The Wife the Buddha Left Behind (Remote)

Vanessa Sasson
Professor, Religious Studies, Marianapolis College
Friday April 02
noon-1:30 p.m. ET

The story of the Buddha’s life is known all over the world. So the story goes, he was a prince of a small kingdom, destined to one day take the throne. But after a moment of insight, he decided to leave worldly ambitions aside. Thus did he begin his quest towards Awakening. What is rarely considered, however, is the fact that his wife – who had just given birth to their son – was left behind. A number of early hagiographical sources give voice to her pain and sadness, as she finds herself abandoned with a newborn by a man she had been married to for lifetimes (so the texts claim). In this talk, Sasson explores Yasodhara’s story as it appears in a number of early hagiographical sources, and will read an excerpt from her novel, Yasodhara and the Buddha (Bloomsbury, 2021).

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