Sunday, November 1, 2015

YASHODHARA'S LESSON








Pic.: Chandrasekhar Varier
On the eve of this Karva Chauth, there was a beautiful story by Vikram Battacharya doing rounds on social media. It was about prince Siddhartha leaving his palace in the middle of the night… He had left behind Yashodara, his young wife, and their just-born son, not uttering a single word… He had moved on into the wilderness to seek answers to his ‘personal quest’ which he was haunted with…

This incident in the life of Gautama Buddha, if we stop and reflect upon, can sound so disturbing… How could he be so selfish, so indifferent and insensitive? Why did he marry in the first place, and why did he go for a child? Was he not responsible for them? Was he not supposed to discuss his plans with his wife… How could he just walk away like that? What is the big point in seeking answers to your personal questions at the expense of your loved one’s well-being? Didn’t Gautama feel the guilt… the weight of his decision while he was wandering in the forests?

Well, Vikram’s story does not revolve around Gautama’s plight… It essentially revolves around Yahodara’s. She was young and beautiful… and she was human… The human experience she had been through… the anger, sadness and loneliness... the emptiness…  What must have been her state of mind as she  single-handedly raised their son.

The author, Vikram, says that he had, always, wondered about the plight of Yashodara… How devastated she must have been and how difficult it must have been for her to reconcile with her ‘irresponsible’ husband… and, his act of abandoning them… Did she think him to be a coward? Did she bear a grudge about him or forgave him? Was forgiveness easy for her? And, then, after many, many years – after attaining his buddhahood – when her husband came to meet her, was it easy for her to look into his eyes?

I loved this last part of Vikram’s story… He writes:

“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 both have learned something. Your lesson will make the world richer in spirit, but my lesson, unfortunately, will remain largely unknown,’ she reflected deeply.

‘And what lesson is that?’ he probed.
Her eyes sparkled with unshed tears…
‘That a woman alone does not need anyone to complete her. She is complete on her own.’

How about a festival where husbands pray for their wives’ long life? Maybe Yashodara’s lesson has made wives stronger and, they don’t need anything like this to complete them.

GERALD D’CUNHA 

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