The 9th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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According to tradition, Siddhattha Gotama’s wife was named Yasodharā, although this is mentioned nowhere in the Tipiṭaka. There she is only ever referred to as Rāhulamātā, ‘Rāhula’s mother.’ In the earliest reference to her, she is called Bhaddakaccānā, which was probably her real name (Bv.26,15). Yasodharā is an honorific meaning ‘Fame-bearer,’ and probably only later was Thought of as a name. Other than this, there is almost no Information about Siddhattha’s wife, although many legends later grew up around her.
Yasodhara was the daughter of King Suppabuddha, and Pamitā, sister of The Buddha's father, King Suddhodana. Her father was a Koliya chief and her mother came from a Shakya family. The Shakya and the Koliya were branches of the Ādicca or Ikśvāku clan of the solar dynasty. There were no other families considered equal to them in the region and therefore members of these two royal families married only among themselves.
She was wedded to her cousin, the Shakya prince Siddhartha, in his 16th year when she was also 16 years of age. At the age of 29, she gave birth to their only child, a boy named Rāhula. On the day of his birth, the Prince left the palace. Yasodharā was devastated and overcome with Grief. Hearing that her husband was leading a holy Life, she emulated him by removing her jewellery, wearing a plain yellow robe and eating only one meal a day. Although relatives sent her messages to say that they would maintain her, she did not take up those offers. Several princes sought her hand but she rejected the proposals. Throughout his six year absence, Princess Yasodharā followed the news of his actions closely.
When the Lord Buddha visited Kapilavatthu after Enlightenment, Yasodharā did not go to see her former husband but ask Rahula to go to Buddha to seek inheritance. For herself, she Thought: "Surely if I have gained any Virtue at all the Lord will come to my presence."
Some time after her son Rāhula became a novice Monk, Yasodharā also entered the Order of Monks and Nuns and within time attained Arahantship. She was ordained as Bhikkhuni included among the five hundred ladies following the Pajapati Gotami to establish Bhikkhuni Order. She was declared as foremost in possessing the supernatural Power among the nuns. Amongst female disciples, she was chief of those who attained great supernormal powers. She died at 78, two years before Buddha's Parinibbāna.
In many legends of The Buddha's Life, Yashodharā meets Siddhārtha Gautama for the first time in a previous Life, when as the young Brahmin Sumedha, he is formally identified as a future Buddha by the then current Buddha, Dipankara.
Waiting in the city of Paduma for Dipankara, he tries to buy Flowers as an Offering to the Enlightened One, but soon learns that the king already bought all the Flowers for his own Offering. Yet, as Dipankara is approaching, Sumedha spots a girl named Sumidha (or Bhadra) holding eight lotuses in her hands. He speaks to her with the intention of buying one of her Flowers, but she recognises at once his potential and offers him five of the lotuses if he would promise that they would become husband and wife in all their next existences.
The meaning of the name Yasodhara (Sanskrit) [from yasas "glory, splendor" + dhara "bearing" from the verbal root dhri "to bear, support"] is Bearer of glory. The names she has been called besides Yashodhara are: Yashodhara Theri (doyenne Yashodhara), Bimbadevi, Bhaddakaccana and Rahulamata (mother of Rahula). In the Pali Canon, the name Yasodharā is not found; there are two references to Bhaddakaccānā.