Former Kalon Tripa, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche sharing his views on Gelongma ordination at the College for Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarah near Dharamshala on August 6, 2012. (Phayul photo)
DHARAMSHALA, August 6: The long-drawn discussions on the full ordination of Buddhists nuns as per the Mulasarvastivadin school of monastic codes received a major boost with the commencement of a high-level scholarly committee today.
The committee consists of two representatives each from the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism and two additional scholars, representing the nuns.
The Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration, earlier today, organised a brief inaugural function of the scholarly committee at the College of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarah, near Dharamshala.
Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, standing committee members of the Tibetan Parliament, and Kalon Pema Chinnjor were present at the function.
Former Kalon Tripa Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche was the special guest invitee.
In his inaugural address, Kalon Chinnjor said the committee will research and debate on finding possibilities for the lineage revival and the restoration of the bhikṣuṇī saṅgha – Gelongma, the fully ordained nun.
The minister added that the scholarly committee will carry out their indepth research work over the next four months.
The decision to form the committee was taken during the 11th Buddhist Conference held in September last year. His Holiness the Dalai Lama had presided over the meeting, which was attended by religious heads of the different schools and representatives from the Himalayan and Russian Buddhists as well.
The Dalai Lama, on many occasions, has called for a general consensus on the outcome of discussions on the ordination of Buddhist nuns and has spoken in favour of introducing and establishing bhikṣuṇī ordination.
The Mulasarvativadin school of Vinaya and gelong ordination was brought to Tibet by the Indian Abbot Shantarakshita in the 8th century who founded the first monastic community in Tibet. Since then, the Buddhist monastic lineage of this tradition has continued unbroken. However, no historical references to gelongma ordination in Tibet during that time exist.
As per the rituals described in the Mūlasarvāstivāda Vinaya texts, the ordination ceremony to properly conduct a bhikṣuṇī ordination should be performed by a group of 10 bhikṣus and 12 bhikṣuṇīs.
Although Buddha had established bhikṣuṇī ordination, as of now, no gelongmas ordained in the Mulasarvativadin school exist. The only bhikṣuṇīs in the world today practice the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya, prevalent in Taiwan, Mainland China, Korea and Vietnam.