Buddhism is about the most tangible equality: the Buddha was
thoroughly articulate in saying that all living beings possess the
fundamental nature for awakening and ability to be liberated from
transmigration between rebirths and redeaths, traverse and exit
from the three realms, transcend and exit from the six destinies,
and attain Buddhahood.
The Buddha, on enlightenment, returned to the palace. The other
character in the story was Upali, at the time a barber from the caste
Upali learned that three princes had shaven head and beard and taken
the path of learning under the Buddha. He wanted to do the same but
was afeared of his own subservient status. He was crying under a tree
when the Buddha passed by. In the end, the Buddha admitted Upali
into the Sangha as a bhiksu—proof that someone like Upali, though a
serf, was eligible to leave home because he was determined in initiating
the vow and that serfs and nobles were equals in the monastic setting.
Back in the vihara later, the Buddha asked the princes to prostrate
before Upali out of reverence. The fact that Upali the serf accepted
tribute from the nobles indicated this:
‘Four rivers, running into the sea,
Are no longer known by their names;
All four castes, having left home,
Take on the same last name as Shi.’
News of what happened sent shock waves across the community.
It was deemed a bloodless revolution. Such spirit of equality fully
demonstrated what it means by equality in Buddhism.