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Buddha's Wife

Finding meaning in the legend

There are many legends of Buddha's wife, some close to truth and some completely fabricated. But it's an accepted fact that he was married and left his life in the palace sometime after his marriage.

This is not mentioned in the Tipiṭaka or Pali canon, the collection of primary Pali language texts which form the doctrinal foundation of Theravada Buddhism. In the Tipitaka she is only ever referred to as Rāhulamātā, that is ‘Rāhula’s mother.’ In the earliest reference to her, she is called Bhaddakaccānā, which may be her real name (Bv.26,15) whereas Yasodharā is an honorific title meaning ‘Fame-bearer’ and became the name of legend. Other than this, there is almost no information about Siddhattha’s wife.

The legend says that Yaśodhara was the daughter of King Suppabuddha, and Pamitā, sister of the Buddha's father, King Śuddhodana. She was born on same day in the month of "Vaishaka" as Prince Siddaratha. Her grandfather was Añjana a Koliya chief, her father was Suppabuddha and her mother, Pamitā, came from a Shakya family.

The Shakya and the Koliya were branches of the Ādicca or Ikshvaku dynasty. There were no other families considered equal to them in the region and therefore members of these two royal families married only among themselves.

She was wedded to her cousin, the Shakya prince Siddhartha, in his 16th year when she was also 16 years of age. At the age of 29, she gave birth to their only child, a boy named Rāhula who became know as Siddhattha who left is wife and home to enquire into the nature of life.

This part of the story of the Gautam Buddha often raises questions about his wife and son, this piece by Vikram Bhattacharya touches that part of the story.

He left her in the middle of the night, the very night their son was born.

When she heard the news she was naturally devastated.

Yet, she did not complain but her life lost all meaning.

The only reason for her to live now was her son. She wanted him to grow up to be a man that the world would look up to.

Her friends and relatives came around and asked her to forget about the man who had left her and start life all over again.

They asked her to marry again but she refused. She was young & beautiful & suitors queued up outside her door, but she refused each one of them.

Then one fine day He came back !

He stood in front of her and she could hardly remember him as the man who had left her.

“They call you the Buddha now....” she said to him gently.

“I hear they do,” he answered in a measured, calm fashion.

“What does the word mean?” she inquired further...

“I think it means the enlightened one, a knower,” he replied.....

She smiled and then a silence.

“I suppose we have both learned something. Your lessons O Buddha, will make the world richer in spirit, but my lesson will unfortunately remain largely unknown.” She reflected deeply....

“And what lesson is that ? ” The Buddha probed.

Her eyes sparkled with unshed tears,

“That a courageous woman does not need anyone to complete her..... SHE IS COMPLETE ON HER OWN”

Saluting womanhood for the spirit of Yashodhara!!!

References:
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopaedia
ราชตระกูล เจ้าชายสุทโธทนะและเจ้าหญิงสิริมหามายา
Wiki

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