The Story of Dharmadinna: Ordination by Messenger in the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya

Fumi Yao*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


In the Ksudrakavastu of the Mulasarvastivada Vinaya, the nun Dharmadinna is ordained not in the usual way, but rather by a messenger, a valid type of ordination listed in the various lists of types of ordination in Indian Buddhist texts. While both the story of Dharmadinna and these lists have received some scholarly attention, what has not been noted is the peculiarity of the Mulasarvastivadin tradition in relation to other existing vinayas on the issue of ordination by messenger. In this paper, I examine the story of Dharmadinna's ordination in the Ksudrakavastu with special reference to its highly narrative characteristics and its surprising lack of legal elements. Then I discuss how the above characteristics are related to the list of different types of ordination which appears in other parts of this vinaya. As Appendices, I present a comparative table of the story and its counterparts in the other vinayas and a comparative table of the lists of types of ordination found in different texts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)216-253
Number of pages38
JournalIndo-Iranian Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Jan 1
Externally publishedYes


  • avadana
  • bhiksuni
  • Dharmadinna
  • Ksudrakavastu
  • Mulasarvastivada Vinaya
  • nun
  • ordination

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Political Science and International Relations


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