Buddha, Vol. 2: The Four Encounters (Buddha #2)

To read the start of this series. The second volume continues 10 years later; after we see Tatta eat his meal, we go into a palace which he camps on the outside of and see a young prince Siddhartha who wants a toy some young Shudra (slave) boys are being chased out for being caught eating vaisya (commoner) food. The prince is taught the levels of caste, the highest being Brahmin. After his short lesson he’s escorted to the “play room”, which is more suited for an adult, when he falls asleep, then becomes ill. When his parents discuss his condition and how by his age he should be getting military training and how he’s too weak to begin, the King decides he should at least try to become a scholar, and so begins his education on the old way of thought for the shape of the world (flat), elephants supporting it, etc. (it reminding me how I’ll enjoy continuing Pratchett’s Discworld). Siddhartha then asks his teacher why there is a caste system. The teacher explains how if one’s parents are a certain class, the child is the same automatically.

After, Siddhartha’s classmates invite him to play and they go hunt rabbits in the garden. When Siddhartha fails to shoot the one found, the other boy kills it and Siddhartha gets upset. The boy runs away only to fall in a pond and when Siddhartha is unable to save him he runs to search for help, but too late. Siddhartha senses significance between the boy’s death and the rabbit, when his mother comes and they go back to the palace. Siddhartha asks his first philosophical question about death and a minister tries to explain, making up an answer which leaves much to be desired. He asks his teacher the same question and is given an atheistic answer. To get his mind off of these thoughts, the King brings him to a magic show. The performer, a Brahmin from another city predicts Siddhartha’s question and offers an answer at a later meeting place. When his show ends, Bandaka comes in and decides he is going to teach Siddhartha archery, even though his father decided to give up on his idea. Bandaka ignores him and constructs a bow which Siddhartha would be able to draw, setting a time for training, ending the first chapter.

Siddhartha begins training and when failing to get his arrow to go far enough, Bandaka takes him to the gardens and starts shooting the animals and boasts of being better than Chapra and this is when Siddhartha decides to shoot his bow at Bandaka, to give him a taste of what the animals experience, angering him. Bandaka leaves him there after warning him to not try threatening him again and Siddhartha goes to meet the Brahmin waiting not far from there. After revealing Siddhartha he is psychic, Siddhartha asks the question he’s been plagued with. The Brahmin teaches him how he can learn of death from nature since the animals know best and because they wouldn’t be able to answer in human language, he shows him how he can become the animal and experience it through the animal’s eyes and letting it show him. Siddhartha becomes a rabbit, being hunted by Bandaka, shot, and killed. What he sees after the rabbit’s death frightens him, which makes him vehement on not dying ever, which the Brahmin confides he may not have to and perhaps he will live forever by educating people how to live. The Brahmin prophetizes the tree Siddhartha will go to learn what truths he will teach. When he is attending a festival with his parents, he soon meditates into a bird and sees it through its birth until death, awaking later and confiding what he’d dreamed and after, his father informing him of a bird coming down during the festival and killed by a hawk, similar to his dream.

The next chapter begins with Siddhartha asleep among dining guests and two are speaking of selling silks and so inflating the price in the city. Siddhartha wakes during this and entertainment is started. A few more years have passed by this time and he’s asked what game he would like to play in his room with his guests, Siddhartha comes up with a “game” asking for the implements needed including a couple of bulls. The result does not amuse his father, though and Siddhartha requests he disown him or punish him any way he choose, but will continue to make up similar games every day. His father makes his punishment to stay in his playroom, and so his mother decides Siddhartha should be allowed to leave them, relating this to his father. Meanwhile, Siddhartha sits in his room until hearing a bird on the ledge. The bird had a rope in his mouth which Siddhartha realizes the idea and escapes down the rope, out the window. He’s met by a dog upon reaching the bottom, quickly. The dog leads him to a man, whom we soon recognize. Siddhartha asks if the animals are his pets which they of course, aren’t. He leads him to his canoe, stating to him how he knew he wanted to escape and so decided to help. Siddhartha is then introduced to Tatta, who soon warns Siddhartha of the dangers they’ll be facing . They’re soon attacked by some bandits shooting arrows at them. Tatta realizes it’s most likely caused by Siddhartha’s shiny adornments and advises to chuck them over-board. One dumb bandit tries to claim them, jumping in after and makes quick acquaintance with a crocodile.

Siddhartha sees this and once discovering the bandit’s gender asks Tatta to help her, even though he knows she’ll be trouble, Tatta gives in. After continuing down the river a way’s, Tatta makes all of them help him pole through a new danger, needing quick departure. When escaping, the woman is thirsty, so they go ashore to get stalks to satiate for the time being due to the river water’s contamination. She refuses to partake though and runs off, being found not long after leading them with her screams for being bombarded with an ant colony. Siddhartha comes up with a plan and Tatta brings it to fruition giving her healing herbs after it’s completion and hoping for the best, still wondering why Siddhartha seems so inclined to help her. They continue their journey and talk of how one should live life until death, Tatta realizes through their conversation how clever Siddhartha is. They soon come to the rough part of the river which throws them around. They make it through alive and discover where they landed. They continue walking on until meeting an old woman left to die asking for water. Tatta decides to leave her there, shocking Siddhartha even more than he already was and the woman dies before being able to give her what she wanted, making Siddhartha more sad and traumatized, not caring to go on to the city, but deciding to return home. Tatta decides to escort him back since following the river won’t get him there. They make it to Siddhartha’s palace and he walks in looking the worse for wear. His father is furious and knows what he had done and what kind of person led him.

It cuts back to Tatta barbecuing nearby and confessing to Magaila how Siddhartha will become the greatest king and why he’s planning his revenge through his destiny. We skip back to Siddhartha yearning for Migaila and soon gets ill. It takes him more than 1/2 a year to recover and he stays in deep contemplation long after his illness wanes. His parents put a party together for him to bring him out of his funk and Tatta sees him in his longboat, bored. Magaila feels badly for Siddhartha’s condition and circumstance, giving Tatta another opportunity to rub in her face how she’s crushing on him as they, and his parents both oversee his meeting with a princess who they hope Siddhartha will accept as his wife-to-be. Siddhartha wishes to go about it traditionally if he’s suited to marrying the princess and being forced to marry her regardless of his feelings. Bandaka insists a meeting with the princess as she’s returning to her palace, expressing to her his plan to be her suitor and win her for his legacy, Siddhartha not being seen as a worthy opponent. Magaila sneaks into the palace as a suitor and discovers Siddhartha. She reveals her plan which seems fantastic in it’s impossibility when he suggests she hide from the approach of his father and Bandaka, who requires his approval to enter the contest, which he gives. We then see the start of the competition, Tatta observing by becoming a bird. The first fight commences with Bandaka winning. The second has Magaila fighting against a man seemingly there to fix the fight in Siddhartha’s favor, but when the man goes for the death shot, Tatta distracts him for the win in Magaila’s favor. The semi-finals of the competition begin later, so Magaila goes for a refreshing swim when some passersby notice her gear and recognize her as the suitor, wanting her autograph. Tatta comes to the rescue again though, dive-bombing them until it’s safe for Magaila to surface. She figures out Tatta inhabits the bird and makes her way back to the competition.

The next bit is marksmanship and Tatta attempts to fix it so Magaila will come out on top again, but Bandaka smartens to the sneaky plot and Tatta gets him another way, making him fall from his horse and disqualified. Magaila makes it to the final round to “fight” Siddhartha and the King tries to uncover background on Magaila’s fake I.D., coming up with nothing and wondering “his” true identity.Siddhartha and Magaila begin the wrestling match and make the fight look good. Unfortunately, before the King wonders about why “he” had his face covered, can go any further, Magaila’s disguise falls away with a throw, leading to her capture. Siddhartha attempts to explain his ruse to his father, but he won’t relent, so Siddhartha accepts marrying the princess to save Magaila and have his father release her, to which he agrees. He takes Siddhartha to the dungeon where she’s being held, but before letting her go, blinds her and then releases her into exile. The chapter after we begin with Siddhartha’s wedding day and Bandaka is attesting to Siddhartha’s failure to bring prosperity with his marriage. Bandaka sets bulls to deliver an unsigned message to him, which he ignores and continues the proceedings.

A message from Kosala comes after, for the acceptance of Siddhartha going to get an education in the city, but he refuses. Soon he has a conversation with Yashodara, the princess about his love for Magaila and how she understood his feelings. He confides his plan to look for Magaila and she makes it clear she’ll continue to try to vie for his affection.We then see Siddhartha search for Magaila and identifies refugees in the area because the grain stopped coming in, caused by the Kosalan troops, who were trying to get the refugees off their land. Siddhartha gives them ample payment to pay for their food, after which Siddhartha meets the ruler of Kosala and to make up for insulting him by not accepting his invitation, he requests Siddhartha to locate a queen from his own kingdom. To decide, Siddhartha goes to the garden and is despairing in how to make the decision, when the Brahmin from his childhood reappears and leads him to ruins and gives him the choice to choose between the four gates and whichever he prefers, will be the one he should follow. He is told it is a riddle and whether he understands what he saw. Siddhartha learns what he must become and leaves. He confesses to his parents only of the King of Kosala’s demand and they debate about what is best. They seem to go with a ploy, making a maid pretend to be royalty and send her off to the King, who falls for their trick and a year later, his queen is pregnant and the boy soon arrives, the city celebrating for three days and nights. We learn then what will happen to the young prince’s outlook once he detects the ruse his mother was a part of.

The next chapter begins with some gang killing a merchant and trying to pass on to sell his wares, they free the slaves and take a brahmin back to their chief. The man revealing to the chief, being Tatta, he is a Samanna and so Tatta gives him the task of if he puts out his eye he can leave, surprising him and Magaila when he goes through with it. Magaila learns from him the idea of reincarnation and he mentions to her of his master who, upon hearing the name, Tatta recognizes. Dhepa brings Magaila to meet his master who was blinded from his own doing. When a monsoon hits in the summer, those who survive have famine to deal with. Siddhartha contemplates how to save his people, soon realizing he must leave to know what to teach upon returning. Yashodara tries to convince him the city will collapse without him, which fails so she confesses she’s pregnant, which fails to stop him as well, but he doesn’t go far, sitting atop a tower ledge outside and refusing to come down. When they build a room around him, he climbs to it’s highest point and continues his meditation. A man who served Siddhartha goes to Bandaka to report he’s in a position to take the Kapilavastu throne if he desired. Bandaka takes the idea and kills the man for his treason, knowing he wouldn’t have been able to trust him. He sees Yashodara and his thoughts to claim her resume. When he approaches her with a deal to get Siddhartha down, she accepts, not seeming to realize the consequences.

Bandaka goes for recruits: Brahmins who think highly of themselves and he shares of the reward offered if they get Siddhartha off the tower. They accept the challenge and begin their descent from the mountain they trained on. When they arrive at the palace, the King gives permission for them to try their tricks. It fails to fool Siddhartha and one of the Brahmin asks for his reasons for sitting there and to explain why there wasn’t a difference between castes, the Brahmin soon realizes Siddhartha’s talent and asks for him to join them in training, and Siddhartha accepts, to Yashodara’s sadness and Bandaka’s delight. Siddhartha hears Yashodara’s cries and returns to make Bandaka release her, but he requests a fight and Siddhartha forfeits, proving his power non-violently. Yashodara faints and their child soon arrives. When she does give birth, Siddhartha is happy of the resulting prince, but his father has him locked up until he turns the throne over to him in seven days.

The King has a dream-vision of Siddhartha’s request to leave and being unable to give him what he wants to make him stay, upon waking and seeing Siddhartha asleep, he locks the palace down and Siddhartha’s plan to escape still goes off without a hitch and he goes on his way. Once he cuts his hair, he sends the man who helped him escape back with the horse and the instructions to give his hair to his wife. Siddhartha goes on to the mountain to train. The King summons Bandaka and offers him to become general of his army, which he declines unless he’s made king, which the King accepts after realizing the futility of the situation. When he’s told he must go to a council of Brahmin he has it postponed to go to Yashodara’s chambers and he realizes she will vigilantly hate him and leaves in defeat. We see him next trying to make any “ole” noble his wife. Upon his decision, he makes haste back to the castle to lead the army and when they meet their opponents on the field, he is promptly disposed of. His intensity was enough to make the Kosalan army retreat, though. Bandaka’s choice of wife, one year later has his child and this child will go head to head with Siddhartha in twenty years. Which completes the second volume and it’s going to be difficult to await reading the third. I have yet to be disappointed in this detailed history, I’m thoroughly enjoying it and haven’t given the best parts away. One must read it for oneself to truly enjoy this tale.

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2 thoughts on “Buddha, Vol. 2: The Four Encounters (Buddha #2)

  1. Pingback: Buddha, Vol. 1: Kapilavastu (Buddha #1) | Book Fiend

  2. Pingback: Buddha, Vol. 3: Devadatta (Buddha #3) | Book Fiend

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