Changing The Cloth: The Process To Become A Monk In Sri Lanka

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A lay person named Chathuranga came to the International Institute of Theravāda looking to ordain in November, 2022. He is now a sāmaṇera (novice monk) and not yet a fully ordained bhikkhu. I thought that it would be interesting to show his path to monkhood to you.

Stage 1: Regular Person

First he was a regular lay person working as a construction assistant engineer in the Maldives and then made the transition to a devoted layperson. Here you can see he is more serious about Buddhism and cleaning an ancient Buddhist shrine.

Stage 2: Upāsako

After getting more into Buddhism and wanting to make the transition to a full time yogi, he came to the monastery and started wearing white clothes. He is called an upāsako. Such factors of an upāsako are listed below.

        ▪ definitions for upāsaka,
            • Upāsaka→takes refuge in Buddha Dhamma Saṅgha is enough to call him an upāsaka. 
            • He is associated with the Triple Gem.
            • 8 qualities given in sutta p49
                ◦ does the upāsaka have faith in sāsana and also establishes other s in the benefit of faith
                    ▪ take care of self and also others
                ◦ He has sīla and establishes other in sīla
                ◦ He is generous
                ◦ He is pleased to see bhikkhus
                ◦ He is pleased to hear dhamma
                ◦ He is absorbed the dhamma and help others 
                ◦ He practices dhamma
        ▪ Who is upāsaka (ko upāsako)
            • if someone go for refuge in Buddha Dhamma sangha, he is called "bho upāsaka"
                ◦ He should have 5 precepts
                    ▪ sometimes 8 9 10 precepts
                ◦ has right livelihood

Here you can see him dressed in white clothes as an Upāsako

Stage 3: Paṇḍupalāsa (old leaf ready to fall)

Chathuranga came to the monastery on November 10th, 2022 and he went to the 2nd stage called paṇḍupalāsa on near the first of June, 2023. He spent 2 weeks wearing red clothes which were given to him by the chief monk. This is to represent a leaf that gets old and falls from a tree. In the next stage you can see him in red clothes, but not yet a monk. However, he has 10 precepts similar to a novice monk.

Stage 4: Taking Sāmaṇera Robes

Lastly, after two weeks in red, he can finally enter the novice monk stage. His name is Reverend Paññāsekara.

Here he is sāmaṇera Paññāsekara

On June 18th, 2023, Chathuranga became a sāmaṇera. Next year, again on June 18th, 2024, he will become a fully ordained bhikkhu. All monks from this tradition take the full bhikkhu ordination during the 3 day ordination period starting on June 18th annually. I’ll probably update this post and send this post again to the subscribers. However, he will look pretty much the same. He follows the ten precepts. I have an article which explains the 5, 8 and 10 precepts. I hope you can read it below as well. Be sure to subscribe to get the latest post notifications delivered to your email. I hope you enjoyed this and may you one day become a monk as well.

3 thoughts on “Changing The Cloth: The Process To Become A Monk In Sri Lanka”

  1. Min Khant Kyaw Swa

    Hello Bhante,
    I want to ordain one day at the Pa Auk Meditation center in Myanmar. I thought about meditating as a lay person first and then slowly transitioning into an ordained life. I was wondering if the paṇḍupalāsa stage is also practiced in Myanmar or only in Sri Lanka.

    Sadhu Sadhu Sadhu

    1. In Myanmar they often go directly to bhikkhu if the person is older. Paauk usually has a yogi samanera stage before, but not so long. You would have to arrange with the teacher . It is usually not done at paauk, but I don’t see why they would not do it. You are still a lay person. They don’t take care of you in Myanmar like Sri Lankan. So you need to find a sponsor .

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