Movie night: Bhikkhuni: Buddhism, Sri Lanka, Revolution
Date: Thursday 25th Jan
Time: 7.30 pm
Venue: Christchurch Buddhist Centre, 43 Harrow St, Phillipstown, Christchurch (come to the gompa down the long driveway)
Cost: $5 donation / complimentary for members
With the help of a 2016 Khyenste Foundation Ashoka Grant, Malgorzata Dobrowolska from Poland created an inspiring and empowering documentary about women’s ordination in Theravada Buddhism. The film, Bhikkhuni: Buddhism, Sri Lanka, Revolution, follows the first modern bhikkhunis (nuns) from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Thailand, exploring what motivated each woman to seek ordination, as well as the challenges they have met and overcome on the path.
Shakyamuni Buddha ordained both women and men, and for the first several centuries after Buddha’s time, Theravada bhikkhunis flourished in Sri Lanka. However, over time and for a variety of reasons, the Theravada tradition of bhikkhunis had dwindled to the point of extinction. In recent years, after a 1000-year break, women in Theravada countries once again have the chance to become bhikkhunis. Witnessing these important changes, Dobrowolska envisioned making a documentary film about the rebirth of the tradition of ordaining women, both to demonstrate that the Theravada bhikkhuni order is flourishing, and also to inspire modern Theravada women around the world who aspire to this path of renunciation, merit, and realization.
Dobrowolska's documentary focuses on three women – Venerable Bhikkhuni Kusuma of Sri Lanka, Venerable Bhikkhuni Dhammananda of Thailand, and Venerable Bhikkhuni Gautami of Bangladesh. These three are the first modern bhikkhunis in their respective countries. The film begins in Sri Lanka, where eleven new bhikkhunis – three from Thailand, three from Vietnam, and five from Bangladesh – are seeking ordination. Dobrowolska captured daily life in the Bhikkhuni Kusuma center in Sri Lanka. She also interviewed the three main characters of the film about their motivations for choosing ordination, as well as the obstacles they have encountered and how they have overcome them in pursuing this path.