smiling at me, which I feel is an early indication that what I’m doing shouldn’t be mistaken. I’ve a robust conviction that they’d announce, ‘that is glorious!’ and by no means say ‘this isn’t proper.’”
Bhutanese Buddhists observe Tibetan Buddhism, however the ecclesiastical hierarchy of their monastic communities is distinct from that of the Tibetans in exile for whom the Dalai Lama is a supreme authority on spiritual and political issues. The transfer has garnered a large base of assist on the highest ranges of Bhutanese lay society and its monastic hierarchy.
His Majesty the fifth King of Bhutan, Drukgyal Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, had made a proper request to Je Khenpo to carry the bhikshuni ordination. His Majesty the 4th King, Drukgyal Jigme Singye Wangchuk and Her Majesty the Queen Mom (Gyalyum) Tshering Yangdoen Wangchuck have been amongst these current demonstrating their energetic assist for this occasion. His Majesty the 4th King of Bhutan traveled to the ordination web site and delivered a prolonged tackle encouraging the nuns as they take this historic step.
Such a public expression of assist from the best ranges of Bhutanese lay society in addition to the best degree of monastic assist bodes effectively for this bhikshuni sangha to obtain the social assist that can allow them to flourish. Though the Buddha himself granted full ordination to girls and an order of absolutely ordained girls flourished for a lot of centuries in India, that chance has not been made accessible to girls inside Tibetan Buddhism in fashionable instances.
The ordination was held at a specifically ready web site beneath Taktsang, one among Bhutan’s well-known sacred pilgrimage spots. Witnesses report seeing rainbows encircling the solar throughout the ceremony, which started on the summer time solstice.
Utmost care is being taken to conduct the ritual meticulously. In response to the monastic code, girls have to be ordained in teams of three. Given the big variety of candidates to obtain full ordination, three days was required to finish the ritual necessities for all 144 new bhikshunis. The nuns had obtained preparatory teachings from Je Khenpo previous to the ordination, and plans are already underway to coach the nuns of their new position as holders of bhikshuni vows and to uphold their new position as absolutely ordained nuns.
Most candidates have been from nunneries throughout Bhutan, with some girls becoming a member of from nunneries in neighboring nations and one English nun residing in Bhutan. Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, a long-term advocate of full ordination for girls, was additionally current in Bhutan for the ordination. Jetsunma is a founding member of the Committee for Bhikshuni Ordination, former president of Sakyadhita and founding father of the Dongyu Gatsal Ling (DGL) nunnery, additionally within the Drukpa Kagyu college. Nuns from DGL are amongst these receiving their bhikshuni vows at this ceremony.
Talking of the 4th King of Bhutan, Jetsunma mentioned, “His Majesty was very outspoken on the significance of elevating the standing of nuns to be equal to the monks.”
Interviewed by Dr. Tashi Zangmo, head of the Bhutanese Nuns’ Basis, one nun commented that she now not needed to pray to be reborn as a monk, since now with this ordination all the things was fulfilled for attaining enlightenment in feminine type.
In 2007, at a convention on the College of Hamburg that had been convened at his request, the Dalai Lama was offered with two legitimate choices for conferring full ordination on girls in line with the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya monastic code adopted by all Tibetan Buddhists. Vinaya students who had gathered of the convention concurred that girls may very well be validly granted bhikshuni vows in a ceremony with solely absolutely ordained monks from the Tibetan Buddhism monastic order, or the vows may very well be conferred by a twin gathering of Tibetan monks and absolutely ordained nuns from the separate Dharmagupta orders of Chinese language, Korean and Vietnamese orders. Nevertheless, on the shut of the convention, in a non-public viewers with convention organizers, the Dalai Lama defined that he didn’t really feel he may proceed at the moment because of the power of the opposition to girls’s full ordination by the male monastics in his Tibetan order.
The ordination ceremony held in Bhutan has adopted the primary of the 2 legitimate choices for granting bhikshuni vows on girls in line with the Mulasarvastivada monastic code adopted by Tibetan Buddhists: ordination by the male monastic sangha alone. After the ladies absolutely ordained have held their vows for twelve years, they are going to grow to be eligible to affix male monastics in conferring collectively the bhikshuni vows on future generations of ladies.
This historic information was introduced Thursday by the Central Monastic Physique of Bhutan. The ordination occasion itself was organized by the Bhutanese Nuns’ Basis.