Venerable Dhammananda

Visiting Teacher

Venerable Dhammananda changed the landscape of her native Thailand by becoming the first woman to receive full ordination in the Theravada Buddhist tradition as a bhikkhuni (female monastic). Ordained in Sri Lanka in 2001, she faced enormous ridicule and opposition when she returned home. In 2019 the BBC named her to its list of 100 of the most influential women in the world because of her tireless work to re-establish the Theravada female monastic lineage in Asia. In November of 2014 she was appointed the first Thai Pavattini (bhikkhuni teacher) by Most Venerable Mahindavamsa Maha Nayaka of the Ampura sect in Sri Lanka. In 2004 she received the UN Outstanding Buddhist Woman award, and in 2005 she was one of one thousand “Peace Women” to be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. She is a wise Buddhist scholar, and a social and environmentalist activist. 

Formerly known by her lay name, Dr. Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, received her BA in Philosophy from Visva Bharati University located in West Bengal, India, her master’s degree in Religious Studies from McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, and her PhD in Buddhism from Magadh University in Bodh Gaya, India. She was a professor of Buddhism and Eastern Philosophy at Thammasat University in Bangkok for twenty-seven years. She has authored more than 100 books including several written in English. Her most popular book in English is Thai Women in Buddhism published by Parallax Press in 1991. She has translated 27 books on Tibetan Buddhism including Freedom in Exile, H.H. the Dalai Lama. Among her most important works is the first Thai translation of the Lotus Sutra. As Abbess of Songdhammakalyani Temple, an all-female monastery founded by her mother more than sixty years ago, she devotes her life to educating and training women. The temple is located about 60 kilometers west of Bangkok in the city of Nakon Pathom.