The Buddha, His Life and Teachings

Women in Buddhism

Generally speaking, during the time of the Buddha, owing to brahminical influence, women were not given much recognition. Sometimes they were held in contempt and in servility to man. It was the Buddha who raised the status of women and there were cases of women showing erudition in matters of philosophy. In his large-heartedness and magnanimity he always treated women with consideration and civility, and pointed out to them, too, the path to peace, purity, and sanctity. Said the Blessed One: "A mother is the friend at one’s home. A wife is the highest friend of the husband."

The Buddha did not reject the invitation for a meal though Ambapâli n47 was of bad repute. Whatever food she offered he accepted, and in return, gave her the Dhammadâna, the gift of truth. She was immediately convinced by the teaching and leaving aside her frivolous lay life, she entered the Order of Nuns. Ardent and strenuous in her religious practices, she then became an arahat.

Kisâgotami was another woman to whom the Buddha gave the assistance of his great compassion. Her story is one of the most touching tales recorded in our books. Many more are the instances where the Buddha helped and consoled women who suffered from the vicissitudes of life.