The Nuns Community

The community of nuns began in 1979 when four Western women became interested in the monastic lifestyle and were given the Anagārikā ordination (Eight Precept Nuns) at Chithurst Monastery. For the first five years, they lived in a cottage located on the edge of Chithurst forest, about ten minutes walk from the monastery main house.

In 1983, with the permission of the Elders in Thailand, the first four anagarikas were given the opportunity to take the Ten Precepts ordination at Chithurst with Ajahn Sumedho as preceptor. Then in 1984 when the nuns cottage was no longer able to accommodate the increasing number of women interested in leading a monastic lifestyle, the whole nuns community – by then five Sīladhārā and three Anagārikā- moved to Amaravati Monastery in 1984. Some years later, a small group of nuns returned to Chithurst Monastery to establish a second community of Sīladhārā there.

The nuns live a contemplative, celibate, mendicant life following the Siladhara monastic discipline which is established according to the Dhamma-Vinaya (the teaching of the Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis, the Buddha’s original mendicants order).The community also consists of Anagārikas, or white robed novices on the Eight precepts, who after two years may be given Siladhara ordination.

Recently a nuns’ hermitage, Milntuim, has been established in Scotland near Perth. Currently, the Order of Siladhara consists of 10 Siladhara and 2 anagarika residing at Amaravati, Milntuim and Chithurst Buddhist Monastery.

Ajahn Sundara

Ajahn Sundara was born in France in 1946. She studied dance in England and in France. In her early thirties, after working for a few years as a dancer and teacher of contemporary dance, she had the opportunity whilst living and studying in England to attend a talk and later, a retreat led by Ajahn Sumedho.

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Ajahn Candasiri

Ajahn Candasiri was born in Scotland in 1947 and was brought up as a Christian. After university, she trained and worked as an occupational therapist, mainly in the field of mental illness. In 1977, an interest in meditation led her to meet Ajahn Sumedho, shortly after his arrival from Thailand. Inspired by his teachings and example, she began her monastic training at Chithurst as one of the first four Anagārikā.

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Ajahn Metta

Ajahn Metta was born 1953 in Germany. She became an Anagārikā in ‘93 at Amaravati and took higher ordination as a Sīladharā in ‘96. During her monastic life she has been involved in many areas of the community. She is one of the group of senior nuns leading the Sīladharā community. For the past few years she has been teaching meditation workshops and retreats. Prior to monastic life she worked as a secretary and office assistant. She is a mother of a grown-up son and was living a family life before entering the monastic path. She has been practising meditation since ‘84 and has experience of living in other spiritual communities in Europe and Thailand (Wat Suan Mokkh).

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Ajahn Bodhipala

Ajahn Bodhipala was born in South-East Asia in 1940, married, has three children and five grandchildren.  She was ordained as Anagārikā in 1998 and as Sīladharā  in 1999.  Venerable Ajahn Sumedho was her Preceptor.

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Ajahn Cittapala

Ajahn Cittapala (Jutta Richter) was born in Germany in 1949. She worked for nearly 20 years as a teacher and artist in Hamburg. In 1990/91 she went to Indonesia to study awareness movement - a practice which connected her more and more with the Buddhist teachings. In 1994, overcoming her resistance to visit a monastery, she did a retreat with LP Sumedho at the Retreat Centre. His teachings of “the way it is” were so supportive that she felt drawn to Amaravati, where she has been living since 1996. In 1999, she asked for Sīladharā ordination.

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Sister Brahmavara

Sister Brahmavara (Susan Pritchard) was born 6 August 1964 in Reading, England. She studied medicine at Sheffield University, trained as a doctor in Auckland, New Zealand and worked as a GP in Shropshire. She started meditating while she was a medical student under the guidance of SN Goenka and spent a few years in India at Goenka centres, studying Pali, sitting and serving on retreats. She came to live at Amaravati in October 2000 as a retreat centre manager but soon after arriving requested anagārikā ordination. She ordained as a sīladharā in October 2004.

Sister Tisara

Sister Tisārā (Miriam Dean) was born in England in 1967, growing up in Belgium. She encountered the Buddha’s teachings in 2002, notably through Bhante Bodhidhamma who was her meditation guide from 2003-2005. A heart wish to live as a monastic came about at this time, so in 2005 she left work and life in London to find a place of practice. Events brought her to the community of Sīladharā in the UK, taking Anagārikā precepts in Nov 2006, then Sīladharā Pabbaja in March 2010.

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