Role of Women in Tibet Research Paper

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Role of Women in Tibet

Women as freedom fighters

Women portrayed as being care takers

Women as keepers of culture

Women portrayed as being career people

Tibetan women as peace keepers

Tibetan women portrayed as great leaders

Tibetan as agriculturalists and traders

Women portrayed as having the freedom and right to marry

Women portrayed as being Buddhists

Women portrayed as being family property

Women as keepers of traditions

The role of women in today's society is an issue of global interest. Women's role has been looked into from different perspective. It is therefore opportune that this paper is looking into the role of women at Buddhism and cultural angle. In recent past, several publications have been published on the changing status of women in Hindu and Islamic Societies. Very little articles have been developed as regards women in Buddhism. Since distinguished Pali scholar Horner (1930 ) pointed out very little interest has been taken in the subject.

Introduction

The role of women in Tibetan Buddhism is a topic that has been approached from different perspectives including; historical, theological anthropological and feminism. Women play a very major role in Buddhism and culture not only in Tibet but in the whole world. Women ensure continuity of religion and Cultures; this proves the saying that goes mother is the first teacher.The research includes the theological status of women, how women are treated in Buddhist communities at home and in public, the history of women in Buddhism and comparison of the experiences of women across different forms of Buddhism

Several writers and researchers have really tried to provide information regarding the Roles of Women in Tibet. As far as performing arts is concerned, Isabelle Henrion Dourcy 'Women in the Performing Arts: Portraits of Six Contemporary Singers' clearly states that women are not involved seriously in performing arts. Their participation is just ordinary. They are not absent from the field and neither are they prominent. They are however not outnumbered by men as they share the spotlight with them equally. Women do not always perform creative arts expressively. They sing numerous songs in Tibet just like men (Gyatso & Havnevik,2005).

However, this cannot be stressed as a song cannot be called a female's song simply because it is written by a woman. Barnet (n.d) states a group of scenarios where there are exceptions. Nuns who are activists in the Lhasa region have improved their character and reputation which traditionally has been very low by holding demonstrations to protest against the Chinese regime. This is despite the fact that imprisonment awaited those who held the demonstrations. Besides, some of the Tibetan women have got posts like being political leaders despite the fact that their efforts are thwarted by some of the locals.

Schaeffer (2005) in 'the Autobiography of a Medieval Hermitess': Oxygen Chokyi 1675-1729, gives numerous spiritual Tibetan women

. The most famous among them is Maching Labdron who came up with the Buddhist 'Cutting' (gCod) lineage.Namgyal Phal, the leader of the Tibetan women's Association in Zurich, Switzerland, believes that the men and women in Tibetan have equal rights. On the contrary, Yandol Ponglung, having grown up in Switzerland and currently residing in United States asserts that the women claiming that there is no discrimination between men and women in Tibet are enjoying a status where religion covers the gender. Panglung on the other side states that the women's participation in the struggles in Tibet is a part of nationalist movement and not women's liberation movement. (Devine,1993, p 25)

Women as freedom fighters

Women are portrayed as freedom fighters. They were actively involved in the resistance movement that took place before 1959. After the movement, approximately 3000 women came together publicly at Drebu Lingka. This historical gathering marked the day when the women of Tibet resisted against the unlawful occupation of their country by the Chinese. ('Tibetan Women's Uprising Day Dolma in the summer of 1991.

The daring Pamo Kusang was one of the leaders who were outstanding during the resistance. She gave inspiration to many women with her boldness and determination. This was because she had played a traditional role as an official's wife before the occurrence of the uprising. She was imprisoned. Later while in prison, she formed Thu Wang Ku with other prisoners. In 1970, they began to stage anti-Chinese protests. She was however executed, becoming a legend (Devine,1993,p21)

Women portrayed as being care takers

During the early 1900s, males dominated Tibet. This was a common practice. The women were not only deprived of their rights and freedoms but their only role was to provide services to the men. Their only place of stay was in the kitchen. Besides, they took care of children. Some served as concubines while others engaged in prostitution to earn a living. Others languished in slavery

Women as keepers of culture

Women are engaged in Tibet's unique cultural heritage incorporating Buddhist spirituality. They play a key role in preserving the country's culture which is in the brisk of collapse. His Holiness the Dalai Lama states that cultural genocide is taking place in Tibet. it's unique cultural heritage including the Buddhist spirituality is almost dying. Indeed what could be described as cultural genocide is currently taking place there.

The roles of the nuns also changed when the Chinese were in Tibet. They used their positions to fight for the Tibet's freedom. Their continued participation was driven by the fact that they had no children who would suffer when they were imprisoned or when the lost their lives as a result of their participation in the protests. They were willing to lead in the independence movement. (Devine,1993,p.18)

Women portrayed as being reformists

The film "Women in Tibet "illustrates how far women from that region have moved in Space of about 1400 years. It gives an insight into the past and present of Tibet. The book has two parts; Women in traditional Tibet and the Modern Tibetan women. It is a trilogy having Three episodes, the first one being 'The great mother', the second one being 'A quiet Revolution' and the third one being 'The Sacred Marriage'. (Ellen Bangsbo, Copenhagen)

A quiet revolution commences on March 12th 1959 as fifteen thousand women goes to the streets of Lhasa strongly opposing the forceful occupation of their country by the Chinese army. Here, the women are portrayed as being courageous. Secondly, Ama Adhe remembers the twenty eight years that she spent in one of the Chinese prisons and the strong faith that made her to put up with the ordeal while she taught the generations comprising of young refugees. Women are portrayed as being workaholic and industrious. They are also portrayed as respecters of traditions.

Similarly, Dolma Tsering states the sacrifices that her parents made by going on exile so that she could become at first a teacher and later a member of parliament.Tseten Choeden who was born and was brought up in exile tries to put to it that her Tibetan birthright goes on to her children as she fights with a culture in transition.After spending fifty years in exile, Dalai Lama His Holiness appreciates the courage of the hardworking women. He also appreciates their ability to uphold their cultural practices for the coming generations. This also proves that the women are respecters of tradition and their cultures.The only contribution made to the Tibetan community by the aristocratic women of the 7th century was the forced child production.

Women portrayed as being career people

Women have grown into some of the most outstanding people in the 21st century. This is from the fact that they have actively been involved in the fields that they chose but majorly in spiritual matters like the Buddhist nuns. Women have achieved a lot not only in the social matters but they have also actively participated in political matters like being actively involved in political demonstrations.

The role that women played however changed from being in slavery to working in huge Industries and companies competing seriously with their male counterparts for the limited job opportunities in the market.

Tibetan women as peace keepers

Women's struggle for freedom and their endurance are some of the key themes in the film Women in Tibet . Besides it also illustrates how the women were committed to the principles of peace, non-violence social justice and peace besides compassion and human rights. According to a writer Diana Paul, the early Buddhism women were viewed as inferior. Other commentators on Aganna -- Sutta which is a record of Gautama Buddha's teachings interprets it as revealing that women are responsible for human race's downfall. Budhist interpretation on the contrary shows that lust rather than women caused human race's downfall.The Tibetan women have had the chance of enjoying more freedom as compared to their counterparts in the other societies in Asia.

The Buddha's wife tries to look at the radical changes that women passes through to become fully recognized human beings. Demands of the contemporary society forces the women to follow a spiritual path as… [END OF PREVIEW]

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