Legendary and historical figures

Legend has it that the first Buddhist community of nuns (Skt. bhikshuni) was already created during the Buddha’s lifetime. Initially he is said to have been reluctant to accept nuns, but when his wet nurse and stepmother, Mahaprajapati, asked to be ordained and his disciple Ananda spoke up in her favour, the Buddha yielded.

To become a Buddhist monk or nun, one ‘takes refuge’ in the Three Jewels, is ordained, and agrees to accept strict monastic discipline. As with monks, the process of ordination occurs in two stages: a probationary period followed by acceptance into an order. The probationary period for nuns is longer, and they are obliged to follow more rules than monks.