The Buddha and Buddhist Nuns: An Anachronism

The Buddha founded Buddhism in the 6th century BC. He was a high caste Hindu and some of his thoughts and philosophies were influenced by Hinduism. However, he did break from the caste system and allowing women to become nuns. He allowed women to become nuns but put stringent condition which effectively reduced their status in relation to male monksThe BuddhaThe Buddha, the founder of Buddhism was born in a high caste Hindu princely family. When Buddha was born the caste system had taken deep roots in Hindu society and the Brahmin cult ruled supreme. Another aspect of Hindu society at that time was the low status of women.Buddha did not accept both these aspects of Hindu society. But in the 6th century BC when Buddha spread his message it was mostly by word and mouth. The Sutras which are supposed to bring out what the Buddha said were compiled 200 years after the death of BuddhaBuddha and MahapajapatiWhen Buddha was an infant his mother died and he was brought up by his mother’s sister, Mahapajapati. When Buddha grew up and attained enlightenment Mahapajapati also was deeply influenced by Buddha, requested that she be allowed to join the ‘sangha’. The negative aspect of Buddhism comes out as she was denied 3 times by Buddha to join the ‘Sangha’. Perhaps it was a part of Hindu influence that Buddha still carried.Buddha and Status of WomenMahapajapati however was allowed entry to the Sangha by Buddha and she along with 500 high caste women shaved of their hair and became monks. This was a break from Hindu tradition where women were not allowed to become monks.The Buddha now laid down some rules for admitting women as monks. These are known as the 8 rules of Buddha. A reading of the rules however brings out a bias against women which has not been explained by Buddhist theologians. Briefly Buddha stated the following rulesRules for Women Nuns.a ) He laid down that each and every nun would be junior to a male monk even she had been ordained for 100 years.b) Women monks must not accept any food, seats and resting place in front of any male monkc) No woman monk can find fault with a male monkd) The Buddha affixed an age of 18 for a woman to be ordained as a nun He also laid down that a period of 2 years was necessary for the preliminary course of training in the precepts. Her full ordination has got to be received from the groups of both monks and nuns.e). Any nun who violates any rule of conduct must do penance for 15 days. During this period she is to be resituated only after approval from the communities of both nuns and monks.f) Every woman Nun must seek instructions from male monks once in 15 days.Last WordThere is no doubt that a gender bias did exist in Buddhism and had the approval of the Buddha. This gender bias was a carry forward of the era the Buddha was born. This was an era when the Brahmin cult ruled supreme and Buddha had a hard time countering it. But the gender bias of Buddha needs a better explanation. One has to accept the fact that there is some inequality in role of women in Buddhism

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The Red Hat Society & Queen Mammas

Although the Red Hat society is sometimes referred to as “dis-organization” there is a hierarchy of structure among its chapters. Who are the Chapter Queens of the Red Hat Society and what do they do? Are there Co-Queens or Vice Queens and what if a chapter wishes to change their Chapter Queen?The whole concept of Chapter Queen began when the founder of The Red Hat Society rather jokingly referred to herself as the “Queen Mother” after she started the first group. The Chapter Queen is usually the person who registers the group and may also be the person who plans the activities. Although most groups will handle the activity planning in their own ways and then the Chapter Queen will not have quite as much responsibility. Someone other than the Chapter Queen can also be in charge of registering the other members of the group.The Chapter Queen wears many hats. She may act as the lawyer of the group and have a fitting name or she may be the Mother of Creativity. She can choose any name that she feels is best for her personality. Some days she may be the “Mistress of Fun” and other times she may serve as the Tea Party Queen. It is really up to the Queen herself.Co-Queens may be chosen but they do not receive the special status awarded to the Chapter Queen. If Co-Queens choose to become Purple Perks members they will receive those benefits, however.If a chapter is planning a change in the role of Queens it may be best to do so when it is time to renew the chapter’s membership. The current Queen should make the phone call and have all the pertinent information about the person who will be taking over the responsibilities. The transition will go more smoothly when handled in this manner.Being a Red Hat Society Chapter Queen is an honor and it is also a lot of fun. You will be able to encourage the other members of your chapter to have fun and form new relationships.

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