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The Role Of Women In Buddhism: History, Anthropology And Feminism (Essay Sample)


The Role of women in Buddhism


Student’s Name
Women in Buddhism
Mahinda Thera introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka and in India, a time when women were considered as relatively weaker and less significant (Leslie 110). In Buddhism, women played major roles in society and would preside over secular and religious functions. During the pre-Buddhist period, women were accorded an inferior position (Paranavitana 304-308). The Indian society was just like the other societies in the world that were very radical, with women treated as less important compared to men. Regardless of whether they were young or old, women were not allowed to carry out tasks independently even in their houses. As a child, a girl was subject to her father, as a woman she was subject to her husband, when he died, she became subject to her sons, thus, never becoming independent in her whole life. Besides, women were prohibited to perform the religious rights and were denied the knowledge of the Vedas (Leslie 110-112).
In Buddha’s time, women were treated better compared to the pre-Buddha’s period but did not get a spiritual accord. Men still dominated, as it was with the male’s principle known as Purusha (Contursi 42). The principle justified the women’s general exclusion from the social and spiritual activity. In contrast to the attitude that reserved male’s achievement in spirituality, Buddha proclaimed a universal message. The message was for the general good of humanity without exception in caste, race or sex. Buddha was regarded as a teacher of gods and human and not as a teacher of men alone, and his teachings were said to lead all people to liberation.
The attitude change towards women, which was brought about during Buddhism, should be appreciated and people must remember it is not only Buddha that brought about the change but also the Jains (Pruthi & Bela 43). Jainism had a more enlightened attitude towards women as they conceded a possible s

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