By Ranjini Obeyesekere

ISBN-10: 1438428278

ISBN-13: 9781438428277

ISBN-10: 1438428286

ISBN-13: 9781438428284

Translations of 2 works from Sri Lanka on Yasodhara, the spouse of the Buddha--an allusive and fascinating determine in Buddhist lore and literature.

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Extra info for Yasodhara, the Wife of the Bodhisattva: The Sinhala Yasodharavata (The Story of Yasodhara) and the Sinhala Yasodharapadanaya (The Sacred Biography of Yasodhara)

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R Appuhamy and I will call this text Yasodharāvata B or Y(B). The other, also dated 1894, consists of 130 verses and I will call it Yasodharāvata C or Y(C). What is significant is that version Y(B) starts exactly as my translated version, but ends with what is verse 124 in the Yasodharāvata (A) text. It does not have the exhortation to women embodying the patriarchal values with which Yasodharāvata (A) concludes—verses 125–130. The break is significant because that is a section which even on a first reading seemed to be clearly the addition of another layer to the poem.

The literary language of classical scholarship remained fixed while the colloquial language spoken by the less sophisticated sections of society changed quickly. The creative work extant from this period belongs to the secular tradition that had come down from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is a form of popular poetry, often anonymous, composed by villagers expressing the concerns and hardships of their world, or narratives of events, or of individual lives composed by sections of the rural intelligentsia.

Today, however, the modern Buddhist stress on the doctrinal attitude to death has resulted in a shift in the manner of mourning and the elimination of 23. Isabel Nabokov, Religion Against the Self: An Ethnography of Tamil Rituals. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000. 24. Tolbert (1944), 91. Quoted in J. M. Wilce, “Genres of Memory and the Memory of Genres: Forgetting, Lament in Bangladesh,” op. cit. 18 Y ASODHARĀ , TH E W IFE OF THE B ŌDHISAT TVA vilāpa at Buddhist funerals. Vilāpa or laments may still be a feature of funerals in rural Sri Lanka, but even there the beating of breasts and the loud exclamations seem to be giving way to the more formal communal chanting of verses.

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Yasodhara, the Wife of the Bodhisattva: The Sinhala Yasodharavata (The Story of Yasodhara) and the Sinhala Yasodharapadanaya (The Sacred Biography of Yasodhara) by Ranjini Obeyesekere


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