Enlightenment and women

Good evening
I heard a slightly disturbing comment today regarding women and enlightenment.
Apparently women can not be enlightened and this can only occur if they are reincarnated back as male.
Can any monastics clarify from the sutras if this is so?
With metta…bishka…mum of 3


Suttas…auto correct got me again

I am not a monastic but I can answer you that this is not true. In the Buddhist scriptures there is a whole book on female monastic disciples who became enlightened:


The “Verses of the Senior Nuns” is a collection of about 524 verses attributed to 73 of the senior nuns alive in the Buddha’s time, or in a few cases, a little later.
These verses celebrate the bliss of freedom and the life of meditation, full of proud and joyous proclamations of their spiritual attainments and their gratitude to other nuns as guides and teachers.
The Therīgāthā is one of the oldest spiritual texts recording only women’s voices. It is a pair with the Theragāthā, the “Verses of the Senior Monks”. Together these collections constitute one of the oldest and largest collections of contemplative literature. Based on style and content, these collections belong to the early discourses.
They are referred to on occasion in the northern canons, but no parallel collections have survived.



From AN 8.51

Then Venerable Ānanda said to the Buddha: “Sir, is a woman able to realize the fruits of stream-entry, once-return, non-return, and perfection once she has gone forth?” “She is able, Ānanda.”


Where did you hear this from? As seen above it’s not seen in the original teachings.

I just thought if it said men had to find a rebirth as women to be enlightened I would think it’s still worthwhile. This is not to dismiss misogyny that may have come into the suttas but purely to reflect on the goal and the effort required.

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As this is the first time I’ve noticed you on Discuss & Discover, I would like to say: Welcome to the forum, @bishka!

Secondly, Bhante Sujato is close to finishing translations of both the Therigatha and Theragatha. I strongly encourage you or anyone to read these inspiring verses. Once you have, you will never again have doubt about the enlightenment potential of women!

In the meantime, I might suggest checking out the following:Great Disciples of the Buddha: Their Lives, Their Works, Their Legacy - Nyanaponika, Hellmuth Hecker - Google Books

Again, thank you for joining and contributing to this forum!


Check out the Bhikkhuni Samyutta, which includes several accounts of enlightened women:

One of my favorites: While Somā Bhikkhunī was meditating, Māra the Wicked tried to dissuade her, saying that a woman cannot achieve meditative prowess. Her response?

“What difference does womanhood make
when the mind is serene,
and knowledge is present
as you rightly discern the Dhamma.

Surely someone who might think:
‘I am woman’, or ‘I am man’
or ‘I am’ anything at all,
is fit for Māra to address.”

Then Māra the Wicked, thinking, “The nun Somā knows me!” miserable and sad, vanished right there.