Volume 23, 2016
Buddhist Nuns’ Ordination in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya Tradition: Two Possible Approaches
Bhikṣuṇī Jampa Tsedroen
Academy of World Religions and Numata Center for Buddhist Studies, University of Hamburg
This article examines the possibilities of reviving the Mūlasarvāstivāda lineage of fully ordained nuns (bhikṣuṇī). It explores two ways to generate a “flawless and perfect” Mūlasarvāstivāda bhikṣuṇī vow, either by Mūlasarvāstivāda monks alone or by Mūlasarvāstivāda monks with Dharmaguptaka nuns (“ecumenical” ordination). The first approach is based on a Vinaya passage which traditionally is taken as the Word of the Buddha, but which, from a historical-critical point of view, is dubious. The second approach is not explicitly represented in the Vinaya but involves “re-reading” or “re-thinking” it with a critical-constructive attitude (“theological” approach). Each approach is based on my latest findings from studying the Tibetan translation of the Bhikṣuṇyupasaṃpadājñāpti and related commentaries.