Pray To Be Reborn A Man

Buddhist gender wars

Martine Batchelor

Women and Defilement
An excerpt from the Blood Bowl Sutra

The Venerable Moggattana once saw on a vast plain in Tsuiyo prefecture of U state, a Hell of Blood. Its width was 84,000 yujun [approximately 7 km], and in the center were 130 kinds of iron chain instruments of torture. Countless numbers of women from the human world, with dishevelled hair and shackles on their wrists, were suffering greatly in that hell. Three times a day the Lord of Hell forces the sinners to drink the unclean blood. If they do not drink he wields an iron bar. Cries of the sinners resound far. Moggattana felt pity and compassion and asked the Lord of Hell: "I can see no men from the human world suffering in this hell. Why is it that so many women only are suffering here?" The Lord of Hell answered Moggattana: "This is something which has no relevance for men. Only women defile the head of the earth gods with blood from giving birth, because they wash blood-soiled clothes in the rivers and pollute the flow. Many good men then draw up that water to boil tea and perform memorial services to various sacred gods, and so the gods have come to hate the defilement of [women's] blood. The great general of heaven announces the names of those who have defiled the earth and rivers, and enters them in the 'Register of Good and Evil.' One hundred years later those women will suffer the torment [of the Blood Hell] for this when they are waiting for their lives to end."

—From "Women and Buddhism: Blood Impurity and Motherhood" by Nakana Yuko, in Women and Religion in Japan, edited by Akiko Okuda and Harttdo Okano, translated by Alison Watts, published by Harrassowitz Verlag, Wiesbaden, 1998.

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