Ayyā Medhānandī Bhikkhunī, is the founder and guiding teacher of Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage, a forest monastery for women in the Theravāda tradition. The daughter of Eastern European refugees who emigrated to Montreal after World War II, she began a spiritual quest in childhood that led her to India, Burma, England, New Zealand, Malaysia, Taiwan, and finally, back to Canada.
In 1988, at the Yangon Mahasi retreat centre in Burma, Ayyā requested full ordination as a bhikkhunī from her teacher, the Venerable Sayādaw U Pandita. This was not yet possible for Theravāda Buddhist women. Instead, Sayādaw granted her ordination as a ten precept nun on condition that she keep her vows for life. When a military coup closed Myanmar’s border, Sayādaw blessed her to join the Ajahn Chah Thai Forest Saņgha at Amaravati, UK. Ten years later. Ayyā felt called to practice as a hermit nun in New Zealand for 6 years and later in SE Asia.
In 2007, after nearly 20 years as a novice alms-mendicant nun, Ayyā fulfilled her long-held wish for full bhikkhunī ordination at Ling Quan Chan Monastery in Keelung, Taiwan. In 2008, on invitation from the Ottawa Buddhist Society and Toronto Theravāda Buddhist Community, Ayyā returned to her native Canada to establish Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage.
Ayyā Nimmalā Bhikkhunī, a native Canadian, began her journey into Buddhist monasticism by serving as a steward first at Birken Forest Monastery and later at Tisarana Buddhist Monastery where she was guided by dedicated teachers including Ajahn Viradhammo, Ajahn Sona and Ajahn Kusalo.
Ayyā Nimmalā deepened her commitment to the monastic life in 2010, when she took the 10-precept sāmaņerī ordination with Ayyā Medhānandī as her ācarinī (teacher); and, in 2011, she received full ordination along with Ayyās Ānandabodhī and Santacittā of Aloka Vihāra. Their bhikkhunī upasamapda ordination was performed at Spirit Rock, California by a dual Theravāda Sangha of bhikkhus and bhikkhunīs lead by Ayyā Tathālokā Mahatherī, acting as pavattinī (preceptor).
Ayyā Nimmalā worked with Ayyā Tathālokā to co-edit the 3rd edition of the Pāli-English Bhikkhunī Pātimokkha booklet, printed in 2016 for distribution to the Bhikkhunī Sangha worldwide.
Ayyā Anuruddhā, of the United Kingdom, joined the Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage community in May, 2014. After her initial year as a postulant (anagārikā), she began her life as an alms mendicant nun in a sāmaņerī ordination ceremony held on September 13, 2014 with Ayyā Medhānandī as her ācarinī (teacher).
On Dec. 3, 2017, her higher ordination was conducted by a dual Sangha of bhikkhus and bhikkhunīs at Dhammadharini Monastery, in Penngrove, California, with Ayyā Tathālokā as preceptor. That day was also the Uduvapa Poya full moon, honouring Arahant Saņghamittā Therī who established the Bhikkhunī Sangha in the 3rd century B.C. in Sri Lanka.
Anuruddha – ‘one who is in harmony’ – was the name of a beloved cousin of the Buddha, one of his chief disciples renowned for his penetrating Dhamma vision, skillfulness, devotion and noble qualities of heart.
Anagārikā Kusalā, a native of Canada, joined the Sati Sārāņīya Hermitage community as a steward in the summer of 2018. Originally from Edmonton, she lived in Vancouver for many years where she met Ayyā Nimmalā and joined her support network there.
She served for one year as a steward at Birken Forest Monastery and for short periods at Dhammadharini Monastery and Aranya Bodhi Hermitage in Northern California in 2016-17.
On Nov. 25, 2018. with shaved head and wearing the white robes, she undertook the eight precept anagārikā training at Sati Saraniya Hermitage with Ayyā Medhānandī as her teacher.