Eminent Buddhist Women

Edited by Karma Lekshe Tsomo

Subjects: Religion
Paperback : 9781438451305, 277 pages, September 2014
Hardcover : 9781438451312, 277 pages, September 2014

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Table of contents

Karma Lekshe Tsomo
Buddhist Women in South Asian Traditions

1. “My Sister’s Future Buddhahood”: A Jātaka of the Buddha’s Lifetime as a Woman
Karen Derris
2. Two Generations of Eminent Nepalese Nuns
Punyawati Guruma
Buddhist Women in Southeast Asian Traditions
3. Brave Daughters of the Buddha: The Feminisms of the Burmese Buddhist Nuns
Cristina Bonnet-Acosta
4. Pioneering Bhikkunīs in Contemporary Sri Lanka and Thailand
Tomomi Ito
5. Bhikkuni Ta Tao: Paving the Way for Future Generations
Bhikkuni Dhammananda (Chatsumarn Kabilsingh)
6. Eminent Nuns in Hue, Vietnam
Elise Anne DeVido
7. Bhikuī Như Thanh: A Polar Star among Vietnamese Nuns
Thích Nữ Như Nguyệt
8. Bhikuī Tri Hai: A Scented Lotus Life
Thich Nu Huong Nhu
Buddhist Women in East Asian Traditions

9. Bhikuī Hiuwen: Enlightening Society by Institutionalizing Buddhist Education
Yu-chen Li
10. Pongnyŏgwan: The Eminent Bhikuī of Cheju Island
Hyangsoon Yi
11. A Resolute Vision of the Future: Hyechun Sunim’s Founding of the National Bhikuī Association in Korea
Eun-su Cho
12. From Mountains to Metropolis: Sŏn Master Daehaeng’s Teachings on Contemporary Buddhist Practice
Hyeseon Sunim (Kyunhee Lee)
Buddhist Women in the Tibetan Cultural Region

13. The Importance of Jetsun Mingyur Paldron in the Development of Sikkimese Buddhism
Kalzang Dorjee Bhutia
14. The Legacy of a Female Sikkimese Buddhist Teacher: The Lineage of Pelling Ani Wangdzin and Gendered Religious Experience in Modern Sikkim
Amy Holmes-Tagchungdarpa
15. Kunzang Drolkar: A Delog in Eastern Tibet
Alyson Prude
16. Courage as Eminence: Tibetan Nuns at Yarchen Monastery in Kham
17. Nuns, Dākinīs, and Ordinary Women in the Revival of Mongolian Buddhism
Karma Lekshe Tsomo
18. Mummy-la: The Life and Accomplishments of Freda Bedi
Tenzin Palmo
Buddhist Women in the West
19. Bhikuī Ruimiao: An Embodiment of Transcultural Values
Malia Dominica Wong
20. What Is a Relevant Role Model? The Example of an Ordinary Woman Who Achieved Enlightenment
Rita M. Gross

Explores the exemplary legacy of Buddhist women across the centuries and across the Buddhist world.


Eminent Buddhist Women reveals the exemplary legacy of Buddhist women through the centuries. Despite the Buddha's own egalitarian values, Buddhism as a religion has been dominated by men for more than two thousand years. With few exceptions, the achievements of Buddhist women have remained hidden or ignored. The narratives in this book call into question the criteria for "eminence" in the Buddhist tradition and how these criteria are constructed and controlled. Each chapter pays a long-overdue tribute to one woman or a group of women from across the Buddhist world, including the West. Using a variety of sources, from orally transmitted legends to firsthand ethnographic research, contributors examine the key issues women face in their practice of Buddhist ethics, contemplation, and social action. What emerges are Buddhist principles that transcend gender: loving kindness, compassion, wisdom, spiritual attainment, and liberation.

Karma Lekshe Tsomo is Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego. Her books include Into the Jaws of Yama, Lord of Death: Buddhism, Bioethics, and Death; Buddhist Women and Social Justice: Ideals, Challenges, and Achievements; Buddhist Women Across Cultures: Realizations; and Sisters in Solitude: Two Traditions of Buddhist Monastic Ethics for Women, all published by SUNY Press.


"Given the many centuries of male-dominated history, Tsomo's collection of essays by Buddhist practitioners sharing the experiences and accomplishments of Buddhist women is wonderfully welcome. This invaluable selection of narratives adds immeasurably to a nuanced understanding of Buddhism in all of its complexity." — Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual

"… provide[s] a diversity of rarely documented female religious activity, enhancing understanding of marginalized, historically invisible people. Eminent Buddhist Women is thus an important contribution to the genre of literature on women in Buddhism, underscoring diversity in format, subject, and methodology." — Asian Highlands Perspectives

"In her chapter 'What Is a Relevant Role Model?' Rita Gross describes the need for more stories about Buddhist women, particularly those whose feats are not so fabled as to seem out of reach for contemporary practitioners. This volume advances that objective, mapping the paths of numerous, often lesser-known women who have dedicated their lives to Buddhism and inspired their communities." — Buddhadharma

"Educational and inspirational, this important collection will appeal to scholars and practitioners alike." — Hsiao-Lan Hu, author of This-Worldly Nibbāna: A Buddhist-Feminist Social Ethic for Peacemaking in the Global Community