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Yasodhara, the Wife of the Bodhisattva: The Sinhala Yasodharavata and the Yasodharapadanaya (New)

by Obeyesekere, Ranjini

Publisher: SUNY Press

Binding: Paperback

Book ID: 9781438428284, 1438428286


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Translations of two works from Sri Lanka on Yasodhara, the wife of the Buddha—an allusive and intriguing figure in Buddhist lore and literature.

What about Buddha’s wife? We all know that Prince Siddhartha left his wife and infant son to begin his journey to enlightenment. The Pali canon does not mention the woman he left behind. Yasodhara enters the commentarial tradition around the first century CE and lives on in the folk tradition, growing from a shadowy figure to a nun and arahat (an Enlightened One), even gaining magical powers. In this book, Ranjini Obeyesekere offers a translation of two works from Sri Lanka on this intriguing figure. The Yasodharavata (The Story of Yasodhara) is a folk poem, whose best-known verses are Yasodhara’s lament over the departure of her husband. The Yasodharapadanaya (The Sacred Biography of Yasodhara) is an account of Yasodhara as a nun capable of miracles, who has traveled through samsara with the Bodhisattva, and who is praised by him. Obeyesekere places these works within their historical and literary context and provides a glossary of Buddhist terms.

“The translations are fluid, appealing, and quite readable. This book illuminates the ‘shadows’ that obscured Yasodhara from the modernist, essentialized telling of the Buddha story, thereby enriching the growing genre of narratives of women in Buddhism.” -- Donald K. Swearer, author of The Buddhist World of Southeast Asia “In her beautiful translation, Obeyesekere provides access to a world of Buddhism that has only been available to Sinhala readers. Many people will now be able to read, enjoy, and study these stories as an important aspect of what can be called ‘devotional Buddhism.’” -- George D. Bond, author of Buddhism at Work: Community Development, Social Empowerment and the Sarvodaya Movement

Ranjini Obeyesekere is an independent scholar and retired Lecturer of Anthropology at Princeton University. She is the author, editor, and translator of several books, including Portraits of Buddhist Women: Stories from the Saddharmaratnavaliya and Jewels of the Doctrine: Stories of the Saddharmaratna&valiya, both also published by SUNY Press.

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