On Hindu Minorities

Reform movement from Hinduism to Buddhism

Buddhism arose as a reform movement within Hinduism. In Hinduism, Indian people were divided into social castes. The Bhamanic caste system reduced the status of women in society. According to this system, the purpose of women is exclusively to serve men and produce male offspring. They are denied of any role in formal religious practice. They are denied access to sacred texts (including Vedas which is believed to be written by women) or religious leadership. In fact, none of the three major Hindu gods are female figures. In Hinduism, salvation for females is determined by their devotion to their husbands. Hinduism proclaims that God created females as the weaker sex and that men possess the rationale necessary to defend and protect females. In different stages of their lives, women are subordinated by male relatives including fathers, husbands and sons. Women have no mobility outside their home and are restricted to practice religious rituals in their households. They are suppressed by patriarchal beliefs.
Buddhism emerged to reform Hinduism’s view of individuals within society. Buddha’s idea was to shift the focus away from measuring one’s worth with respect to society and towards one’s inner self. Buddhism believes that Nirvana or complete enlightenment possible to achieve by anyone and independent from gender, caste or race. Women’s spiritual achievement came from her actions alone, not from Gods. In Buddhism, there is no godhead of any gender. Buddha was the first to state that men and women are on a spiritual level equal. Many Bhikshunis (nuns) achieved nirvana during Buddha’s lifetime and afterlife. He stated that anyone who adheres to gender identity is burdened. In order not to contradict with his teachings regarding salvation, gender inequality had to be addressed. Thus, Sangha was first in including women in religious order. However like in Hinduism, that recording of Buddah’s teachings was made by monks who were Indian men from different castes. They had in them the patriarchal norms and the recordings were biased, carried with Indian patriarchal social values. Many Hindu practices were incorporated in Buddhism. So the attitude towards women was not changed. Monks continue to use teachings...

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Memories of perfect harmony  — Free Malaysia Today
We respected one another's values and beliefs, so much so that I filled my chest with teachings of Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Atheism and so on, in addition to the compulsory Islamic classes for all Muslim girls.

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