By the men, because she helped her husband to his resolve to seek for the truth, because she had been his great stay and help when everyone was against him, because if there had been no Yathodaya there had been perchance no Buddha. And by the women I need not say why she is honoured by all women.
All the story of Yathodaya and her dealings with her husband is full of the deepest pathos, full of passionate protest against her loss, even in order that her husband and all the world should gain. She would have held him, if she could, against the world, and deemed that she did well.
Whenever the story of the Buddha comes to be written, then will be written also the story of the life of Yathodaya his wife. If one is full of wisdom and teaching, the other is full of suffering and teaching also. I cannot write it here. I have so much to say on other matters that there is no room. But some day it will be written, I trust, this old message to a new world.
And Yathodaya was full of despair, for if all the world had gained a teacher, she had lost a husband. So it will be for ever. This is the difference between men and women. She became a nun, poor soul! and her son his son became one of his disciples. I do not think it is necessary for me to tell much more of his life.
And when I said that Yathodaya was also religious, and had helped him in his thoughts, and that surely she would not have stopped him, the monk shook his head. 'Women are not like that, he said. And a woman said to me once: 'Surely she was very much to be pitied because her husband went away from her and her baby.
And when she was ill, when she was giving birth to her baby, then her husband left her. Surely she was very much to be pitied. And so Yathodaya, the wife of the Prince Gaudama, who became the Buddha, is held in high honour, in great esteem, by all Buddhists.
And when he was eighteen he was married to his cousin Yathodaya, in the hope that in marriage and paternity he might forget his desire to be a hermit, might feel that love was better than wisdom. And if Yathodaya had been other than she was who can tell? perhaps after all the king might have succeeded; but it was not to be so.
Silently in the dead of night he left all the luxury about him, and went out secretly with only his faithful servant, Maung San, to saddle for him his horse and lead him forth. Only before he left he looked in cautiously to see Yathodaya, the young wife and mother. She was lying asleep, with one hand upon the face of her firstborn, and the prince was afraid to go further.
And so it came at last, and he who saw the light went forth and preached it to all the world. He lived a long life, a life full of wonderful teaching, of still more marvellous example. All the world loved him. He saw again Yathodaya, she who had been his wife; he saw his son. Now, when passion was dead in him, he could do these things.
As far as they can use the precepts of religion and retain their home-life they will do so; as it was with Yathodaya so long ago, so it is now. But when religion calls them and says, 'Come away from the world, leave all that you love, all that your heart holds good, for it is naught; see the light, and prepare your soul for peace, they hold back. This they cannot do; it is far beyond them.