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Japanese and Chinese Buddhist Nuns - Essay Example

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The position of women in Buddhism is both unique and special. It was the Buddha who first gave women the opportunity to participate in full in religious life. Women were first given religious freedom by the Buddha himself. Before this opportunity, women were tied to traditional roles of child bearing, tending to the husband, children and household…
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Japanese and Chinese Buddhist Nuns
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Download file to see previous pages Buddhism took root in China in the 1st century A.D. It came from India through central Asia, and scriptures were later translated into Chinese. They also became monks, following the example of those who came from central Asia. More men and women became monks and nuns as the years passed and the Chien Kang Era (313-316 A.D.) records in the Biographies of Buddhist Nuns how twenty four women led by Ching Chen converted to nuns as they received the tonsure and took the ten precepts from the master Chih Shan who came from central Asia. These nuns then built the Bamboo Forest Temple where they practiced the Dharma. It was in the fifth century that the first woman, Hui-kuo, became the first bhiksuni by taking upasampada or the taking of full ordination. Buddhism in Korea first travelled from China to the Kingdom of Koryo, and later made its way to the kingdoms of Paekshe and Silla. Evidence show that the first full ordination of Korean nuns happened soon after the full after the ordination of Hui-kuo and her nuns. Buddhism was introduced into Japan in the 6th century A.D. King Sheng Ming of the kingdom of Paekshe presented Emperor Kin-myo with several Buddhist religious figures in 538 A.D. However, Korean migrants to Japan have already introduced the religion on an earlier date and it had been practiced privately. The Chinese also contributed to the growth of Japanese Buddhism on a later date when the main doctrines were directly handed over during the Nara Dynasty (710-781 A.D.).
Women in early Buddhist myth and reality
As orders of bhikunis were founded, large numbers of prominent women came to join them. These women were attracted by the teachings of the Buddha and the empowerment it gives them. Among the celebrated women who became nuns are: Prajapati Gotami who became the first bhikuni; Uppalayanna and Khema who were considered as the "foremost of the bhikunis"; and Kisagotami and Patacara who were prominent in many stories about early Buddhism.
Prajapati Gotami who is considered as the first bhikuni, was the second queen of Prince Siddharta's father. When Queen Maha Maya who was the prince's mother died seven days after giving birth to Siddhartha, Prajapati Gotami gave up her son who was born the same day the queen died, and took Prince Siddhartha as her own. She loved him so much that the prince could not remember his own mother. The bhikunis or Buddhist nuns began with Prajapati who was given special permission by the Buddha himself, ending and exclusively male monastic assembly.
The daughter of a rich man, Kisagotami was married and had a son. The boy died and Kisagotami carried the dead body around asking everyone for medicine that would restore the child's life. People thought that her grief had made her mad. However, a wise man thought otherwise and decided to help her. He told her to approach the Buddha and ask for the medicine that would bring her son back to life. The Buddha instructed her to get some mustard seeds from a house where there had been no death. Still carrying her dead child, Kisagotami went from house to house asking for mustard seeds. People wanted to help her but she could not find a house where there had been no death. She realized that hers was not the only family who had deaths, and that there were more dead ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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