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There are very few teachings that are only mentioned once. Ven. Enjoy! If we look at history, the Buddha was correct (if he did say that). There was no Vinaya Pitaka. Today there are several hundred fully ordained bhikkhunis, just as the Buddha allowed for and wished for. . Do not believe in something a teacher tells you to. Virtually no one claims that women cannot attain enlightenment in Buddhism. AFP. The Buddhist nun challenging misogyny in Myanmar. In his monastic order, he went a step further: there were no nuns. Since the Buddha always considered the context of his audience and what they were ready for it is highly likely that he wanted to gradually phase out the sexist policies, as the people were ready for it. These are the core obsessions that drive our newsroom—defining topics of seismic importance to the global economy. In Theravada lands the nun's lineage died out around the turn of the first millennium and traditionalists do not believe that it can or should be revived because there are no nuns to ordain new nuns. Some of the items on this list of 32 marks of a great man include a lion's chest, a jaw like a lion, a tongue that is so long that it can reach the forehead and both ear holes, 40 teeth, and a penis encased in a sheath. In the story of Sundarasammudha, who leaves his wife to become a monk, the wife approaches the husband and tells him, in what is an allusion to the, The texts repeatedly describe celibate monks as embodiments of, Sangamaji left his wife and son to become a monk. The Buddha responded, "There are not only one hundred . The complete silence on the subject of misogyny so firmly entrenched in the Buddhist scriptures, and traced to the Buddha, is quite remarkable. Help yourself, accept as completely true only that which you test for yourself and know to be good for yourself and others.” Anguttara Nikaya 3.65 Kalama Sutta, “After I am gone, the Sangha, if it wants, may abolish the lesser and minor training rules.”  Digha Nikaya 16, “Birth makes no Brahmin, nor non-Brahmin, makes; it is life’s doing that mold the Brahmin true. It... 2. “It is better for you to have put your manhood in the mouth of a venomous snake or a pit of burning charcoal than a woman.”, “Of all the scents that can enslave, none is more lethal than that of a woman.”. People defined their world in terms of their 500-mile radius. There is Buddhism after Patriarchy by Rita Gross and Bull of a Man’ by John Powers, for example. But it still makes a point that only men can have this title and this is still a subtle form of sexism which can be used to discriminate in other ways. This happened 2,600 years ago. There was no Vinaya Pitaka. There were more rules for nuns than the rules for monks, but they primarily dealt with the protection of the nuns. The introduction to the Dhamma Wiki's Buddhism and Misogyny article says, Nevertheless, there are some non-Buddhists and even some Buddhists that contend that the Buddha was misogynistic. Buddhism is the most egalitarian, non-misogynistic of all the major world religions. It is frankly impossible that these attitudes should simply disappear from Buddhist culture, which prides itself on its continuity with tradition. Hinduism is patriarchal. . Significantly Buddhaghosa lived around the same time as St Augustine of Hippo came forth with his anti-sex and anti-women trope in the Catholic Church. The Buddhist nun challenging misogyny in Myanmar. As people progressed, at a later date the ordination would be better. In Hinayana Buddhism, the “Low Vehicle”, the “sacrifice of the feminine” is carried out with the help of meditation. Because the list is that of a great “man” and includes the penis encased in a sheath, it obviously excludes women. Buddhist writings belonging to the same period approximately are full of misogynistic themes. There are rules that refer to bestiality. Dr. Analayo pointed out an obvious timeline discrepancy that amazingly has gone undetected until now. We can insist that Vedas and only the Vedas, are the source of misogyny. But anyone with a little common sense can see these mythological claims are designed to elevate the status of religious leaders by making them sound super human. 4 min. Advertise Here for only $299 mo. Buddhism is the only major religion to have scriptures written or composed by women; the Therigatha and the Itivuttaka. Ketumala's battle for recognition and respect for nuns in Buddhism runs parallel to the broader challenge for women's rights in modern Myanmar. A true monk, for whom “female sexuality is like the flapping wings of a gnat before a mountain” is a, Buddha makes his half-brother Nanda join the monastic order but Nanda is engaged to marry the most beautiful woman in the land and pines for her. The third type of buddha is a samma-sam-buddha, which is a special buddha which comes around only once every 5,000 to 15,000 years or even longer to teach the Dhamma when the Dhamma has died out from the world. Considering the historical and logical problems already shown in the eight heavy rules, these are the first that must be let go. In 1996 through the efforts of Sakyadhita, an International Buddhist Women Association, the bhikkhuni line was revived. Majjhima Nikaya 98, Vasettha Sutta 57-59, “There are two ways a person slanders the Buddha; He who explains a discourse whose meaning needs to be inferred as one whose meaning has already been fully drawn out. The myth of misogynistic suttas is easily dispelled when you look at the context of the teachings. The 40-year-old walked away from traditional expectations of marriage and children as a teenager, and has instead spent more than two decades as a fierce advocate for the importance of women in religion. ; and He who explains a discourse whose meaning has already been fully drawn out as one whose meaning needs to be inferred.” (Shows that the Buddha did not support literalism, at least not in all cases.) At this time there were no monasteries as such, monks lived in the forest or in parks on the outskirts of towns and cities. These codes were compiled orally and narrated by Upali (a barber before he became one of Buddha’s 10 chief disciples) in the first Buddhist council, a year after Buddha’s death. Bhikkhu Dr. Analayo, a scholar monk has been a strong advocate for bhikkhuni ordination and in his research feels that the Buddha was misrepresented in the texts about being reluctant to ordain women. By birth is not one a Brahmin. So are Christianity and Islam, Sikhism and Shinto, Jainism and Judaism. He was credited, and later chastised by the First Council, for advocating for the ordination of the Buddha's maternal aunt and stepmother, Mahapajapati. In a society where a popular saying urges women to "regard her son as her master and her husband as her god", Buddhist nun Ketumala is already an outlier. It involves the deeply held belief that Ananda played an instrumental role in the founding of the bhikkhuni sangha. She first requested ordination five years after Buddha's enlightenment; but Ananda, who requested Buddha on her behalf, first ordained only twenty years after Buddha's enlightenment. They abandoned Buddhism, but fortunately, the teachings did survive in Sri Lanka and other Southeast Asian nations and then the Mahayana spread to Tibet, China, and the rest of Asia. Dipa Ma was an amazing woman who mastered all the Jhanas and taught Vipassana from her humble small home in India. The Buddhist nun challenging misogyny in Myanmar . Dhammadinna). As it is, this turned out not to be the case. Since misogyny is found in almost all cultures, it’s also present in Buddhism. The Jātaka stories, and other forms of popular Buddhist literature, are replete with misogyny. Dr. Kusuma are fully ordained bhikkhunis, both with a Ph.D. and are continuing in Sri Lanka and Thailand where Ayya Khema left off and have written on the subject of women's status. Kick off each morning with coffee and the Daily Brief (BYO coffee). Advertising. If you see the list of these so-called great marks, you will see that they are truly mythological and completely legendary; certainly nothing to be taken seriously or to justify sexism. Ketumala’s battle for recognition and respect for nuns in Buddhism runs parallel to the broader challenge for women’s rights in modern Myanmar. He asked if women had the same spiritual potential as men and the Buddha replied, “Having gone forth from home into homelessness in the Dhamma and discipline women are able to realize all the states leading to enlightenment and enlightenment itself." 6 of the 8 heavy rules). Female hermaphrodites, women who dress like men, or those of deviant sexuality or simply those who do not look like women and are “man-like” women cannot be ordained as nuns. Ketumala's battle for recognition and respect for nuns in Buddhism runs parallel to the broader challenge for women's rights in modern Myanmar. For example, a nun was raped when walking through a forest by herself. In a conversation with Kassappa, Bakulla says that in 80 years he has not only not had sex, he has not even entertained thoughts of women, or seen them, or spoken to them. . Another criticism is that the Buddha is said to have remarked that the teachings (Buddhism) would only last 500 years because he agreed to ordain women. Dr. Dhammananda (C. Kabilsingh) and Ven. For the Modern Theravadins, nearly all of these issues are moot, because the seemingly misogynistic issues above are from the later writings and commentaries. Considering that Mahaprajapati, as Buddha's maternal aunt, raised him after his mother's death, she would have been about eighty years old when Ananda was senior enough to make the request.". Abandoning sex, which effectively means abandoning women, for a “higher” purpose—be it enlightenment or spirituality or service to the nation—has since become a popular model, embraced by religious sects, as well political organisations such as the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. Another possibility is that only a male can be a samma-sam-buddha because in a male-dominated society, a female will not be accepted as a savior type of teacher and then the teachings will not be renewed and followed. It was the later Svetembara sect of Jainism which stated that women could attain enlightenment. We can trace, at least one major tributary of this idea, to the Vinaya Pitaka of the Buddha, who abandoned his wife, without her consent. News Desk Agence France-Presse Yangon, Myanmar / Thu, September 3, 2020 / 01:15 pm . This is keeping in line with the Buddha's intentions for an Order of monks and an Order of nuns. When this is revealed, the Buddha admonishes him thus: “It is better for you to have put your manhood in the mouth of a venomous snake or a pit of burning charcoal than a woman.”, In one conversation, the Buddha states, “Of all the scents that can enslave, none is more lethal than that of a woman. Buddhism is the only major religion to have scriptures written or composed by women; the Therigatha and the Itivuttaka. This post first appeared on Scroll.in. These are some of our most ambitious editorial projects. This was before the Buddha's enlightenment, before Buddhism, and before the Buddha's first teachings. The “sacrifice of the feminine principle” is from the outset a fundamental event in the teachings of Buddha . The Buddhist nun challenging misogyny in Myanmar In a society where a popular saying urges women to “regard her son as her master and her husband as her god,” Buddhist nun Ketumala is already an outlier. Arguments of oral traditions and astrology-based dating that place Ram to pre-Buddhist times appeal only to nationalists, not historians. Do not believe in something because the authorities say it is so. However, the nuns’ lineage continues in most Mahayana countries, and, in places like Taiwan, nuns are a dynamic and respected presence within the Buddhist community. Tantric Buddhism or Vajrayana in Sanskrit (meaning “Thunderbolt” or “diamond vehicle”) is a complex and understudied part of the Buddhist tradition that is of considerable importance to the history of Buddhism and Indo-Tibetan cultural relations. Initially, none of these strictures were codified. Ketumala’s battle for recognition and respect for nuns in Buddhism runs parallel to the broader challenge for women’s rights in modern Myanmar. A woman, like a man can attain to the same level as the founder of the religion of Buddhism and become fully enlightened, an Arahant. Our emails are made to shine in your inbox, with something fresh every morning, afternoon, and weekend. It has been glamorised and valorised as the ultimate indicator of masculinity and purity. The deep-red robes and shorn heads of Myanmar's monks are internationally recognised, but the plight of the nation's vast number of nuns, estimated to be in excess of 60,000, is little documented. Do not believe in something believing a god has inspired it. Of all the voices that can enslave, none is more lethal than that of a woman. Do not believe in something because a scripture says it is so. Aung San Suu Kyi might be the face of the nation, but her role at the apex of the civilian government belies the lack of female representation in positions of power in … Valorised as the ultimate indicator of masculinity and purity to shine in your inbox, with concern... Were talking of misogynistic suttas is easily dispelled when you look at context. With folk believes ’ s also present in Buddhism runs parallel to the Quartz Privacy.. We look at the complete context of the nuns not to be a samma-sam-buddha to attain enlightenment,,! 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