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The Four Wives of a Man

Sounds very strange! Isn’t it? 

It was strange to us also until we discovered this truth through Buddha’s teachings. Let’s dive into Buddha’s teaching to understand more about it! Buddha beautifully explained it through a conversation of a sick and dying man with his four wives.

Meet the First Wife

On his death bed, the man called his first wife and expressed his love to her and asked her “My dear wife, I loved you throughout my life and as now I am dying, would you please come with me?

He was heartbroken to hear the reality from the first wife who said “true that you loved me very much but your death is the time to part from you. Sorry! I can’t come with you”.

First Wife

The first wife is the representation of our body we love day and night and get attached to it a lot. Aversion and attachments are the root cause of vicious cycle of life. As a matter of fact, we are borne alone and we die alone and therefore we should practice detachment so that we don’t get stuck in limbo and thereby again meeting the first wife in repeated cycle of birth and death.

Meet the Second Wife

Disheartened by the reply from the first wife, the man now called his second wife. The man said “my dear second wife, I disregarded my first wife’s love, pain and sufferings  and married you. As now I am dying, please come with me.”

The second wife said,” How can I follow you when your first wife refused to do so. Infact, you married me only out of your selfishness to fulfil your desires.”

Second Wife

Yes ! the second wife here is the representation of our “Desires” that again leads to the attachment with the materialistic possessions. In order to fulfil our materialistic desires, we forget to hear the repeated calls of exhaustion and discomfort our physical body (first wife) gives to us.

Meet the Third Wife

With so much disappointment and anger, the man called and requested his third wife to accompany him.

To his disappointment again, the third wife said “My dear, I pity you and I feel sad for myself therefore I shall accompany you till the burial ground. This is my compassionate love for you.”

Third Wife

This third wife is a representation of the community of family members, friends and even strangers we are surrounded with in our lifetimes. They are the existence of the external selves and also the ego that desires to have ownership over the existence of everyone.  At the time of death, we can detach ourselves completely from body with the understanding that we cannot depend upon on others to accompany us.

Meet the Fourth Wife

Completely shattered with the responses of three wives, now the man thought about the fourth wife. He had huge guilt in calling her as he has always treated her like a slave to take care of his estate and married her out of ego.

However, he was taken aback when the fourth wife agreed to die with him without any hesitation. She said, “I am determined to be with you forever, I can’t be separated from you”

Fourth Wife

This fourth wife is a representation of “OUR KARMAS” that can never be separated from us. No matter how much we ignore them.


We must constantly work on ourselves to create positive Karmas and detach ourselves from the excessive worldly attachments. As His Holiness Dalai Lama says,” We have to travel to the next world alone, unaccompanied. The only thing that will benefit us is if we have undertaken some spiritual practice and have left some positive imprints within our minds. If we are to stop wasting our lives, we have to meditate on impermanence and our own mortality”

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