Lord Buddha’s Wife – A Feminist! By Neera Kapur-Dromson

Volume 18, Issue 1  | 
Published 27/03/2021
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Neera Kapur-Dromsom

Her ancestors came from British India to what was then British East Africa. Her love of Indian dance has led her to meet and work with African dancers - rich experiences. She is the author of From Jhelum to Tana – a family history, and is a regular writer in Old Africa magazine.

Siddhartha Gautama, from an aristocratic family, who would be known as the Buddha, the ‘enlightened one’, was born in Northern India (now Nepal) some 2500 years ago.

At his birth, it was predicted that the child would rule as a famous monarch, or he would renounce the world and live the life of a mendicant. To avoid the latter prediction coming to fruition, his father did all he could to steer his son away from any contact with the dying, with old persons, with sickness. But the inevitable happened, for Siddhartha left home in search of the meaning of life - leaving behind his day old son and a young wife. He did not return ‘home’ for a long time, as he spent years with gurus, meditating under trees - until he found his truth.

In this writing, Vikram Bhattacharya imagines what Yashodhara, Siddhartha Gautama's wife, must have gone through as a single parent - alone, initially feeling devastated, abandoned amidst palatial surroundings. But soon she takes courage and charge of her life, and that of her son; to evolve into a woman of substance with a sense of completeness. These words are a fitting tribute to women from various walks of life, meeting daily challenges in their professional and domestic lives, multi-tasking, sometimes abused, many a time without the deserved merit and gratitude - continuing nevertheless so that the children and families do not suffer. Every such woman is a true ‘Yashodhara’, glorious! 

He left her in the middle of the night, the night their son was born. When she heard the news she was devastated. Yet, she did not complain but her life lost all meaning. The only reason for her to live now was her son. She wanted him to grow up to be a man that the world would look up to. Her friends and relatives came around and asked her to forget about the man who had left her and start life again. They urged her to marry again but she refused. She was young and beautiful and suitors queued up outside her door, but she refused each one of them.

Then one fine day he came back! He stood in front of her and she could hardly remember him as the man who had left her. ‘They call you the Buddha now?’ she asked him gently. ‘I hear they do’ he answered in a calm fashion. ‘What does it mean?’ she further inquired. ‘I think it means the enlightened one, a knower’ he informed.

She smiled and then a silence. ‘I suppose we have both learned something. Your lessons O Buddha, will make the world richer in spirit, but my lesson will unfortunately remain largely unknown,’ she reflected deeply....‘And what lesson is that?’ the Buddha probed. Her eyes sparkled with unshed tears: ‘That a courageous woman does not need anyone to complete her..... SHE IS COMPLETE ON HER OWN’.

Saluting womanhood for the Yashodhara spirit!

HAPPY WOMEN’S DAY

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