Women who are interested in ordination often ask how to become bhikkhunis? To be true to the spirit of Buddhism, there are stages of how we become Buddhists first (if we are not already), then monastics and then bhikkhunis, which is the final stage of spiritual commitment.
After that a person can seek ordination. For a woman, she can ask for lower ordination as samaneri for a certain period of time to make sure she is suitable for monastic lifestyle. This is an adjustment from both sides, the candidate and the sangha. If she is suitable then her Pavattini (bhikkhuni teacher) can arrange for her to ask for the next level, that of Sikkhamana.
Sikkhamana is still a samaneri, but an intensive one. She needs to make an announcement of her commitment to the bhikkhuni sangha and the bhikkhu sangha within a proper sima (boundary proper for sanghakamma). She has to take the 6 Anudhammas which are the first six of her ten precepts without a break for 2 full vassas (rains). Should she transgress anyone of them she has to start counting her 2 vassas anew.
The stage of Sikkhamana is important as in the Vinaya it stated that a bhikkhuni should first be a sikkhamana. There are at least 15 sikkhapadas which can be found in the bhikkhuni Patimokkha which clearly mentioned this stage.
The arrangement of full ordination as a bhikkhuni for the candidate should be arranged by her bhikkhuni teacher. The full ordination takes place in a sima, and the candidate purifies herself from the 24 antarayikadhammas (dangerous points for ordained life), when she is free from them the bhikkhuni teacher will take her to the bhikkhu sangha where the final ordination process to proclaim her as a bhikkhuni is performed by the bhikkhu sangha.
After bhikkhuni ordination, the newly ordained bhikkhuni must stay under the guidance of her teacher (Pavattini) or senior bhikkhuni assigned by her Pavattini for the next 2 years. For monks they need to keep 5 years for the same training (nissaya).
In reality, sometimes ordination is given in India. In this case, the international Pavattini will assign the newly ordained bhikkhuni to keep Nissaya in her own country under another senior bhikkhuni.
Maha Bodhi Society of India hosted the first ordination for Theravada bhikkhunis in 2019. After Covid, Maha Bodhi Society of India hosted another ordination for bhikkhunis with the UTBSI (United Theravada Bhikkhuni Sangha International) in November 2022.
However, it is important for one who seeks ordination to make sure that they stay in a bhikkhuni sangha after ordination. In the early years of bhikshuni formation, they themselves were dependent on others but this dependent nature, it allowed bhikkhunis to eventually form their own sangha.
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