Although many of the Buddhist texts, both
Disciples' Vehicle and Mahāyāna, or Great Vehicle,
4 contain virulent misogynistic
sections, there were in fact no doctrinal reasons that denied enlightenment
and, later, Buddhahood to women.
The women of China ardently embraced
Mahāyāna Buddhism and its large number of texts, although only a
small number of these scriptures became extremely popular—such as the
Flower of the Law, Vimalakīrti, Perfection of
Wisdom, and the Amita or Pure Land texts. The most significant obstacle to
a woman's entering the Assembly of Nuns was men rather than doctrine. The
Assembly of Nuns was dependent on the Assembly of Monks for several of their
required rites and rituals. The reverse was not the case.
Of the three types of Buddhist writings—the
Buddha's own word (sūtra), the commentaries (shāstra), and the monastic code (vinaya) that tied the Assembly of Nuns to the Assembly of
Monks—the Buddha's word and the commentaries were eagerly translated;
however a lack of adequate vinaya texts in the early
history of Buddhism in China hindered the establishment and development of the
monastic order for women.