What Is a Buddhist Priest Called?

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A Buddhist monk is known as a Bhikkhu, if male, or a Bhikkhuni, if female. A devotee must be at least 20 years old to be ordained, but can become a novice (known as a samanera or samaneri) earlier.

Buddhist monks live a strict and simple life with the aim of attaining Nirvana, a meditative state of peace only achievable once a person overcomes all sense of craving and suffering. To do this, monks live under a stringent framework of rules known as the Vinaya. A Bhikkhu who breaks any of these rules must submit to the appropriate punishment, which, in the case of the four Parajika rules, means expulsion and permanent rejection from the Buddhist order.