From Encyclopedia of Buddhism
(Redirected from Bhikkhunī)
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A Taiwanese bhikṣuṇī, a member of the Dharmaguptaka ordination lineage.

A bhikṣuṇī (P. bhikkhunī; T. dge slong ma དགེ་སློང་མ་; C. biqiuni 比丘尼) is a fully ordained female monastic in Buddhism. Bhikṣuṇīs are distinguished from novice female monastics (śrāmaṇerī), who accept only preliminary vows.

Bhikṣuṇīs observe the prātimokṣa, the full set of rules for ordained female monastics. The rules for female monastics are similar to those for male monastics (bhikṣu). However, there are generally more rules for female monastics. There is also a specific set of rules called the "eight rules to be respected" (garudhammas), which require female monastics to be respectful towards male monastics.[1] Contemporary Buddhist scholars have questioned the legitimacy of these eight rules.[2]

The only surviving full ordination lineages for bhikṣuṇīs are in China, Korea and Taiwan.[3] Until recently, female monastics in Tibetan Buddhism had only taken the vows of a novice female monastic (śrāmaṇerī); and those in Southeast Asia were only permitted to take a set of lay vows.[3] In recent times, efforts are being made to establish (or reestablish) full female ordination in these traditions.[3]

In Tibetan Buddhism, some female monastics, such as Tenzin Palmo and Thubten Chodron, have taken full bhikṣuṇī ordination in the East Asian lineage. There is also a movement, supported by the 14th Dalai Lama and other senior figures, to formally establish full bhikṣuṇī ordination within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, in a manner that is acceptable by all schools of Tibetan Buddhism.[4]

In Sri Lanka, female monastics are re-establishing full bhikṣuṇī ordination in this country from the East Asian bhikṣuṇī lineage.[5][6] Female monastics in Thailand and other South Asian countries are also seeking to establish a full ordination lineage in these countries.[6]


  1. Bhikkhu Sujato (2008), Principles to be respected
  2. Kusuma, Bhikuni (2000). "Inaccuracies in Buddhist Women's History". In Karma Lekshe Tsomo. Innovative Buddhist Women: Swimming Against the Stream. Routledge. pp. 5–13. ISBN 978-0-7007-1219-9. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Robert E. Buswell Jr., Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: 2014), s.v. bhikṣuṇī
  4. Thubten Chodron (2019), Full ordination for Tibetan Buddhist nuns
  5. Kristofer Rhude (2018), The Ordination of Nuns in Sri Lanka, Harvard Divinity School
  6. 6.0 6.1 Tricyle editors (2019), The Nuns’ Revolution: Restoration of Bhikkhuni Ordination, Tricycle

Further reading