Chapter

The Inheritance of Rāhula

Kate Crosby

in Little Buddhas

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780199860265
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979929 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199860265.003.0004

Series: AAR Religion, Culture, and History

The Inheritance of Rāhula

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Some Buddhist narratives express the hurt and humiliation experienced by Yasodharā at the Buddha’s abandonment of their son Rāhula. Yet such texts are outnumbered by those that depict Rāhula, the son of the Buddha, as the glorious culmination of many lifetimes of rehearsal and aspiration. He was the direct recipient of the Buddha’s tender guidance to enlightenment. This chapter explores the relationship between the Buddha and his son, drawing on canonical, commentarial, and later literature, looking especially at Theravada sources while also taking into account Sanskrit and Chinese material. The chapter then turns to Rāhula as a role model of modest, uncomplaining obedience as both son and apprentice. Beautiful poetry praises Rāhula’s majestic mirroring of his father’s greatness. The individual teaching texts addressed by the Buddha to Rāhula are identified as age-appropriate instruction for young monks from the age of seven to early adulthood. These specific sutta texts were seen by the tradition as designed with the child practitioner in mind, placing them among the earliest surviving literature for children.

Keywords: Rāhula; inheritance; child abandonment; renunciation; paternity; fatherhood

Chapter.  13979 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism

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