Bastion of Buddhism Faces Gender Debate ; A Female Monk Enlists Thailand's Senate in Her Uphill Battle against a Ban on the Ordination of Women

By Montlake, Simon | The Christian Science Monitor, April 17, 2003 | Go to article overview

Bastion of Buddhism Faces Gender Debate ; A Female Monk Enlists Thailand's Senate in Her Uphill Battle against a Ban on the Ordination of Women


Montlake, Simon, The Christian Science Monitor


From the outside, it looks like any other temple in Thailand, a country that considers itself a bastion of Buddhist culture. A cluster of modest wooden buildings and a well-kept lawn hide behind a 15-foot-high golden Buddha that faces the busy highway to Bangkok.

But this temple is breaking the mold of Thai Buddhism. Its nominal head is a female monk ordained two years ago in Sri Lanka as Dhammananda Bhikkhuni. One of only a few women to have challenged the male makeup of Thailand's 300,000 monks, she now wants to extend that right to other women, and has turned to the Senate for help.

As a result, a subcommittee is considering a proposal to permit the ordination of women as monks. The final say, however, lies not with lawmakers but with the country's Buddhist clergy, known as the Sangha, whose ruling council of elders has long opposed the idea.

Their opposition puts the elders on a collision course with modernizers inside and outside the Buddhist establishment, who argue that Thailand's clergy are too focused on doctrine and tradition, rather than the needs of their followers. They say conservative monks are missing a chance to update the faith in a time of rapid change in Thailand.

Sanitsuda Ekachai, a columnist and religious-affairs specialist at the Bangkok Post newspaper, argues that the Sangha won't drop their opposition. If so, she says, "monks will continue to fulfill our needs with rituals and rites, but they will play a narrower role in society ... if they can't understand that society is changing."

Thailand has grappled with this debate before. Dhammananda's own grandmother was among a group of educated women in the 1920s who created an order of female monks. In 1928, King Rama V followed the advice of Buddhist elders and banned the practice. That ban is still in place. Thai women can take the vows of a nun, who shave their heads and wear white robes, but they can expect lower status and fewer privileges than monks, who travel for free on public transport in Thailand.

Other Asian countries have in recent years revived an ancient order of female monks known as Bhikkhuni (PIK-koon-nee). Among those is Sri Lanka, where Dhamannanda was ordained.

Campaigners in Thailand point out that Sri Lanka practices the same school of Buddhism as Thailand, known as Theravada. Unlike Sri Lanka, though, Thailand has never ordained women as Bhikkhunis, making it more problematic to change course. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Bastion of Buddhism Faces Gender Debate ; A Female Monk Enlists Thailand's Senate in Her Uphill Battle against a Ban on the Ordination of Women
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.