Religion: Gender Inequality Essay

1574 words - 6 pages

In world religion, gender inequality has always been a great concern. This inequality did not exist based on the concepts of original religion but through cultural influence and social manipulation. The essence of Buddhism originated from a human being (known as Buddha). And Buddha is the one who achieved the highest enlightenment. Often in Buddhism concept, there was confusion about how much devotion is required to achieve the great “Enlightenment” for monk or nun. Women in the Buddhism face much more challenges to become enlightened. Throughout the essay, I will be focusing on how in Buddhist woman needs to be reborn as a man to be fully enlightened. This means this essay will examine the difficulties women face as a nun and how they are never reached “bodhisattva”. My views will be justified through Buddha’s opinion about women, women in Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism and challenges Buddhist women faced due to culture and social context.
In Buddhism enlightenment allows the mind to be free from any attachment, struggle and desire to reach purity and peace of mind. According to Buddha teachings, men and women have equal right and freedom to achieve nirvana (Rahula 37). But during Buddha’s time, women were treated as bad faith, and their whole life were devoted to their husbands and household choirs (Gutschow 199). And this was a situation due to the typical Indian values. Since, Buddha’s childhood went through similar environment that made him display some hesitation towards women being enlightened (Fisher 101). This hesitant was due to the fact that, to become enlightened (according to the definition of enlightenment) the person has to choose an ascetic life (101). For instance, when Buddha’s foster mother, Mahapajapati and his wife, Yasodhara wanted to form the nuns order, Buddha refused at first (101). Later Ananda’s advocacy in this matter made Buddha to agree on the nuns order but considering the Eight Special Rules (101). The first rule states that “a nun even of a hundred years’ standing should salute a bhikkhu [monk] and rise before him, though he had received the higher ordination that very day” (Fisher 101). In Buddha’s mind, there was still confusion between men and women equality, as this rule points out that nuns are always below the Monks. Basically, Buddha didn’t stop the women to gain spiritual and intellectual knowledge, but the rules that he enforced showed his hesitation toward women becoming spiritual leaders (Falk, Gross 156). Women would always have to obey and worship the men in Buddhism. Thus, the question arises can women achieve enlightenment in Buddhism, when they are not allowed to practice alone. Later on, these confusions were interpreted more differently in the Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism.
Few hundred years later after the death of Buddha, Buddhism was already established and the first memorized texts were written down in Pali by the monks in Sri Lanka (Fisher 104). During that period, the most...

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