Monks and Nuns — Mandalay

Buddhist monasticism is one of the earliest surviving forms of organized monasticism and one of the fundamental institutions of Buddhism. Monks and nuns, called bhikkhu and bhikkhuni, are responsible for the preservation and dissemination of the Buddha’s teaching and the guidance of Buddhist lay people.

Buddhism originated as a renunciant tradition, practiced by those who had departed from lay life. According to Buddhist tradition, the order of monks and nuns was founded by Gautama Buddha during his lifetime between the fifth and fourth centuries when he accepted a group of fellow renunciants as his followers.

Monks and nuns are expected to fulfill a variety of roles in the Buddhist community. First and foremost, they are expected to preserve the doctrine and discipline now known as Buddhism. They are also expected to provide a living example for the laity, and to serve as a “field of merit” for lay followers, providing laymen and women with the opportunity to earn merit by giving gifts and support to the monks. In return for the support of the laity, monks and nuns are expected to live an austere life focused on the study of Buddhist doctrine, the practice of meditation, and the observance of good moral character.