Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera
A female child may prove even to be a
better offspring than a male.
position in Buddhism is unique. The Buddha gave women full freedom to
participate in a religious life. The Buddha was the first religious
Teacher who gave this religious freedom to women. Before the Buddha,
women's duties had been restricted to the kitchen; women were not even
allowed to enter any temple or to recite any religious scripture. During
the Buddha's time, women's position in society was very low. The Buddha
was criticized by the prevailing establishment when He gave this freedom
to women. His move to allow women to enter the Holy Order was extremely
radical for the times. Yet the Buddha allowed women to prove themselves
and to show that they too had the capacity like men to attain the highest
position in the religious way of life by attaining Arahantahood. Every
woman in the world must be grateful to the Buddha for showing them the
real religious way of living and for giving such freedom to them for the
first time in world history.
A good illustration of the
prevailing attitude towards women during the Buddha's time is found in
these words of Mara:
'No woman, with
the two-finger wisdom (narrow) which is hers, could ever hope to
reach those heights which are attained only by the sages.'
Undoubtedly, the Buddha
was vehement in contradicting such attitude. The nun (bhikkhuni) to whom
Mara addressed these words, gave the following reply:
'When one's mind
is well concentrated and wisdom never fails, does the fact of being a
woman make any difference?'
King Kosala was very
disappointed when he heard that his Queen had given birth to a baby girl.
He had expected a boy. To console the sad King, the Buddha said:
female child, O Lord of men, may prove
Even a better offspring than a male.
For she may grow up wise and virtuous,
Her husband's mother reverencing, true wife,
The boy that she may bear may do great deeds,
And rule great realms, yes, such a son
Of noble wife becomes his country's guide,' - (Samyutta
The Buddha has confirmed
that man is not always the only wise one; woman is also wise.
Nowadays many religionists
like to claim that their religions give women equal rights. We only have
to look at the world around us today to see the position of women in many
societies. It seems that they have no property rights, are discriminated
in various fields and generally suffer abuse in many subtle forms. Even in
western countries, women like the Suffragettes had to fight very hard for
their rights. According to Buddhism, it is not justifiable to regard women
as inferior. The Buddha Himself was born as a woman on several occasions
during His previous births in Samsara and even as a women He developed the
noble qualities and wisdom until He gained Enlightenment or Buddhahood.
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