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Religion and Theology
Pages 12 (3012 words)
Few in the modern West can imagine Buddhism without women, even though on television and in film, devout Buddhists are depicted as men. This depiction does have its origins in the mores of the time of the Buddha, 2,500 years ago. In order to have a full appreciation of the Buddhist religion for both men and women, we must look at the history of the role of women in Buddhism and the politics governing women in India and other Eastern countries where women had low ranking and were considered possessions of men from father to husband.
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. Even now in many parts of India, society practices infanticide with baby girls, who are considered to be expensive and unable to be of any use in family businesses or farms. The world was a dangerous place for unprotected women in the time of the Buddha; their fathers were their protectors until they were married, then it was their husbands. Women were viewed as objects of pleasure and servitude at best, and vile objects of temptation and seduction at worst. Women took the blame for many a man who fell off his chosen path of either worldly success or enlightenment. ...
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