Ayya Sudhamma Bhikkhuni

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."

Ayya Sudhamma

Early lifeEdit

Born in Charlotte, NC, in 1963, Ayya Sudhamma graduated from New York University's School of Law and subsequently practiced law in San Francisco.[1][2]

Ordination and teachingEdit

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.[1][2][3]

In July 2003, she returned to the United States at the invitation of the Carolina Buddhist Vihara in Greenville, South Carolina, as a resident and teacher.[2][3]

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.[4]


In 2005 she participated in the founding of the North American Bhikkhuni Association.[5]

In 2006, on International Women's Day, she was recognized for her achievements as an Outstanding Woman in Buddhism at the United Nations in Bangkok, Thailand.[1]

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).[6] 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."[7]

Two days after the Patimokkha recitation, the group held a Kathina ceremony, another first achievement for Theravada bhikkhunis outside of Asia.[8] 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.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c The Outstanding Women in Buddhism Awards (2006) Archived 2011-01-14 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ a b c Carolina Buddhist Vihara (n.d.) Archived September 7, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  3. ^ a b Bhāvanā Society Forest Monastery (2007) Archived 2017-11-18 at the Wayback Machine, p. 165.
  4. ^ "Charlotte Buddhist Vihara (2015)". Archived from the original on 2015-04-26. Retrieved 2015-05-01.
  5. ^ Bhāvanā Society Forest Monastery (2008) Archived 2011-07-25 at the Wayback Machine, p. 3.
  6. ^ 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 Archived 2011-07-25 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ 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.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ 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.")


External linksEdit