[Buddha-l] Buddhism and hermaphrodites/intersex people: query

Vicente Gonzalez vicen.bcn at gmail.com
Mon Jun 2 23:08:24 MDT 2008

Sharon wrote:

SS> I have read Carl Olson's brief article on
SS> the approach taken by Early Buddhism to hermaphroditism in the Buddhist
SS> Studies Review which he regards as negative, and have come across a
SS> section of a translated Pali canon text (Buddhism in Translations by Henry
SS> Clarke Warren first published by Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi in 1986) in
SS> which it is stated that intersex people cannot make the wish to become a
SS> wheel-turning Buddha.  I have also seen a quotation from the book by
SS> Serinity Young, "Courtesans and tantric consorts : sexualities in Buddhist
SS> narrative, iconography and ritual" in which being reborn as intersex is
SS> described on p.205 as "the lowest possible state amongst men."

in Thai Theravada:

about the Chinese stuff, there is a chapter "Homosexuality and other
forms of queerness" inside "An Introduction to Buddhist Ethics:
Foundations, Values and Issues", Peter Harvey.
Here there is mention to some Chinese mahayana comments arising in 7th
century around the pandakas consideration. They are an effort to
distinguish the karmic wish to be treated like a woman of some
irrecoverable and obsessive lust.

about Theravada ordination:
"(1) The prohibition for abnormal gender covers pandakas and
hermaphrodites. According to the Commentary, there are five kinds of
pandakas, two of whom do not come under this prohibition: voyeurs and
those whose sexual fever is allayed by performing fellatio. The three
who do come under this prohibition are: castrated men (eunuchs), those
born neuter, and half-time pandakas (people who are sometimes neuter,
sometimes male (?)). In the origin story for this prohibition, a
pandaka who had received Acceptance unsuccessfully propositioned some
bhikkhus and novices, then succeeded in propositioning some horse- and
elephant-trainers, who spread it about, "These Sakyan contemplatives
are pandakas. And those among them who are not pandakas commit
indiscretions with pandakas."

The pandaka case in origin seems to be closer to an irrecoverable
attachment to lust and to preserve the social prestige of the Sangha.
Maybe the later Canon included the physical body appearance as
something associated with that condition of the mind.

I have never read in Suttas about the impossibility of awakening for
pandakas, just about their ordination. Where do you find this? . It
would be interesting.

best regards,

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