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The Woman Who Raised Buddha

The Woman Who Raised Buddha

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Mahaprajapati was the only mother the Buddha ever knew. His birth mother, Maya, died shortly after childbirth, and her sister Mahaprajapati took the infant to her breast, nurturing and raising him into adulthood. In this first full biography of Mahaprajapati, Wendy Garling presents her life story, with attention to her early years as sister, queen, matriarch, and mother, as well as her later years as a nun. Garling reveals just how exceptional Mahaprajapati’s role was as leader of the first generation of Buddhist women, helping the Buddha establish an equal community of lay and monastic women and men. Mother to the Buddha, mother to early Buddhist women, mother to the Buddhist faith, Mahaprajapati’s journey is finally presented as one interwoven with the founding of Buddhism.

News & Reviews

"Mahaprajapati lived more than 2,500 years ago and resources that might shed light on her life are rare. I therefore commend Wendy Garling for her extensive research, putting pieces from multiple sources together with her personal reflections, to write her book The Woman Who Raised the Buddha." —from the foreword by H.H. the Fourteenth Dalai Lama

"An important contribution to filling a major gap in Buddhist studies and a triumph in understanding Buddhism through a feminist lens." —Library Journal

"A no-brainer for historians and serious students of Buddhism." —Publishers Weekly

"Garling’s book helps restore balance to the Buddhist narrative, relying on early women’s stories translated from Buddhism’s first written languages. . . . It illuminates the turbulent life and times of Mahaprajapati, a woman who not only loved and nurtured her adopted son as her own, but had the courage and spirit of adventure needed to confront entrenched men’s dominance." —Foreword Reviews

"By reconstructing Mahaprajapati’s life, Garling introduces us to a network of women who sought deeper connections with each other and their communities; women who were brave, intelligent, and flawed, who experienced joy and suffering, and who rallied together to fight for their rightful place in both the physical world and in the spiritual realm. The result is captivating, and Garling’s storytelling qualities make this book a real pleasure to read." —Buddhistdoor Global

"Highly recommend this pioneering account of [Mahaprajapati], a remarkable woman’s life and legacy, not least because it introduces us to some remarkably moving and instructive stories, succeeding admirably in shifting its subject from relative marginalisation to a central role, in which she certainly belongs." —Asian Review of Books

"We extend deep gratitude to Wendy Garling for all her meticulous research into the story of Mahaprajapati Gautami, bringing to light forgotten anecdotes and illuminating this most important woman in Buddhist history. In this fascinating book, Mahaprajapati comes alive and we appreciate her enormous contribution—from nursing the infant bodhisattva to helping her stepson the Buddha establish his vision of the Fourfold Sangha. Who knew that the marvelous circumstances at the time of her death exceeded those of the Buddha Himself? She was indeed supreme among nuns." —Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, Founding Director of Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery

PAGES: 272
SIZE: 6 X 9
ISBN: 9781611806694


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