Celebrating the 2600-year Anniversary of Bhikkhuni Sangha

This year, from the 2016 September full moon to the 2017 September full moon, is the 2600-year anniversary of our worldwide Bhikkhuni Sangha.

This is according to Theravada/Pali-text tradition, including three factors: (1) the Thai Theravada Buddhist Era calendar; together with (2) the traditional Sri Lankan Theravada commemorative date of Bhikkhuni Sangha's founding at the Nikini Poya, the September full moon; and (3) the history of the first Bhikkhuni ordinations, five years after the founding of the Bhikkhu Sangha according to the Pali-text canonical Khuddaka Nikaya, Theri Apadana. 

The yearlong period of observance/celebration marks the auspiciousness and greatness of the occasion, and is inclusive of both Chinese/East Asian and Western anniversary counting methods, as well as small variances in South and Southeast Asian Buddhist dating.

Here in North America, in celebration, we hope to offer several commemorative events:  two bhikkhunis' Dhamma Dana book publications, one or two commemorative bhikkhuni art series, and hopefully the establishment of the first two or three "permanent" bhikkhuni monasteries' simas (the boundary for the bhikkhunis' formal acts).

A second important and related matter ...

All those bhikkhunis who received their bhikkhuni upasampada (full ordination) in 1996, 1997 and February 1998, will also have entered or completed their 20th Vassa during this time, and become Mahatheris.  This includes Dhammadharini's founding teacher, Ayya Tathaaloka.

Our Theravada bhikkhunis' tradition will no longer be bereft of Theris and Mahatheris anymore.  This is a wonderful thing for us. 

Dhammadharini, Saranaloka, the Alliance for Bhikkhunis, our North American Bhikkhuni Association, the Asian Bhikkhuni Association, Sakyadhita International, and the other support foundations and associations, together with all our bhikkhunis, samaneris, nuns and supporters — and together with our venerable bhikkhu brothers and teachers — will be able to join in the observance and celebration in so many wonderful ways.  

We have certainly made very significant progress with regards to women in Buddhism and the Bhikkhuni Sangha in the past 100 years. 

Sangha Sobhana Gatha 

for the long life of the Sasana
& the illumination and beauty of the Sangha

Bhikkhu ca sīlasampanno,
bhikkhunī ca bahussutā,
upāsako ca yo saddho,
yā ca saddhā upāsikā
ete kho saṅghaṃ sobhenti,
ete hi saṅghasobhanā.

A bhikkhu consummate in moral virtue,
A bhikkhunī who is widely learned,
A male lay disciple who has faith,
And a confident female lay disciple,
These illuminate the Sangha,
These are the beautifiers of the Sangha.
— the Buddha,
Numerical Discourses of the Buddha
(AN 4.7 at A II 8,22)