Bhikkhuni Dhammananda


I was born on March 26, 1970 in Ha Tinh province, Vietnam. My family name is Pham Thi Minh Hoa. I came from a non-religious background, being the sixth daughter in a family of ten children.

After the Vietnamese war, there were times of difficulty for the whole nation, especially in the poor areas like my birthplace. Being a sensitive child, I was soon aware of many unpleasant things around me caused by poverty and ignorance. That situation made me a thoughtful girl unusual for my age. Women and children in some families were treated badly, even my older sisters and my cousins were among the victims. I prayed and cried a lot without an answer from God. One night, after I was crying and praying for hours without any help, I vowed to myself that when I grew up, I would be a fairy godmother to suffering children!

At the age of thirteen, I started to question my own existence, the human predicament around me, and the existence of God. Nobody gave me a satisfactory answer. My quest for knowledge made me sacrifice everything else for books. I read a lot, however, the more I read, the more I felt confused!

Although, I lived in difficult conditions, I did very well at school, and that earned me respect and affection among my classmates, and trust and credit from my parents and my teachers. My parents, elder sister and elder brother tried their best to give me a good education. I always feel grateful to them.

In 1987, I completed high school, and then, entered an educational college in Nha Trang, a small city 1000 km away from my home. There, I got to know about Buddhism and was inspired to be a Buddhist nun with the idea that as a nun I could help other women and children much better than as an ordinary teacher.

In 1994, my dream was realized, and I was ordained as a novice in a Buddhist nunnery with the consent of my parents. There, I taught five orphans and helped many abandoned old women with the guidance of my Bhikkhuni teacher and the help of some Buddhists in the area ( Vinh City, Vietnam).

In January1997, I left Vinh City for Ho Chi Minh City in order to join a Buddhist College. In Ho Chi Minh City, I learned Buddhist philosophy with Bhikkhu Vien Minh, and I learned Pali and Buddhist meditation with Bhikkhu Dhammarakkhita who had spent over 20 years in Thailand, as a student of Ajahn Net.

In December 1998 I was sent to Myanmar to join the International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University in Yangon. I got a Diploma and a Degree in Buddha-Dhamma at this University. In Myanmar , we had many very good opportunities to learn and practice samatha and vipassana meditation with experienced meditation masters.

In February 2003 I came to Sri Lanka to join the Master of Arts course in the Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies at the University of Kaleniya (PGIPB). I passed the final examination with distinctions, and I received a scholarship for my Master of Philosophy course at the same Institute. At the moment, I am a Ph.D. candidate at the same university (PGIPB).

It was during the years that I was a research student that a massive disaster hit Sri Lanka known as the Tsunami of December 26, 2004 . Moved by the suffering of many thousands of people, I participated in Tsunami relief with financial aid from the Vietnamese-American Sangha. We built houses for displaced families and built schools for children in Tsunami affected areas.

May all suffering beings be free from suffering. May all grief-stricken beings be free from grief. May all fearful beings be free from fear. May all beings be well and happy!