Sri Lankan Buddhist Nuns: Complicating the Debate over Ordination
Sri Lanka is home to two orders of Theravāda Buddhist nuns: an order of fully ordained nuns (bhikkhunī), revived in the late 1990s, and an alternative female renunciant order of “ten-precept mothers” (dasasilmātās), established in the early twentieth century in lieu of bhikkhunī ordination. Drawing on ethnographic research, the article investigates dasasilmātā responses to the bhikkhunī revival and the process by which girls and women “choose” whether to join a dasasilmātā or bhikkhunī temple. In this article, Susanne Mrozik aims to demonstrate that the priorities of nuns in both orders are more personal and practical than those shaping the ongoing national and international debate over the revival’s scriptural validity; to consider how dasasilmātā and bhikkhunī responses to the revival complicate the expectations of feminist activists and scholars; and to foster dialogue among the lay and ordained practitioners, activists, and scholars working toward the flourishing of diverse orders of Buddhist nuns.
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