With the fall of Anuradhapura to the “Chola invaders” in AD 1017, the Bikkhuni order (the Order of Buddhist Nuns) disappeared and became non-operational. Even though the Bikkhu Order of the males in the island was revived later with the help of the Theravada Buddhist monks of Burma, the Bikkhuni order could not be revived according to Theravada traditions, because the Theravada countries like Burma, Siam, Cambodia and Laos didn’t have nuns. Hence, recognising those who now claim as Bikkhunis in the island is not very satisfactory, commented, Registrar of the Asgiriya Chapter and academic of the Bikkhu University in Anuradhapura, Ven. Anamaduwe Dhammadassa Thero as cited by the latest edition of the Sunday Leader. [Anamaduwe is recent Sinhalicisation of a Tamil village Aanai-madu in NW province, meaning the pond of elephants]
The target of the Sinhala-Buddhist Chapters in the island is the Order of the Nuns that got ordained at Banaras in India in 1996, by Mahayana preceptors.
According to the Theravada preceptors (Mahanayaka Theras) in the island, women are to be ordained by both the Bhikkhuni Sangha and the Bihhku Sangha. There is no existing Bhikkhuni Sangha in the island, and in addition, the Mahanayaka Theras in the island were not consulted prior to the ordination in India, the Anamaduwe Thero told Sunday Leader.
Whether the Bikkhunis are ordained in India or in the island, the Buddha-Sasana Ministry of the Sinhala-Buddhist State in the island doesn’t recognize them as Bikkhunis to provide them with ID cards necessary to get State benefits, because the prelates of all the four Buddhist Chapters in the island, Malwatta, Asgiri, Amarapura and Ramanaya have opposed to the recognition of the Order of the Bikkhunis.
The Bikkhunis are currently considered only as Sil Matas (the mothers initiated into religious observations) and they don’t get educational and other State facilities meant for the Bikkhus. Thus nearly 427 Bikkhuni monasteries and thousands of Bihkkhunis are not registered with the Buddha Sasana Ministry of Colombo.
According to Ven. Ina-maluwe Sri Sumangala Thera, Mahanayaka of the Rangiri Dambulu Chapter of the Siyam Nikaya, Colombo’s Commissioner of Buddhist Affairs bears “Brahmin mentality” in penalising Bikkhunis.
A Bikkhuni brought the Sacred Bo-tree to the island; a woman brought the tooth-relic, but females are neither allowed to the upper terrace (Uda-Maluwa) of the Sacred Bo-Tree complex at Anuradhapura nor to the chamber where the Tooth Relic is housed in Kandy, the Ina-Maluwe Thera said.
Buddha himself has said to his disciple Ananda that the doctrine he preached would act as the teacher. Hence, the Buddha Sasana has not been handed over to anyone. It is not necessary to get the permission of any one to follow the doctrines of Buddha. The Order of the Bikkhinis is part of the doctrines of Buddha. If anyone opposes the existence of Bikkhunis, it is violation of the doctrines of Buddha and of Buddha, the Inamaluwe Thera said.
The guardianship of the Buddha-Sasana in the island, by the State in Colombo and by the Mahanayakas of the Chapters, has gone irredeemably null and void with their undertaking of the genocidal war and of the on-going genocide in the island, commented spiritual circles in the island that have transcended institutionalised religions.