Photo of mural from Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand, depicting Sundarinanda and early bhikkhhunis:Anandajoti Bhikkhu, http://www.photodharma.net/Thailand/Wat-Pho-Murals/Wat-Pho-Murals.htm
This is an excellent, informative history of bhikkhunis from its beginnings to the current day by Donna McCarthy.
Download PPT here >>
Note: This ppt is 11MB so may take some time to download
Songdhammakalyani Monastery founded by Dhammananda Bhikkhuni
First Buddhist Women: Poems and Stories of Awakening
by Susan Murcot
Review on Amazon
First Buddhist Women is a readable, contemporary translation of and commentary on the enlightenment verses of the first female disciples of the Buddha. The book explores Buddhism’s relatively liberal attitude towards women since its founding nearly 2,600 years ago, through the study of the Therigatham, the earliest know collection of women’s religious poetry. Through commentary and storytelling, author Susan Murcott traces the journey of the wives, mothers, teachers, courtesan, prostitutes, and wanderers who became leaders in the Buddhist community, roles that even today are rarely filled by women in other patriarchal religions. Their poetry beautifully expresses their search for spiritual attainment and their struggles in society.
Eminent Buddhist Women
by Karma Lekshe Tsomo
Review on Amazon
Eminent Buddhist Women reveals the exemplary legacy of Buddhist women through the centuries. Despite the Buddha’s own egalitarian values, Buddhism as a religion has been dominated by men for more than two thousand years. With few exceptions, the achievements of Buddhist women have remained hidden or ignored. The narratives in this book call into question the criteria for “eminence” in the Buddhist tradition and how these criteria are constructed and controlled. Each chapter pays a long-overdue tribute to one woman or a group of women from across the Buddhist world, including the West. Using a variety of sources, from orally transmitted legends to firsthand ethnographic research, contributors examine the key issues women face in their practice of Buddhist ethics, contemplation, and social action. What emerges are Buddhist principles that transcend gender: loving kindness, compassion, wisdom, spiritual attainment, and liberation.
In Search of Buddha’s Daughters: A Modern Journey Down Ancient Roads
by Christine Toomey
Review on Amazon
Toomey paints vivid portraits of women who are emboldened in the face of gender discrimination, from the Jang Gonchoe festival at the Gelugpa nunnery Dolma Ling, where nuns have been engaging in the (previously male) art of debate since the mid-1990s, to the Redwoods of Aranya Bodhi, a Theravada hermitage in California where the American nun Ayya Tathaaloka is working with her fellow nuns to revive the tradition of bhikkhunis.
Stars at Dawn
by Wendy Garling
From Shambhala Publications:
This book is a contemporary and provocative examination of the women who played a role in the Buddha’s life and teachings—based on overlooked or neglected stories from ancient source material.
Most works on Buddhism tend to focus on the Buddha’s teachings rather than his history, and the biographical details that do get passed along tend to offer an incomplete picture. Stories of the women in the Buddha’s life are especially absent in most modern understandings of his life. Thus many students of Buddhism lack a fully rounded and humanistic view of the tradition—and of the Buddha himself.
Wendy Garling brings the Buddha’s story to life and challenges the status quo with fresh tellings of his history gleaned from ancient and often overlooked source material, with an emphasis on the stories of the women who influenced and shaped his life.
Many more resources can be found in the Alliance for Bhikkhuni Library.
Binara Poya day is the full-moon of September and is celebrated in Sri Lanka. This holy day celebrates the inauguration of the Bhikkhuni Sangha by the ordination on this very day of Queen Mahāpajāpatī, the Buddha’s foster-mother and her retinue.