Sunday, December 13, 2009

Bucket of Enlightenment

I must admit I'd never been aware of any women in the life of the Buddha until I read an online article from the San Francisco Chronicle about a new novel by Gabriel Constans called Buddha's Wife.
I really oughtn't to have been astonished that I didn't know Buddha had a wife, because all the major religions have been founded by men who needed someone to carry the buckets.
Aside from the popular overload of Holy Grail and Jesus-married-Mary-Magdalene-and-moved-out-West wacky theories and novels, the official stance is that Christ was a celibate bachelor who lived with a lot of other men and started a rather worrying tradition in the church about what happens to bachelors and enforced celibacy.
The personal life of Abraham has murky undertones - was first wife Sarah really his half-sister? - and then there's that deliberate desert abandonment of another wife, Hajar, and whose son in turn begat several generations that begat one Muhammed. And he in turn founded a religion but still had time for eleven wives, including one underage - something that might have been perfectly legal in his day but would now place him in the rock spider bracket.
So Yasodhara is not much different, just your typical neglected wife of a workaholic although it seemed she eventually found a kind of fortitude of her own, forgave her wandering husband and became a nun working on his cause: probably her only option.
It is really encouraging to see that it is a male author who has noticed her absence from the Western mainstream and has given her some recognition. Congratulations to Gabriel.

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