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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 Professor Course Date 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 the 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 spiritual liberation to a woman as compared to Buddhism who saw that a woman could maybe become a man. Some of the Jain sects but not all allowed the women to participate in the religious orders. Buddhism does not identify itself with any particular sex despite leader being a man. The religion is about the universal law that existed in among the Buddha’s differently and not about the personality of an individual. The Buddhist’s teachings about rebirth say that gender of an individual can be changed hence there is no concept of male and female, only a single karmic stream (Leslie 111). This doctrine has affected the current society where people are changing their sexualities. The followers of Buddha especially the women, grasped the rule that, the Dhamma was neutral irrespective of the gender of people following its orders (Paranavitana 307). The female gender in India finally started getting liberation, and with time, they were treated equally just like their male counterparts. The women in the other societies, for example, Christians, Muslims, and Hindus al...
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