About the Abbess


 

Venerable Sumaṅgalā Bhikkhuṇī is the Abbess of Ariya Vihara Buddhist Society. She embarked on her spiritual journey in Buddhism at the age of 19, inspired by the serene sight of a monk and people meditating, which deeply delighted her heart. This initial inspiration led her to actively pursue, learn, and practise the Buddha’s teachings, with a particular focus on meditation.

She holds a B.A. in Psychology and in 1999, she completed her M.A. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, both from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. Furthering her academic and spiritual education, Ven. Sumaṅgalā Bhikkhuṇī obtained an M.A. in Philosophy (Buddhism) from the International Buddhist College, Thailand in 2011.

Her formal journey into monastic life began in 2005 when she left the household life to become an Anagarika. Her ordination took place in November 2008 under the sacred Sri Mahābodhi at Bodhgaya, India. Her preceptor-teacher was Ven. Mahinda Mahāthera, a proponent of Mettā and one of the early disciples of the late Ven. Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda Nāyaka Mahāthera from Malaysia. Her meditation teacher was Ven. Nadimale Sumedhā Maniyo of Sri Lanka, who guided her in samatha-vipassanā meditation practices.

On 21 June 2015, she took her higher ordination under the guidance of preceptor Ven. B. Sri Saranankara Nāyaka Mahāthera – the Chief Judiciary Monk of Malaysia, and bhikkhuni preceptor-teacher Ayya Santinī Mahātherī of Indonesia.

In 2004, inspired by the late Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Nāyaka Mahāthera, she decided to start a bhikkhunī training centre to complete the Fourfold Assembly for Theravādin practice: bhikkhu, bhikkhunī, upāsaka and upāsikā. In 2015, she pioneered the formation and registration of Ariya Vihara, Malaysia’s first Theravāda Bhikkhunī Nunnery and Dhamma Training Centre. In 2019, she received a government allocated land for the building of the project with construction to commence in mid 2024.

From 2014 to 2023, she inspired six short-term Theravāda Samanerīs to go forth for good, including the first 3 Cambodian Samanerīs to do so. She has assisted more than 50 bhikkhunīs in higher ordinations in Bodhgaya, India.

Currently, she serves as the Abbess and President of Ariya Vihara Buddhist Society and is an advisor of Gotami Vihara Society in Malaysia. Ven. Sumaṅgalā Bhikkhuṇī is actively involved in conducting meditation retreats and giving Dhamma talks in various centers and camps, sharing her deep understanding and experiences in the Dhamma with others.

She is one of the recipients of the 23rd Anniversary Outstanding Women Awards (OWBA) 2024, in honour of the United Nations International Women’s Day.