I was watching the BBS Dzongkha programme known asLegshed-Lamzang where Venerable Khenpo Tandin Sithup was speaking to a folk of youths.
If you have watched and listened to the programme, a big question has been answered where many think a tradition where females are restricted the entry to Goenkhangs- the room reserved as the place for deities is gender bias.
He was speaking about the four immeasurable, 1. The immeasurable love and kindness, 2. Immeasurable compassion, 3.immeasurable joy and 4. immeasurable equanimity, to the young youths.
One of the youths asked him that, in his view the monastery not allowing women to enter the Goen-khang does not make sense while the Buddhism teaches to practice equanimity.
True, as he said, but this is not an issues of gender discrimination as in the context of the gender equality. It actually respects equality.
Khenpo said that first of all, a human body is never pure as it is composed of 36 filths. “A beautiful eye can be as disgusting as anything dirty on earth if it happens to be infected,” Khenpo said.
So men or women every one is equally dirty and filthy by nature although we see it as handsome, beautiful and clean when we have fair skin wrapped in the most expensive attires.
Well, coming to the point of not allowing the women to enter Goenkhang, Khenpo said that, since certain nature of human filth is considered very powerful that can affect the spirits living in the Goenkhag; the deities, it is therefore restricted.
Filth such as the women’s monthly period, the madness in a men who killed his father, a men who had sex with a women on period are considered a powerful filth that can agitate the deities. “Therefore, since it is quite difficult to know a women in her period time, to avoid any accidental entry that is believed would create agitation in the deities, women are restricted from entering the Goenkhang and not because they are a women,“ Khenpo explained.
Khenpo also mentioned, that even if it is a men, if he had killed his parents are not allowed to enter the Goenkhang. A man who had sex with women in her period should also not enter the Goenkhang until he had passed three days after the action so my father told me. For some women, it takes weeks to end the period time. It is therefore be noted that woman is not restricted but a filth believed to have implications is restricted. If one is free of it there is no restriction.
Therefore, I think it answers the question of not allowing women in Goenkhang as gender discrimination. But I agree it needs a new approach to it. May be women and men wishing to enter should make sure they are not wearing any of such filth mentioned above or may be have a notification in the temple so that men and women will make their own decisions to enter.