Robert D. Reed Publishers (2009)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (10/09)
When Buddha set off on his journey of enlightenment, he taught us many lessons about his life. One thing he didn’t teach us about was the people that he left behind. This especially included his wife Yasodhara and his two-day-old son Rahula. When Buddha gave up his personal possessions, he also gave up his family.
“Buddha’s Wife” tells an incredible tale about what it would have been like for Yasodhara. In spite of her loss, she still tried to follow his teachings and chose to live a simple life. She had to deal with the pain of losing him, and the pain of watching her son grow up without his father. Her son carried a great deal of anger at being left behind. The wife also had to contend with her feelings regarding other people who were close to her husband. This included another woman. Yasodhara was really incredible in that she kept her compassion towards others and held on to beliefs that Buddha himself would have appreciated.
As Yasodhara’s life is winding down, her son sets out on a journey to see her for one last time. While he is on his way to her, she reflects upon her life experiences and how she chose to deal with the issues that were not easy. As her son finds his way to her, he is handed experiences that teach him some very important lessons. Towards the end, he has also learned a great deal about letting go and being able to heal.
I found “Buddha’s Wife” by Gabriel Constans to be very interesting and it made me very contemplative. As I read the story of Yasodhara, I realized how hard it would have been to be in her shoes, yet I also saw that she proved herself to be very enlightened being by the choices that she made about how to handle what experiences life gave to her. I highly recommend this novel, especially as a group reading selection. I think that it will stimulate very interesting conversations and provide a great deal of ideas for journaling.