Cover: Therigatha: Poems of the First Buddhist Women, from Harvard University PressCover: Therigatha in HARDCOVER

Murty Classical Library of India 3


Poems of the First Buddhist Women

Translated by Charles Hallisey

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Product Details


$29.95 • £21.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674427730

Publication: January 2015

Academic Trade

336 pages

5-1/4 x 8 inches

Murty Classical Library of India


The Therigatha has a lot of claims on our attention. It is among the first poetry of India; among the first poems by women in India; the first collection of women’s literature in the world. But these claims should not obscure its status as poetry. While the poems embody the world-view and morality of early Indian Buddhism, making them invaluable historical documents, they repay the reader’s attention generously.—Neel Mukherjee, New Statesman

An austere and revelatory compendium of poems composed over two thousand years ago by Buddhist nuns.—Kanish Tharoor, The Los Angeles Review of Books

Therigatha is a collection of Pali poems attributed to the earliest Buddhist nuns. Though it is a part of the major Theravada Buddhist canon and has been well known to scholars for a long time, these beautiful verses haven’t reached the general public who might be interested in Buddhism… We see Buddhists meditating on women’s bodies as they grow old and lose their beauty, but this time the Buddhists in question are women, and their analysis, though rooted in the same assumptions, is markedly different… The poems of the Therigatha are not narratives; rather, they are dialogues, meditations, and songs, and they carry a more intimate tone that is beautifully expressed in Hallisey’s fluid translation. These poems present a cacophony of different voices of women struggling to find themselves in Buddhism against the prevailing assumptions of their day.—Eric M. Gurevitch, Public Books

Therigatha: Poems of the First Buddhist Women is marvelous not only in that it is an archive of poetry in a language no longer in use but also in that it is the world’s first known collection of literary work by women—documenting the aspirations and achievements of women from nearly two thousand years ago. These poems or utterances that introduce their readers to the practice and intricacies of Buddhism also serve as a testament to the multiplicity of faith and cultural experience in the Indian sub-continent.—Pragya Tiwari, India at LSE blog

We can only welcome an undertaking like the Murty Classical Library of India, which intends to inject fresh blood directly into the circulatory system of the English language. Any intelligent reader cannot fail to be favorably impressed in the presence of the variegated offerings of the series’ first titles… The Murty Classical Library offers a surprising array of texts that are in any case capable of broadening the all-too-restricted horizons of the average Western reader.—Roberto Calasso, The New York Review of Books

MCLI volumes are available in India in both hardcover and paperback from as well as from leading bookstores and airport shops throughout the subcontinent.