Ulanov M.S. Buddhism in the Feminist Context: Historical Experience and Modern Discourse

DOI: https://doi.org/10.15688/lp.jvolsu.2019.2.2

Mergen S. Ulanov
Doctor of Sciences (Philosophy), Professor, Department of Philosophy and Cultural Studies, Kalmyk State University named after B.B. Gorodovikov
Pushkinskaya St., 11, 358014 Elista, Russian Federation
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Abstract. The author considers the problems of women's place in Buddhist culture in the context of feminist discourse. He notes that Buddhism is distinguished by a tolerant and respectful attitude to the female. Buddhism admits that women, along with men, are able to achieve enlightenment and find Nirvana. However, the relationship between male and female monastic orders in Buddhism was not fully equal. The order of nuns was considered to be the youngest in comparison with the order of monks, and the rules restricting the behavior of the nuns were more than for the monks, which was probably a forced step aimed at taking into account the realities of society. Despite this, the Foundation of the women's monastic organization, which opened the way for women to religious knowledge and spiritual rank, was in its essence a radical social revolution for that time. The emergence of the female monastic community was an example of a fundamentally new view of women and their position in society. With the release of Buddhism outside India female monasticism became widespread in many Asian countries. Later, however, in the countries of South, South-East Asia and Tibet, the Institute of full female monasticism disappeared. In the second half of the twentieth century the attempts to revive the Institute that have led to the emergence of the phenomenon of neonuns. As a result of the spread of Buddhism in the West, it was included in the field of gender studies and feminist discourse. The question of equality between women and men in Buddhism has been actively developed by Western female Buddhists in the feminist discourse, that has formed a statement about the original equality of the sexes in Buddhism. The theme of the status of women in society and their rights has become an important part of the social concept of Western Buddhism. The result was the emergence of the international women's Buddhist Association "Sakyadhita".

Key words: gender, Buddhism, feminism, woman, Buddhist nuns, women's movement, Sakyadhita

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Buddhism in the Feminist Context: Historical Experience and Modern Discourse by Ulanov M.S. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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