Vanessa R. Sasson

Mar 18, 2021

Yasodhara and the Buddha

Bloomsbury Publishing 2020

By combining the spirit of fiction with the fabulism of Indian mythology and in-depth academic research, Vanessa R. Sasson shares the evocative story of the Buddha from the perspective of a forgotten woman: Yasodhara, the Buddha's wife.

Although often marginalized, Yasodhara's narrative here comes to life.  Written with a strong feminist voice, we encounter Yasodhara as a fiercely independent, passionate and resilient individual. We witness her joys and sorrows, her expectations and frustrations, her fairy-tale wedding, and her overwhelming devastation at the departure of her beloved.

It is through her eyes that we witness Siddhattha's slow transformation, from a sheltered prince to a deeply sensitive young man. On the way, we see how the gods watch over the future Buddha from the clouds, how the king and his ministers try to keep the suffering of the world from him and how he eventually renounces the throne, his wife and newly-born son to seek enlightenment.

Along with a foreword from Wendy Doniger, Yasodhara and the Buddha (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020) includes a scholarly introduction to Yasodhara's narrative and offers extensive notes along with study questions, to help readers navigate the traditional literature in a new way, making this an essential book for anyone wanting to learn about Buddhist narratives.

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