Women in Buddhism

The Buddha himself admitted women to the order, after the logic was presented to him by Ananda:

“Lord, are women capable, after going forth from the home unto the homeless life under the Norm-Discipline set forth by the Tathagata, — are they capable of realizing the Fruit of Stream-winning, of Once-returning, of Never-returning, of Arahantship?”
And the Buddha’s reply to that question,
“Women are capable … of doing so, Ananda.”
[drg_link link=https://buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/3322/can-the-buddha-ever-be-a-woman title=”go to discussion at Buddhism.Stackexchange.com”]from the Pali Canon, quoted in Buddhism.Stackexchange.com[/drg_link]

There are many stories in the Dhammapada about women in the enlightened state.

However, the gender of “woman” has held and still holds a different, mostly lower, position in the different Buddhist traditions. The details are usually related to the culture of the surrounding society.

Women in Buddhism

Teachers and enlightened beings of the feminine persuasion — historical and otherwise.

  • [drg_link link=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahapajapati_Gotami]Mahapajapati Gotami[/drg_link] [Gautama Buddha, ~600 BCE] the first bhikkhuni
  • [drg_link link=http://www.bengerstein.com/motoko-ikebe.html title=”go to words by Motoko Ikebe at Bengerstein.com”]Motoko Ikebe[/drg_link] [Zen, 1900-1989]. meditator and teacher
    Also available: from our server as [drg_link link=https://media.kowthamcenter.org/books/Just_Sit-Motoko_Ikebe-arthur_braverman-bengerstein_com.pdf xclass=”dllink pdf” title=”download as .pdf file”]PDF[/drg_link] on usb drive after retreat
    “Truly, just sit … That’s all there is.”
    [drg_link link=https://buddhismnow.com/2013/08/31/motoko-ikebe-by-arthur-braverman/ title=”go to article about Motoko Ikebe by Arthur Braverman at BuddhismNow.com”]About[/drg_link] with many quotes.
  • [drg_link link=https://buddhismnow.com/2009/11/10/pat-wilkinson-one-of-the-earliest-western-buddhist-nuns/ title=”go to article on Pat Wilkinson at BuddhismNow.com”]Pat Wilkinson[/drg_link] [Thai Theravada, 1900s] one of the earliest Western Buddhist nuns.
  • [drg_link link=https://www.sdsweb.org/new/about_us title=”go to Sansanee Sthirasuta at Sathira-Dhammasathan Center, at SDSWeb.org”]Sansanee Sthirasuta[/drg_link], Ven. Mae Chee [Thai Theravada, 1900s-present] founder and Director of [drg_link link=https://sasithornp.blogspot.com/2015/01/sathira-dhammasathan-bangkok.html title=”go to article about Sathira-Dhammasathan Center, at sasithornp.blogspot.com”]Sathira-Dhammasathan Center[/drg_link] in Bangkok.
  • [drg_link link=https://www.google.com/search?q=famous+female+monks title=”go to search results at Google.com”]Search “famous female monks” at Google.com[/drg_link]

Women in the Pali Canon

Suttas about specific Buddhist women, or about the role of women in general.

  • [drg_link link=https://www.google.com/search?q=buddhism+women+in+the+pali+canon title=”go to search results at Google.com”]Search at Google.com[/drg_link]

Women in Thailand Pāli tradition (Theravāda)

“Thailand has a rich and ancient history of women in Buddhism, from the 3rd century BCE, when Asokan-era arahant missionaries Sona and Uttara Thera came from India to the ancient land of Suvarnabhumi first sharing the Buddha’s teaching, ordaining more than 3,000 noble men and 1,500 noble women as bhikkhus and bhikkhunis. This was the foundation of Buddhism in Thailand.”[drg_link link=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVwt_sYQ3V0 title=”from Sathira Dhammasathan video page at YouTube.com”][ref][/drg_link]

  • [drg_link link=https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-07-05/thailand-s-top-female-monk-hacked-system-bring-women-fold title=”go to story about Dhammananda at Pri.org”]Dhammananda[/drg_link], a female Thai monk
    “Before Dhammananda, there were [no female monks] at all. Prohibited from ordination in Thailand, she hacked the system in 2001 by flying to Sri Lanka, which started ordaining women in the mid-1990s.”
    Dhammananda says “My intention is to insist that we return to the right path.”
    The state-backed Buddhist hierarchy regards Dhammananda and her flock as imposters. “That’s their problem,” Dhammananda says. “That’s their own ignorance, which they’ll have to overcome.” … “I cannot put the ignorance of all the people in the whole world on my shoulders.”
    [drg_link link=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dhammananda_Bhikkhuni title=”go to Dhammananda Bhikkhuni at Wikipedia.org”]Dhammananda Bhikkhuni at Wikipedia.org[/drg_link]
    [drg_link link=https://www.google.com/search?q=dhammananda+bhikkhuni+books title=”go to search results at Google.com”]Books by Dhammananda Bhikkhuni[/drg_link]
  • [drg_link link=https://www.sdsweb.org/new/about_us title=”go to Sansanee Sthirasuta at Sathira-Dhammasathan Center, at SDSWeb.org”]Sansanee Sthirasuta[/drg_link], Ven. Mae Chee, founder and Director of [drg_link link=https://sasithornp.blogspot.com/2015/01/sathira-dhammasathan-bangkok.html title=”go to article about Sathira-Dhammasathan Center, at sasithornp.blogspot.com “]Sathira-Dhammasathan Center[/drg_link] in Bangkok.
  • [drg_link link=http://www.thaibhikkhunis.org/eng2014/ title=”go to website at thaibhikkhunis.org”]Thai Bhikkhunis[/drg_link] website of Songdhammakalyani Monastery, near Bangkok.
  • [drg_link link=https://tricycle.org/magazine/thai-women-buddhism/ title=”go to review of the book at Tricycle.org”]Thai Women in Buddhism[/drg_link], book by Chatsumarn Kabilsingh (now Dhammananda Bhikkhuni)
    “The ‘core teaching of Buddhism that deals directly with the spiritual path … is free from contextual and gender bias by its very nature. … Buddha’s teachings transcend gender difference.’ The highest goal of Buddhism, enlightenment, and the spiritual path leading to it, are available to all sentient beings without discrimination.”
  • [drg_link link=https://www.google.com/search?q=buddhism+women+in+theravada title=”go to search results at Google.com”]Search “women in theravada” at Google.com[/drg_link]
  • [drg_link link=https://www.google.com/search?q=women+in+thai+buddhism title=”go to search results at Google.com”]Search “women in thai buddhism” at Google.com[/drg_link]

More discussions about women in Buddhism

  • [drg_link link=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhikkhunī title=”go to article at Wikipedia.org”]Bhikkhunī[/drg_link], at Wikipedia
  • [drg_link link=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Buddhism_and_women title=”go to category listing at Wikipedia.org”]Buddhism and women[/drg_link], at Wikipedia.
  • [drg_link link=https://buddhism.stackexchange.com/questions/3322/can-the-buddha-ever-be-a-woman title=”go to discussion at Buddhism.Stackexchange.com”]Can the Buddha ever be a woman?[/drg_link] Discussion at Buddhism.Stackexchange.com
    Also available (but without all the excellent comments) from our server as [drg_link link=https://media.kowthamcenter.org/books/Can_the_Buddha_ever_be_a_woman-discussion_minus_comments-buddhism_stackexchange_com.pdf title=”download as .pdf file”]PDF[/drg_link] on usb drive after retreat
  • [drg_link link=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Congress_on_Buddhist_Women%27s_Role_in_the_Sangha title=”go to article at Wikipedia.org “]International Congress on Buddhist Women’s Role in the Sangha[/drg_link], at Wikipedia