E-learning course on Bhikkhuni/Bhikshuni ordination

The e-learning course to be held in 2014 builds on the foundation of the 1. International Conference on Buddhist Women's Role in the Sangha, which was held at the University of Hamburg in 2007, by continuing the same theme, namely the topic of bhikkhuni/bhikshuni ordination. This topic is of high priority at present in the Theravada and Mulasarvastivada monastic traditions. The course intends to offer sound academic research on the legal questions, based on a study of the relevant Vinaya material, followed by an updated regional survey on the current situation of nuns in the Theravada and Mulasarvastivada traditions.

The first e-learning course would offer a starting point for further e-learning courses to be offered in subsequent semesters to further explore the various themes within historical and modern topics on Women in Buddhism.

E-learning Course on Perspectives on Bhikkhuni Ordination, Summer Semester, 2014, hosted by the Center for Buddhist Studies and the Women in Buddhism Study Initiative at the University of Hamburg.

Course Dates

The course will be held every Thursday from 17 April to 10 July, from 2.15 to 3.45 pm CET. The course consists of 13 lectures and related coursework.

Those who have registered can view the lecture on the online platform at any time during the duration of the entire course, according to their personal convenience and local time requirements, and will have access to the online forum for discussions related to each lecture.


Registration has been completed.

During the later part of March, registered participants will receive an email with a password and instructions on how to access the website where the course is held.

Learning Objectives

Participants in the class will gain knowledge of the three Vinaya schools in regards to bhikkhuni ordination, and, taking an academic approach, develop the ability to analyze the complexities involved in applying the Buddha's ideal of the Fourfold Sangha in the conventional world. Finally, students will learn about the strategies women have adopted in order to pursue their renunciant aspirations, in the context of challenges they have faced due to gender bias.

Course outline

The course will begin with the Madhyama-agama version of the foundation of the bhikkhuni order, thereby continuing the e-learning course series of the last three years which have focused on Madhyama-agama discourses.
Following this introductory lecture, a series of lectures will cover the topic of bhikkhuni/bhikshuni from the viewpoint of the canonical Vinayas, and, building on this foundation, proceed to present the actual situation of ordained women in detail. The latter series of lectures would focus on bhikkhunis, wherever such an order has come into being, and on the other nun traditions in Asian countries, i.e., the dasasil matas in Sri Lanka, the mae chis in Thailand, the thila shins in Burma and sramanerikas in the Himalayan countries.


17 April: Ven. Analayo, Numata Centre for Buddhist Studies, University of Hamburg: The Foundation of the Bhikkhuni Order

24 April: Ann Heirman, Centre for Buddhist Studies, Ghent University: The Dharmaguptaka Vinaya on Bhikshuni Ordination

1 May: Petra Kieffer-Puelz, Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz: The Theravada Vinaya on Bhikkhuni Ordination

8 May: Ven. Damchoe Diana Finnegan, University of Wisconsin-Madison: The Mulasarvastivada Vinaya on the Formation of Bhikshunis

15 May: Nirmala Salgado, Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill.: Dasasil Matas in Sri Lanka

22 May: Susanne Mrozik, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Mass.: Bhikkhunis in Sri Lanka

29 May: Martin Seeger, University of Leeds: Mae chees in Thailand

5 June: Ven. Dhammananda, Abbess of Wat Songkhammakalayani, Thailand: Bhikkhuni Sangha in Thailand

12 June: Hiroko Kawanami, Lancaster University: Thila Shins in Burma

19 June: Ven. Jampa Tsedroen, Akademie der Weltreligionen, University of Hamburg: The Bhikshuni Ordination Rite in the Tibetan Translation of the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya

26 June: Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo, University of San Diego, Cal.: Sramanerikas in the Himalayas

3 July: Peter Skilling, École française d’Extrême-Orient : Bhikshunis in Indian Inscriptions

10 July: Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo: Bhikshuni Ordination across cultures