Women in Indian Buddhism

Buddhist Nuns Yango Rangoon Myanmar Burma

The Numata Center for Buddhist Studies at the University of Hamburg are running a free online course titled ‘Women in Early Indian Buddhism‘ with some leading academics are providing the course content. The details are the following:

Course Outline

The course begins with a focus on early sutta and Vinaya material, in particular setting the situation of Buddhist women in its context through comparison with the Jain and Brahminical traditions. Then the situation as reflected in Mahayana and commentarial literature will be explored, followed by rounding off the study of written records by turning to Indian art. The final lecture will summarize the topics presented during the course and take a closer look at scholarship on women in Indian Buddhism in general.


16 April Analayo: Women in Early Buddhist Discourse

23 April Amy Langenberg: Female Virtue in Two Sanskrit Vinayas

30 April Mari Jväsjarvi Stuart: Women in medieval Buddhist and Jain monasticism

7 May Nalini Balbir: Women in the Buddhist and Jain traditions

14 May Ute Hüsken: Women in the Theravāda Vinaya and the Brahminical Tradition

21 May Reiko Ohnuma: The Nun Thullanandā

28 May Shobha Rani Dash: Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī Narratives

4 June Liz Wilson: Hagiographic Buddhist Texts on Women

11 June Rita Gross: Women in Mahāyāna Sūtra Literature

18 June Alice Collett: Women in Early Buddhist Inscriptions

25 June Naomi Appleton: Women in the Jātaka Collection

2 July Monika Zin: Buddhist Women in Indian Art

9 July Petra Kieffer-Pülz: Summary and Outlook on Scholarship on Women in Buddhism

Registration details are available on the website.


A few years ago at the University of Sydney we held a one day conference on gender issues in Buddhism:






Understanding ‘engaged Buddhism’


An article I wrote that appeared in the Myanmar Times on 16 February:

In 1963, the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh coined the term “engaged Buddhism”. He did so in order to describe a phenomenon in Buddhism in which one is not simply advised to withdraw from the world in solitary meditation but to combat social and political injustice. Engaged Buddhism is a politically active form of Buddhism.

The full article can be read online here.

Buddhist monk in hot water?


This image is doing the rounds on social media. It shows a Buddhist monk in Isan, in Northeast Thailand. He is presumably displaying the powers of his concentration in meditation, related to the notion of iddhi, and the power of the Buddha’s teachings to protect him from harm.

Whether such displays are permitted by the Buddhist monastic code is open to debate.