Yasodhara and Rahula

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby Dan74 » Sat Mar 05, 2011 1:01 pm

(Apologies if this has already been discussed)

Hello Learned Folks!

Recently in a chat I was asked how the Buddha could've left his wife and a baby in pursuit of the truth. I could rig up an answer or two but I also recalled reading in the footnotes of one of the biographies (by David Kalupahana, I think) that all the known sources that mention Him leaving his wife and child are now considered to be late additions. Hence the whole story is in doubt and possibly a later invention to encourage married people to ordain.

What do we know about this now?

I am also like to start teaching Buddhist RE at a local primary school sometime later on in the year and I am anticipating this question from the kids...
_/|\_
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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby perkele » Sat Mar 05, 2011 4:23 pm

I cannot imagine the part about Siddhartha leaving Rahula and Yosadhara being an artificial addition. For me the story is very sound and reasonable.
The shocked question "How could he do this?" sounds much more artificial to me. Enlightenment is not compatible with sentimentality.
He did not have to provide for his family. They were living in great material welfare. There was nothing to worry about in terms of such responsibility.
How to answer this question to children is a matter of intuition, I guess. But children are generally not so judgemental. Just try to convey the truth without palliations, excuses and trying to tiptoe around moral presuppositions that the children most probably don't even have. Siddharta Gautama wanted to find enlightenment. So he went away alone.
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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sat Mar 05, 2011 5:03 pm

Some children may have fathers in the military, or who have to travel abroad to work. The end result was that Rāhula and Yasodharā both became Arahants, putting an end to all suffering. The bodhisatta renounced the short-term and double-edged happiness of affection for the much deeper and eternal bliss of nibbāna.

RāhulaRāhulamātā (Yasodharā).
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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby Lazy_eye » Sat Mar 05, 2011 5:32 pm

Dan,

It's a tough one, I agree. If I were going to be teaching children, I would probably say that Prince Gautama loved his wife and little boy very much, but he knew that he had to find the truth about suffering and the way to enlightenment, and he knew he had to do it alone. And I'd probably also mention that Yasodhara and Rasula later joined him, as Bhante mentions above, and that they ultimately attained nibbana themselves -- the highest happiness that can be known.

On a more "grown-up" note, there's one aspect of the story which I don't see discussed much, but which strikes me as possibly important: Gautama, at the time when he left home, wasn't an enlightened Buddha but a confused and tormented young man. Would the family have been happier if he'd just grumbled along, knowing his calling was elsewhere but staying put out of duty?
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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby cooran » Sat Mar 05, 2011 7:47 pm

Hello Dan,

We had a previous thread on this subject:
Gotama deserting wife and child
viewtopic.php?f=13&t=1851&start=0

with metta
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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby Ben » Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:06 pm

Hi Dan

Go to www.dhammabooks.com as they sometimes have the some picture books based on the Jatakas.
Within my own tradition we hold one-day courses for children (8-12) and one to seven-day courses for teenagers (13-17). While I've served on some of those courses, i haven't been in the meditation hall during discourses or instruction, however, my understanding with the children's course is that it is very light on the theoretical aspect of Dhamma and more focused on (Dhammic) story-telling and activities. There is some anapana meditation sessions (children's course) but I think they are three or four times of 20 minutes each for the entire day.
A valuable resource for you should be the Buddhist Society of Victoria as they have an education officer who may be able to assist you with guidance and resources.
kind regards


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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby Dan74 » Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:34 pm

Thank you folks for the links and suggestions.

Yes, the children's course is mostly stories, but the question I meant to ask was primarily a scholarly one. Is the story of Siddhartha leaving Yasodhara and Rahula part of early suttas or likely to be a later addition?
_/|\_
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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Mar 05, 2011 11:49 pm

Greetings Dan,
Dan74 wrote:Is the story of Siddhartha leaving Yasodhara and Rahula part of early suttas or likely to be a later addition?

Well, evidently he did, because the stories of Rahula and his inclusion in the Sangha have an appearance in the suttas.

What is potentially up for grabs is the specifics surrounding his departure into the homeless life. In terms of Buddhist hagiography, it's often hard to separate fact from enthusiastic embellishment.

Metta,
Retro. :)
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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby daverupa » Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:15 am

It's important to remember that he wasn't enlightened when he left; the problem seems to surround ascribing wonderful qualities to his then-status of bodhisatta. I think this is the beginning of mystifying/deifying the Buddha, a very distracting mistake. I prefer the use of "bodhisatta" solely as an honorific because the historical Buddha 'did it first', and in fact recollection this way with a feeling of gratitude is, for me, used as "some inspiring sign" in doing meditation.

What luck to be alive with the Dhamma on his account!

As I recall, he also made it a point to wander by stages back home.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby pilgrim » Sun Mar 06, 2011 8:12 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Dan,
Well, evidently he did, because the stories of Rahula and his inclusion in the Sangha have an appearance in the suttas.

What is potentially up for grabs is the specifics surrounding his departure into the homeless life. In terms of Buddhist hagiography, it's often hard to separate fact from enthusiastic embellishment.

Metta,
Retro. :)

Agree that there is no doubt that he left. The popular story of him stealing off in the night leaving a sleeping Yasodhara and Rahula appears in the Commentaries. The suttas record him as saying that his parents cried when he left the palace to renounce. But I can't remember the particular sutta. While I try googling, perhaps someone will be able to recall it.

Edit: Ariyapariyesana Sutta (Majjhima 26)
"So, at a later time, while still young, a black-haired young man endowed with the blessings of youth in the first stage of life — and while my parents, unwilling, were crying with tears streaming down their faces — I shaved off my hair & beard, put on the ochre robe and went forth from the home life into homelessness.
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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby Dan74 » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:45 am

retrofuturist wrote:Greetings Dan,
Dan74 wrote:Is the story of Siddhartha leaving Yasodhara and Rahula part of early suttas or likely to be a later addition?

Well, evidently he did, because the stories of Rahula and his inclusion in the Sangha have an appearance in the suttas.

What is potentially up for grabs is the specifics surrounding his departure into the homeless life. In terms of Buddhist hagiography, it's often hard to separate fact from enthusiastic embellishment.

Metta,
Retro. :)


But where does it say that Ven Rahula is his son?
_/|\_
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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:26 pm

Dan74 wrote:But where does it say that Ven Rahula is his son?


http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
In both ways consummate,[1] I'm known as Rahula the Fortunate: because I'm the son of the Buddha, because I've the eye that sees Dhammas, because my fermentations are ended, because I've no further becoming. I'm deserving of offerings, a worthy one a three-knowledge man,[2] with sight of the Deathless. ...


:anjali:
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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby Dan74 » Wed Mar 16, 2011 8:20 pm

Theragatha, right? In the Canon but not the Buddha's words.
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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby mikenz66 » Wed Mar 16, 2011 8:30 pm

Dan74 wrote:Theragatha, right? In the Canon but not the Buddha's words.

Well, yes, but that's the only explicit thing I can find on Access to Insignt, which is just a small part of the Canon. I can't find the Sutta where Sariputta ordains Rahula just now. But maybe that's in the Vinaya.

References here: http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_n ... aahula.htm

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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby Dan74 » Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:51 pm

Just to clarify I am not dead set to prove that it didn't happen. Maybe it did and in exactly the way that is traditionally believed.

But it does seem that what we usually accept as an integral part of the Buddha's life is mostly found in later literature.
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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby daverupa » Wed Mar 16, 2011 10:20 pm

mikenz66 wrote:But maybe that's in the Vinaya.


The part which sets up the rule that you have to be 20 to ordain, and have parental consent.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Mar 17, 2011 12:09 am

daverupa wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:But maybe that's in the Vinaya.


The part which sets up the rule that you have to be 20 to ordain, and have parental consent.

Ahh, thanks. Forgot that bit...

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Re: Yasodhara and Rahula

Postby seniya » Tue Apr 12, 2011 2:10 pm

The great Buddhist scholar Andre Bareau has written a most fascinating article on the Yasodhara legends which is now available at http://www.buddha-kyra.com/wife.htm. Kyra Pahlen, who translated this article from French did a rather poor job - Kathmandu instead of Kapilavatthu, Mahavasti instead of Mahavastu and even Solomon instead of Suddhodana!!! But don’t let these and a few other clangers put you off this most interesting bit of research.....
I'm sorry if my words are not understandable and it is in impolite expression, because my native language is not English....

Mettacitena

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