Buddhist nuns; Chinese Buddhist monasticism; gender
The first Chinese Buddhist nuns were ordained in the monks' community only, despite disciplinary guidelines stating that nuns should be ordained both in the nuns' community (bhikṣuṇīsaṃgha) and in the monks' community (bhikṣusaṃgha). As can be seen from the Biqiuni zhuan 比丘尼傳, which is a collection of biographies of Chinese nuns compiled in the early sixth century, this situation gave rise to discussions on the legal status of the Chinese bhikṣuṇīsaṃgha. In c. 433, a so-called second ordination became possible with the arrival of a group of Sinhalese nuns who could legally act as nun witnesses, thus making it possible that, for the first time in history, a dual ordination, in both communities, could be held in China. It confirmed the full status of Chinese nuns in monastic institutions. Nevertheless, the status of women still raised questions and even doubt, with male dominance remaining standard. This male standard is particularly underscored in the writings of influential vinaya (disciplinary) masters, such as Daoxuan 道 宣 (596–667), Daoshi 道 世 (?–683), and others. In this article, their views will be analyzed and compared, against the background of the nuns' institutional role.