Did the Buddha Discriminate Against Women?

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    • #36046

      The following post is from TobiasG.
      – He was not able to post it. If anyone else run into the same problem, please send me an email: [email protected].

      Please see, “Bahudhātuka Sutta (MN 115)

      Here is the quote from that reference:
      “They understand: ‘It’s impossible for a woman to be a perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha.
      ‘Aṭṭhānametaṁ anavakāso yaṁ itthī arahaṁ assa sammāsambuddho, netaṁ ṭhānaṁ vijjatī’ti pajānāti;

      But it is possible for a man to be a perfected one, a fully awakened Buddha.’
      ‘ṭhānañca kho etaṁ vijjati yaṁ puriso arahaṁ assa sammāsambuddho, ṭhānametaṁ vijjatī’ti pajānāti.

      They understand: ‘It’s impossible for a woman to be a wheel-turning monarch.
      ‘Aṭṭhānametaṁ anavakāso yaṁ itthī rājā assa cakkavattī, netaṁ ṭhānaṁ vijjatī’ti pajānāti;

      But it is possible for a man to be a wheel-turning monarch.’
      ‘ṭhānañca kho etaṁ vijjati yaṁ puriso rājā assa cakkavattī, ṭhānametaṁ vijjatī’ti pajānāti.

      They understand: ‘It’s impossible for a woman to perform the role of Sakka, Māra, or Brahmā.
      ‘Aṭṭhānametaṁ anavakāso yaṁ itthī sakkattaṁ kareyya … mārattaṁ kareyya … brahmattaṁ kareyya, netaṁ ṭhānaṁ vijjatī’ti pajānāti… ”


      Question: Some people take this as the Buddha was anti-women. Also, it is said somewhere the Buddha hesitated to allow women to ordain and the Buddha Dhamma would vanish faster (within 500 years?).
      Why is it that women are seen as weaker or not as capable as men?

      Yes. The same description is there also in the Sangiti Sutta (DN 33).
      – A Buddha would not discriminate against any LIVING bEING.
      – However, all living beings do not have the same gati. They do not have the same capabilities. Thus each particular case needs to be “handled” accordingly.

      There are major and minor categories of gati.
      – Living beings are born in kama loka when they have “kama gati“; they are born in rupa/arupa loka when they transcend “kama gati“.
      – Then in the 11 realms in “kama loka” they are born according to sub-categories of “kama gati“. Those who go to extremes in “kama gati” and commit strong immoral deeds are born in the apayas, etc.

      Now, all living beings also fall into two other types of categories: “itthi gati” and “purisa gati
      – Normally those with “purisa gati” have dominant character, self-reliant, etc.
      – Those with “itthi gati” are less aggressive, depend on others to some extent, etc.

      Even though those with “itthi gati” are mostly born with female sex organs, sex in not the ultimate determination.
      – Even during a lifetime, one born with weak purisa gati may cultivate “itthi sankhara” and that can even lead to sex change during the lifetime.
      – Even rupavacara Brahmas (who don’t have sex organs) have bhava dasaka and thus fall into one of the two categories.

      Therefore, the descriptions in those suttas are correct. Even though those with itthi gati can attain Arahanthood, such Arahants are far less in number. Even during the time of the Buddha most of the prominent Arahants were males.

      Furthermore, one’s gati (and correspondingly sex in future births) can and will change.
      – In other words, just because one is a male in this life DOES NOT mean that he will stay a male forever. As gati change, female births WILL happen in the future.

    • #36047
      Tobias G

      Where is that described in the Tipitaka?
      Can the gender change during a bhava, so one jati as female, another as male?

    • #36049

      “Where is that described in the Tipitaka?”

      There may not be a direct description like that in the Tipitaka.
      – We need to understand that Tipitaka provides only the basic framework.
      – We need to make sure that anything that we derive is NOT contradictory to the Tipitaka.
      – If anyone can present contradictory evidence, we can discuss that. That is how we sort out issues like this.

      “Can the gender change during a bhava, so one jati as female, another as male?”
      – Yes. I specifically stated that above.
      – In fact, there is a direct Tipitaka reference for that. One time, a wealthy person saw a young Arahant taking a bath in a river. That Arahant had an attractive physique and immoral thoughts about that Arahant came to the mind of that person. His sex changed instantaneously. He lived the life of a woman for several years and had a couple of babies too. Later on, he met that Arahant again was able to switch back to become a male.
      – I don’t remember the Tipitaka reference. If anyone knows, please post.

    • #36056
      Tobias G

      What is the relation between attha purisa puggalā and purisa gati?

      Is “purisa” just “male”?
      “Puggala” is “a person”, right?

      Does it mean, only women with purisa gati can become sotapanna and higher?

    • #36058

      “Is “purisa” just “male”?”
      – No. That is what I stated above.

      ““Puggala” is “a person”, right?”
      – Yes. That is right.

      From those two, we can see that a “purisa puggala” is a “person with purisa gati.” That can mean “higher or dominant qualities.”
      – Then, “attha purisa puggala” means specifically the eight types of Noble Persons.
      Therefore, women who are at or above the Sotapanna Anugami belong to that category.

    • #36589
      Tobias G

      See Ja 120:

      “… Then the king had the sixty-four men bound and sent for the queen. And she confessed to having had guilty converse with the men. Then the king ordered off all the sixty-four to be beheaded.

      But at this point the Bodhisatta cried out, “Nay, sire, the men are not to blame; for they were constrained by the queen. Wherefore pardon them. And as for the queen—she is not to blame, for the passions of women are insatiate, and she does but act according to her inborn nature. Wherefore, pardon her also, O king.”

      Upon this entreaty the king was merciful, and so the Bodhisatta saved the lives of the queen and the sixty-four men, and he gave them each a place to dwell in. …

      The Bodhisatta says the queen is not to blame because she acts as per her inborn nature (asava/ditthi/gati). But that means a murderer is also not to blame because he just acts according to his gati/ditthi. It is a strange judgement from the Bodhisatta.
      Also the Bodhisatta sees all woman as insatiate.

    • #36591

      Yes. These are complex issues.

      We need to keep in mind that it was a Bodhisatta who gave that advice, not a Buddha.

      The other thing to consider is the following.
      – A society lives by certain laws. If murderers are not punished, they may commit more crimes.
      – Noble Persons LIVE BY a different set of rules. Buddha did not obey those rules for HIMSELF. He saw that Angulimala had the wisdom to attain Nibbana and interfered while the King was getting ready to send an army to catch and kill him.
      – On the other hand, Buddha did not try to interfere with the general laws of the society. It was legal to keep slaves at that time, and the Buddha did not try to change those laws. However, he freed some slaves (just by asking them to become bhikkhus) and the King did not interfere in such cases.

    • #36597
      Tobias G

      Are those jataka reliable sources?
      Are they entirely in the Tipitaka or are there more rebirth stories outside the Pali Canon?

    • #36598

      I am not sure, Tobias.

      Since that section is in the Tipitaka, there must have been a reason to include them.

      However, SOME accounts that I have seen IN TRANSLATIONS (either in English or Sinhala) seem unreal.
      But I have not tried to look at the Pali version to confirm the translations.
      – There is enough to read in the Tipitaka outside that section!

      By the way, I have also not heard Waharaka Thero mention that section except in a couple of instances. It seems that he had also not allocated any significant time to that section.

    • #36599
      Sammasambodhi Gami

      Yes, Jataka stories are part of Khuddaka Nikaya of Sutta Pitaka. So its a part of Theravada Tipitaka. It is indeed Buddhavacana. No doubt about it.

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