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Upasampada of a Buddhist monk in Burma

Upasampadā (Pali) literally denotes "approaching or nearing the ascetic tradition." In more common parlance it specifically refers to the rite and ritual of ascetic vetting (ordination) by which a candidate, if deemed acceptable, enters the community as upasampadān (ordained) and authorised to undertake ascetic life.[1][2]

According to Buddhist monastic codes (Vinaya), a person must be 20 years old in order to become a monk or nun. A person under the age of 20 years cannot undertake upasampada (i.e., become a monk (bhikkhu) or nun (bhikkhuni)), but can become a novice (m. samanera, f. samaneri). After a year or at the age of 20, a novice will be considered for upasampada.[3]

Traditionally, the upasampada ritual is performed within a well-demarcated and consecrated area called sima (sima malaka) and needs to be attended by a specified number of monks: "ten or even five in a remoter area".[4]

See also[edit]

  • Pabbajja: "going forth," entering the condition of mendicancy.


  1. ^ Rhys Davids, T.W. Stede, William (1921-1925). The Pali Text Society's Pali-English dictionary. Chipstead, London: Pali Text Society p. 147.
  2. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica (2007). Retrieved 26 Sept 2007 from "Encyclopædia Britannica Online"; "Upasampada"
  3. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica (2007).
  4. ^ Peter Skilling, How Buddhism invented Asia, 2 April 2009. Peter Skilling interviewed by Phillip Adams. Online audio recording