Bhikkhu Sujato

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Bhikkhu Sujato

Bhikkhu Sujato, born Anthony Best (born November 4, 1966 in Perth ) is an Australian Buddhist teacher and monk, who studies Buddhism in the forest monks tradition of Thailand. His main influences are the forest tradition, with its strict practice of the monk's discipline of Vinaya, the study of the early Buddhist sutras, and the practice of loving kindness which he learnt from Ajahn Maha Chatchai. In his studies of the early sutras he was struck by the parallel texts preserved in the Sansrkit, Chinese, and Tibetan texts, which he has presented as evidence that much of the original teachings of the Buddha were accurately preserved in these sutras. He also has a special interest in the ordination of women and the revival of the Bhikkhuni ordination in the Theravada tradition.[1]. He was founded Santi Forest Monastery in 2003 and served as its abbot. He resigned as abbot, ceasing his duties on 3rd August 2012 [2], to work on translation of the sutras into English, as one of the three founders of Sutta Central[3].


He was brought up as a liberal Catholic, but as a teenager, inspired by the scientific vision of the world, and especially the theory of relativity, he rejected Christianity. He studied for two years at the University of Western Australia, leaving to play rock n' roll guitar, forming a band called Martha's Vinyard.

He studied literature and philosophy at the University of Western Australia. After two years he give up his studies and began to play rock 'n roll. Together with Peggy van Zalm, he founded Martha's Vineyard (band; Wikipedia), an indie-rock band that was successful in the late 1980s. However, the band broke up before realizing its potential.


Becoming disillusioned, and deciding he needed a thorough change, he went to Thailand in 1992. Although he had no previous association with Buddhist practice, he joined an intensive Buddhist meditation retreat in the Chieng Mai Buddhist temple. Then he began the search to strengthen and deepen understanding of the Buddhist practice. After a year he came to Wat Pa Nanachat, the International Forest Monastery run by and for English-speaking monks, in the tradition of Ajahn Chah. He was ordained a novice according to his wishes, and in the following year (May 5, 1994) he was ordained as bhikkhu .

He spent three 'vassa' (three month rainy season retreats) studying under Ajahn Brahm in the Bodhinayana monastery and several years in distant hermitages and caves in Thailand and Malaysia . At the beginning of 2003, when he returned to Australia, Bhante Sujato came to the estate then known as Citta Bhavana Hermitage. At that time, a decision was made to extend the temple to a monastery where new orders could be held. It's name was changed to Santi Forest Monastery. This caused the monastery to grow rapidly and make good progress. The result was the first blessing of a new samaneri (9 March 2008) and numerous upasampada (higher ordination) of bhikkhas, and at the same time the development of construction projects and other projects temporarily abandoned due to financial situation.

The monk's rules of conduct have always assumed the existence of Buddhist nuns. Bhante Sujato constantly tried to support the idea of bhikkhuni ordination (nuns), one of the most serious controversies in contemporary theravadan Buddhism.


Three factors influenced the spiritual development of Bhante Sujato. The most important influence was the lifestyle according to the forest tradition, which he was fully devoted to. This required strict adherence to the discipline code ( Vinaya ) of Buddhist monks and the constant reminder that man must devote his entire life to practice.

The other factor that influenced him was the early teachings of the Buddha . While he studied the canonical Pali scripts for nearly a decade, he began to realize more and more of the amazing and little-known similarity of the Pali canon, to the numerous passages he found in Chinese, Sanskrit and Tibetan texts. This is one of his lines of evidence that these all date back to the same source, the original transmission of Buddha's teachings. Bhante Sujato conducts research on the comparative texts of various Buddhist traditions.

The third factor that influenced Sujato was his two teachers of meditation. From the little-known Thai monk, Ajahn Maha Chatchaia, he learned the practice of "loving kindness", which continually shapes his approach to meditation and teaching. From Ajava Brahmavamso, he learned how to accurately understand this practice in the overall context of the Buddha's path. In recent years, Bhante Sujato has taught Dhamma and meditation to many people, both local communities [Australia] and people from abroad. He also spoke at several major international Buddhist conferences and meetings.


His research concerns the earliest Buddhist scriptures. Thanks to comparative and historical analysis, Sujato tries to highlight the process of emerging Buddhist ideology and identity. The most important books are: A Swift Pair of Messengers, A History of Mindfulness, Beginnings and Sects & Sectarianism.

A special field of Sujato's interest is the role of women in Buddhism , and in particular the renewal of the bhikkhuni rule within the theravada tradition. Bhante Sujato tries to influence this urgent matter regarding the modern world of Theravada Buddhism. In this connection, he attempted to establish a community of nuns (bhikkhuni) at Santi Monastery.

Research paper on authenticity of the Pāli Canon

Bhikkhu Sujato and Bhikkhu Brahmali argue that it is likely that much of the Pali Canon dates back to the time period of the Buddha. They base this on many lines of evidence including the technology described in the canon (apart from the obviously later texts), which matches the technology of his day which was in rapid development, that it doesn't include back written prophecies of the great Buddhist ruler King Ashoka (which Mahayana texts often do) suggesting that it predates his time, that in its descriptions of the political geography it presents India at the time of Buddha, which changed soon after his death, that it has no mention of places in South India, which would have been well known to Indians not long after Buddha's death and various other lines of evidence dating the material back to his time.[4]

For the range of views on this matter, see Pāli Canon#Origins

Suggestion that Therevadhan Bhikkhus could ordain Bhikkunis without need to import the Mahayana tradition from Asia

Although he supports the ordination of Bhikkhunis by importing it from the Asian Mahayana traditions, he also has made the suggestion that there is sutra support within the Therevadhan traditions for Bhikkhus to carry out the ordination of nuns even when the tradition has been broken.

"There is a clear and ex­plicit al­lowance in the Mahāvihāravāsin Vinaya for bhikkhu­nis to be or­dained by bhikkhus only, with­out re­quir­ing the pres­ence of a com­mu­nity of bhikkhu­nis. This al­lowance is granted im­me­di­ately af­ter Mahāpajāpatī’s or­di­na­tion, when she asks the Buddha what to do about the 500 Sakyan ladies who have fol­lowed her in seek­ing the go­ing forth. Here is the pas­sage from the Bhikkhunikkhandhaka:"

This is the passage he then quotes:

"Then Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī ap­proached the Blessed One. Having ap­proached and bowed down to the Blessed One she stood to one side. Standing to one side she said this to the Blessed One: ‘Bhante, how am I to prac­tice with re­gard to these Sakyan women?’ Then the Blessed One in­spired, roused, up­lifted and ex­horted Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī with talk on Dhamma, and hav­ing bowed down she left keep­ing her right side to­wards him. Then the Blessed One hav­ing given a Dhamma talk ad­dressed the bhikkhus with re­gard to that rea­son, with re­gard to that cause say­ing: ‘Bhikkhus, I al­low bhikkhu­nis to be or­dained by bhikkhus’"

He goes on to discuss this suggestion in detail. [5]


  1. Bhante Sujato, Buddha Channel
  2. An announcement, Sujato's blog
  3. Sutta Central - About
  4. Bhikkhu Sujato and Bhikkhu Brahmali. "The Authenticity of the Early Buddhist Texts" (PDF). Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. 
  5. Ordination of Nuns by Monks, Bhikkhu Sujato, Santipada


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