I am thrilled to announce that the BBC selected Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni on its list of 100 influential women in the world for 2019. Greta Thunberg the Swedish climate change activist was on the list as well as many other distinguished women. The BBC article quoted Dhammananda as saying, “We still need to struggle to make the ordination of women in Thailand a reality.” Read the full article here.
Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni (pronounced dhamma-nanda pee-ku-ni) is the abbess and spiritual leader of Songdhammakalyani Temple, the only all-female monastery in Thailand. Commonly referred to as a “female monk” by the Western press, Dhammananda was the first Thai woman to be ordained in her country. This is because Thailand forbids women from seeking higher ordination. Dhammananda had to go to Sri Lanka to be ordained. A scholar and a healer, Dhammananda is deeply committed to training and educating Buddhist women at her temple where she welcomes local people, students from abroad and ordained women from Thailand and foreign countries to come and practice with her. To see my exclusive interview with Dhammananda click here.
Eighteen years have passed since Dhammananda was ordained and there are now approximately 270 bhikkhuni in Thailand, a remarkable feat. By taking the first step Dhammananda planted the seed that took root and thanks to her commitment, many women have followed in her footsteps.
I was lucky to meet Venerable Dhammananda when I first moved to Thailand in 2005. She became my spiritual teacher and led me on a healing journey from which there was no turning back.
You can read all about my relationship to Dhammananda in my memoir, Finding Venerable Mother: A Daughter’s Spiritual Quest to Thailand.