Directions of Learning, Learning Directions

Myanmar-Burmese Buddhist Nuns, Responsibility, and their Experiences with the Scriptural Examinations

Authors

  • Rachelle Saruya University of Toronto

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/bsrv.40501

Keywords:

Myanmar-Burmese Theravada Buddhism, Buddhist nuns, monastic education, Buddhist kinship, Siṅgālovādasutta

Abstract

This article engages with nine Myanmar-Burmese Buddhist nuns (thilashin) from three different nunneries in Sagaing, Myanmar, and examines their experiences with the monastic examinations. Because the nuns’ voices are frequently omitted from studies on monastic education, this article includes these perspectives and examines a few of the factors that contribute to the thilashin’s success in their education trajectories. In my research I find that responsibility, gratitude, and the Burmese concept of kyezusat—the return of gratitude to carers—plays a key role. I examine the nuns’ networks and ‘interlocking relationships’ between teachers and students. I additionally explore the active role that thilashin play in maneuvering their monastic kin into the different education systems that results in affective notions of kyezusat, and the responsibility for the monk or nun to want to return the gratitude to the one who took care of them. Furthermore, in order to understand monastics and their education, as well as Burmese Buddhist society, I advocate looking at the Singalovadasutta, in particular at Ledi Sayadaw’s version of this sutta, the Sukumaramaggadipani, and the suttas within the Mahavagga in the Pali Vinaya that focus on reciprocity. These texts highlight examples of students taking care of their teachers and the teachers taking care of their students that help influence Buddhism today.

References

Bodhi, Bhikkhu, ed. 2005. In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the P?li Canon. 1st edition. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications.

Borchert, Thomas, A. 2012. 'Monk and Boy'. In Little Buddhas: Children and Childhoods in Buddhist Texts and Traditions, edited by Vanessa R. Sasson, 248-268. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199860265.003.0010

---. 2017. Educating Monks: Minority Buddhism on China's Southwest Border. Honolulu: University of Hawai?i Press. https://doi.org/10.21313/hawaii/9780824866488.001.0001

Braun, Erik. 2013. The Birth of Insight Meditation: Meditation, Modern Buddhism, and the Burmese Monk Ledi Sayadaw. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226000947.001.0001

Carbine, Jason A. 2011. Sons of the Buddha: Continuities and Ruptures in a Burmese Monastic Tradition. Religion and Society. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110254105

Clarke, Shayne Neil. 2014. Family Matters in Indian Buddhist Monasticisms. Honolulu: University of Hawai?i Press. https://doi.org/10.1515/9780824840075

Dhammasami, Kammai. 2004. 'Between Idealism and Pragmatism: A Study of Monastic Education in Burma and Thailand from the Seventeenth Century to the Present.' Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Oxford.

Durkheim, Emile. 1956. Education and Sociology. Translated by Sherwood Fox. Glencoe: The Free Press.

Harriden, Jessica. 2012. The Authority of Influence: Women and Power in Burmese History. Copenhagen: NIAS Press.

Kawanami, Hiroko. 2013. Renunciation and Empowerment of Buddhist Nuns in Myanmar-Burma: Building a Community of Female Faithful. Leiden: Brill. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004245723

Ikeya, Chie. 2011. Refiguring Women, Colonialism, and Modernity in Burma. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. https://doi.org/10.21313/hawaii/9780824834616.001.0001

Keeler, Ward. 2017. The Traffic in Hierarchy: Masculinity and Its Others in Buddhist Burma. Honolulu: University of Hawai?i Press. https://doi.org/10.1515/9780824865979

Kobakhidze, Magda Nutsa. 2020. 'Desacralising Teachers: Inside Myanmar's Educational Capitalism'. Globalisation, Societies and Education 18(5): 481-494. https://doi.org/10.1080/14767724.2020.1776098

Kyaw, Pyi Phyo. 2014. 'Patthana (Conditional Relations) in Burmese Buddhism.' Unpublished PhD thesis, King's College, London.

Ledi Sayadaw. 2016 [original date unknown]. Sukumaramaggadipani. Yangon: Ministry of Religion and Culture.

McDaniel, Justin. 2008. Gathering Leaves and Lifting Words: Histories of Buddhist Monastic Education in Laos and Thailand. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

Mendelson, Michael, E. 1975. Sangha and State in Burma: A Study of Monastic Sectarianism and Leadership. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Ohnuma, Reiko. 2006. 'Debt to the Mother: A Neglected Aspect of the Founding of the Buddhist Nuns' Order'. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 74(4): 861-901. https://doi.org/10.1093/jaarel/lfl026

Pathama Mahagandharum Cha ra tau. 1994. Sila rhan Kyan. vat nhan. Nvan kra? lhva Amhat (84). Yangon: Department for the Propagation and Promotion of the Sasana.

Patton, Laurie. 2007. 'The Cat in the Courtyard: The Performance of Sanskrit and the Religious Experience of Women'. In Women's Lives, Women's Rituals in the Hindu Tradition, edited by Tracy Pintchman, 19-31. Oxford: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195177060.003.0002

Pinar, William. 2012. What Is Curriculum Theory? 2nd edition. London: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203836033

Rawe Htun. 2001. The Modern Buddhist Nun. Translated by San Lwin. Yangon: U Tin Shein.

Samuels, Jeffrey. 2010. Attracting the Heart: Social Relations and the Aesthetics of Emotion in Sri Lankan Monastic Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawai?i Press. https://doi.org/10.21313/hawaii/9780824833855.001.0001

Spiro, Melford E. 1977. Kinship and Marriage in Burma: A Cultural and Psychodynamic Analysis. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Tosa, Keiko. 2005. 'The Chicken and the Scorpion: Rumor, Counternarratives, and the Political Uses of Buddhism'. In Burma at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century, edited by Monique Skidmore, 154-173. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.

Various. 1996. 'Moral Obligations, Carittasila.' In A Dictionary of Buddhist Terms, 159. Yangon: Ministry of Religious Affairs.

Various. 2008. 'Loki.' In Myanmar-English Dictionary, 437. Yangon: Ministry of Education. von Hinuber, Oskar. 1996. A Handbook of Pali Literature. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110814989

Wilson, Liz. 2014. 'Buddhism and Family'. Religion Compass 8(6): 188-198. https://doi.org/10.1111/rec3.12107

Turner, Alicia. 2014. Saving Buddhism: The Impermanence of Religion in Colonial Burma. Honolulu: University of Hawai?i Press. https://doi.org/10.21313/hawaii/9780824839376.001.0001

---. 2018. 'Pali Scholarship "in its Truest Sense" in Burma: The Multiple Trajectories in Colonial Deployments of Religion'. The Journal of Asian Studies 77(1): 123-138. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0021911817001292

Published

2021-03-24

How to Cite

Saruya, R. (2021). Directions of Learning, Learning Directions: Myanmar-Burmese Buddhist Nuns, Responsibility, and their Experiences with the Scriptural Examinations. Buddhist Studies Review, 37(2), 151–174. https://doi.org/10.1558/bsrv.40501

Issue

Section

Articles