Of the Buddha, Gautama Siddhartha, we know much. He was the earthly Buddha, the Shakyamuni.
Of his wife, Yashodara, the mother of his child Rahul, we know little. What happened to her after Siddhartha left her for a life of wandering and searching?
This is a tale of grief and tragedy, of awakening, of joy and contentment. But how does this transformation take place and how is Yashodara destined to find her true path?
" Yet Princess Yashodara, foreseeing its inner meaning, accepted the Lord Buddha as her saviour and became his most ardent follower. Her great love as wife became purified
Yashodara shines through the ages as a perfect wife, mother, queen and saint."
Sunity Devee, the Dowager Maharani of Cooch Behar, has presented us with this charming and well-written book. Together with beautiful illustrations, she enlightens us about Princess Yashodara, her initially sad life, her difficult realization and her ultimate saintly path to nirvana.
Gautama Siddhartha, the Prince of Kapilavastu, was born into a life of great luxury and wealth. Never aware of the world beyond his own small paradise, he married his fairytale Princess, Yashodara. A son, Rahul, was born and his life continued; one of love, peace and contentment.
"The charm of those days was like music to their souls, and each day drew her and Siddhartha closer together. Yashodara's beauty seemed to increased daily and the Prince's personality was intensified and sweetened."
But this contentment was to be destroyed by the realities of the life outside, which Siddhartha chanced to encounter. Gone was his tranquillity and peace of mind. A new path and a searching for a more lasting contentment did Siddhartha seek. Yashodara was smitten with grief when Siddhartha left, a life of love shattered. She became reclusive and led a life devoted to her son, but always with the pain of separation.
After many long years Siddhartha returned with the full knowledge that made him the Lord Buddha. The rejoicing was clear, but the Buddha brought a new calling to those around him. Many adopted his teachings and became disciples. Many reached to higher paths and became bodhisattvas, or ones who have stayed to guide those seeking the way. And of his wife?
" Buddha answered very kindly and gently, 'Yashodara, weep not; wipe away those sad tears, I have brought the treasure for which I left you. Yashodara, ask for this treasure and take what will make you happy and Free from misery and sorrow."
Yashodara herself joined the Buddha, teaching his message and following the path of a saint and teacher. Her own life became one of devotion to the Buddhist path and, when her time had come, she passed on into Nirvana.
The book is beautifully illustrated, the scenes giving a warmth and appreciation to the story. The author, Sunity Devee, finishes the story with some short stories about other characters surrounding Yashodara and her consort Siddhartha, the Lord Buddha.
IN placing this short life of the Buddhist Princess Yashodara before
the public I must plead for leniency for any shortcomings. My one aim
in the book has been to form a vivid word picture of a Princess born in
the purple of royalty and wedded to the heir of a great kingdom who
became a saint. Never has there been such another Maharani Bhikshuni.
Through the centuries which have passed her name has been handed
down and we find a sweet and living reality in her memory.
The Princess Yashodara first accepted the Prince Sidharta as her
heart's love and lord. Later, when he left her to found a new religion,
she suffered all that a loving and devoted wife can suffer. Later again
she realised the greatness of his work, and elected to follow him as his
disciple. Idolatry then flourished in India, Buddhism was in the throes
of its birth. The new cult was not easy to practise. It demanded self-
abnegation, suffering and penance. Yet Princess Yashodara, foreseeing
its inner meaning, accepted the Lord Buddha as her saviour and became
his most ardent follower. Her great love as wife became purified and
perfected by the teachings and practice of her husband's religion, and
Yashodara shines through the ages a perfect wife, mother, queen and
The " o " in the name of the Princess is long-Yashodara.
My thanks are due to Sraman Purnandho Swami and Dharma Pal for
their kind help in the writing of this book, and to my friend Sir Ernest Wallis
Budge, Litt.D., etc., who has edited my manuscript and seen the book
through the Press. The works of the standard authorities on Buddhism
have been of great service and have been freely quoted. To their
authors and editors I offer my grateful thanks.
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