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Daughters of the Buddha

Teachings by Ancient Indian Women

Published by Wisdom Publications
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

About The Book

A testimony to the invaluable contributions made by the women who were direct disciples of the Buddha—and a source of inspiration to Buddhist women today.

It’s a common perception that the earliest textual records don’t contain many, if any, teachings by the Buddha’s female disciples; yet, this is not the case. In fact, the earliest discourses record a range of teachings from Buddhist women, lay and monastic. Unfortunately their important contributions have so far not received the attention they deserve.

In Daughters of the Buddha, esteemed scholar-monk Bhikkhu Analayo examines the accounts of the first female disciples in the canonical scripture, taking the reader back to the earliest period in the history of Buddhism that can still be accessed today. He dedicates each of the twenty-one chapters in the volume to an individual and remarkable woman, sharing her particular insights and teachings with the reader. Both nuns and laywomen are featured in these pages, and their diversity of voices and richness of thought will serve as instruction and encouragement for modern scholars and practitioners alike.

About The Author

Bhikkhu Analayo is a scholar of early Buddhism and a meditation teacher. He completed his PhD research on the Satipatthanasutta at the University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka, in 2000 and his habilitation research with a comparative study of the Majjhima Nikaya in the light of its Chinese, Sanskrit, and Tibetan parallels at the University of Marburg, Germany, in 2007. His over four hundred publications are for the most part based on comparative studies, with a special interest in topics related to meditation and the role of women in Buddhism.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (December 6, 2022)
  • Length: 284 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781614298625

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Raves and Reviews

Daughters of the Buddha is a much-awaited pioneer work on the early Buddhist women of ancient India who strove for their own emancipation guided by the Buddha, contributed to the historical and philosophical aspects of Buddhism, and became the source of inspiration for hundreds and thousands of women to save themselves from the drudgery of worldly life as ‘a woman.’ We have many works on the early Buddhist nuns of the Therigatha, but Bhikkhu Analayo’s perspective is quite different from the existing ones. It is the first ever to have all the teachings given by early Buddhist women collected together, providing us with access to all the important information from the major primary sources. This was possible for Bhikkhu Analayo because with his scholarship he had comfortable access to all these sources in the original languages. His presentation is simple and lucid, and the content is comprehensively supported by an analytical study. This book is a successful addition to the list of works on women and Buddhism by Bhikkhu Analayo. Needless to say, it will be enlightening research material for other scholars and will give moral support to the daughters of the Buddha of the present day.”

– Professor Shobha Rani Dash, author of Mahapajapati: The First Bhikkhuni

“In the early Buddhist community, the ability to teach well was of paramount importance. We are fortunate, therefore, to have this new book by Bhikkhu Analayo, the monk-scholar and prodigious translator of early Buddhist texts, which highlights the ‘teachings given by women who were the direct disciples of the Buddha.’ The twenty-one women featured here (seventeen nuns and four laywomen) were well-known practitioners who were singled out during their lifetime for being foremost in possessing specific qualities, skills, and talents. Most noteworthy, they were all considered to be extraordinarily gifted teachers. Beyond merely recounting their life stories here, this group of translations gives testimony to these early women’s abilities, agency, and important—and even singular—contributions to what we know of today as Buddhist Dharma.”

– Jan Willis, PhD, author of Dreaming Me: Black, Baptist, and Buddhist and Dharma Matters: Women, Race, and Tantra

“On behalf of all daughters of the Buddha (if I may), I wish to express my deepest gratitude toward our brother (again, if I may) Venerable Bhikkhu Analayo for his everlasting support through his solid academic studies to present these precious and inspiring teachings by our venerable ancient Indian sisters. It’s been both an enjoyable and enriching read—I’d like to encourage all my sisters to get a copy of it! With these great woman role models, both lay and monastic, we daughters of the Buddha in our time should never feel alone nor unconfident in any way. Thank you, Venerable Analayo!”

– Dr. Christie Chang, joint president, International Buddhist Confederation; former president of Sakyadhita International

“Bhikkhu Analayo’s book is a brave attempt to introduce the inspiring qualities of spiritual daughters of the Buddha and make their voices heard by skillfully bringing together passages from early Buddhist scriptures. It is an acknowledgment of women’s remarkable contribution to the tradition despite some androcentric and misogynist tendencies found in early Buddhist thought. Bhikkhu Analayo makes a major contribution in furthering our understanding of early Buddhist nuns and female lay disciples by paying special attention to their spiritual journeys that were riddled with social prejudices and obstacles. The aspirations of women in ancient India and those of us in the present may not be the same, but the courage and struggle for liberation highlighted in their stories would no doubt provide a main source of inspiration to many struggling women in today’s world.”

– Professor Hiroko Kawanami, author of The Culture of Giving in Myanmar

“Bhikkhu Analayo brings his deep knowledge and reading of the Buddhist texts in the (now) relatively familiar languages of Pali and Sanskrit and casts a new, shimmering comparative light from the translations of Chinese and Tibetan Buddhist texts that he has accessed through his skill with languages. In Daughters of the Buddha, he brings perspectives from these texts on stories about, and statements of, the earliest Buddhist nuns and laywomen. The comparative data sometimes helps confirm the meaning or reference of a term or phrase, as in the issue of Mahapajapati Gotami’s seniority among the early nuns, or it casts light on a new understanding of the Buddha’s first refusal of her request to establish an order for nuns, while he accepted that women have the ability to reach the highest stage of the Path. The book is thus a rich tapestry of comparative data from the ancient Buddhist discourses on issues faced by Buddhist women then and especially Buddhist nuns in different parts of the modern world today.”

– Ranjini Obeyesekere, PhD, author of Portraits of Buddhist Women

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