Patriarchal Indian society pointed the advantage of a man towards a woman during the process of Pali canon establishment (4-2 B.C.). Humiliated status of woman was confirmed in Brahmanic literature. Is enough to recall a famous Manu `s saying: “Day and night a woman must depend on her men… Father guards her in the childhood, husband – during her youth, sons- in her old age. A woman is not able to be independent and self-sufficient (Manu, 9. 2-3). Religious necessities of a woman in orthodox Brahmanism were not taking into account too. Women on a level with Shudras were prohibited from listening and studying Vedas, performing rites, fasts or vows on their own. The main religious duty of the woman consisted in service to her husband. “Husband, even alien to virtue, dissipated or lacking of positive character qualities must be worshiped as God. “ (Manu, 5. 154).


Early Buddhism demonstrates rather different approach towards a woman. Buddha declared that there was no any difference between a man and a woman to achieve lucid moment provided that they take the monastic vow or take the veil. In compliance with it Buddha established female monastic society. Mahapradjapati was the head of this society, Buddha’s aunt - she was like a mother to him. However joining sangha a woman should follow several additional conditions. They are known as “Eight rules
(garu-dhamma) and are as follows:

  1. A nun being in monasticism for 100 years must show her respect to a monk even if he has just got monastic vow.

  1. Nuns are prohibited to hold “summer suspension” during rain season in the place without monks.

  1. Every two weeks nuns must visit monks commune to hold uposatha ceremony (general monk meeting) as well as get instructions and perceptions from them.

  1. Once the “summer suspension” is over – nuns should take part into a special meeting of both communes devoted to the discussions about monks as well as nuns behaviour.

  1. A nun that breached her duty (a heavy mistake) must be punished during two weeks in both communities: male community and female one. (Monk’s term of punishment lasts for 6 days and is performed only in male community.)

  1. Before taking the veil a woman has to go through the probation period for 2 years and only after that the initiation takes place in the both communities. For a monk no need in any trial period and the consecration is held only in the male community.

  1. A nun ought not to insult or reproach a monk, even indirectly.

  1. A monk has the right to teach a nun, but a nun should not give any piece of advice to a monk.

The 10th Chulavagga chapter contains this story about the foundation of the woman’s sangha as well as these 8 supplementary rules. These rules are formulated rather categorical: “these rules must be respected, followed and not broken”. Though, we must take the notice that all those rules are included in the ordinary nuns` laws (Bhikkhuni-Patimokkha). And there they are treated as slight violations that are atoned by a simple admission of guilt. Nunneries were really under the protection of male monasteries, because this patronage was necessary for defending from robbers and violators (such cases are often mentioned in the canon).

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