Determined to Do It

Ayya Gunasari was born in Myanmar in 1932 and after becoming a physician, immigrated to the United States in 1961 to work in medicine with her husband. After raising five children, she started practicing meditation in the 1970s under the tutorship of the late Taungpulu Sayadaw, the late Sayadaw U Silananda, and Sayadaw U Pandita. For nearly thirty years, through many retreats with these teachers, she has developed the practice of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness and vipassana meditation as taught by them.

In 2002, by then a grandmother, she entered into monastic life as a samaneri (female novice) at the age of seventy at Dharma Vijaya in Los Angeles, and was ordained by Venerable Bhante Pannyaloka Mahathera and Venerable Bhante Dr. Walpola Piyananda, Chief Sangha Nayaka Thero of the Sri Lankan Sangha in North America.

In the year 2003, Venerable Gunasari and Venerable Saccavadi became the first two Burmese women in modern times to receive full ordination as bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka in accordance with the Theravada tradition via dual ordination by Venerable Dhammaloka Nayaka Thero of the Amarapura Sect in Sri Lanka.

In 2008 Ayya Gunasari was invited to become abbess of Mahapajapati Women’s Monastery in California where she currently resides.

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