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The Gathering: A Story of the First Buddhist Women

Sasson’s new book is a retelling of the story of the women’s request for ordination. Inspired in particular by the Therigatha and building on years of research and experience in the field, Sasson follows Vimala, Patachara, Bhadda Kundalakesa, and many others as they walk through the forest to request full access to the tradition. The Buddha’s response to this request is famously complicated and multi-faceted; he eventually accepts women into the Order, but attaches specific and controversial conditions (garudhammas). Sasson invites us to think about who these first Buddhist women might have been, what they hoped to achieve, and what these conditions might have meant to them thereafter. By shaping her research into a story, Sasson invites readers to imagine a world that continues to inspire and complicate Buddhist narrative to this day.

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