Yasodhara was the wife of Siddhartha Gautama. She became a bhikkhuni or a Buddhist nun and was considered as an arahata. The meaning of the name Yasodhara is Bearer of glory. She was also popularly known as Yasodhara Their, Bimbadev, Bhaddakaccana and Rahulamata. In the Pali Canon, the name, Yasodhara is not found but there are two references to the name Bhaddakaccana.
Life history of Yasodhara
Yasodhara was the daughter of King Suppabuddha and Queen Pamita. Queen Pamita was the sister of the Buddha's father, King Suddhodana. Her father was from Koliya family while her mother was from Shakya family and this ethnicity were the branches of the Adicca or Ikshvaku dynasty. At that period there were no other families that considered equal to these families in the regions. Hence the member of these two families marries only among themselves. The result was also seen in Yasodhara's marriage, she was married to her cousin, Prince Siddhartha at the age of 16.
Yasodhara gave birth to only one boy child, Rahula at the age of 29. On the 7th night of the birth, the Siddhartha left the palace in search of answers to his questions. Yashodhara was unaware of his motive and behavior, so, she was devastated and overcame with grief when she heard that her husband had left the palace and set off to lead a holy life. Then she also imitates the lifestyle of her husband by removing her jewelry and wore a plain yellow robe. She also ate the meal only once in a day. Her relative assured that they would maintain her but she refused all those offerings. Not only her relatives, the distant prince also asked her hand but she also rejected them. In absence of Prince Siddhartha, Princess Yasodhara followed all the news of his actions very closely.
After Siddhartha Gautam Buddha gained enlightenment, he also visited kapilavastu. Yasodhara thought that if she had gained any virtue then the Buddha will come to her presence. She asks Rahula, their son to go to Buddha to seek inheritance. The Buddha also learned about Yasodhara's intention and he visited her and admired her patience and sacrifice that she had made. This helped Siddhartha Gautam to fulfill his wishes not in this birth but also in the previous birth. These words were quoted in the Chandra Kinnara Jathakaya also.
Yasodhara as a Bikkhuni
As her son Rahula became a novice monk, Yasodhara also entered the order of Monks and Nuns. She also attained the state of an arahat. She was ordained as a bhikkhuni with other five hundred women following Mahapajapati Gotami and hence established first Bhikkhuni Order. She then dedicated her life spreading the teachings of Buddha and focusing on good karma. She died at the age of seventy-eight, two years before Buddha's Parinirvana.
As mentioned in the Collective Sutra of the Buddha's Past Acts, Yasodhara meets Siddhartha Gautam for the very first time in their previous life. Siddhartha Gautam was the young brahmin Sumeda Buddha while Yasodhara was Sumidha or Bhadra. Sumeda Buddha was eagerly waiting in the city of Paduma for the Buddha of that era, Dipankara Buddha. He tries to buy flowers but soon learns that the king had bought all the flowers in order to offer to the Buddha. Sumedha was not happy but was more focus on getting the flower. On the way, he stumbles upon Sumidha holding seven lotus flowers. He speaks to her with the intention of buying flowers. As she already recognizes his potentials, she offers him five of the lotus and asked him to be her husband in all their next existences. Sumedha agrees to the request.
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