Master of Arts (MA)
Primary Subject Area
Theology; Religion, Clergy
Thailand, Buddhism, sangha, women, Theravada, Christianity
Thai Buddhism is a subset of Theravada Buddhism. Theravada Buddhism is one of two main branches of Buddhism which was founded by Siddartha Gautama around 560 B.C. Theravada is the strictest branch of the two. Thai Buddhism is a mixture of Theravada, local folklore and superstitions. Thai Buddhism is practiced by ninety-five percent of the population of Thailand. Within Thai Buddhism, men and women participate in the religion differently. Men are given the opportunity to be ordained into the sangha and serve as a monk. Through this path, men are able to achieve nirvana. Women are not given the same opportunity. They must aim to make enough merit so that in their next life they may be born a man. Women may earn merit by: donating to the temple (wat), providing food for the monks, and raising a son who is ordained as a monk. Some scholars believe that Buddhism helps to encourage women into prostitution as they are perceived to be second-class citizens. Buddhism treats women unequally compared to men. In contrast, Christianity offers a better opportunity and outlook for women in life. Christianity offers salvation for all people. Jesus Christ had numerous encounters with women. Women were followers, opened their homes for church gatherings, were prophets, and took on leadership roles among the congregations. The last chapter presents the basis for the ideal Thai Christian woman.