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The Mahayanic View of Women: A Doctrinal Study (Buddhism, Women, India)
Author Ku, Cheng-mei
PublisherThe University of Wisconsin - Madison
Publisher Url
LocationMadison, WI, US [麥迪遜, 威斯康辛州, 美國]
Content type博碩士論文=Thesis and Dissertation
InstitutionUniversity of Wisconsin - Madison
DepartmentBuddhist Studies
AdvisorNarain, A. K.
Publication year1984
KeywordWomen in Buddhism; Mahayana Buddhism; Doctrines
AbstractThe Mahayanic view of women was established by the Early Mahayanists who advocated the teaching of sunyavada around the mid-second century A.D. in north India. In Buddhism, the issue of women can be traced back to the discussions on the issue of monks' carnal desire (agantukarajas) by the early Mahasanghikas. The Mahasanghikas suggest that women's bodies, speech, and mental activities are the polluting sources which pervert monks in their practice of Brahmacarya. In order to make their monks ward off their carnal desire they ask their monks to observe the meditation on a woman's impure body. This is the beginning of the practice of sexual discrimination in Buddhism. The Mah(')isasakas and the Sarvastivadins accept the Mahasanghikas' view of women. But the Mah(')isasakas observe a more radical practice of sexual discrimination. They maintain that because of women's impurities they cannot attain Buddhahood. They therefore established the theory of women's five obstacles and the eight chief rules to restrict women's social and religious activities. The Sarvastivadins do not agree with the theory and the practice of the Mah(')isasakas, and believe that women still can attain Buddhahood if they practice transformation of the body.

The Early Mahayanists reject all these theories and practices on women. They suggest that if a monk wants to live a tranquil life he shouldn't attach himself to anything. Therefore they criticize the Sarvastivadins for their attachments to the existence of women (purusa) and the theory (dharma) of transformation, and hold the idea that the dharma is neither the male nor the female.

Therefore, a doctrinal study of the Mahayanic view of women can help us to understand that: (1) the issue of women is an important issue which was developed along the growth of Buddhist history as sectarian interpretations of the practice of Brahmacarya; (2) because of the clarification of the sectarian views of women we are able to define many sectarian schools better, especially the Early Mahayana.
Created date1998.04.28
Modified date2016.05.11

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