Ordaining as a nun at Ariya Vihara, Kwasa Damansara
Ariya Vihāra is the 1st Theravāda Bhikkhunī Nunnery and Dhamma Training Centre in Malaysia with much interest from women wishing to ordain both from within Malaysia and abroad. Ordaining as a Buddhist nun (sāmaṇerī and later bhikkhunī) is a big commitment and requires aspirants to pass through stages which require greater degrees of commitment in living the Dhamma and higher standards of practice in monastic discipline (vinaya), which include letting go of money, celibacy (no contact with the opposite sex), leaving homelife and relations, and the practice of harmlessness towards all living beings.
Before the Nunnery can consider new applicants for ordination, we require them to first come and stay with us as a guest for up to one month to get to know the community, our environment and the standard of practice at Ariya Vihāra without making any long term commitments. For more information about staying at our Nunnery as a 8 preceptor guest click here
The Waiting List
After spending some time getting acquainted with us, typically we ask the applicant to leave the Centre and go back to lay life and sincerely reflect. If they wish to pursue ordination, having let us know, we will add them to the ordination waiting list. The potential candidates are required to go through Ariya Monastic and Laity Training Program to provide them foundation understanding on Buddha Dhamma and Dhamma-Vinaya Living skills. The course has 6 modules and having attended the course up to 4th module, when suitable the applicants may apply for stay in training while pursuing 5th and 6th modules.
As we have only limited space available for community members and “visa term is challenging to foreigners (1-3months only in Malaysia)”, preference is given to Malaysian citizens and permanent residents. Thus if you are from overseas it may take a long time before an opportunity arises. In any case, patience and persistence is a good quality to develop as trainees would have to travel frequently for visa run and bear the cost of travelling and be back for training if accepted.
As applicants move up the waiting list, the Nunnery will get in contact and offer a space. After returning to the Nunnery, and after an initial trial month the Anagārikā candidates can approach Ven. Sumangala and the Ariya Vihāra Sangha for approval to be ordained as an eight precept Postulant (Anagārikā).
Life as an Anagārikā
The women with shaven heads and wearing white, while keeping the eight precepts, are called Anagārikās. It is their intention to become a 10 precept novice nun (sāmaṇerī) in the near future.
There is quite a lot of meritorious service work involved, supporting the nuns and doing various mindfulness services around the Centre. This includes:
- Working in the kitchen or helping in preparation of food/ cooking, cleaning and washing up.
- Sweeping/ mopping around the Centre grounds and generally cleaning and keeping the place tidy and presentable.
- Driving – as and when required.
- Construction / helping of various projects or programs
There are shared rooms for Anagārikā (two/ three to one room). Each person learn to live in harmony with other residents.
Training is also provided and includes:
- Sila-Vinaya classes – learning the importance of principle of life and monastic rules.
- Dhamma talks – when Ven. Sumangala gives Dhamma Talk as and when to devotees during Dana on various aspects of the Buddha’s path and daily practice.
- Sutta classes, Bhavana & meditation, Buddhist History and Development – to follow the Ariya Monastic and Laity Training Program base on the Buddhist scriptures (in Tipitaka) with explanation and the opportunity for asking questions.
- Pali verses and application – This allows residents to learn the ancient language in which the Buddhist scriptures are written in and for the prolongation of Buddhasasana.
- There is also a homework, presentation and report component to the above Ariya Monastic and Laity Training Program as postulants learn to live by what they have learnt and to put it into practice..
After one year as an Anagārikā it is possible to apply for the ordination as a novice nun – a Sāmaṇerī. This is subject to the approval of the whole Sangha of the nuns at Ariya Vihāra Nunnery. The following should be noted:
- In keeping the ten precepts, sāmaṇerīs are abstaining from handling money. Cash and assets can be given away, or transferred into the hands of a trusted friend or family member.
- White clothing is exchanged for novice nun sāmaṇerī’s attire – the brown robes (same design with Theravāda monk’s robe).
- Meals and evening tea are taken with the other novices and fully ordained monks.
- A separate nun’s shared room (“kuti”) is provided for novices as soon as possible.
- Requirement to attend novice nun training program
Full ordination as a Bhikkhunī is possible after a minimum of two years as a sāmaṇerī. Again this is subject to suitability of sāmaṇerī and approval by the whole Sangha. With full ordination comes the responsibility to keep all the rules of the vinaya and to live skillfully by the Dhamma and to strive for liberation. This is the last stage of ordination and the nun is now a member of the Sangha.