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Yashodara (4:44)

Prince Siddhartha had a wife;
He loved her like he loved life.
She was fine, and she was fair,
And when he said goodbye, he said to her,

Yashodhara, look at where life leads;
Yashodhara, I'm going to try to get free.

I took a little trip into town,
I learned that death will cut us down,
I woke up by the city wall,
Freedom to die is no freedom at all.

Yashodhara, look at where life leads;
Yashodhara, I'm going to try to get free.

Like you, I never heard an old man sigh,
I never knew that people die;
Like you, I never heard a sick man moan,
I learned this body ain't my home.

Yashodhara, death is haunting me;
Yashodhara, love won't set us free.

Then I saw another man,
Who walked in robes with bowl in hand.
His gaze looked neither left nor right;
His brow was clear, his eyes were bright.
I asked him what he did all day,
He said, "I cultivate the Way.
I watch my mind, I watch my breath.
And in the end, it's life and death."

Yashodhara, I couldn't love you more;
Yashodhara, that's why I'm walking out that door.

Some will say that I'm a fool,
Some will say that I'm too cruel.
This is the best thing I can do,
When I get free, I'll come back for you.

Yashodhara, look at where life leads;
Yashodhara, I'm going to try to get free.

© Rev. Heng Sure 2005 All Rights Reserved
Lyrics and music: Rev. Heng Sure


Yashodhara was wife to Prince Siddhartha, the Buddha-to-be. The song opens as the Prince leans over his sleeping wife to say goodbye. He is about to leave the palace and embark on a life of cultivation leading to his great enlightenment. After a protected childhood where nothing aged, got ill, or died, the prince, in quick succession, saw an old person, an invalid and a corpse. Struck to his core by the sight of impermanence, the Prince next met a monk, a cultivator of the Way, who challenged him to seek liberation from birth, death, and rebirth. The monk inspired the Prince to find a way to end the tyranny of birth and death, which as we know, he did. Notice that he promises to return and set Yashodhara free after he himself wakes up.

The musical inspiration for this tune came from the late celebrated balladeer, Josh White, whom I watched perform with my mother in 1964 at Bowling Green State University.

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© copyright Rev. Heng Sure. All rights reserved.