‘Kaun Buddha Si?’ (Who was Buddha?) by the wonderful Punjabi Poet Amar Jyoti.
Who was Buddha?
Whose tale is it?
It’s left for you to decide;
Whether of Yashodhara or Siddhartha
Who repaired to the peace of jungle
Leaving Yashodhara behind
To bring up Rahul
Congruent with the royal
Customs and traditions,
Who made the glittering glass-house of her life a ruin
Behind the portals of a palace,
Where the seasons didn’t change,
Where life resided in silence,
Where her sight turned into an unending path
Waiting for Siddhartha.
And when he returned from the quiet of the peaceful abode
As Buddha the wise,
Who was the wise one,
Siddhartha or Yashodhara?
English translation of the Punjabi poem by Jagriti Rumi.
Yashodhara, a princess, was Prince Siddhartha’s wife, who was born on the same date and year as that of her husband. According to a Chinese legend, Yashodhara had met Siddhartha in their past life where she took a promise from him that they will be husband and wife in all their next births.
This beautiful poem asks a simple question and gives a concealed answer. Quietly it is telling a forgotten story, forgotten but real, real and empowering.
The journey inwards was taken by both, Siddhartha as well as Yashodhara. While one left the world of attachment behind, the other stayed in the midst of it all and grew like a lotus. In waiting for her dearest, in bringing up her only son, Yashodhara knew trance, living every moment and trusting herself, comprehending spontaneously.
After she met the enlightened Buddha, after her Rahul became a monk, Yashodhara did what she had prepared for, she become a Bhikkhuni (Buddhist nun); then the lotus shone brightly.
Yashodhara didn’t search for peace, she gently nurtured it within, she didn’t live in seclusion, she found herself in the celebrations. Not in a ruin, she lived in every effort of hers to learn.
Yashodhara, which means ‘bearer of glory’, got enlightened not once, but many times.
To read the original poem (in Gurumukhi), please click here.