Status of women in buddhism: a study of tai society in north east india

Bornali Borah

Buddhism is a humanistic religion which is much social in its outlook and has historical impacts on society as far as men’s concept of social classes and position of women are concerned. It began as a religion that treated women as equal to men in their capacity for personal spiritual development. Buddha recognized the ability of women to reach the ultimate goal, and thereby, to enter successfully into religious life and attain liberation- nirvana. Buddhism, as a liberal reaction against orthodox Brahmanism, elevated the status of women. Buddhism has contributed towards empowerment and upliftment of women in the Tai society of North east India. There is no doubt that there are certain forces which did not much encourage in the process in the process of their upliftment and empowerment, like the Buddhist idea of women’s natural inferiority, and patriarchal nature of the faith. But the same cannot be equated with Brahmanical religious systems where women’s role in the society has never been recognized as equal with men. On the other hand, the tribal nature of the Tai society has encouraged it to see women as independent and capable of doing anything equally with men.

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