Buddhist Studies buddhism and women


Women in Buddhism: Questions & Answers

What was the attitude of the bhikkhus towards the Buddha's acceptance of women?

Again there is no direct record from the Buddha's time, partly because when the Buddha allowed women to join the Order, it was the Queen Maha Pajapati who approached him. Because of their close relationship even if some monks may not have approved of the decision, no one made it known to be sufficient evident for recording.

But at the First Council only three months after the Buddha's passing away, with Maha Kassapa presiding over the council, discontentment was made known for admitting women to the Order by asking Ananda to confess that it was his offence for being an important mediator to approach the Buddha on behalf of women and finally got them admitted to the Order. Venerable Ananda clearly made his point that he did not see his intervention as an offence, but with respect to the Sangha he confessed.

An interesting incident to be mentioned in this connection is that Maha Kassapa who presided at this historic council, was not on good terms with the bhikkhunis. We found an incident recorded when he went to give teaching to the bhikkhuni Sangha, he was ridiculed by them as the bhikkhunis expressed their doubts as to how could he know of any dharma with his brahministic background. Apart from that, the bhikkhunis also made clear their preference for Ananda's teaching. This caused Maha Kassapa to be much displeased and again Venerable Ananda had to intervene asking for forgiveness from Maha Kassapa on the behalf of the bhikkhunis. This background incident implies the already existing unpleasant feeling between Maha Kassapa and the bhikkhuni Sangha. What followed at the First Council is understandable.

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