Legends around Shakamuni Buddha abound; one of them tells of the death of his mother, Maya when Shakamuni was an infant. His aunt, Prajapati, took over the raising of him and later asked to join his sangha. She was refused. It was only after Shakamuni’s cousin Ananda has requested three times that Prajapati amd her 500 followers were allowed to practice Buddhism outside of the home, as nuns. Legends around Shakamuni Buddha abound; one of them tells of the death of his mother, Maya when Shakamuni was an infant. His aunt, Prajapati, took over the raising of him and later asked to join his sangha. She was refused. It was only after Shakamuni’s cousin Ananda has requested three times that Prajapati amd her 500 followers were allowed to practice Buddhism outside of the home, as nuns. This story has been denied as even existing by some scholars, who justify their denial by pointing out that it was invented to restore societal norms after the death of the Buddha Much debate has been engaged over this story, citing Buddhism as sexist from the very beginning. But let us look at the society of the times, for it is society that inspires and also creates rules and mores and acts as the impetus behind changing laws and constitutional amendments in every country. Firstly, Indian society was (and still is, in many places) a khast system which follows strict social mores concerning one’s circumstances of birth, familial status and gender. ...
A woman conducting the same practice was subject to rape, robbery, and other heinous crimes against women, which still occur today.
Scholars state that it is very likely that Shakamuni refused to let his beloved aunt and caretaker be an active nun due to the dangers to women who were emancipated during his time. Since the Buddhist faith is centered on compassion and enlightenment attainable by anyone who can adhere to the practices and guidelines, it is more likely that Shakamuni was attempting to protect women rather than subdue them.3
It also makes sense that in his compassion, the Buddha placed nuns under the Eight Strict Rules and under the subordinance of the monks in order to preserve his teachings by not driving Indian society into anarchy by giving women too much freedom too soon. This certainly would have been the wisdom of one so enlightened, knowing the impermanence of the world and knowing that with time and changes to society through continued enlightenment, the rules could be relaxed. He never said that women could not achieve enlightenment just as men could; in fact he said the opposite: " 'Straight' is the name that Road is called, and 'Free From Fear' the Quarter whither thou art bound. Thy Chariot is the 'Silent Runner' named, With Wheels of Righteous Effort fitted well. Conscience the Leaning-board; the Drapery Is Heedfulness; the Driver is the Dharma, I say, and Right Views, they that run before. And be it woman, or be it man for whom Such a chariot doth wait, by that same car into Nirvana's presence shall they come."4
As to the eight rules, they are basically thus:
1. A bhikkuni (nun), even if in the order for 100