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Siladhara

Siladhara is an order of Theravada Buddhist nuns created by Ajahn Sumedho at Cittaviveka, Chithurst Buddhist Monastery, in England.[1] In 1983, he obtained permission from the Sangha in Thailand, to give ten precept (dasa-sila) pabbajja to the nuns, making them officially recognized female renunciants, trained in the Ajahn Chah lineage. Ajahn Sucitto was asked, by Ajahn Sumedho to train the nuns, which he did 1984-1991. As of 2008, siladharas were trained in the discipline of more than 100 precepts, including rules based on the bhikkhuni patimokkha. The Order has waxed and waned throughout its brief history, peaking at around 14, mostly living at Amaravati. In the egalitarian and feminist liberal culture of Buddhism in the West, the Order has always fielded the complaints and struggles of women seeking parity with the Bhikkhu Sangha. Many people feel that this tension can only be resolved through reform in terms of an equality expressed also in the ceremonial relationships, rather than just the interpersonal. After years of debate and dispute in the communities, Ajahn Sumedho made a 'Five Point' declaration of the terms under which he would give women the Going Forth.[2] This affirmed a model based on the traditional relationship of bhikkhunis to bhikkhus, in which although the status and responsibilities with regards to teaching and management are shared between the two orders according to capability, the nuns order is 'junior' to that of the monks. The emphatic nature of this 'Five Point' declaration, going against what many hoped would be a move towards greater parity, caused an uproar, especially on the Internet. Several siladhara took leave of the Order, stating their dismay with the sexism.[3] A couple of siladhara of the three who had been sent to California to establish a branch nunnery there decided to leave the lineage and take Bhikkhuni ordination.[4] Accordingly the movement towards a siladhara foundation and training in USA has stopped. However, as of this writing (August 2013), ten siladhara remain in Britain. A branch nunnery is also coming into being in Scotland.[5]

References

  1. ^ "Forest Sangha Newsletter". Retrieved October 2007. 
  2. ^ "Where We Are Now". forest sangha news. Retrieved November 2009. 
  3. ^ Weinberg, Thannisara Mary. "Ground Between" (PDF). Present Magazine. Alliance for Bhikkhunis. Retrieved September 2010. 
  4. ^ "Letter from the Saranaloka Nuns, Nov 2010". Retrieved May 2012. 
  5. ^ "Forest Sangha Newsletter 91" (PDF).