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 Yasodhara was the daughter of King Suppabuddha and Queen Pamita. As King Suppabuddha was one of King Suddhodana’s younger brothers, she was one of Prince Siddhattha’s cousins. Yasodhara was born on the same day as Prince Siddhattha. She was exquisitely beautiful, with golden skin and blue-back hair that cascaded down to her feet.

Prince Siddhattha was sixteen when His parents decided that it was a suitable time for Him to marry. As was the custom at that time, a great celebration was held and princesses from all over the country were brought in procession for the Prince to choose from. None of them attracted His attention. The Prince treated them with gifts but refused them all. The procession was almost finished when Yasodhara came rushing in, to inquire if there were any gifts left for her. The Prince then arose from His throne, and taking the pearl necklace that adorned His person, gently placed it around her neck. Prince Siddhattha chose His cousin, Yasodhara, to be His bride.

At first King Suppabuddha was against the marriage. He knew that the wise men had foretold that Siddhattha would leave the palace and His crown to become a Buddha. He also felt that the gentle, compassionate Prince might not be skilled in warfare, and as such, not be suitable for his daughter. The princess, however, wanted to marry no one else but Siddhattha.

King Suppabuddha, wishing to test Prince Siddhattha, arranged a tournament for Him to display His skills in archery, riding and swordsmanship. Sportsmen from all over the country gathered to challenge the Prince. Siddhattha, however, was an excellent sportsman. He excelled in all the events and ousted the best men in the country. King Suppabuddha therefore relented and gave his daughter in marriage to Prince Siddhattha.

The relationship between Yasodhara and Prince Siddhattha was long and deep-rooted. It had started many, many years ago at the time of the Dipankara Buddha. At that time, the Prince (Bodhisatta) was born as an ascetic by the name of Sumedha. After an exceedingly long period of practising the ten virtues, the Bodhisatta Sumedha had finally completed the eight requirements to receive the definite proclamation of Buddhahood from the Dipankara Buddha. Yasodhara, at that time, was born as a noble lady by the name of Sumitra. She saw the Buddha Dipankara give the Bodhisatta eight handfuls of white jasmine flowers and the definite proclamation that He would be a Buddha by the name of Gotama, of the Sakyan caste, in the distant future. Cutting off her hair, she aspired to be His consort and helpmate and to support Him actively in His quest for Buddhahood. This strong aspiration and the meritorious deeds that she performed over a long period of time resulted in her being the Bodhisatta’s consort and supporter throughout many births. During this very long period in which the Bodhisatta completed the virtues she actively supported His quest for perfection.

In fact, her dying words reflected this devotion. She referred to the fact that she had been the wife of no other but Him during the entire period and had helped Him to achieve in 100,000 world cycles and four infinite periods what other Buddhas take eight and sixteen infinite periods to achieve.

When the Buddha visited the palace in Kapilavatthu for the first time, all but Princess Yasodhara came to pay homage to Him. She held back, thinking, "Certainly if there is any virtue in me, the Noble Lord Himself will come to my presence." After the meal the Buddha, accompanied by His two male chief disciples, entered her chamber and sat down on the seat prepared for Him. He then said, "Let the king’s daughter reverence me as she likes." On seeing the Buddha, Yasodhara came forward quickly, and clasping His ankles, placed her head on His feet and paid reverence to Him as she wished.

Yasodhara’s devotion to the Buddha was heralded by her father-in-law, King Suddhodana. He informed the Buddha of her devotion by saying, "When my daughter heard that you had taken to wearing simple yellow robes, she too gave up her jewels and wore yellow robes. When she heard that you had only one meal a day, she too had only one meal a day. When she heard that you slept on low, hard beds, she too gave up the luxurious palace couches and beds. And when she heard that you had given up garlands and perfume, she too gave up garlands and perfume. When her relatives sent messages of young men who wanted to support her she did not even look at a single one."

The Buddha acknowledged this devotion by saying that it was not only in this birth that she had been devoted to him. He then dispensed the Candakinnara Jataka, whereYasodhara had given her life to save His by jumping in front of a hunter’s arrow.

However, her love and devotion are best seen in the poem "The Lion of Men". Pointing out the Buddha and His retinue of monks to their son from the palace balcony, with adoration she described the Buddha and introduced Him to little Rahula. The following are the words she used to describe the Buddha:

    The Lion of Men

    His red, sacred feet are marked with an excellent wheel;
    His long heels are decked with characteristic marks;
    His feet are adorned with the chowrie (camara) and parasol;
    That, indeed, is your father, lion of men.
    He is a delicate and noble Sakya Prince;
    His body is full of characteristic marks;
    Intent on the welfare of the world;
    That, indeed, is your father, lion of men.
    Like the full moon is His face;
    He is dear to gods and men;
    His gait is as graceful as that of an elephant of noble breed;
    That, indeed, is your father, lion of men.
    He is of noble lineage, sprung from the warrior caste;
    His feet have been honoured by gods and men;
    His mind is well established in morality and concentration;
    That, indeed, is your father, lion of men.
    Long and prominent is His well-formed nose;
    His eyelashes are long like those of a heifer;
    His eyes are exceedingly blue and like a rainbow are His blue-black brows;
    That, indeed, is your father, lion of men.
    Round and smooth is His well-formed neck;
    His jaws are strong like that of a lion;
    His body is golden like that of the king of beasts;
    That, indeed, is your father, lion of men.
    Soft and deep is His sweet voice;
    His tongue is as red as vermilion;
    His white teeth like pearls are twenty, each row;
    That, indeed, is your father, lion of men.
    Like the colour of collyrium is His blue-black hair;
    Like a polished golden plate is His smooth forehead;
    White as the morning star is His beautiful tuft of hair (between the brows);
    That, indeed, is your father, lion of men.
    Just as the moon, surrounded by the multitude of stars;
    Follows the sky’s path;
    Even so goes the Lord, accompanied by His monks;
    That, indeed, is your father, lion of men.

Yasodhara gave up the household life and entered the order of nuns at the same time as Maha Pajapati Gotami . She attained Arahanthship and was declared the chief disciple among the nuns who attained supernormal powers (Maha Abhiaaa) to recall infinite eras of the past. Only four of the Buddha’s disciples had such powers. In general, the Buddha’s disciples could only recall up to 100,000 world cycles. Yasodara, the Buddha’s two chief male disciples and the Elder Bakkula, however, had supernormal powers and could recall incalculable eras. The nun Yasodhara passed away at the age of 78, prior to the Lord Buddha.