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Buddhist Nuns and Gendered PracticeIn Search of the Female Renunciant$
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Nirmala S. Salgado

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199760022

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199760022.001.0001

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Becoming Bhikkhunis, Becoming Theravada

Becoming Bhikkhunis, Becoming Theravada

(p.149) 6 Becoming Bhikkhunis, Becoming Theravada
Buddhist Nuns and Gendered Practice

Nirmala S. Salgado

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the category of “Theravada” in relation to questions of monastic seniority and power in the debates about Theravada bhikkhunī upasampadās. Using the work of Ananda Abeysekara, and interviews with Sri Lankan monks and nuns since the 1980s, it proposes that competing claims about the Theravada authenticity of recent upasampadās of Sri Lankan nuns are inseparable from claims about power. Monastics participating in Sri Lankan Buddhist missions outside the country as well as Sri Lankan bhikkhunī ordinations throughout the world may assert a distinctively Theravada identity in connection with upasampadās of Sri Lankan bhikkhunīs. Yet, this chapter seeks not to assess the authenticity of those ordinations but rather to consider the conjunctures in which they occur. Ultimately, it argues that the category of Theravada cannot figure into the everyday life of practitioners apart from the debates in which that category is rooted.

Keywords:   Theravada, category, authenticity, power, conjuncture, bhikkhunī, upasampadā, mission, seniority

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