the women joined the Sangha, how were they treated by the bhikkhus?
There is no direct record on the subject, but from the study
of the Vinaya one may find that after all the bhikkhus were
men drawn from Indian society. Being used to the service offered
by women, the bhikkhus treated the bhikkhunis like wives. The
bhikkhunis had to spend time washing rugs, robes, etc. for the
monks in a similar manner that women have to take care of their
men folk in their household lives.
received this kind of treatment from the monks until the lay
people took notice and brought it to the attention of the Buddha.
The Buddha having listened to the complaint called the two parties
involved. Both parties accepted that what was brought to the
attention of the Buddha was correct. He then laid down vinaya
for the monks not to ask the bhikkhunis to perform such service.
One may see the Buddha's intention clearly that when he allowed
women to join the Order, basically to allow them to study and
practice his teaching, they would no more be householders, and
thus no longer bound to household chores. Each ordained person
is to take care of his or her own basic requirement and spend
time to pursue one's spiritual goal, namely to strive for enlightenment.
and bhikkhunis have left their household lives behind aiming
to seek for spiritual attainment. To expect the bhikkhunis to
serve the bhikkhus contradicts the underlying principle by which
the Buddha allowed women to join the Order.