The First Buddhist Women


Course description

Who were the first Buddhist women? What do we know of their lives? In this course, we will travel back in time to the world of Ancient India, to the time of the Buddha, when the first Buddhist nuns were ordained. Though they came from many different walks of life, the nuns formed communities, in which they could flourish as teachers and practitioners. We will explore the historical and religious context in which these women lived as well as the role of women in contemporary religions. Our source material is the Therigatha, or Verses of the Elders, a collection of poetry by these first Buddhist nuns. These poems, many of them anonymous, give clues to the circumstances of these women's lives. We will also meet queens and servants who were devoted disciples of the Buddha's teachings, though they never entered the monastic order.

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