a nun for nine years and worked as a secretary and translator before that. She
has two children but divorced her husband to fulfill a vow of celibacy. Varanggana
and Chatsumarn were not available for comment on Monday.
Chatsumarns ordination and her temple are not recognized by the Sangha Council, as the official Buddhist clergy is known, or by the governments Religious Affairs Department. However, there is little that they can do to prevent Chatsumarn from following and practicing Buddhist precepts.
Suthiwong Tantayapisalsuth, deputy chief of the Religious Affairs Department, said Monday that Varanggana will not be recognized as a monk by the department. But he admitted that the ordination and the departments refusal to recognize it has exposed a conflict: While the Constitution prohibits religious or gender discrimination, a law on clergy states that a lay person who dresses as a monk will face a two-month jail term.
Women can be ordained as monks in Sri Lanka, Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and South Korea, with most of these countries dominated by the Mahayana school of Buddhism. Female ordination is not practiced in Japan, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.