Buddha, Vol. 4: The Forest of Uruvela (Buddha #4) Part 2 of Part 3

For the third volume in the series. This portion begins with Bimbisara brooding on his impending death and his people celebrating his birthday. Siddhartha arrives not long after and Bimbisara reports his impatience in waiting to talk with him, Siddhartha explaining he’d been training elsewhere and hadn’t known of the urgency. Bimbisara confides in Siddhartha of his tortured thoughts and Siddhartha responds by describing to him the ascetics he’s met on his travels. One master accepted them to train with his disciples and harshly disciplined them if they didn’t follow his instructions. The ascetic soon notices of Siddhartha’s uniqueness and offers him a partnership in teaching his disciples with him. Siddhartha declines since the ascetic didn’t know how to teach him what he wanted to learn. The next ascetic was angered at Siddhartha’s conduct towards the master he had gone to before him, Alara, and Siddhartha tries to explain his reasons.

This master, Uddaka gives him a task he thinks Siddhartha will fail, but soon Siddhartha figures out Uddaka’s technique and he as well tries to keep Siddhartha with him, but Siddhartha believed there was an answer to what he was seeking when Dhepa insists their only other option is to undergo another ordeal. Dhepa describes a forest they could travel to start the trials and Siddhartha still can’t comprehend value in damaging one’s body to uncover answers, but agrees to go. When Bimibisara tries to advise him of the risk he’s taking in agreeing to go, Siddhartha replies in return of no one but God decides whether he will survive and so Bimbisara vows to build him a temple with the precious stones Siddhartha couldn’t accept from him upon his return from his trials. When they arrive at the forest, Dhepa is in ascetic trial heaven, seeing many others torturing themselves to enlightenment. Siddhartha then runs into the ascetics who had tested him during his stay atop his tower and noticed one wasn’t present, realizing he had not made it through an ordeal. They also saved some spots for them in case they wanted to start in a certain area, but before beginning, Siddhartha asks Assaji if he will survive through these trials and the answer he gives surprises him.

Siddhartha meets a girl who informs him of the usual time the monks bathe, whilst he’s bathing, making it difficult to come back to shore to dry off. She then shares where she lives and how she knows all the monks who go there so he shouldn’t feel embarrassed. Siddhartha takes her advice and she gives him bug repellent before leaving him. Siddhartha then goes to a village nearby the forest and learns they give to the ascetics, also learning of a house on a hill which doesn’t participate in charity for being pariahs. Siddhartha goes to investigate despite an acetic’s words to stay away and is noticed by another monk before meeting any of the occupants.

They go back to the forest and Siddhartha begins, putting on the repellent and during his meditation, notices large predators are gathering around him rather than bugs. When they retreat, Siddhartha tries to stop breathing and is awakened by Dhepa, giving support to his efforts, also needing to remind Siddhartha of why they do trials in the first place. Then he tries the idea of becoming a tree, stop smelling like a human, so animals wouldn’t bother him and to stop breathing. Then Tatta comes to end the ordeal and to eat something, going so far as to barbecue some meat, but Siddhartha sticks to his resolve and Tatta goes home to care for Migaila, who’s sick after giving birth and not even getting any good results from it. Then we are taken back to the woods where Sujata, the girl asks after Siddhartha and discovers he’s still going through a trial and after being told to let him be, still checks and is shocked by his condition. Thinking he’s died, she goes back to notify Dhepa and he confirms the opposite, requesting her again to let him go through his trial in peace. When she doesn’t and goes so far as to bring him home with her, she’s told by her father she must put him back where she found him, even though she reminds him he taught her to help those in need.

Her father, meanwhile decides to focus on going off with some other locals to deal with the pariah and Sujata takes Siddhartha to a shed to nurse him, reviving him, but in the end he still deciding to go back to the forest to finish his trial, even though he’s ruined his first for being fed. We then see the locals going to the house on the hill and we see it’s Tatta and Magaila who are the occupants. When Tatta tries to defend himself from them with rocks and it escalates to him using a sword on one of the group, which in turn makes them decide to go to the lengths of burning the house down for saying the occupant must be a devil. They bring Tatta to the shed which Siddhartha was brought to, and he’s surprised to see Tatta in his condition. After hesitating to disclose to Siddhartha of his breaking his side of their deal, he relents so he could hopefully help him get loose to protect Magaila, still in the shack on the hill. Tatta gets there in time to get Magaila out, but the house was still burning. Then we see Siddhartha back in the woods and Dhepa berating him for not sticking with the trial and giving in to eating the soup he was given. Siddhartha tries to show how there are plenty of other ways one can suffer in life, pointing out Assaji’s situation for one example.

Then another ascetic expresses of the pariah who’s moved into the forest in a cave and Siddhartha goes to speak with him, with Dhepa warning of his dangerous nature. When Siddhartha locates Tatta and he insists on seeing Magaila who is still sick, he is surprised to see her condition and then, the next scene we see is of Tatta hunting and a group of the locals are back to flush out the pariah, not doing it sooner for Siddhartha’s obvious nobility, but coming to the end of their patience. When the townspeople come to drive Tatta, the pariah out of the woods and is eventually supported by Dhepa, Siddhartha must convince them Tatta and his wife, Migaila are going through one of the most serious trials, regardless of doing it by choice, like the ascetics were, which was Dhepa’s position for one to be in the woods at all and the townspeople try to get him to move on solely because he wasn’t like them. Siddhartha goes to Tatta to update him of what was happening and Migaila began to suggest Tatta killing her being the easiest way to relieve all’s burden, letting them leave and he not being stuck caring for her, which of course, he denied and vowed to help her get well, even though she told him she didn’t seem to be getting any better. After leaving some medicine for Tatta to apply to Migaila’s skin disease, Siddhartha spots Assaji in the woods nearby marking trees for each day they stayed in the forest. After talking about whether Assaji was afraid to die and then determining vaguely how he, Siddhartha would die, he asks if Migaila will survive and discovers he must help her the same way he helped Assaji when he was about to die. When he reflects for courage for what he must do, he goes back to the cave and begins the process, Tatta thinking the lengths he was taking weren’t necessary. By the end of the chapter, Siddhartha and Tatta take turns in the process of ridding Migaila of the poisons in her body, making her feel better, but guilty for having them do what they must to her body, which wasn’t in an attractive state.

After leaving them, Dhepa confronts Siddhartha as to where he’s been going, thinking he’s going to town, which of course Siddhartha denies, but later in the evening when he goes off into the forest again, Dhepa follows to observe. When he sees Siddhartha has been going to the cave, but misunderstands what he’s doing there, Tatta defends him almost to Dhepa’s death, but Siddhartha stops him, even though Dhepa still won’t listen to reason. Tatta is ready to fight Dhepa over his narrow view of pariahs, but Siddhartha reminds Tatta of his wife, who’s too sick to handle the stress and stands down, agreeing to leave, but also changing the agreement he had with Siddhartha, wanting to be his first disciple after he finished his training to his standards. Dhepa meanwhile, decides Siddhartha must repent for his “sinful” acts to Migaila and so begins his punishment. Dhepa begins confiding Siddhartha he’d be better off dying to cleanse his soul and Siddhartha can’t believe and won’t succumb to his giving up on his “treatment”, pleading to be let out of his torture. Assaji helps him at last and Siddhartha thinks it would be better to train with him over Dhepa, who’s beliefs have strayed so far from his own. Siddhartha learns how Assaji has lived and his sleeping quarters seem to suit only for a small body, fortunately for Siddhartha, after falling, Assaji had the sense to make it easy to have a safe landing. Siddhartha soon engages Assaji on how to ignore imminent death, comparing other species tactics. The chapter ends with Siddhartha contemplating those thoughts and the next begins six years passing in the Uruvela forest.

Sujata comes to the forest to have her fortune told by Assaji like many other townspeople and discovers she will have her love but for a day, because the next day he will be unlike any other human. After, Assaji shares with Siddhartha how he will die and Siddhartha must look after his body after Assaji’s death. Then it skips back to Sujata and her father, who is trying to figure out who she’s love-sick for. Eventually he guesses who the culprit is and we are left seeing her yearn to be with him. We go back to Siddhartha and Assaji in the forest and the happenings of Assaji’s last night on Earth. Siddhartha falls asleep on his watch to make sure Assaji didn’t come to harm in the night and when he awakes Assaji has disappeared. Siddhartha takes off trying to detect his whereabouts, seeing him across a field and then realizes how he came to be eaten by animals, giving his life to save them from starvation. Siddhartha is understandably upset by the sight and runs back to the tree he spent the night with Assaji in, going back to the site of Assaji’s sacrifice to retrieve his bones, ending the chapter.

The next begins with Siddhartha seeming to continue his trials where he left off, beginning on the fire made for Assaji’s remains and ending with him in the street getting knocked about by some rocks thrown by villagers. Once he crawls to a place of death and awaits birds to peck at him, some other ascetics, who have followed him, ask him if he’d rather come back to the forest with them to finish his trials properly and how Dhepa would accept him back. Siddhartha goes off on them, confessing to them what they practice is nothing compared to what he’s seen Assaji do, deciding to continue alone and try to emulate Assaji’s selflessness. After training by himself for a bit, Siddhartha sees something happening with the ascetics, who are fighting with each other. He runs into Dhepa and discerns they’ve had a fight and he must choose a side, which Siddhartha refuses and vows to not have anything to do with the forest of trials thenceforth. He goes back to the place he first met Sujata and is surprised to meet her there again. Siddhartha talks of what his plans will be next and Sujata throws herself at him, wanting him to stay with her. He, of course, breaks her heart with his rejection and she runs back home. She soon leaves again the same night and when her parents follow her, they realize she’s met a terrible fate. Her father goes to find Siddhartha and inform him of what’s happened and how he blames him, but bidding him to come back to save her. After being told she’s passed on, Siddhartha tries to use his psychic powers like he had on the animals in his youth, even seeing Sujata for a moment before losing her to something he believed he shouldn’t be seeing. When he thinks he’ll be absorbed into it’s mesh, he then hears the old man he knew in his childhood, he revealing who he is and explaining where they are, also revealing to him what the universe is. After unveiling what he must do to attain enlightenment, he asks him how he can save Sujata and take a soul back with him. In the waking world, Sujata’s parents see her start to breathe again and her father is shocked to see Siddhartha was able to succeed, but realizing he was nowhere to be found, ending the chapter.

We see Siddhartha walking and coming to terms with what he’d seen and whether he believed it was real. Siddhartha decides to locate a tree to reminisce about his enlightening dream on such a beautiful day. He begins sharing his experience to the animals in the forest like they could understand him and upon finishing his tale, meditated until hearing the crickets. Then Dhepa notices him to share news which was given in the forest which involves Siddhartha about his kingdom falling under siege and not knowing the fates of his parents. Siddhartha ponders why Prasenajit would suddenly attack his realm when Dhepa revealed Prasenajit became violently furious to learn the humble beginnings of his queen. We then discover how it occurred, beginning with the King wanting to send his son to Kapilavastu for his education, due to being cheap and having capable teachers. His wife tries to dissuade him, but he insists and once the prince begins school, he is mysteriously a black sheep. The children reveal his common blood and he leaves for home to confront his mother, she concedes it’s truth and the boy wants to kill her, but his father stays his hand and blames the royals of Kapilavastu, leaving his wife out of the trouble. The prince still has her moved to the slave quarters and is mournful of it. They siege upon Kapilavastu on Siddhartha’s sixth year in the forest. His parents and wife stand trial and Prasenajit vows to have all of the Shakya tribe pay for their deceit. He decides to have the King executed and the families exiled out of the country and if anyone has a problem with it, the King swiftly kills them. Then his son requests the lives of the boys who tormented him in school, which is carried out. Meanwhile the royal family is imprisoned and Siddhartha senses Yashodara yearning for his aid and is torn between staying for his training and leaving to help them, ending the chapter with Siddhartha tormented by his position.

The next chapter begins with an event which happens about a year before what we ended on in the last. We see a man tear apart a beast in the water who turns out to be Yatala, the title of the chapter, and some men are deciding his fate because of Yatala’s actions. One man comes out saying he is the one who can succeed in the deed. We discover Yatala’s humble background whilst the warrior reveal where he comes from. We then ascertain Yatala having an uncommon upbringing due to his father being quite clever and teaching his son to be the same, also giving him a drug made up of herbs which would make him stronger than any whip or assault of any kind could damage him by adulthood. After having this conversation with his son, a man comes into their home, pointing a sword at his father and delivers an odd death to him and his wife, leaving Yatala with the warning he’d better not turn out like his father since he was letting him live. Yatala buries his parents and takes the medicine his father had given to him and then grew taller and stronger each year, but also losing his humanity. He runs into the beast whom dealt the deaths of his parents years later and bestowed his vengeance upon it, after which being driven out of Anga coming back once in awhile delivering death to whomever got in his way.

After the townspeople update the warrior to Yatala’s history, he cuts them short to determine where he is, his horse sensing danger well before he, threatening the beast to continue on, is found by Yatala. The warrior introduces himself and then shows him what his gun can do. Yatala is injured and then taken for dead by the warrior, he deciding to take a nap for some reason, but is woken up by Yatala giving as good as he had taken. Yatala continued to instill fear into anyone who saw even his footprints and only drew fearful reactions from those who would actually run into him. The townspeople would try repetitively to kill him and fail. Yatala travels some distance away after their latest experiment and we see a young royal traveling with entourage and being told of a demon whom was terrorizing the area and they should retreat, which only perks the boy’s interest and deciding he wants to stay the night, only to have his horse bristle with fear and they then meet Yatala. After laying out everyone in his group, he takes the Prince and tries to speak to him. Yatala tries to understand why the Prince isn’t afraid of him and he gets around to letting the Prince realize he’s his hostage. The Prince puts bribery on the table for his release, then offers him to be his wrestler for a tournament held in his kingdom each year, with all the luxuries it comes with, but before Yatala decides anything, it seems the Prince’s army has come to his rescue and leaves his offer as a way for Yatala to come out of the probable death which was walking towards him. Yatala faces the crowd and threatens he will kill the boy if they come after him; he gets arrows shot at him. Yatala threatens the Prince with them and the army asks what he wants in order to keep the Prince safe. Yatala explains who he is and what happened to his parents, hating the world and it’s class system. He declares he will fight until castes are eradicated, then the Prince shares his own background, but Yatala doesn’t believe him.

In the end, Yatala goes on good faith and lets the Prince go with a warning if he’s lied to him he won’t forgive him for it. The Prince still offers him a position in his employment and hopes to hear from him as he parts company with him. Once he’s back on his horse, he announces to the guard of his plans on taming the giant and expects to see him the next day, which Yatala fulfills. When Yatala goes inside he states to the Prince of being his servant rather than joining the Kosala guard, which was also an offer, but still maintaining he will not forgive the Prince if he betrays him. He gets fitted for his outfit and the Prince has already gotten comfortable giving out orders as to the conduct of when and where he’s to wear the mask he’s been given and where he will sleep, as well as staying out of the palace unless requested otherwise, after he goes to his “quarters” and sleeps. His father talks to the Prince about how the giant’s foot is making cracks on his wall for kicking it in his sleep and the Prince explains he’s hardly a concern with how much good they’ll get from training him. He relents, feeling bad for the boy’s unfortunate breeding and deals with the knocking of Yatala as he tries to go to sleep.

The next time we see Yatala he is training, after some time he takes a rest and sees a young woman gathering water from a well, ending up scaring her and trying to introduce himself with his mask askew on his face. He continues to try and calm her, noticing she’d been crying and soon her features hit him as being familiar and asks how her son could put her in slave quarters, revering his mother and putting mothers on a pedestal regardless of their class. He ends up wanting to mention to the Prince to let his mother out of the slave house, but she would rather him let it alone, leaving. The next time Yatala sees the Prince he’s as good as his word, bringing up seeing the Prince’s mother and expressing to him he didn’t forgive him for his conduct towards her after his explanation to why he’d put her there. The Prince considers Yatala’s display insolent and decides punishment is in order to teach him the lesson he deemed necessary.

Then we see the Prince’s mother in her quarters and Yatala is trying to give her some leftover food from a banquet he’d been to, she’s trying to get him to leave because what he’s doing is not allowed, of course and in the process he ends up spilling the food he’s trying to hand her through the bars, after which he’s discovered and gets his head stuck, putting a hole through the wall, getting more lashes for his “crime”, the Prince scoffing at Yatala’s kindness to his mother. Soon they have the problem of the plague passing through the slave quarters and the Prince needing to decide to allow it to be burnt down, with the rest of the slaves in it. His father comes to him after hearing about his agreement and tries to reason with his son. The Prince still goes through with it, showing only slight regret and when Yatala sees the smoke from the fire, he goes to save the Prince’s mother. He runs to the outside of the castle and claims her as his “Mama”, the Prince following him, overhearing what he confesses of the fire to her and then reveals himself and what he’d done. The Prince then orders Yatala to take her somewhere far away to die and to come back to the castle. He takes her a long way off, but can’t leave her since she’s displaying signs of sickness, so he decides to keep going and take her to a doctor, but on the way she doesn’t make it and the Prince was following him, seeing him mourn his mother’s death.

After Yatala walks away, the Prince goes to where he’d buried her and mourns her death as well, finally displaying sadness, saying he hadn’t before because of being watched by his guards. Yatala meanwhile, is wishing for death so he can be close to “Mama” again. He walks a bit more and notices Siddhartha sitting under a tree and asks him why there are fortunate and unfortunate people. Siddhartha asks in return what Yatala’s story is. After being told he reports to Yatala how unfortunate the Prince sounded as well, not being able to show his affection for his mother all those years. Yatala then has the realization there aren’t any fortunate humans upsetting. After Siddhartha gives him hope, Yatala asks to become his disciple, but Siddhartha declines due to training still and Yatala announces he’ll wait forever if need be for when Siddhartha is ready to teach, which Siddhartha didn’t see as being in his future. When Yatala leaves, feeling better, back to Kosala, Siddhartha is soon shocked by the declarations he’d told him, not knowing where he’d come up with them or why he’d even spoken in the first place. After, the Brahma comes back to congratulate Siddhartha on his enlightenment. Siddhartha still doesn’t believe he’s able to teach anyone of what he’s learned, but the Brahma gives him a holy sign and proclaims he will from then on be called Buddha and the book ends on a bright light. A pretty interesting and entertaining volume. Until the next.

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2 thoughts on “Buddha, Vol. 4: The Forest of Uruvela (Buddha #4) Part 2 of Part 3

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

  2. Pingback: Buddha, Vol. 5: Deer Park (Buddha #5) | Book Fiend

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