Women in Buddhism

Essay by curlygurl710Junior High, 8th grade October 2007

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Buddha’s decision to let women join the Sangha benefitted to the expansion of Buddhism. It also changed people’s minds about women. Because women in Hinduism have strict lives and limited choice, they saw their chance to join the Sangha as a chance for freedom. Buddha did not see women as completely dependent on their son, husband or father, or belonging to them either. He saw women as equals to men, and equally able to obtain enlightenment. Unlike Hinduism, may women became Buddhist nuns, or Bhikhuni, joined the Sangha and their quest to reach enlightenment and to spread and teach the words of the Buddha.

Before Buddha, or Siddhartha Gautama, as he was called, was around, the main religion was Hinduism. Hinduism was built up on three main principles: the caste system, autonomous village, and extended family. The caste system was the social class structure. At the top of the caste were the Brahmins, or priests.

They has exclusive privileges, such as learning about the sacred teachings, teaching them, being the wealthiest. They were viewed as great people and were respected and revered. Next came the Kshatriyas, or the warrior caste. Warriors were also respected and were honored for being the ones who protected the people. They were allowed to read and learn the sacred texts, but not teach them. The Vaishyas were the merchant and artisan class, and were under the warrior caste. Next came the Sudras, or the farmers. The farmer’s job was to toil the land. They were not as respected as the rest, but it was better than being in the Untouchables caste. The Untouchables were outcastes. Their jobs were necessary, but viewed as filthy or immoral jobs, like a butcher or a sewage worker. Each caste was said to come from the creator god, Brahman,