Essay about Women in Buddhism

1100 Words 5 Pages
Women in Buddhism

The role of women in religion, especially Eastern religions, is a strange one. Western religions are fairly straightforward about a women's place. For example, most Western religions
(excluding the Roman Catholic Church) allow women in leadership roles within the religious community. Judaism allows women rabbis, most Christian religions allow women ministers, and even Islam, which does not allow women mullah, have had many influential female sufi's throughout Islamic history.

Women have had similar roles in Eastern religion. However, the big difference in Eastern religion is in the philosophical or scriptural attitude towards women versus the actual, "everyday role" of women.
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Hinduism is so entwined in Indian culture, as I have shown, that most other cultures have a difficult time assimilating Hinduism into their own society. Even when Hinduism is assimilated into a culture, such as Hindu movements in the
United States, women are sure to find discrimination in not only the traditional gurus and swamis who are teaching them, but sexist commentaries deeply ingrained in religious texts.

Buddhism suffers from the opposite extreme. The Buddha originally banned women from monastic practice but later reversed his decision, allowing them to practice in separate quarters.
Buddhist scriptures say very little about women, treating them as equals. In one scripture, the Visuddhi Magga, a monk asked:
"Reverend Sir, have you seen a woman pass this way?" And the elder said: Was it a woman, or a man That passed this way? I cannot tell. But this I know, a set of bones Is travelling upon this road. (Visuddhi Magga, Ch1. FROM: Coomaraswamy.)

Although this verse attempts to show the equality of women on the spiritual path, there was, and is, still sexual stereotypes similar to that found in the Bhagavad Gita.

Once Gautama responded to one of his disciples questions about women by saying: "Women are soon to be angered, Ananda; women are full of passion, Ananda; women are envious, Ananda; women are