In February of 2013 in Petaluma, Northern California, Ven. Tathaaloka Theri was asked to share her knowledge of the History or Her-story of Women in Buddhism. Ayya Tathaaloka is one of a few monastic scholars who have studied this subject deeply, but in the texts and epigraphy. Her knowledge of the subject is fascinating and inspiring, different from what we may commonly read, shedding light on both the environment for women in which Buddhism was founded, as well as the gendered social and cultural trends which developed in Buddhism over time, leading to the variety of Buddhist cultures we have inherited.
You can watch the whole talk below.
I alluded to Ayya Tathaaloka in my dharma talk “Buddhism After Half the Sky“: at the end of October 2009, Ayya Tathaaloka was the preceptor, and Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Sujato performed the “certifying acariya chanting in the bhikkhu’s part of the ceremony,” for a group of Buddhist nuns who were ordained during a ceremony at Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery in Perth, Australia. On November 1st of that same year, Ajahn Brahm was told by the leadership of Wat Pa Phong that Bodhinyana Monastery would be disavowed if he did not publicly state that the ordination was invalid. When he refused, Bodhinyana Buddhist Monastery was disavowed by Wat Pa Phong. The incident brought a flurry of responses from those involved, observations from prominent teachers around the world, and lots of chatter in the blogosphere.