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Transcript
Final Research Report
Project title:
The Revival of the Theravada Nun
Order in Thailand: Scriptural Authority
and Cultural Resistance
Fieldwork period in Thailand: 21/032007-14/04/2007
Name of the investigator:
Dr Martin Seeger
Department of East Asian Studies
University of Leeds
LS2 9JT, UK
Final Research Report
Project title:
The Revival of the Theravada Nun
Order in Thailand: Scriptural Authority
and Cultural Resistance
Fieldwork period in Thailand: 21/032007-14/0412007
Name of the investigator:
Dr Martin Seeger
Department of East Asian Studies
University of Leeds
LS2 9JT, UK
Content
Page
1. Abstract
3
2. Acknowledgment
5
3. List of Collaborating Thai Researchers or Thai Institutions
5
4. Background
6
5. Objective of Research
7
6. Research Method
8
7. Research Result
10
8. Conclusion and Recommendation
16
9. References/Bibliography
19
9.1 Interviews conducted in Thailand during the fieldwork period 19
9.2
Bibliography
19
2
1. Abstract
In an on-going debate in Thai society about the possibility of reviving the Theravada
order of nuns (bhikkhllfll), a multitude of quite diverging opinions and arguments
both for and against the revival of the ordination lineage of the bhlkkhuni-order has
been brought forward. Amongst these are: Western influenced text-criticism that
aims to identify the authentic stance of the historical Buddha towards bhikkhunis;
reference to secular law; feminist hermeneutics; and considerations of the gender
inequality in Thai society. These arguments have been countered by traditionalists
who refer to canonical texts which in their view do not allow women to ordain in
Theravada under the given circumstances (i.e. the non-existence of Theravada nuns
who would be able to carry out their part of the ordination procedure). At the same
time, however, alternatives to a nun order have been suggested, such as the
amelioration of the disadvantaged social position of the long-existing maechis
(white-clad women who keep the eight precepts) or the introduction of paramonastic institutions which would allow women to pursue a spiritual practise similar
to that of monks.
Several institutions in Thailand, seemingly accepting the traditional view on the
impossibility of a revival of a canonically sanctioned nun order, have established
various institutions/programmes that are to give Buddhist women a better chance to
practice Buddhism or gain education in a similar way as Thai monks: e.g.
Thammacarini institution in Ratburi, the Maechi Institute located at Wat Boworn in
Bangkok, the Maechi college in Khorat, the dhammamfitfi programme initiated by
Buddhadasa and located in Suan Mok, the ten precepts-keeping sikkhamfitll of Santi
Asok, or the maechis of Maechi Sansani's Sathianthammasathan.
To many it seems to be questionable as to how far these institutions/programmes
could be accepted as satisfYing alternatives by those who plead for the introduction
of a 'real' nun order. In fact, previous research has shown that there exists a wide
. spectrum of diverging opinions on the necessity of a nun order.
3
Within in this framework, my research set out to study the following questions:
What are the arguments and motivations of Thai Buddhist women who want to
ordain in Thcravada Buddhism? And what are the arguments and views of women
who prefer instead to continue to practice Buddhism in a more traditional way?
As it has previously been suggested that sexist biases and patrjarchy are engrained in
Thai Buddhism, I was investigating the following research questions: Is this one
reason why a large number of Thai Buddhist women do not pursue or even oppose
the revival of a nun order in Thailand? Do the magico-animistic beliefs of the
powerful impurity of menstrual blood as opposed to the purity of monks' robes,
Buddha statues, Buddhist amulets and so forth playa role in this? Is the rather low
prestige of maechis in Thai society changing, or do we have to regard highly
respected maechis, like Maechi Sansani, Maechi Suphaphan na Bangchang and
Maechi Can Khonnokyung, as exceptions? What lies behind the initiatives of
creating para-monastic institutions for women in Thai society? Do they really
provide an acceptable alternative for a 'real' Theravada nun order?, especially with
regard to the possibility of rel.igious practice and the generation of merit
(puiiiiakhetraIp) as a result of leading a 'holy life' (similar to that of monks who
keep 227 training rules)?
4
2. Acknowledgment
I am very thankful to the following persons who all very profoundly helped me to
gain very important insights into this research topic by giving me so much of their
valuable time to interview them: P.A. Payutto (Abbot of Wat Yanawetsakawan,
Nakhon
Pathom), Ajarn Sumedho (Abbot Amaravati, UK),
Phra Dutsadee
Methangkuro, Phra W. Wachiramethi (Wat Benjamabophit, Bangkok), Bhiksuni
Niramisa. Dhammananda Bhikkhuni (Nakhon Pathom),
Samal~eri
X (whose name I
will not mention in order to respect her request to protect her privacy),
Sikkhamatuya Paniya (Santi Asok), Maechi Arun Phet-urai (Thai Maechi Institute),
Maechi Suphaphan na Bangchang (Chulalongkom University), Mae Chee Sansanee
Sthirasuta, Ajarn Citsai Phadungrat (Thammamata Project). Some of my informants
requested to stay anonymous, altogether, or asked me not to mention them as a
source of specific information or opinions. Many deepest thanks also go to Dr Mike
Pamwell and Dr Frances Weightman (both from the University of Leeds, UK) who
have given valuable suggestions on this paper. This research has been supported
financially by the British Academy, for which I am very grateful. I wish to thank the
National Research Council in Thailand for giving me permission to conduct
fieldwork
in Thailand. Also, I am very grateful to Ven.
Prof. Dr. Phra
Dharmakosajam (Rector of Mahachulalongkomrajavidyalaya University) and Ajarn
Thanaphon Somwang (Sripatum University) for their support.
3. List of Collaborating Thai Researchers or Thai Institutions
Ajarn Thanaphon Somwang (Sripatum University)
Pradhammakosajarn (Mahachulalongkornrajvidyalaya University)
5
4. Background
Current Thai Buddhism is characterized by an unprecedented polymorphism and
complexity that have become manifest by the plurality of competing movements and
cults. and an enormous variety of belief systems that are based on widely differing
interpretations of religious texts and sources of normative and formative reference.'
The ordination of Thai scholar Chatsumarn Kabilsingh of Buddhism as a female
novice (samanen) in the tradition of Theravada Buddhism in 2001, sparked a fervent
debate in Thai society as to whether it was valid and possible to revive the extinct
female ordination lineage of Theravada Buddhism. Within these debates, Thai
intellectuals have brought forward a wide range of arguments for a possible revival
of a nun's ordination lineage: e.g. Western influenced text-criticism that tries to
stratifY the normative canonical texts historically in order to isolate the most original
text layers; reference to secular law; feminist hermeneutics that favour the spirit over
the letter of the canonical texts; and considerations of the inequality between genders
in Thai society. All these arguments, however, are opposed by traditionalists (e.g.
Phra Payutto, Thongyoi Saengsinchai) who try to refer to the authority of the
Theravada canon which in their view does not allow women to ordain in Theravada
under the given circumstances (i.e. the non-existence of Theravada nuns who would
be able to carry out their part of the ordination procedure). At the same, however,
alternatives to a nun order have been suggested, like the amelioration of the
disadvantaged social position of the long-existing maechis (white-clad women who
keep the eight precepts) or the introduction of para-monastic institutions which
would allow women to pursue a spiritual practise similar to that of monks.
At the same time, however, as mentioned before several famous and not so famous
Thai
Buddhist
institutions
m
Thailand
have
established
various
institutions/programmes intended to give Buddhist women a better chance to practice
Buddhism or gain education in a similar way as Thai monks.
1
Seeger. 2007.
6
5. Objective of Research
The objective of this research project was to explore the landscape of today's
"fragmented" Thai Buddhism' with regard to the role of women who are interested
in Buddhist teaching and practice. This means that I investigated the multivocality of
debates and contestation concerning the introduction of the Theravada bhikkhuni
order in Thailand and, in immediate connection with this, the religious space that is
either factually or potentially available for Thai women who are interested in
Buddhist practice. In this way, I set out to study whether 'and, if yes, how the roles
of women in Thai Buddhism are changing in Thailand, today.
~
See Charles Keyes' keynote address for the 7th International Conference on Thai Studies
"Buddhism fragmented: Thai Buddhism and political order since the 1970s'" (Keyes, I999b).
7
6. Research Method
Methodologically, I was using a number of different approaches in this research. I
was able to conduct 10 extensive in-depth, semi-structured expert interviews with
various key informants in Thailand (for details, see References/Bibliography:
Interviews conducted in Thailand during the fieldwork period).
I was using the following questions as research questions:
•
What are the arguments and motivations of Thai Buddhist women who want
to ordain in Theravada Buddhism?
•
What are the arguments and views of women who prefer instead to continue
to practice Buddhism in a more traditional way?
•
What is the reason why a large number of Thai Buddhist women do not
pursue or even oppose the revival of a nun order in Thailand?
•
Do the magico-animistic beliefs of the powerful impurity of menstrual blood
as opposed to the purity of monks' robes, Buddha statues, Buddhist amulets
and so forth playa role in all this?
•
Is the rather low prestige of maechis in Thai society changing, or do we have
to regard highly respected maechis, like Maechi Sansani, Maechi Suphaphan
na Bangchang and Maechi Can Khonnokyung, as exceptions?
•
What lies behind the initiatives of creating para-monastic institutions for
women in Thai society?
•
Do they really provide an acceptable alternative for a 'real' Theravada nun
order?
Also, I was studying the 0pll1lOns and views of influential Thai thinkers in
connection with the interpretation of Pali canonical texts that are relevant to the
founding of the bhikkhunl order. Based on these findings, I was investigating the
depictions and discussions of the availability of religious space for Thai Buddhist
8
women: I examined statistical material,' material culture and, also, how the role and
space of Thai Buddhist women are depicted and discussed in various media.
especially in newspapers and the internet. Needless to say, that it was impossible to
be exhaustive, given the wide range and number of sources available. This is one of
reasons, why I want to conduct further research in order to gain more data for a
more thorough analysis.
Also, I was collecting data concerning the history of specific institutions for Thai
Buddhist women and was studying the biographies Buddhist women who excel
through their practice of the dhaml1l<? or their teaching.
•
) My source for the statistical material is predominantly Somchai Maitri c( aI.. 2546.
9
7. Research Result
I was able to observe that in accordance with the overall change and contestation
taking place within Thai Buddhism, the meaning and identity of Thai Buddhist
women is in flux and extremely complex. In order to create the framework for my
fieldwork in Thailand, I had investigated the opinions of a number of influential
Thai thinkers who have publicly expressed their opinions and views related to the
interpretation of PaE canonical texts that are relevant to the founding of the
bhikkhunl order 4 Here, contestation over the hermeneutical approach to the Pali
canon \\'as observed.
During
the
many
interviews
with
the
key
informants
(for details,
see
References/Bibliography: Interviews conducted in Thailand during the fieldwork
period) I was able to obtain a lot of relevant data relating to the following points:
•
history and functions of the Maechi Institute located in Bangkok;
•
the various interpretations of canonical texts relevant in the nun
ordination debates;
•
thoughts and ideas concerning alternative institutions for Thai
Buddhist women to practice the dhamma;
•
relevant opinions about the roles of women in (Thai) Buddhism held
by influential thinkers in Thai Buddhism;
•
biography of outstanding Thai Buddhist women;
•
practice
and
teaching
of outstanding
female
Thai
Buddhist
practitioners;
•
academic discourses related to the religious roles of women in Thai
Buddhism;
Also, I was able to obtain a lot of relevant books and documents on the nun
ordination controversy and the history and objectives of the Thai Maechi Institute. In
addition
to
this, I was able to gain a lot of valuable insights into the perspectives of
, This pan is a summary of a chapter of my PhD thesis (Seeger, 2005, p. 160·213) and two of my
papers (Seeger, 2006; Seeger, 2007), but 1 also added some recently acquired sources.
10
Thai Buddhist women on the nun ordination controversy and the meaning,
importance, and challenges of being a maechi in Thai society. Through discussions
with various Thai scholars I was able to verify a lot of previous findings and
research outcomes. In addition to this, based on this research I have been able to
formulate further research questions and to develop a new research project (which I
want to conduct in Thailand during the months July and August of 2008).
The following points can be regarded as the major results of my research:
•
It seems that there is an increasing number of institutions that allow women
:0' pursue their religious path and aim
•
It seems that there is an increasing number of women who have been able to
set new paradigms for women in general
•
It seems that there is a greater momentum in the creation of structural
changes that would allow all women to pursue the Buddhist path is needed
•
It is often the case that the situation of maechis who live in a monastery
together with monks depends to a great extent on the policies and ideas of
the individual abbot who is in charge of the monastery
•
As a consequence of the previous point the individual situation for maechis
might change enormously depending on the policies of the abbot in charge of
the monastery
•
Systematic attempts to raise the status of women have been observed
•
There have also been various initiatives to give maechis a legal status and
definition
•
The majority of maechis is still not pursuing advanced knowledge of
Bilddhist doctrine
•
There is an increasing support for maechis and the introduction of a new
bhikkhuni order both from intellectuals and Buddhist lay
•
There is still broad resistance in Thai society to the ordination of bhikkhunis
in Thailand
II
Scriptural debates
During the past 10 years or so, but especially since the sama!7eri-ordination of
Chatsumarn Kabilsingh in 2001, a high number of Thai academics, feminists and
scholar monks have expressed their stances on the question of whether it is possible
to ordain women as Theravada bhikkhuni in a way that is sanctioned by the
canonical Pali texts. Their conclusions have been rather varied, diverse and
contrary.' Traditionalists" who have defended Theravada's conservatism in this
matter have argued that Theravada had developed into a specific historical entity of
which the different text layers of their canonical and post-canonical texts give
evidence and are a lasting effigy. They regard Theravada has a historical enterprise
that has been able to preserve very successfully the most original Buddhist texts and
life-style prescribed in these texts. This conservatism is motivated by the concern of
"losing original meaning by a process of historical erosion, i.e. oblivion or
intentional manipulation.,,7 This "working against erosion by the passage of time
[... ] has become their programme, the foundation of their identity.'"
Based on this understanding, the Thai mainstream sangha has so far been making
clear that a revival of the bhikkhunisarigha is impossible due to technical reasons,
Le. the absence of a Theravada bhikkhuni order which is reqUired in the ordination
procedure of a valid bhikkhuni ordination. As a consequence, during the debates
about the possibility of the revival of a bhikkhuni order, Thai Theravada's
"hermeneutical practice" has been described by Thai scholars as paradoxical' and
, E.g. : Phra Payutto, 2544; Rabiaprat Phongphanit, 2546; Duean Khamdi, 2544; Senate Commission
for Affairs of Women, Youth and Elderly People, s.a.; Phra SipariyauimoJi et aI., 2544; Thongyoi
Saengsinchai and Chamnan Nisarat, 2544; Dhammananda
Sama~erj,
2544; Mettanando Bhikkhu,
2545: Dhammananda, 2546: Somchai Maitri, 2546; Rabiaprat Phongphanit, 2546; Channarong
Bunnun, 2547; Kulavir Prapapornpipat, 2548.
Here it must be noted that in this paper I use the terms "traditionalist" and "traditional" respectively
out of convenience in order to refer to Thai thinkers who prefer to continue traditional.practice with
regard to the bhikkhuni ordination controversy. The use of this term does not imply, however, that
proponents of the bhikkhunr ordination are not traditional with regard to other ideas or practices or that
opponents of the bhikkhunT ordination are traditional in every aspect.
7 Seeger, 2006, p. 2
, Seeger, 2007, p. 1.
9 Pagorn Singsllriya, 2004, p. 269.
6
12
the Thai mainstream sangha has been criticised as haYing gender biases'· or being
inflexible, structurally anachronistic, II and chauvinistic."
But despite all this, the 1928 proclaimed prohibition by the then Sangharaja (Thai
Buddhist Patriarch) that forbids monks to ordain women as sfimaneri, sikkh,1fl7finii or
bhikkhuni is still in force todayD
Howe'·er, traditionalist Thai scholars and thinkers who regard the introduction of
Thera'·ada bhikkhuniS in Thailand as impossible for the aforementioned reasons, do
not perceive this as a deadlock situation for women interested in Buddhist practice.
Despite their consistent insistence on the perpetuation of Theravada's traditional
consen·atism, they regard Thai Theravada as being quite flexible, and they have
proposed· a variety of alternative avenues of practice for Thai Buddhist women. For
traditionalists, the establishment of a new institution or the improvement of the
situation of Thai maechis 14 is not necessarily seen as a poor substitute for the
bhikkhuni order, but rather is promoted as a chance for women to use the creative
potential of the tradition to circumvent difficulties which the existence of a
Thera,·ada bhikkhuniwould necessarily imply.
Thai maechis as a substitute for bhikkhunis?
Thai maechis are characterised by their practice of keeping eight or ten precepts,
their white robes and their shaven head and eyebrows. In Thai society maechis can
be seen occupying a great variety of roles, such as social workers, mediums,
meditation masters, teachers of Pali and Abhidhamma studies, recluses, and temple
servants. They might live in a monastery together with monks, in a nunnery,
temporarily in the forest or in private houses. IS
10
Rabiaprat Phongphanit, 2546, p. 59; Phra Chai Varadhammo in Citlima Phanutecha and Nanhaya
Bunphakdi, 2548, p. t08-110.
II See, for example: Suwanna Satha-Anand, 2001; Pramuan Phel1gcan, 2544; Kulavir Prapapompipat,
2548; Suwanna Satha-Anand in: Cinima Phanutecha and Natthaya Bunphakdi, 2548, p. 31.
" Pagom Sil1gsuriya, 2004, p. 269.
.
Il Rablaprat Phongphanit, 2546, p. 115-6; WiratThiraphanmethiffhongbai Thirananthangkun, 2546, p.
61; Kula,"ir Prapapompipat, 2548, p. 37.
I~ "Mae" means mother in Thai. It is not quite clear, though, where "chi"· deriyes from (Chatsumarn
Kabilsingh, 1991, p. 36-37)
"Van ESlerik, John, 1996, p. 33-41; Muecke, 2004, p. 221-238; Latdawan Tamafu, 2548, p. 67.
13
Despite the structurally disadvantaged, inferior position and commonly low status of
maechis, an apparently growing number of maechis have achieved a rather high
standing and in some cases gained a huge number of very influential devotees and
disciples. \!lany of these maechis - but by no means all - are fonner members of the
Thai middle-class while their followers and supporters are in many cases middleclass, too.
In this research project I was able to identify a number of outstanding female Thai
Buddhist practitioners who excel as Dhamma-teachers, are revered as Buddhist
"saints·' - in some cases miraculous powers are attributed to them -, serve as spirit
mediums or are highly esteemed for their social engagement.
The aforementioned ongoing scriptural debates, together with an increasing number
of independent nunneries, the observed approximation of roles between monks and
maechis,](' the support from Thai middle-class women for maechis J7 and the
examples of outstanding female Thai Buddhists suggest that traditional religious
roles of Thai women are contested and, at the same time, that the number of widely
acknowledged Thai women is increasing. This does, of course, not mean that
formerly there were no or less outstanding female Buddhist practitioners in
Thailand.'" But facilitated and expressed by the print-media, internet, other digital
devices, and material culture, like icons and architecture, these contemporary female
Buddhist women have been recognised to a much broader extent and have a much
higher number of followers. This indicates a de-marginalization and a significant
redefinition of the religious roles of women that is currently taking place m
Thailand.
Nonetheless, as already mentioned, many people doubt that the current Thai maechi
institution can factually or potentially be a real alternative to the missing bhikkhuni
order. So far, there are only individual maechis or practising Thai women who based on their religious or social accomplishments - have developed a certain
amount of charisma, either through their practice or through their specific personal
background and social standing. The maechi institution as a ,,·hole or any other
16
17
Lindberg-Falk, 2000a, p. 51-52; Lindberg-Falk, 2000b, p. 69-70; Lindberg-Falk, 2002, p. 24,-25.
Latdawan Tamafu, 1548, p. 57; see also: Lindberg-Falk, 2000a, p. 53; ~Iuecke, 1004, p. 117;
Aphinya Fue.ngfusakun, 1544; Phr. Phaisan Wisalo, 2544, p. 1.
IS Kamala Tiyavanich reports that: "In regional traditions there were prominent women renunciates but
their identities and teachings do not appear in official records because th~y were devoted to meditation
rather than scholastic training. Nevertheless, some of these women ascetics remained in the memory pf
elderly people and monks. There is plenty of evidence that teachers of regional Buddhist tradition held
female ascetics in high esteem" (Kamala Tiyavanich, 1997, p. 281).
14
similar institution has not yet been able to build up "charisma of office" or
"institutional charisma" that would equal that of the monks." The saffron or
bro\\nish robes of Thai monks have become a powerful cultural symbol in Thailand
to which sometimes even magical properties are attributed. Based on their ordination
monks are automatically placed at the social peak of Thai society and even the Thai
king \\·ould show his respect to a monk, irrespective of the monk's former social
starus. The material support given to monks is analogous to this respect.
According to Phra W. Wachiramethi, "in the next decade the space [available to]
Thai maechis in Thai society will increase faster than that of bhikkhunis", as
maechis are already partly established. At the same time, however, bhikkhunis are
only in a very early fonnative stage.'o Even the ordination of Thai women into other
traditions than Theravada is still not easy as brownish-robes-wearing "ordained
women" are quite a new thing in Thai society and there is still 'not enough
collective consciousness' for this novelty. "
Santi Asok's brownish-wearing
sikkhamatus are only acknowledged by insiders or even sometimes regarded as
followers of other non-Theravada Buddhist schools." The traditional gender
expectation of Thai women always to take care of their families, especially their
aging and ailing parents, is still widespread. Contrary to male ordination the going
into homelessness (pabba}jfi, upasampadii) of women is nonnally not encouraged."
It seems that at the moment the establishment of Theravada bhikkhunis would not
find broad support in Thai society due to resistance from main-stream sangha and a
high number of influential thinkers who are concerned about the integrity and
authenticity of the Theravada tradition. While it seems to be unlikely that a
Theravada bhikkhuni order will be officially recognised in the foreseeable future, it
is apparent that support for it from the lay and from influential academics and
monks is growing. Female monastics might not be recognised by the law but it is
only a matter of time before they will have accumulated enough institutional
charisma to allow them to gain respect and support from the Thai people in a similar
vein as the male sangha does. If the important organs of mainstream Thai sangha, do
not come up with solution that can be accepted as satisfying and convincing for
proponents of a bhikkhuni order in this situation, but retreat to avoid a clear stance
19
See: Aphinya Fueangfusakun, 2544 ; Somchai MailTi et aI., 2546, p. 2, 124-5; see: Bell, 2000. p. 9.
" loren·iew with Phra W. Wachiramethi on 04/0412007.
21
Inten"jew with Bhik~ul)i Niramisa
011
05/04/2007.
" Somchai Maitri et aI., 2546, p. 3, 147; interview with Sikkhamatuya Paniya on 05/04/2007.
Lindberg-Falk, 2002, p. 119, 123, 141-143.
13
15
and action, denominational break-up might occur." Mainstream Thai Theravada
should face this challenge and see it as an opportunity and not a danger. At the
momcnt, there is apparcntly quile a need of religious experts in Thailand. as 6.900
Thai temples have bcen abandoned (lflfl~). At the same time, Thai women are
turning to other Buddhist schools for ordination, like the increasingly popular
tradition of Thich Nach Than or the Fo GU<lng Shan movement which has <l branch
lcmrle in /3angkok." Thai mainstream smigha has to change if it wants to be
relevant and work against its ongoing loss of authority and esteem, both structurally
and in terms of its stance towards the female gender. Having bhikkhunis or other
alternative para-monastic institutions that get equal structural support to male
monastics might have an enormous impact on the religious landscape in general.
A growing number of individual Thai women who are wearing the robes of the
bhikkhunis or samaperis, either from the Theravada or other traditions together with
a signi ficant number of maechis and female lay-practitioners, have begun to set new
paradigms as women with equal spiritual accomplishments to men. They might play
an increasingly important role both as models for accomplished spiritual practice
(patiparfI) and as Dhamma teachers (pariyam). While the main-stream Thai saligha
has not been able to respond adequately to problems of modernity especially in
connection with women's issues,'" the discussed de-marginalization of Thai Buddhist
women might nevertheless have a reviving effect on the Thai Buddhist landscape.
" Phra Phaisan Wisalo, 2546, p. 363; Rabiaprat Phongphanit, 2546, p. 72; Somchai Maitri et at.,
2546. p. 173,266; Sanitsuda Ekachai, 1999, p. 227-234; Sanitsuda Ekachai. 2001, p. 218-227; Senate
Commission on Women, Youth and Elderly Peopte Affairs, [s.a.], p. 40.
~5 Interview with Bhik$ul).i Niramisa on 05/04/2007; interview with Phni W. \Vachiramethi on
04/04/2007; Sutthikhun Kongthong, 2550.
2(, Phra Phaisan Wisalo, 2544, p. 2; Somchai Maitri et at., 2546, p. 291.
16
8. Conclusion and Recommendation
Given the amount of time available during the fieldwork period of approx. 3 weeks,
I was able to gain quite a lot of relevant data that allowed me to examine the
changing roles of women in Thai Buddhism, today. Having said this, however, I
have to add that after having started my research in Thailand it became very quickly
quite clear that it would be necessary to conduct further research on this mosl
interesting topic. While this research project was focusing on structural changes
relating to the roles of women in Thai Buddhism, it would certainly be very
insightful to examine individual biographies of outstanding women in Thai
Buddhism on a more thorough basis. This would allow studying a shift of paradigm
by the use of case studies. It would help to gain a better understanding of religious
conflicts in Thailand and the change of roles of Thai Buddhist women as a result of
globalisation and on-going westernization of Thai society. These research outcomes
would certainly enable us to not only gain better understanding of Thai society and
Buddhism more generally but also complement the research results of this research
project.
The following questions will inevitably become more and more relevant in Thai
Buddhism and, as a consequence of this, should be addressed and examined by
further research:
•
Will women's increasingly de-marginalized roles in Thai Buddhism change
doctrinal Buddhism that has for so long been dominated by men?
•
If yes, how, in what way and to what extent will this happen?
•
What impact will it have on Buddhist practice, religious art and symbolism?
These questions are obviously enormously important for further research projects on
Thai Buddhism.
Overall, I want to summarize that in my opinion the research project has been
extremely successful and insightful. I was able to make a high number of important
observations which have allowed me to draw a number of conclusions that either
support, complement or are in contradiction with research done previously in this
17
field. [ plan to make the outcomes of my research projects available to a wider
public in due course.
18
9. ReferenceslBibliography
9.1 Interviews conducted in Thailand during the fieldwork period
Phra Dutsadee Methangkuro on 07/0412007
Phra \\ .. Wachiramethi on 04/0412007
Bhik~uni
Niramisa on 05/04/2007
Bhikkhuni Dhammananda on 30/03/2007
Samaneri X on 24/03/2007
Sikkhamatuya Paniya on 05/04/3007
Maechi Anlll Phet-urai on 03/04/2007
Maechi Suphaphan na Bangchang on 12/04/2006 and 29/03/2007
Maechi Sansanee Sthirasuta on 19/04/2006
Ajarn Citsai Phadungrat on 08/04/2007
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20
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21
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22
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23
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27