Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Yasodhara, the Wife of the Bodhisatta

  Yasodhara, the Wife of the Bodhisatta

Past lives of Princess Yasodhara - Gaining Affirmations 
The relationship between Yashodhara and Prince Siddhartha was long and deep-rooted. It had started many, many lives ago at the time of the Dipankara Buddha. At that time, the Prince (Bodhisatta) was born as an ascetic by the name of Sumedha. After an exceedingly long period of practicing the ten virtues, (Dasa Paramitha/Then Perfections) the Bodhisatta Sumedha had finally completed the eight requirements to receive the definite proclamation of Buddha hood from the Dipankara Buddha. 

The young ascetic Sumeda was committed to achieve the highest spiritual achievement, to become a Buddha in eons to come. That day he heard that the Dipankara Buddha was visiting his village. Upon hearing this all people began clearing the roads and pathways and filled muddy ares after the heavy rains, and yet could not complete them on time. When Sumeda spotted a narrow area of the muddy road, his mind worked towards a different plan. 

He requested the Great Teacher and his retinue to walk over him. Dipankara Buddha saw the young man's thought in his divine eye, and knew the youth's wish will materialise in uncountable eons to come. Dipankara Buddha prophesied ascetic Sumedha would be a Buddha named Gotama in the distant future.

Yashodhara, at that time, was born as a noble lady by the name of Sumitra. When the Buddha approached closer, the Bodisatta looked for something to offer to the Buddha. Sumitra had eight blue lotus flowers in her hand and she gave five of them to Sumeda to be offered to the Buddha. Sumitra offered the other three flowers to the Bodhisatta and he in return offered them back to the Buddha. 

Sumitra too performed a wish. Cutting off her hair, she aspired to be his consort and helpmate and to support Him actively in His quest for Buddha- hood. The Buddha affirmed that Sumitra too will possess similar thoughts and deeds, devoted to the Bodisatta and be faithful and supportive to him throughout his long journey. This strong aspiration and the meritorious deeds she performed over a long period of time resulted in her being the Bodhisattva’s consort and supporter throughout many births. 

During the long period in which the Bodhisattva completed his all three sets of Perfections, she became his wife and actively supported His quest for perfection. She went through many difficulties and hardship  renouncing herself with Bodisatta to the forests, leaving Kingdoms, wealth, giving away her children and her self to assist him with his quest for perfection, the most powerful position in the world - "the Buddha hood" through countless cycles of births. 

 After fulfilling her requisites and perfections associated with Bodisatta, later she was born in the city of Hansawathi as a princess during the time of Pumatura Buddha. She often visited the Buddha's Monastery with her parents. On a certain day after the sermon from the Pumatura Buddha, she heard a nun proclaimed in the first rank of those who possessed super normal powers. She resolved to acquire a similar rank. Once again she gained affirmation from the Pumatura Buddha and engaged in meritorious deeds and later was born through many lives with Bodisatta in the heavenly and human realms. Their last before birth had been the Bodisatta as King Vessantara and Yasodhara as Queen Madri. There after they both enjoyed heavenly pleasures in the Thusita heaven for a very long period of time and for the final time She was born in the city of Devdaha, as the daughter of mother Amitha and to father King Supprabuddha as princess Yasodhara on the very same day and time Prince Sidhartha was born.

  Some of her past stories related to Bodhisattva are recorded in the 550 Jataka Tales and Pujawaliya.

   Princess Yasodhara

  Yashodhara was the daughter of    King Suppabuddha and Queen Pamita. As King Suppabuddha was one of King Shuddhodana's younger brothers, she was one of Prince Siddhartha’s cousins. Yashodhara was born on the same day as Prince Siddhartha. She was exquisitely beautiful, with golden skin and blue-black hair that cascaded down to her feet. Yasodhara was the chief consort because of her past meritorious deeds. 

Prince Siddhartha was sixteen when His parents decided that it was a suitable time for Him to marry. As was the custom at that time, a great celebration was held and princesses from all over the country were brought in procession for the Prince to choose from. None of them attracted His attention. The Prince treated them with gifts but refused them all. The procession was almost finished when Yashodhara came rushing in, to inquire if there were any gifts left for her. The Prince then arose from His throne, and taking the pearl necklace that adorned His person, gently placed it around her neck. Prince Siddhartha chose His cousin, Yashodhara, to be His bride.

At first King Suppabuddha was against the marriage. He knew that the wise men had foretold that Siddhartha would leave the palace and His crown to become a Buddha. He also felt that the gentle, compassionate Prince might not be skilled in warfare, and as such, not be suitable for his daughter. The princess, however, wanted to marry no one else but Siddhartha.
King Suppabuddha, wishing to test Prince Siddhartha, arranged a tournament for Him to display His skills in archery, riding and swordsmanship. Sportsmen from all over the country gathered to challenge the Prince. Siddhartha, however, was an excellent sportsman. He excelled in all the events and ousted the best men in the country. King Suppabuddha therefore relented and gave his daughter in marriage to Prince Siddhartha.

Buddha's Visit to Kapilavattshu

The second year after His enlightenment the Buddha visited Kapilavatstu, his home town, by the invitation of his father, King Suddhodana. 

On next morning the Buddha took his bowl and set out for his alms food. And the news spread abroad: "Prince Siddhartha is going from house to house to receive alms in the city where he used to ride in a chariot attended by his retinue. His robe is like a red clod, and he holds in his hand an earthen bowl."

On hearing the strange rumor, the king went forth in great haste and when he met his son he exclaimed: "Why do you disgrace me? Knowing  that I can easily supply food for you and the bhikkhus?" And the Buddha replied: "It is the custom of my race."

But the king said: "how can this be? You are descended from kings, and not one of them ever begged for food."

"O great king," rejoined the Buddha. "My descent is from the Buddhas of old. They, begged their food and lived on alms." The king made no reply, and the Blessed One continued: "It is customary, O king, when one has found a hidden treasure, for him to make an offering of the most precious jewel to his father. Suffer me, therefore, to open this treasure of mine which is the Dharma, and accept from me this gem": And the Blessed One recited the following stanza:

"Arise from dreams and delusions,
Awaken with open mind.
Seek only Truth. Where you find it,
Peace also you will find."

The Buddha Meets Queen Yasodhara

Then the King conducted the Buddha and his disciples into the palace, and the ministers and all the members of the royal family greeted him with great reverence, but Yasodhara, the mother of Rahula, did not make her appearance. The King sent for Yasodhara, but she replied: “surely, if I am deserving of any regard, Siddhartha will come and see me.”

After the meal the Buddha, accompanied by His two male chief disciples, entered her chamber and sat down on the seat prepared for Him. "I am free," the Blessed One said to his disciples, Ven. Sariputta and Ven. Moggallana, "the princess, however, she is not as yet free. Not having seen me for a long time, she is exceedingly sorrowful. Unless her grief be allowed its course her heart will cleave. Should she touch the Tathagata, the Holy One, ye must not prevent her. "He then said, "Let the kings daughter reverence me as she likes."

Ya   Yasodhara sat in her room, dressed in simple garments, and her hair cut. When the Buddha entered the Princess’s room, she was, from the abundance of her affection, like an overflowing vessel, unable to contain her love. Forgetting that the man whom she loved was the Buddha, the Lord of the world, the preacher of truth, Yashodhara came forward quickly, and clasping His ankles, placed her head on His feet and paid reverence to Him as she wished. she held him by his feet and wept bitterly. Yasodhara's devotion to the Buddha was heralded by her father-in-law, King Suddhodana.

       He informed the Buddha of her devotion by saying, "when my daughter heard that you had taken to wearing simple yellow robes, she too gave up her jewels and wore yellow robes. When she heard that you had only one meal a day, she too had only one meal a day. When she heard that you slept on low, hard beds, she too gave up the luxurious palace, couches and beds. And when she heard that you had given up garlands and perfume, she too gave up garlands and perfume. When her relatives sent messages of young men who wanted to support her she did not even look at a single one." 
The Buddha acknowledged this devotion by saying that it was not only in this birth that she had been devoted to him. He then dispensed the Chanda Kinnara Jatakaya, where Yashodhara had given her life to save His life by jumping in front of a hunter’'s arrow. Yasodhara became very pleased and happy after hearing the sermon from the Buddha.

       Then the Blessed One spoke kindly to Yasodhara, telling of her great merits inherited from former lives. She had indeed been again and again of great assistance to him. Her purity, her gentleness, her devotion had been invaluable to the Bodhisattva when he aspired to attain enlightenment, the highest aim of mankind. And so holy had she been that she desired to become the wife of a Buddha. This then is her Karma, and it is the result of great merits she had done in her past. Her grief has been unspeakable, but the consciousness of the glory that surrounds her spiritual inheritance increased by her noble attitude during her life, will be a balm that will miraculously transform all sorrows into heavenly joy. 

        Queen Yasodhara's Renunciation 

       Queen Yasodhara was the first to request to gain entry into the Bhikkhuni order. How ever it got refused by the Buddha.  When Theri Prajapati Gotami gained entry into the the Bhikkhuni sanga,Yashodhara gave up the household life with her mates and entered the order of nuns under Theri Maha Pajapati Gotami.

       In the Pali Cannon she is referred to as Baddhakachchana and not as Yasodhara. These references are made to the Arhant Therani, after she entered the order and became fully enlightened as an Arhat.             

Because of her great Karma, she attained Arahatship within a very short period of time. With her attaining of Arahatship, Theri Yasodhara gained the ability to perform Great Super Normal Powers and was endowed with Four Analytical Knowledges. Later, when the Buddha placed his female chief disciples, at Jetavanarama Monastery, she was declared the chief disciple among the nuns who attained super normal powers (Maha Abhinna) to recall infinite eras of the past. Only four of the Buddha’s disciples had such powers. In general, the Buddha’s disciples could only recall up to 100,000 world cycles. Yashodhara, the Buddha’s two chief male disciples and the Elder Bakkula, however, had super normal powers and could recall incalculable eras. 

       When people of Sawatti heard about her ordination, Leaders like Visakha, and other distinguished supporters built a Monastery for Theri Yasodhara and other Bhikkhunis. People of all clans and Kings came to see her and offered arms. The Queens of Lichchavi and many other lay disciples were also regularly came to visit Theri Yasodhara.

       Theri Yasodhara is one of the enlightened nuns who worked diligently for the welfare of other nuns who helped along side with meditation instructions to realise the Dhamma. She made use of her wisdom to see past lives of others in order to understand their habits and abilities. Having utilised this special knowledge, she gave necessary meditation instructions to other nuns to reach their fullest potential to reach the enlightenment. Her wisdom radiated like a beaming star in the Sky of the Bhikkhuni Sasana.  
      Theri Yashodhara passed away at the age of 78, prior to the Lord  Buddha.

Yasodhara's love and devotion are best seen in the poem "The Lion of Men." “Nara Seeha Gathas”

The Lion of Men (Nara Seeha Gata)


       Pointing out the Buddha and His retinue of monks to their son from the palace balcony, with adoration she described the Buddha and introduced Him to little Rahula.

His red, sacred feet are marked with an excellent wheel;
His long heels are decked with characteristic marks;
His feet are adorned with the chowrie (camara) and parasol;
That indeed, is your father, lion of men.
He is a delicate and noble Sakya Prince;
His body is full of characteristic marks;
Intent on the welfare of the world;
That indeed, is your father, lion of men.
Like the full moon is His face;
He is dear to gods and men;
His gait is as graceful as that of an elephant of noble breed;
That indeed, is your father, lion of men.
He is of noble lineage, sprung from the warrior caste;
His feet have been honored by gods and men;
His mind is well established in morality and concentration;
That, indeed, is your father, lion of men.
Long and prominent is His well-formed nose;
His eyelashes are long like those of a heifer;
His eyes are exceedingly blue and like a rainbow are His blue-black brows;
That indeed, is your father, lion of men.
Round and smooth is His well-formed neck;
His jaws are strong like that of a lion;
His body is golden like that of the king of beasts;
That indeed, is your father, lion of men.
Soft and deep is His sweet voice;
His tongue is as red as vermilion;
His white teeth like pearls are twenty, each row;
That indeed, is your father, lion of men.
Like the colour of collyrium is His blue-black hair;
Like a polished golden plate is His smooth forehead;
White as the morning star is His beautiful tuft of hair (between the brows);
That, indeed, is your father, lion of men.
Just as the moon, surrounded by the multitude of stars;
Follows the sky’s path;
Even so goes the Lord, accompanied by His monks;
That, indeed, is your father, lion of men.

Candakinnara Jataka

Once the bodhisattva (Gautama), born as a kinnara named Canda, lived with his mate Candaa in the Canda mountain of the Himavana forest. One day, while the kinnaras were enjoying themselves near a little stream, the king of Benares, seeing Candaa fell in love with her. The king shot Canda with an arrow, and when Candaa lamented aloud for her dead husband, the king revealed himself and offered her his love and his kingdom. Candaa scorned the offer and protested to the gods for allowing harm to befall her husband. Sakra’s throne was heated by her great loyalty and coming in the guise of a brahmin, he restored Canda to life. The king was Anuruddha and Candaa was Rahulamata (Yasodara). The Jataka was related by the Buddha when he visited his father’s palace at Kapilavatthu and heard from Suddhodana how devotedly Rahulamata continued to love the Buddha. He said it was not the first time that she had shown such undying affection.  

Yasodhara Theri Seeks Permission From The Buddha for her Final Departure


When she went to seek permission from the Buddha for her departure, she was accompanied by thousands of Bhikkhunis (nuns). She worshiped him and sat respectfully on a side. 

Then she recounted the details of her past lives in Samsara. At her words the Lord looked out over the past in samsara and saw the following; Knowing how great a help she had been and her infinite goodness during their past he said, " There is no woman comparable to Yasodhara in this entire Buddha era."  This revered person is one who has the knowledge to see uncountable eons of past lives. She has acquired the Divine Eye and Divine Ears and has the unique and special powers to Sight and Hearing. She has extinguished all defilements. She has arrived at the summit of the Three Kinds of Knowledge. She has super normal powers not second to the Buddha.
"From the day she became an Arahat she has continued to live as an ordinary nun and did not exhibit her miraculous  powers. Thus no one has seen the power of her miracles. Men living in the world do not know what kind of a person the Mother of Rahula is. Is she an Arahat or is she not? Does she has miraculous powers or does she not? They have doubts. Therefore you should perform some miraculous acts,” the Buddha said. "Theri Yasodhara, it is not right that one such great person as you should disappear privately into the state of Nirvana without displaying your powers to the world. You should perform some miraculous acts," He said.
So She turned to the Buddha, worshiped him and said, "I who am now displaying miraculous power before a supreme Buddha such as you, I am Queen Yasodhara, who was your chief Queen, the head of all your ninety- six thousand Queens when you were Siddharta in the past." 
" Lord you gave me, who was wandering in the dark of ignorance, the lamp of the Divine Eye to see my past lives over incalculable eons and light the way to the state to Nirvana." There fore O Lord Buddha by the super normal powers given by you, behold now one such miracle. So saying she gave a lion roar, worshiped the blessed feet of the Buddha, obtained permission, attained to a Trance State, rose up in to the sky said, 
"Yosodhara aham vira arahati pajapatti,
Sakiymahi kule jata itthiyage patitthita."
"I am Yasodhara O Hero, a woman, born to the Sakyan clan, and your wife during your lay life." 
Then she cried out aloud for the Gods living in tens of thousands of universe to hear.
She thought,"I will make an offering to the Buddha from the abode of the Garudas." Then she made the offerings of the seven Garuda aboads' and cried out loud " I am the Theri Yasodhara." She then displayed herself in various forms: as an elephant, a horse, a mountain and an ocean. Then as the sun, moon, mount Meru and Sakra. Thus of ten such miraculous displays she created an elephant image covering the sky for ten thousand leagues. Then she stretched out her hand to the city of Sakra, tore out the divine madara tree and made a royal umbrella of flowers to hold over the Buddha's head. While the crowds in unison applauded shouting "sadu."(good well done) She cried out loud, "I am no other than Yasodhara who was Buddha's wife when she lived the life of a house holder."
In this manner she worshiped the Buddha and declared all her acts of devotion and perfections she had cultivated. At that time Gods and Brahmas wished to know what kind of merit this Queen Yasodhara had done in the past to be able to perform such miracles and obtain such wonderful power.
Then the Lord who knew the minds of others realised the wishes of the vast gathering crowds and consoled Yasodhara Theri saying, 
"Theri Yasodhara, tell the crowd gathered here of your initial determined  commitment which was the cause of your devotion to the Buddha and you your self rid the crowds gathered here of their doubts." 
"Hear it then from me, This Queen Yasodhara herself, full of faith offered alms to all the Enlightened ones who became Buddhas and Atahats in all three kalpas (eons). Fulfilled The Perfections and higher virtues. Theri Yasodhara went on declaring all her past meritorious actions she performed with Bodisatta.
" Listen then great King and keep well in mind the Acts of Giving she has performed, "said the Buddha.
"Great King , this Queen Yasodhara together with me in samsara fulfilled the requirements needed to Enlightenment, and over a long period of time, practised the Ten Perfections and the virtues and declared about the vast amount of merits she had performed together in samsara.  
Putting aside doubts, all the Gods and humans, who witnessed her miracles with happy minds instantly made a fervent wish to obtain the blessings of virtue, the blessings of respect, the blessings of meritorious deeds and the blessings of the nectar Nirvana.
In this manner, when Theri Yasodhara worshiped the Buddha, obtained forgiveness, and requests permission to leave. The Buddha aware that now the residents of all three worlds knew of the power of the Theri Yasodhara's great acts of merit and her enormous miraculous powers thought it was time to give her leave to go. 
The Buddha said, "Great senior nun Yasodhara, most worthy and most blessed, there is no need to forgive one like you who has obtained the nectar of Nirvana. however, as it is a tradition in the world I grant forgiveness to Yasodhara, he said." 
She worshiped the Buddha, bade farewell, circumambulated  him three times , stepped back, and raising both hands in worshiping said,
"Lord , Just as the water that reaches the see does not flow back into the river and as the water that goes into the mouth of the Makara (sea monster) does not return to the sea, so I who was with you over an infinite period of time, will now go a way and not seen again." Saying so she left for the Nunnery.
When she left, on the Buddha's advice monks and lay gathered there followed her. She went to the Nunnery and that night attained Nirvana.
Later the Buddha with a host of Gods, Brahmas and huge crowd gathered and performed the funeral rights. There after the Buddha took the relics and had a Stupa constructed for the residents of Dambadiva to make daily offerings in order to acquire the blessings of heaven and Nirvana.
In fact, her dying words reflected this devotion. She referred to the fact that she had been helping Him during the entire period and had helped Him to achieve in 100,000 world cycles and four infinite periods what other Buddhas take eight and sixteen infinite periods to achieve.

 Theri Yasodhara proved to the wold that women were also capable as men in gaining higher wisdom by performing her Super normal Powers  when she paid her last respect to the Gauthama Buddha at her farewell.
Yasodhara’s devotion to Gautama Buddha is unique in the world. 
When Buddha left her, there were many others who brought her offers to marry Yasodhara and make her the chief queen, but Yasodhara immediately rejected them. 

In  Anguttara Nikaya 1. 14.5.11 - the Buddha says thus, "Etadaggaṃ bhikkhave mama sāvikānaṃ bhikkhuneenaṃ mahābhiññappattānaṃ yadidaṃ Bhaddhakaccānā "
Thus, the Buddha acknowledged Arahat Theri Baddakachchana as the foremost Bhikkhuni (Buddhist Nun) in possessing the supernatural powers.

"Yosodhara aham vira arahati pajapatti,
Sakiymahi kule jata itthiyage patitthita."

Thus, the Buddha acknowledged her as the foremost Bhikkhuni (Buddhist Nun) in possessing the supernatural powers


  1. Sadhu Sadhu... I am going to refer to this article for Dhamma school lessons. Many merits for this valuable writing., Vancouver - Canada.

    1. Thank you for your valuable comment. I am so happy to hear that someone is making use of these writings. Greetings with metta!

  2. Very emotional story about queen yashodhara and in her previous births with bodhisattva, how she helped him to attain enlightenment, She is a noble,super virtue and devotional lady.