December 17, 2018

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    Reflections on Binara Poya: Least prejudiced against women

    September 25, 2018

    The Buddha’s open invitation for women to participate in the Sasana by making them eligible to enter the Bhikkuni Sangha– with ample opportunities for public life had greatly improved the status of women. In Islamic and Hindu societies a number of books have been authored on the changing status of women, but strangely little in Buddhism—apart from Miss I.B. Horner, Pali scholar, who wrote the book titled, Women under Primitive Buddhism, in 1930. The Buddha’s teachings undoubtedly have the least biased approach against women. Their importance to society was acknowledged very much enhancing their standing among men.

    The most important happening on Binara Poya day was the admission of Nuns to the Sasana or founding of the Bhikkuni Order. The Buddha allowed the admission of female candidates to the order following Maha Prajapati Gotami’s commitment and determination in making several requests. Prajapati Gotami, a role model for women-folk was the sister of Queen Mahamaya, Buddha’s mother..

    The Buddha’s judgment in the fifth year after his enlightenment in sanctioning the establishment of an Order for women was stained by the inclusion of garudhammas imposed on them. Incorporated in the Bhikkhuni Vinaya the rules are nothing but attachments by male chauvinists later. It is a blatant subordination of Bhikkhunis to Bhikkhus.

    The Buddha during this time was residing at Nigrodharamaya in Kapilavasthu when she approached him and requested consent for women to enter the Sasana. The Buddha after turning down the request three times finally allowed the admission to the order on ‘conditions’ they say. It was granted on a Binara full moon Day. Among prejudiced religious practices, Buddhism can definitely claim to have the least prejudices against women.

    ‘What does womanhood matter at all, when the mind is concentrated well when knowledge flows on steadily as one sees correctly into Dhamma. One to whom it might occur, ‘I am a woman’ or ‘I am a man’ or ‘I’m anything at all’ is fit for Mara to address.. – Nun Sona verses Mara. Garudhamma-- Male Chauvinist attachments

    In Asian Buddhist societies, in spite of the objectives of the Buddha, controlling is done by men. The approach of people in a system found, virtually every faction of Buddhism seems to have fashioned a level of gender bias. This resulted in the loss of female monks in both traditions. The Buddha enlightened us on generally accepted concepts like ‘against the stream.’

    The so-called Garudhamma convention, an ‘approval’ of women’s inferior competence, are yet to be fully scrutinized.The proclamation that a woman cannot become a Buddha was in all probability rather a gentle opinion, carrying no significant consequence on prospects of women practitioners.They only promote gender bias and not Buddhism. The Mahayanists, in contrast, believe women possess an equal capability for development on the path to achieve awakening. “O Gotami”, said the blessed one, “perform a miracle in order to answer the misconceptions of those badly informed men who do not recognize the spiritual abilities of women”.

    The Buddha after turning down the request three times finally allowed the admission to the order on ‘conditions’ they say. It was granted on a Binara full moon Day. Among prejudiced religious practices, Buddhism can definitely claim to have the least prejudices against women.The above statement contradicts Garudhammas, which is an obvious imagination of Male Chauvinists.

    The Buddha’s judgment in the fifth year after his enlightenment in sanctioning the establishment of an Order for Women was stained by the inclusion of garudhammas imposed on them. Incorporated in the Bhikkhuni Vinaya the rules are nothing but attachments by male chauvinists later. It is a blatant subordination of Bhikkhunis to Bhikkhus.

    Rule number four recognized the intimidation to which  Bhikkhunis would be exposed. Concessions to male superiority are seen in Rules 1 and 8. Rule 1 has been the most annoying in practical terms and obviously embarrassing in societies where the salutation practice was strict. Why should a Bhikkhuni always pay respect to a Bhikkhu however junior the latter may have been? Chronicle says Prajâpati Gotami sought an exemption from this rule that but was unsuccessful, despite Ananda Thera’s support. Evidently, they are not backed by Buddha’s idea or conception.

    The eight rules are--

    Irrespective of any other considerations like seniority and age, Bhikkhus to have precedence over Bhikkhunis in matters of salutation
    Bhikkhunis has to observe the annual vassana in a district where there were Bhikkhus.
    It is the male Bhikkhus who set the dates for Bhikkhuni Uposatha.
    An assembly of both Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis is a must when Confessing lapses by Bhikkhuni.
    Both the Sanghas to undertake Judicial processes in case of Bikkhunis.
    Upasampada commencement of Bhikkhunis to be given by the Bhikkhu Sangha too.
    A Bhikkhuni should never abuse a Bhikkhu.
    Bhikkhunis to be admonished by Bhikkhus, but not vice versa.
    Kundalakesi, being guilty of matricide, and regretful of her actions in killing her husband, she leaves all her jewellery in the zenith of the hill and enters the city where she became to be known as Jambuka Paribbajika as she walked extensively in Jambudweepa, she even challenged anyone to compete.

    Kundalakesi meets Sariputta Thera in Sravasti, and begs him to teach her the Dhamma. Sariputta wanted her to become a Bhikkhuni; she was ordained Theri Kundalakesi on Binara full moon. She gained arhantship in a very short time and engaged in spreading the Buddha Dhamma for the rest of her life. The puzzled Bhikkhus asked the Buddha, “how come a woman who killed her husband achieve the status; to achieve supreme bliss after listening to the Dhamma only so little?”

    The Buddha said:“Better than the recitation of a hundred verses, that are senseless and unconnected with the realization of Nibbana, is the recitation of a single verse of the Dhamma, if on hearing it, one is calmed”

    Compassion and Understanding

    It was through the realisation that the Buddha rediscovered the true Dhamma!. That he felt disillusion with this round of rebirth; that he fully understood other being’s suffering; that he himself crossed over the flood to Nibbāna; that he became his own final and absolute helper. He gained majestic dignity as a worthy Buddha; he remained detached from all being’s craving; his own mind was detached from all phenomena...!

    For just as the Blessed One’s compassion was without biased sentimental fondness, so was his supreme realization free from the concepts of ‘I’ ‘Me’ and ‘Mine’... let alone Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian…caste, creed, race— an untold misery of mythological Divisions! There is just a single category of Humans...They are Homo sapiens!

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