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Therigatha: Selected Poems of the First Buddhist Women
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Therigatha: Selected Poems of the First Buddhist Women

(Murty Classical Library of India #3)

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  106 ratings  ·  19 reviews
The Therīgāthā, composed more than two millennia ago, is an anthology of poems in the Pali language by and about the first Buddhist women. These women were therīs, the senior ones, among ordained Buddhist women, and they bore that epithet because of their religious achievements. The poems they left behind are arguably among the most ancient examples of women’s writing in t ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 6th 2015 by Harvard University Press (first published November 17th 2014)
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Mar 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Very interesting poetry from the 6th to the 3rd century BCE, written by theris, or ‘ “senior ones” among ordained Buddhist women. The introduction quotes Dhhammapala (6th C commentator on the work) calling them udana, or ‘inspired utterances. This is a brief note because I’m pressed for time; hopefully I’ll fill in more later.

There are many rote phrases, and they dominate the shorter poems, so the uniqueness comes from only a few words in these first works in the collection. But as the poems len
robin friedman
Dec 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An Ancient Buddhist Classic In A New Series Of Indian Writing

Many people have learned a great deal through the Loeb Classical Library of Greek and Roman writing. A new series, modeled on the Loeb Classical Library, has the aim of presenting Indian writing to English readers. The series is called the "Murty Classical Library of India" after Rohan Narayana Murty, a PhD in computer science and intellectual polymath, who generously donated money to fund the project. As stated on its Website, the Mur
Barnaby Thieme
Apr 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: buddhism, india, poetry
The Therigatha, or Verses of the Elder Sisters, constitutes the earliest-known anthology of literature written by women. This collection of Pali poems provides unique insight into the lives and values of early Buddhist women renunciates. In poems ranging between one and a few dozen verses, our poets present evocative images of the path, typically beginning with a presentation of the sorrows of the life they knew, followed by a portrait of their awakening.

I came to think of them very much in ter
Nidhi Mahajan
The Therigatha is an anthology of poems composed by the first Buddhist women who were called theris owing to their seniority and their religious achievements. The book is a collection of some of the very first poems composed in India and definitely some of the first poems composed by women in India.

The poems in this anthology are arranged according to verses ranging from one to forty. The one and two verse poems are quite simple. However, from three verses onward the poems become multi-layered a
Jackson Cyril
Sep 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Exceptional poetry written by Buddhist nuns-- the latest poems in this anthology date from the 3rd century BCE, making this collection the earliest anthology of women's writing we have. Interesting also for the various situations these women faced-- some familiar to us, and others unimaginable to us. ...more
Whoever got rid of the 'Various' in the author description is a cocksucking numbfuck who thinks white boy translations justify ownership of nonwhite women's voices. ...more
Nov 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: school, classics
i enjoyed the buddhist women. they were pleasant
Peter Gunn
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
So metal.
A really fascinating anthology of poetry mostly attributed to women who received teaching from the Buddha, written in the Pali language (with facing English translation). This is the first book I have ever purchased from the Murty Classical Library of India, a series from Harvard University Press that expands the model originally made popular with the Loeb Classical Library of Greek and Latin texts with facing English translation: a library of classics from India (apparently in various languages ...more
Jul 16, 2018 rated it liked it
'Therigatha' is an anthology of poems by the first Buddhist women (therīs), written in Pali and translated into English by Charles Hallisey. The verses talk of the renouncement and the journey towards enlightenment.
The translation doesn't seem to betray the original, which adds to the joy of reading.
And oh, did I mention how much I love the book cover?
Emily O.
Dec 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
An easy-to-read translation and brief historical overview of the Therigatha.

A few of my favorite poems, either because they resonated with me or were rich with complex and thought-provoking symbolism:
"Soma" (45)
"Siha" (53)
"Punna" (123)
"Ambapali" (129)
"Rohini" (141)
"Suba of the Jivakamba Grove" (183)
"The Great Chapter"/"Sumedha" (213)
Dec 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An excellent translation of the Therigatha!! Easy to read and follow, plus there are some great notes about the women's lives before they joined the order. ...more
Jessica Zu
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A very elegant translation.
Camille Dent
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I really enjoyed this collection a lot! I was not expecting it to be such an easy read because my background on Buddhism is not very extensive, but the poems are actually very simple and easy to follow. There were a few times where I would have liked a note or a more thorough note for some terms or ideas, but ultimately, the notes were very helpful! Especially the notes that gave the background stories of the women! I was really surprised that the history and legends behind most of these women h ...more
Feb 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this. It's a classic of Buddhist literature. The introduction comparing the Buddhist poems to classical love poetry was fascinating. I'm sure the poetry in Pali is beautiful. There's a somewhat comical story of a woman gouging out her eyeball in response to a man's compliments of her eyes. But... reading woman after woman saying how she had rooted out the seed of desire, she no longer oozed out depravities, she became free after becoming disgusted with existence, I realized this ...more
Joanna Darrell
May 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My teacher recommended this book to me at a recent study session and for a long time, I wasn't really sure why. You can read this book cover to cover time and time again and not realise or appreciate its simplicity, purity and value, but when you do, you'll want to keep it close by at all times.

My review of it is personal to me, but I just wanted to share that it's a beautiful book, I wish I'd read it earlier
Mar 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2015
Wonderfully depicted accounts of early Buddhist nuns in India. Having the original text on the left page and translation on the right makes me wish I could understand Pali. The footnotes and further translations at the end of the book help to achieve a deeper understanding of the terms and references used.
Jessie B.
Beautiful , both simple and to the point and yet compelling and personal even though these poems were written a very long time ago.
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May 20, 2016
Sowndarya Kishore
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Aug 17, 2015
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Charles Hallisey is Yehan Numata Senior Lecturer on Buddhist Literatures at Harvard University.

Other books in the series

Murty Classical Library of India (1 - 10 of 23 books)
  • Sufi Lyrics
  • The History of Akbar, Vol. 1
  • The Story of Manu
  • Sur's Ocean: Poems from the Early Tradition
  • The History of Akbar, Vol. 2
  • The Epic of Ram, Vol. 1
  • The Epic of Ram, Vol. 2
  • Arjuna and the Hunter
  • The History of Akbar, Vol. 3
  • The Killing of Shishupala

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