The 8 Rules for Women Religious

This post is part of our ongoing series featuring the works of Professor LeBoeuf 's students in her Introduction to Religions of Asia course at Whittier College!

The King Suddodhana married the sisters Maya and Mahāprajāpatī. Mahāprajāpatī became the queen and the foster mother of the prince because her sister Maya had passed away. After Siddhartha became the Buddha, Mahāprajāpatī become one of his followers. Even going as far as shaving her head. Her actions inspired many other women to take up the ascetic lifestyle. She has about 500 followers that followed her example. The Garudhammas are a set of rules, which, according to the traditional narrative, were laid down by the Buddha as the pre-conditions before he reluctantly consented to the ordination of his aunt and foster mother Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī as the first bhikkhuni.

It took her three tries for Buddha to finally say yes to adding the order of Nuns. I am going to explain the eight rules of women in Buddhist religion. This interacts within its religion because at first it was just the males who could be monks and now that Mahāprajāpatī was the foster mother and the queen, she tried three times to get the orders to go through until she was dejected and sent back home. She tried to make a difference for the females in India and for the last time which was the fourth time Buddha finally gave in and said yes to the eight orders she had for the female Nuns. I picked this specific topic because it caught my attention the moment I knew I was going to do Buddhism religion and it also interested me the fact that Mahāprajāpatī was denied three times until finally the last she went Buddha finally gave in and took the new eight orders that were given to him about the Nuns. I have experienced learning about this specific topic in lectures for religions 202 class. Learning about the Buddhist religion had to be the most interesting topic I had encountered, I am definitely looking forward to learning about other religions. This rule startles with its abruptness, its immediate and total exclusion of the possibility for any other way in which the male and female monastic communities might relate to one another. So modern scholars have called these the ‘heavy’ or ‘severe’ or ‘strict’ rules.

Countless interpreters have seen the garudhammasas an imposition of control by monks over nuns. Learning about this religion really opened my eyes and compared it to my own religion background was really fascinating the fact that my religion background does not have rules for women expect to obey their elders and when you get married to respect your significant other but I’m sure that is told to everyone that is getting married. The word garu, when used in the Vinaya, normally has quite a different meaning: respect. According to the article of “Attitudes Towards Nuns in Buddhist Myth” buddhas attendant seen Mahāprajāpatī feet that were swollen and her limbs were covered with dust so that is when he went to Buddha and tried to persuade him to accept the orders. “Taking pity, he asked what the problem was. When he heard, he took the question to the Buddha himself.” Which means that he then said yes to the orders and went over the rules.

The eight heavy rules were said to have been added to allow more acceptance of a monastic Order for women, during

the Buddha's time. They are controversial because they clearly put women in an inferior position and also because many Buddhists, especially those from the Modern Theravada view, have found evidence that the eight Garudhammas are not really from the teachings of Buddha. Thus, there are two possibilities in regard to the 8 garudhammas: 1) that they were never spoken by the Buddha or 2) that they were spoken by the Buddha to appease the societal norms of the time. Having the eight orders must have been a great celebration towards the female nuns because they have been wanting all this for quite some time and to be able to feel this excitement and actually have followers, they must have been happy. I could never imagine what it would be like if I got rejected three times then the attendant seen my feet swollen and limbs full of dust. In the article of “About Buddhist Nuns” explains that the Sanskrit word for Buddhist women is bhikṣuṇī and are fully ordained nuns capable of teaching, performing rituals and preach to all. Even the Dalai lama was agreeing to women having full ordination and the disciples of Buddha were never really encouraged or supported but the orders still went through.

About Samantha Salinas

Samantha's major is biology (pre-med), and an interesting fact about her is that she slightly tore her ACL sophomore year in high school. This injury definitely took a toll on her during her junior and senior year because they did not allow her to play along time like how they did my freshman and beginning of sophomore year during scrimmage games.