Ayya Sudhamma Bhikkhuni
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Ayya Sudhamma Bhikkhuni (born in 1963 in Charlotte, North Carolina) is abbess of Charlotte Buddhist Vihara. The first American woman ordained in Sri Lanka, Ayya Sudhamma has been recognized at the United Nations in Bangkok as an "Outstanding Woman in Buddhism."
Ordination and teaching
In 1999, Ayya Sudhamma became a sāmaṇerī or female Buddhist novice at the Bhavana Society under the tutelage of Henepola Gunaratana. In early 2003, she traveled to South Asia, where she became the first American-born woman to gain bhikkhuni ordination in the Theravada school in Sri Lanka.
In 2013, after spending a year at Santi Forest Monastery she returned to her birth town of Charlotte, North Carolina for the founding of the Charlotte Buddhist Vihara, where she resides as abbess and Bhikkhuni.
In 2007 she co-organized and hosted an "historic" meeting of nine bhikkhunis from various locations at her dwelling, the Carolina Buddhist Vihara, to recite the Pātimokkha. This marked the first gathering of Theravada bhikkhunis outside of Asia to recite the Patimokkha or to engage in any official act of Sangha (sanghakamma). As one participant stated,
The holding of this ceremony means that a Sangha–a Theravada Bhikkhuni Sangha–now exists in America. We are no longer just scattered individuals, but have come together united and in harmony. This is the main significance of the Patimokkha Recitation Gathering. This is the first place that this has ever been done, in Theravada, outside of Asia. Following Sri Lanka, America has now become the second place where the Theravada Bhikkhuni Sangha has been revived and established."
Two days after the Patimokkha recitation, the group held a Kathina ceremony, another first achievement for Theravada bhikkhunis outside of Asia. It also was the largest gathering of Theravada bhikkhunis that had yet occurred in the USA, as they had not before gathered in groups larger than twos or threes.
- The Outstanding Women in Buddhism Awards (2006).
- Carolina Buddhist Vihara (n.d.) Archived September 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine..
- Bhāvanā Society Forest Monastery (2007), p. 165.
- Charlotte Buddhist Vihara (2015)
- Bhāvanā Society Forest Monastery (2008), p. 3.
- Bhikkhuni Sobhana, "Western Bhikkhuni Sangha's First Meeting," Bhavana News, Winter 2008, p. 3 ("Our meeting was. . . unique and historic because it was the very first time that Theravadan bhikkhunis gathered together to do acts of Sangha-kamma anywhere outside of Asia. Some consider that this event marks the actual establishment of the Theravada bhikkhuni sangha in America.") http://www.bhavanasociety.org/pdfs/BhavanaNewsletter_Winter_08.pdf
- Ven. Ayya Tathaaloka Bhikkhuni, quoted by Roseanne Freese, "Turning Back Towards Freedom November 2007: The First Recitation of the Bhikkhuni Patimokkha within the Theravada Bhikkhuni Lineage in North America", Present, Winter 2011, Vol. 4, Issue 1, p. 32, "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-04-26. Retrieved 2011-03-02.
- Sobhana at p. 3 ("Everyone was aware of the great merit arising from this unique occasion. Only one time in history will there be a “first” Theravada bhikkhuni kathina in the West.")
- Bhāvanā Society Forest Monastery (2007), Preserving the Dhamma: Felicitations, Recollections and Dhamma Articles in Honor of the Eightieth Birthday of Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, Mahā Thera. Retrieved May 14, 2010, from http://www.bhavanasociety.org/pdfs/PreservingTheDhamma.pdf.
- Bhāvanā Society Forest Monastery (Winter 2008), "Western Bhikkhuni Sangha's First Meeting" in Bhāvanā News. Retrieved May 14, 2010, from http://www.bhavanasociety.org/pdfs/BhavanaNewsletter_Winter_08.pdf.
- Carolina Buddhist Vihara (n.d.), "Bhikkhuni Sudhamma Bio." Retrieved May 14, 2010, from https://web.archive.org/web/20100907212752/http://carolinabuddhist.net/bhikkhunisudhammabio.html.
- Outstanding Women in Buddhism (2006), "The Outstanding Women in Buddhism Awards: Hall of Recipients 2006." Retrieved May 14, 2010 from http://www.owbaw.org/2006.asp.
- Charlotte Buddhist Vihara (n.d.) "Founding Resident Bhikkhunis" Retrieved May 1, 2015 from http://www.charlottebuddhistvihara.org/residents-2/