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History of Monasticism Changes Essay


The act of being alone or single is referred to as monasticism. This kind of life is mainly associated with monks and nuns who dedicate their lives to serve in the monasteries and churches respectively.

Studies have shown that monks and nuns originated in India. During that time, monks and nuns wandered from one place to another praying and meditating (Harnack 87).

They were mainly offered accommodation in parks by wealthy people in the community. However, this lifestyle changed after some time. Wealthy people donated land where permanent buildings were set up for the monks and nuns.


As stated earlier, the lives of monks and nuns revolved around monasteries where they prayed and meditated all day long. They dedicated their lives to carrying out activities such as writing, sewing, praying, meditating and teaching.

Their daily activities were well organized in a timetable that they followed strictly. For instance, their first prayer took place very early in the morning and the last one late at night.

The monks had admirable writing and drawing skills that they used to write their books. For instance, the first letter in every paragraph that they wrote was well decorated so as to attract the attention of the readers.

They even went as far as using gold to decorate their writings. Their books looked neat and extremely intriguing to read. This is why their books were widely read all over the world.

In case one wished to convert into Buddhism, they had to take certain vows. The first vow required a person to leave all their worldly possessions and was known as the vow of poverty.

The second vow required one to remain single and was known as the vow of chastity. The third and last vow required one to be obedient to the church and monastery. This was the vow of obedience. Some monks and nuns defied some of the vows and acquired a lot of wealth. This led to the introduction of a certain order known as Cistercian.

Cistercian monasteries were mainly situated outside towns. The monks and nuns who chose not to respect the vow of poverty became very wealthy people in the society. It was later discovered that some had joined the monasteries to get preferable treatment.

In fact, some of these nuns and monks owned extensive pieces of land. The monasteries were at one time turned into schools and travelling shelters. The poor and the sick also sought solace in the monasteries (Harnack 87).

This changed when Carolingian Empire took over causing a drop in the economy. Monasteries were burned down rendering a lot of people homeless since they had come to know the monasteries as their homes.

Monks and nuns wore certain kind of clothes. Some were so ridiculous that they caused the wearer to itch all over their bodies all in the name of remembering how Jesus suffered. They had some eating rules which required them to maintain total silence while eating. However, there was an exception. The priest was allowed to read the bible aloud while eating. The kind of food that they ate improved when some monasteries gained a lot of wealth.

The importance of women in the society was viewed under different dimensions by monks and nuns. Initially the society deemed women as burdens because they were not involved in any income generating activities.

Men had to take care of women and children. Conducting religious rites for the dead were considered a crucial task in the society. Since the women could not undertake this task, they were seen as useless beings.

The birth of a male child was the prayer of almost all parents. A female child was seen as a curse in the family and, therefore, no family wanted to get a girl. A male child was preferred so that he could carry on the family name.

The introduction of Buddhism changed the perception of women in society. Women were appreciated in the new order of nuns and monks. The monks and nuns made it clear that women were influential people in the society.

They explained to the society that, given a chance, women were capable of doing anything that men did. First and foremost, women were good wives to their husbands and excellent mothers to their children.

Women and men were given equal tasks to perform. Women took over the tasks of their husbands whenever they were absent. This brought a lot of peace and understanding in the family and society at large.


A lot of positive changes were incorporated into the order through the monks and nuns. For instance, women got recognition in the society. Initially, women were barred from accessing education but, the order was changed such that women could get equal opportunities in education.

Also, women got religious freedom whereby they worshiped freely with others. This was a crucial step in ensuring that women got decent jobs.

People thought that giving women a lot of freedom would cause problems in the society but women worked hard to prove them wrong. Women excelled in all their undertakings. In fact in some fields, women did better than men. The Buddhists recorded all the women capabilities in their texts.

Works Cited

Harnack, Adolf. Monasticism. London: Read Books Design, 2009. Print

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