Women in Brown
a short history of the order of siladhara, nuns of the English Forest Sangha, Part Two
Keywords:Buddhist monasticism, Buddhist nuns, English Forest Sangha
This history of the unique community of Theravada nuns known as siladhara, based at Amaravati and Chithurst Buddhist monasteries is presented in two parts. The history from its inception in the late 1970s until the years 2000 appeared in Buddhist Studies Review 23(1). This second part gives the most recent developments in the order, from 2000 to the present day, plus reflections on the future. The research is based on personal interview with founding members of the order as well as email, telephone and written communications with nuns past and present. It considers the implications of the revived bhikkhuni ordination for the siladhara and addresses the possibilities for the future. It describes the founding of a parallel order of Theravada nuns in Western Australia, with some significant differences to the UK nuns. It concludes that in attempting a form of monasticism for women, giving all the advantages of renunciation but at the same time negotiating the difficult synthesis of Western expectations, traditional Theravada cultural norms and the monastic rule itself, it has largely succeeded.
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