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Yasodhara, Wat Pho, Bangkok, Thailand
Bornc. 563 BCE
Devdaha, Koliya Kingdom
Diedc. 485 BCE (aged 78)[1]

Yaśodharā (Pali: Yasodharā, Sanskrit: यशोधरा, romanizedYaśodharā) was the wife of Prince Siddhartha — until he left his home to become a śramaṇa— the mother of Rāhula, and the sister of Devadatta.[3][4] She later became a Bhikkhunī and is considered an arahatā.[5]

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Yaśodharā was the daughter of King Suppabuddha,[6][7] and Amita. She was born on the same day in the month of Vaishaka as prince Siddhartha. Her grandfather was Añjana, a Koliya[8] chief, her father was Suppabuddha and her mother, Amitā, came from a Shakya family. The Shakya and the Koliya were branches of the Ādicca (Sanskrit: Aditya) 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.[9]

She was wedded to the Shakya prince Siddhartha, when they were both 16. At the age of 29, she gave birth to their only child, a boy named Rāhula. On the night of his birth, the prince left the palace: called the Great Renunciation. Yaśodharā was devastated and overcome with grief. Once prince Siddhartha left his home at night for enlightenment, the next day, everyone was surprised by the absence of the prince. The famous Indian Hindi poet Maithili Sharan Gupt (1886–1964) tried to gather the emotions of Yaśodharā in his poem (Translated by Gurmeet Kaur):[10]

Oh dear, if he would have told me,
Would he still have found me a roadblock?
He gave me lot of respect,
But did he recognize my existence in true sense?
I recognized him,
If he had this thought in his heart
Oh dear, if he would have told me.

Later, when she realised that he had left, Yaśodharā decided to lead a simple life.[11] Although relatives sent her messages to say that they would maintain her, she did not take up those offers. Several princes sought her hand but she rejected the proposals. Throughout his six-year absence, Princess Yaśodharā followed the news of his actions closely.

When the Buddha visited Kapilavastu after enlightenment, Yaśodharā did not go to see her former husband but asked Rāhula to go to the Buddha to seek inheritance. For herself, she thought: "Surely if I have gained any virtue at all the Lord will come to my presence." In order to fulfill her wish, Buddha came into her presence and admired her patience and sacrifice. King Suddhodana told Buddha how his daughter-in-law, Yasodhara, had spent her life in grief, without her husband. Also, there is Naraseeha Gatha[12] (Gatha refers to a poetic verse or hymn, often used in Buddhist scriptures to convey teachings or express devotion) and it is a Buddhist verse that was recited by Princess Yasodhara[13] to her son Rahula[14], explaining the noble virtues and physical characteristics of the Buddha after his enlightenment.

Some time after her son Rāhula became a monk, Yaśodharā also entered the Order of Monks and Nuns and within time attained the state of an arhat. She was ordained as bhikkhuni with the five hundred women following Mahapajapati Gotami that first established the bhikkhuni order. She died at 78, two years before Buddha's parinirvana (death).[15]


Prince Siddhattha and Princess Yasodhara, 1st–2nd century CE, Gandharan style. Lahore Museum.
Siddhartha held by Yasodhara, Loriyan Tangai.

In the Chinese: 佛本行集經, The Collective Sutra of the Buddha's Past Acts, Yashodharā meets Siddhārtha Gautama for the first time in a previous life, when as the young Brahmin (ancient Nepali priest) Sumedha, he is formally identified as a future Buddha by the buddha of that era, Dīpankara Buddha. Waiting in the city of Paduma for Dīpankara Buddha, he tries to buy flowers as an offering but soon learns that the king already bought all the flowers for his own offering. Yet, as Dipankara is approaching, Sumedha spots a girl named Sumithra (or Bhadra) holding seven lotus flowers in her hands. He speaks to her with the intention of buying one of her flowers, but she recognises at once his potential and offers him five of the lotuses if he would promise that they would become husband and wife in all their next existences.[16]

In the thirteenth chapter of the Lotus Sutra, Yaśodharā receives a prediction of future buddhahood from Gautama Buddha as does Mahapajapati.[17]


The meaning of the name Yaśodhara (Sanskrit) [from yaśas "glory, splendour" + dhara "bearing" from the verbal root dhri "to bear, support"] is Bearer of glory. The names she has been called besides Yaśodharā are: Yaśodharā Theri (doyenne Yaśodharā), Bimbādevī, Bhaddakaccānā and Rāhulamātā (mother of Rahula).[18] In the Pali Canon, the name Yaśodharā is not found; there are two references to Bhaddakaccānā.[19]

Several other names are identified as wives of the Buddha in different Buddhist traditions, including Gopā or Gopī, Mṛgajā, and Manodharā; Thomas Rhys Davids offered the interpretation that the Buddha had a single wife who acquired various titles and epithets over the years, eventually leading to the creation of origin stories for multiple wives.[20] Noel Peri was the first scholar to treat the issue at length, examining the Chinese and Tibetan sources as well as the Pali. He observed that early sources (translated before the 5th Century) seemed to consistently identify the Buddha's wife as 'Gopī', and that after a period of inconsistency 'Yaśodhara' emerged as the favored name for texts translated in the latter half of the 5th Century and later.[20]

Yasodharā's attitude to the Great Renunciation

Some non-scholastic publications say that Yasodhara was angry at the Buddha's departure, some does not.[21][22][23] Some studies say her anger was short-lasting: she was sorrowful not resentful.[24]

Scholars say that Yasodhara felt not anger, but sorrow, and a desire to emulate him, to follow him into renunciation:

"On the day of his birth, the Prince left the palace. Yasodharā was devastated and overcome with grief. Hearing that her husband was leading a holy Life, she emulated him by removing her jewellery, wearing a plain yellow robe and eating only one meal a day."[25]

Eastern poetry likewise says Yasodhara was not angry and surprised at his departure; she was merely sorrowful: "Yasodharā’s grief is not anger at his departure. She has known from the beginning that to be a Buddha was his goal and she has shared his life and his efforts toward that goal in all their past existences in samsāra. She has done so with a full knowledge of what it means. What she cannot understand is that on this one occasion he has gone leaving her behind, alone, and without a word to her."[13]

See also


  1. ^ Married in c. 547 BCE [2]


  1. ^ The Lord Buddha and His Teachings
  2. ^ The Lord Buddha and His Teachings
  3. ^ K. T. S. Sarao (2004). "In-laws of the Buddha as Depicted in Pāli Sources". Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal (17). Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies. ISSN 1017-7132.
  4. ^ "Suppabuddha". Dictionary of Pali Names.
  5. ^ Wilson, Liz (2013). Family in Buddhism. SUNY Press. p. 191. ISBN 9781438447537.
  6. ^ Garling, Wendy (2016). Stars at Dawn: Forgotten Stories of Women in the Buddha's Life. Shambhala Publications. p. 83. ISBN 9780834840300.
  7. ^ "Dhammapada Verse 128 Suppabuddhasakya Vatthu".
  8. ^ "Koliyā".
  9. ^ Why was the Sakyan Republic Destroyed? by S. N. Goenka (Translation and adaptation of a Hindi article by S. N. Goenka published by the Vipassana Research Institute in December 2003, archived)
  10. ^ Kaur, Gurmeet (2021). "Buddhism and Women". Bloomsbury Religion in North America. doi:10.5040/9781350971066.003. ISBN 9781350971066. S2CID 236681200. Archived from the original on 28 June 2021. Retrieved 24 October 2021. {{cite book}}: |website= ignored (help)
  11. ^ "The Compassionate Buddha". Archived from the original on 21 October 2009. Retrieved 23 September 2009.
  12. ^ Copilot with GPT-4 (
  13. ^ a b Yasodharā, the Wife of the Bōdhisattva: The Sinhala Yasodharāvata (The Story of Yasodharā) and the Sinhala Yasodharāpadānaya (The Sacred Biography of Yasodharā). State University of New York Press. 7 February 2014. ISBN 978-1-4384-2837-6.
  14. ^ "Rāhula", Wikipedia, 4 March 2024, retrieved 17 June 2024
  15. ^ The Lord Buddha and His Teachings
  16. ^ See Malalasekera, G.P. (1960). "Rāhulamātā". Dictionary of Pali Proper Names. Vol. 2. Pali Text Society. OCLC 793535195; Hudson, Bob; Gutman, Pamela; Maung, Win (2018). "Buddha's Life in Konbaung Period Bronzes from Yazagyo". Journal of Burma Studies. 22 (1): 1–30. doi:10.1353/jbs.2018.0000. S2CID 192318894. Archived from the original on 26 April 2019; and Zhang, J. (2017). "The Creation of Avalokiteśvara: Exploring His Origin in the Northern Āgamas". Canadian Journal of Buddhist Studies. 12: 1–62. Archived from the original on 30 April 2019.
  17. ^ Peach, Lucinda Joy (2002), "Social responsibility, sex change, and salvation: Gender justice in the Lotus Sūtra", Philosophy East and West, 52: 57–58, doi:10.1353/pew.2002.0003, S2CID 146337273, archived from the original on 29 August 2014{{citation}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link))
  18. ^ French text: Yashodhara (glorieuse) est la cousine et l’épouse principale de Gautama, mère de son fils Rahula. Connue par les Jatakas (légendes de la vie du Bouddha), elle serait devenue du vivant de Gautama une ascète, une nonne prééminente et l’un des quatre arahants de son entourage possédant l’intuition absolue 1. Les détails de sa légende sont de nos jours surtout populaires dans le bouddhisme theravada. Elle est également nommée Yashodhara Theri (doyenne Yashodhara), Bimbadevi, Bhaddakaccana ou Rahulamata (mère de Rahula).
  19. ^ AN 1. 14. 5. 11 states: "Etadaggaṃ bhikkhave mama sāvikānaṃ bhikkhunīnaṃ mahābhiññappattānaṃ yadidaṃ bhaddakaccānā" (SLTP). Bv, PTS p. 65, v. 15 states: "Cattārīsa sahassāni nāriyo samalaṅkatā / Bhaddakaccānā2 nāma nārī rāhulo nāma atrajo" (SLTP).
  20. ^ a b PERI, Noël. “LES FEMMES DE ÇĀKYA-MUNI.” Bulletin De L'École Française D'Extrême-Orient, vol. 18, no. 2, 1918, pp. 1–37. JSTOR, [].
  21. ^ Wadhwa, Soni (2021). "Feminist Literary Criticism Meets Feminist Theology: Yashodhara and the Rise of Hagiographical Fiction in Modern Feminist Re-visioning". SAGE Open. 11 (4). doi:10.1177/21582440211061570.
  22. ^ Sasson, Vanessa R. (31 March 2023). "The Woman Who Married the Buddha". Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. Retrieved 1 March 2024.
  23. ^ Wadhwa, Soni (9 April 2021). ""Yasodhara and the Buddha" by Vanessa R Sasson". Asian Review of Books. Retrieved 1 March 2024.
  24. ^ Yasodharā, the Wife of the Bōdhisattva (PDF). Translated by Obeyesekere, Ranjini.
  25. ^ "Yasodharā - Tibetan Buddhist Encyclopedia". Retrieved 1 March 2024.
  • The Buddha and His Teaching, Nārada, Buddhist Missionary Society, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 1988, ISBN 967-9920-44-5


External links

This page was last edited on 17 June 2024, at 15:14
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