A beautifully written story. This fictionalized biography is best described as a "portrait." It follows Siddhartha from before he's even born through his enlightenment. Unlike Hesse's "Siddartha," which I remember as being much more about the spiritual journey, and therefore more esoteric, Chopra's "Buddha" really focusses on the characters. This is great; it makes Siddartha's conflicts and motivations feel real, and also gives Chopra a couple of different characters with whom to tackle the question of how someone lives what they believe.
This heated outburst made Mara decide to wait again, and so he delayed another few hours while Devadatta grew colder and lonelier and the weight of the demon's words had sunk in. Then, because he knew that gratitude can be as effective as fear, Mara clapped his hands, and a small campfire appeared in the cave some yards away from the boy. Devadatta rushed over to it and warmed his shivering body. "The only thrown you have a hope of capturing is Siddhartha's," said Mara. The firelight made Devadatta's eyes gleam. As always, the demon had grasped an idea that was already in his victim's mind. "His father is too strong. You cannot overthrow him. But it is through him that you will depose the son."
The unfortunate truth? (Unfortunate, I suppose, only for Mr. Chopra). It really didn't make me interested in Buddhism. In fact, by the end I felt less interested in Buddhism than when I started. The way Chopra explains it, embracing suffering and erasing the self and the physical world seems to demand even more absolutism than the good/evil duality Siddhartha rejects. Or maybe I just enjoy the physical world too much.
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