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Ayya Gunasari

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Gunasari

Venerable Gunasari Bhikkhuni Theri was born in Myanmar in 1932 and after becoming a physician, immigrated to the United States to work in medicine with her husband in 1961, forty-five years ago. After raising five children, she started her meditation in the late seventies under the tutorship of the late Taungpulu Sayadaw, the late Sayadaw U Silananda and Sayadaw U Pandita.

Over nearly 30 years, through many retreats with these teachers, she has developed the practice of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness and Vipassana Meditation as taught by them.

In 2002, then a grandmother, she entered into monastic life as a samaneri (female novice) at the age of 70 at Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara in Los Angeles, ordained by Venerable Bhante Pannyaloka Mahathera and Ven. Dr. Walpola Piyananda Nayaka Maha Thera, Chief Sangha Nayaka Thero of the Sri Lankan Sangha in North America.

In the year 2003, Ven. Gunasari Bhikkhuni Theri and Saccavadi Bhikkhuni (who returned to lay life in 2005) became the first two Burmese women in the modern era to recieve the upasampada (higher ordination) as bhikkhunis (in Burmese: rahan-ma, lit. female monks). The ordinations took place in Sri Lanka in accordance with the Theravadan tradition via dual ordination by Venerable Dhammaloka Nayaka Thera of the Amarapura Sect in Sri Lanka.

Following higher ordination, Ven. Gunasari Bhikkhuni Theri returned to the United States where she has been actively involved in organizing Vipassana Meditation retreats and Youth Dhamma classes at Thanti Thitsar Vipassana Meditation Center in Riverside, Southern California. In 2006, she was awarded as an Outstanding Woman in Buddhism on International Women’s Day at the United Nations in Bangkok. In 2007, called for by HH the Dalai Lama, she participated as a Speaker at the First Global Congress in Buddhist Women in Hamburg, Germany.

In 2008 Ven. Gunasari Bhikkhuni Theri was invited to become abbess of Mahapajapati Monastery in Yucca Valley, California, where she currently resides. Mahapajapati Monastery is a permanent residence for monastic women wishing to practice and train in Dhamma-Vinaya as taught by the Theravada tradition.

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