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 groundbreaking new book, the entire arc of Mahaprajapati ‘s life story is presented for the first time, with attention to her early years as sister, queen, matriarch, and mother, as well as her later years as a nun.
Drawing from story fragments and canonical records, 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.
Garling reminds us that human love as well as human suffering lie embedded together at the very core of Buddhist teaching and life.
– Charles Hallisey, Harvard Divinity School
A brave, extraordinary, and powerful rendering of the life of the mother of the Buddha, this remarkable book is eye-opening and heart-opening.
– Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center