do some temples in the north not allow women to circumambulate
Many temples in Thailand, seen particularly often in the north,
do not allow women to circumambulate the stupas. The monks usually
explain that the relics of the Buddha are placed in the centre
of the stupas at the time they built it. If women are allowed
to circumambulate the stupa, they would be walking at the level
higher than the relics and hence might desacralise them.
so, it logically implies that women are so powerful that they
could actually desacralise the power of the Buddha's relics,
which is, of course, not the case.
that women are unclean is not limited only to Indian society.
Older and primitive societies, particularly tribal peoples also
held such beliefs. This results from their inability to explain
the myth of menstruation.
following the Vedas, particularly the Atharvaveda which are
full of black magic, somehow warn the practitioners to keep
away from coming in direct contact with menstruating women as
menstruation nullifies the magical power. As a result all monks
and men who have been following the Vedas set rules prohibiting
women from entering sacred space. In Buddhist temples it is
not practical to limit only menstruating women, hence the rules
extend to limit all women.
Ayudhya period, Buddhist monks and magic masters were forced
out of necessity to learn various art of magical power to help
their disciples to go through the frequent warfare of the period.
They also followed this prohibition of women in order to strengthen
their magical practices. Buddhist monks were inseparable from
Hindu beliefs and practices, resulting in a denial of the true
spirit of Buddhism and the loss of Buddhist teachings and practices.
In this manner, we often find many Hindu practices accepted
under the name of Buddhism.
be concluded that the beliefs and practices as carried out by
Buddhist monks are not necessarily Buddhist. Buddhists must
be aware of this blend which took place in our historical context
and must be able to distinguish what is Buddhism and follow
its teaching with a critical mind.
above case we see that local beliefs uncritically handed over
through tradition sometimes could form into negative social
values which become effective tool to suppress women. Merely
external changes in establishing legal rights does not always
guarantee a change in attitude and social values. We need to
be firm in our study of Buddhist texts as they provide us a
strong basis to bring about a new insight with spiritual strength
that is necessary and important to lead us towards a more positive
attitude towards women and in the long run for an improvement
of Buddhist society.