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Ajahn Brahm excommunicated for performing Bhikkhuni Ordination in Australia

The Buddhist Channel, Nov 5, 2009

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- On Thursday 22nd October 2009, Sisters Vayama, Nirodha, Seri and Hassapañña were ordained as Theravada Bhikkhunis in a dual ordination ceremony held at Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery in Perth, Western Australia.

Ayya Tathaaloka, from the United States, was the Preceptor. Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Sujato performed the certifying acariya chanting in the bhikkhu's part of the ceremony.

The ordination of Theravada Bhikkhunis in Australia was fully supported by the Australian Buddhist community.

However, no such support came from the Western monks in Europe associated with Thailand. Indeed, the leading Western monks in England, together with the Western monks in Thailand, formally requested Ajahn Brahm to be excommunicated from Wat Pah Pong, which is the monastery where he was trained under Ajahn Chah.

He was summoned to a meeting in Thailand on Sunday November 1st where, after much harsh discussion, he was given the choice of publicly stating that the ordination was invalid or else be excommunicated from the Wat Pah Pong community.

He refused to recant, as he was not willing to disavow an ordination procedure which was valid according to the Vinaya (the monastic rules established by the Buddha), nor was he willing to go against the wishes of the Australian Sangha Association and the thousands of lay Buddhists from around the world who supported the full integration of women into Theravada Buddhism.

In many people's opinion, it is a sad day when monks who believe in the ordination did not speak up to support Ajahn Brahm's courageous act. Instead, a group of monks at Wat Pah Pong who lacked foundation in the monastic rules laid down by the Buddha, use excommunication as a means for imposing control and to preserve "tradition".

However, support for Ajahn Brahm from around the world is building up, including Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, the translator of the Buddha's suttas, Majjhima Nikaya, and the author of "The Buddha's Words", and his large following in Singapore, the members of the Buddhist Fellowship.

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