Buddha, Vol. 5: Deer Park (Buddha #5)

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For the fourth volume in the series. The next volume begins with Devadatta scouting for warriors to compete for the palace competition, which eventually leads him to Tatta and offering him a slightly different opportunity to join the royal guard. Tatta isn’t interested, but Devadatta doesn’t give up easily. Tatta weighs his options after he realizes he can invade Kosala, agreeing after. They immediately begin training which is more detailed than Tatta bargained for. Devadatta also gives him etiquette techniques he must follow as well, which doesn’t sit well with Tatta at first, but soon enough they’re on their way to visit the King to put Tatta to the test. He impresses the prime minister and Tatta is hired with Devadatta staying on as his manager. Devadatta soon learns of the King Bimbisara’s distress over being killed by his son at the age of forty-one and soon gets the chance to ask the Prince his opinion on the subject, which makes the eight-year-old steam with anger before riding off on his horse. Devadatta believes he and the boy would get along famously due to the lad’s intelligence, but right after those thoughts, they discover the Prince has been attacked by a killer elephant.

Bimbisara soon dispatches a reward to any one man who would go to the mountain to kill the elephant and return the Prince safely. Devadatta elects Tatta, who declines immediately, but Migaila has already gotten his belongings ready for him to go and convinces him to agree with it by suggesting he use his power to enter animals, which he’d not done in years, but couldn’t argue. Soon after getting to the mountain, he locates the elephant trying to bust a tree the Prince had climbed. Tatta goes a safe distance away to try and possess the elephant, which doesn’t work in time for the wind changes and the elephant notices his presence. After getting chased, Tatta gives the animal a killing blow and then almost gets hit with his own blade, but the beast still doesn’t die and so Tatta informs the Prince he is safe and he’s going to follow the elephant. When the Prince reports what happened to Bimbisara, the King orders his soldiers to go track the man down. Meanwhile Tatta detects where the elephant was heading and why the elephant tried to kill any human who got near. When he requests the King to let the elephant alone to die how he wants, at first Bimbisara doesn’t want to comply, but soon Tatta confides them why he should allow it, convincing him to be compassionate.

When Tatta is back home, Devadatta seems almost disgusted by Tatta’s inability to finish off the elephant since he’d been a thief and brigand before. Migaila explains the reason for Tatta’s change in character being due to Siddhartha and how he’d saved her life and Tatta wanted to emulate him. Devadatta has trouble following the point of his endeavor talking with Bimbisara about the subject and getting the advice to go see Siddhartha for himself. When Devadatta goes to look for Siddhartha, he’s annoyed to see he isn’t at the tree the monk said he was, but after speaking to a couple of Siddhartha’s followers, detects he’s in a cave. Devadatta was expecting to be intimidated by Siddhartha, but upon seeing him loses his fear and requests an hour of Siddhartha’s time, which he is reluctant to give and after asking why he’s in the cave instead of outside, Siddhartha confesses of Mara bothering him for the last week at the tree and how he’s been trying to rid himself of it since all it’s doing is making him ascertain a way to die in blissful enlightenment. Devadatta maintained feeding off the weak is the only way to survive and this is why Siddhartha is being plagued by his thoughts, to which Siddhartha denies, but in the end, Devadatta claims he will show him he is right, ending the chapter with the narrative of expecting a tragedy to soon occur.

We begin the second with the Prince not wanting to continue riding his horse due to the thoughts of the elephant coming to mind and when told to study on the subjects which will help him be King, he spots Devadatta and asks to play cards with him. After the Prince loses his King card, he gets upset and is told he will be able to master the game in a year, they move on to pitcher-batter. The King and Queen see how their son is becoming more light-hearted from Devadatta’s influence and whilst the Queen is reluctant to his changing her son, the King believes Devadatta could become a great advisor to him. Then a message from Kosala comes about wanting to have a duel between the two to abate the border conflict once and for all, so the King enlists Tatta’s skill as a fighter. After first declining and then being tricked into accepting by Devadatta, Tatta goes to see what the fighter from Kosala looks like, since he happened to be close by. Upon seeing the man he was to fight was a giant, he then overhears a soldier describe to the giant what kind of man Tatta is, which was mythological in description. After hearing the giant had seen and gotten advice from Siddhartha though, he approaches him after the soldier leaves and they begin bonding over each knowing Siddhartha and Tatta tries to relate to the giant what Siddhartha was like when he was young. Then we get their introductions, Tatta officially meeting Yatala. Tatta goes his seperate way when they both agree to the fate which will befall them the next day when they fight and when Migaila asks why he’s feeling oddly about the match the next day, he confides in her of how he’s feeling insecure about the fight and not having felt this before, to which Migaila states for him to try and let it go, to rest for the coming competition. The next day the rules of the duel are given, making it official the loser must fall and death must follow. The fight is officially begun and the chapter ends.

When they begin, Yatala has the upper hand, but then Tatta gets a blow in to be given another, as well and the fighting continues. They make it to the first break and the Prince wants to supply Tatta with a better weapon, but is told by his father the rules allow only for the weapon he already has, making the Prince go off and talk with Devadatta about it, who says they should wait and see what happens, thinking Tatta will come up with a plan if he lasts the half hour to defeat Yatala the next day. The next round, Tatta makes better headway and is saved by the end of the timed duel, due to resume the next day. Tatta is getting a verbal lashing by the royal priest when the Prince gives him a token of luck. When he gets home to Migaila he shares his plan to extend the game so he can request the next day’s continuation occur in Kosala and go through with his revenge. Migaila reminds him of his promise to Siddhartha to become his first disciple and she professes they will be their together, to confirm Tatta will survive his mission in Kosala. The second part of the fight is shown after and Devadatta is seen with two masked hired men who will help fix the fight. When Tatta and Yatala start, Tatta makes good headway, but then gets into trouble, getting cocky and putting himself in a metaphorical corner, when Yatala falls inexplicably and shouts for Tatta to finish him, but Tatta refuses to comply, knowing foul play is at hand and voices his thought. The King steps in and allows the match to be scored a draw on account of the suspicion and gets Yatala the best medical examiner to diagnose him.

They discern Yatala was poisoned and hasn’t been overcome by this deathly discovery. Devadatta then goes to the same assassin and requests a different sort of potion. After it being provided, he tests it out through sneak attack upon the supplier, being satisfied with the results. We then see the King declaring he will have the assassin be searched for when Devadatta reveals he knows who it was and would like some time to catch him, but the King refuses wanting a name so he can have him brought to him to be judged. Then we see Tatta and Migaila asleep when she gets up to drink some water and Tatta learns what she drank was the poison Devadatta had acquired. Devadatta shows up after Tatta figures out what had happened and fills him in on the reason she was treated with so little regard and lies to him about what “she had done”. In the end, Devadatta has her arrested after showing Tatta the planted poison she had used against Yatala. Devadatta then reveals what will happen to her and how he can save her, which is to travel to Kosala, where they will judge her. The plan was for Tatta to intercept them on the way and retrieve Migaila without killing her captors. He proceeds with his plan, taking them out one by one and leaving a couple to go and inform of their captive being dead. Tatta then decides to flee to the forest of trials as a safe-haven for them.

Tatta tracks him down to some ruins and Devadatta perceives Tatta’s plan, deciding he would see what Siddhartha would do. Tatta locates Siddhartha and congratulates him on his enlightenment, they retreat to his cave and Devadatta curiously looks in on them trying to decipher what Siddhartha could possibly do for them, enjoying the hopelessness of their situation. After Siddhartha is told of Migaila’s poisoned throat, he tries to meditate to identify the truth of her missing voice. Siddhartha helps her unearth her voice again, surprising and devastating Devadatta’s “master plan”. Then Siddhartha notices Devadatta in eye-sight and asks Tatta who it is after he was thanking him for helping Migaila speak again. When Siddhartha gets closer and hears Devadatta’s awed speech, he remembers him, to Tatta’s surprise and then Devadatta asks to become his disciple. Siddhartha asks some preliminary questions and makes Devadatta consider his actions up to this point and whether they were for himself or others. His questions remind Devadatta of Naradatta from his youth and upon Tatta, Migaila and his return home, he starts to consider making an organization to widen the publicity of Buddha’s teachings, becoming more firm with his idea of becoming Buddha’s “manager”.

Siddhartha starts the next chapter in his cave when a deer appears inside and Siddhartha believes the deer wants him to follow him out, but it’s raining and Siddhartha tries to reason with the deer to stay until the weather clears. The deer tries biting Siddhartha’s robe to bring him forward and eventually persuades him out into the rain among other animals, soon realizing the Niranjana River is flooding. Siddhartha then understands the deer had saved him from drowning to stand among the animals in safety. When the weather clears up he allows the deer to show him where he should go next, soon running into a man named Upaka who doesn’t believe Siddhartha when he informs him he’s attained enlightenment and doesn’t have a master, then enquiring where he’s going. Upaka seems to sneer at the idea of Siddhartha following a “beast” on where to head to next and planning to enlighten those there. After Upaka wanders off, Siddhartha continues his journey four hundred miles to Sarnath. When they reach the “Deer Park”, Siddhartha is content with the area and observes other Samanna there including some old “friends” who negatively take the news of Siddhartha’s enlightenment. When they leave, the deer leads him to a comfortable spot to sit and then has the deer as his first official disciple, talking of situations the deer would get in and how to be unafraid of death when it comes. A parable is told, ending the chapter of a deer king whom sacrificed his life to save his kin-folk, impressing upon the human king who hunted them to stop hunting in their forest ever again.

The next chapter begins with the other Samanna wondering who Siddhartha will teach when no one is there, Dhepa being told Siddhartha is teaching the deer. Dhepa doesn’t believe it and goes to see the truth to the ascetic’s words. Dhepa butts into Siddhartha teaching the deer and stops him from continuing by accusing him of sorcery. When they go back to their area, Dhepa begins wondering where all his group had gone, realizing they’d gone to listen to Siddhartha’s sermons. Then we are told a story of an ox who wants to become human. When Siddhartha finishes, the ascetics who left Dhepa ask him to continue and when they return Dhepa chastises them for getting “seduced” by Siddhartha’s words and they in return advise him to try listening to one of his sermons sometime. When Siddhartha was going to continue to give sermons to the deer, he hears a baby deer which was caught in a slope near an ant hill and tries to save it before it gets killed, which Dhepa takes advantage of by convincing himself it’s the perfect trial for Siddhartha to endure. He and the baby deer get bit, but the deer survives and he does as well, but needs more time to heal, the two ascetics having changed their minds to how Dhepa trained them, deciding to go off to the other side of the forest with only one ascetic left to accompany Dhepa. Before making it there though, they see men lying dead, arrows sticking out of them, and Dhepa realizes a war must be going on not long before he ends up getting hit as well, after which, we see an army marching and the chapter ends.

The next begins with Tatta going against the Kosalan army trying to get to the General. When the General shows himself atop an elephant and refuses to fight fairly, Tatta brings him down to his level by force. When he gives Tatta information about Prince Crystal’s sleeping habits, Tatta spares him even though the General is now disgraced and wants death, but Tatta runs off not caring to grant the General’s request. We then see Prince Crystal discover Siddhartha among the deer. Once introductions are given, Prince Crystal takes offense to Siddhartha’s name of Buddha and commands his elephant to crush him because he was blocking his path and ignored the command for him to move. The elephant refuses and Prince Crystal tries to shoot an arrow at Siddhartha, which deer kept leaping in front of to protect him. Prince Crystal then retreats in fear and we go on to see where Tatta’s headed. He had spied on the Prince and noticed he’d been cooped up in his camp for a couple days, upon letting the soldiers know, they wanted to raid them as soon as they could. Tatta stops them, wanting to kill him by himself and deciding to wait until Thursday, which the general agrees to after Tatta allows he attack on Friday. Before Thursday arrives though, the Prince goes off at night on his horse and Tatta follows, still planning on his attack.

The Prince though, has gone in search of Buddha, not caring about anything else. We then see Siddhartha with the group of ascetics who are with Dhepa and what had happened to him in the last chapter. Siddhartha is still trying to figure out a way to help him as the rest of the ascetics focus on the negative qualities and actions Dhepa had done to Siddhartha and he is defending Dhepa by sharing the one thing which was positive. Siddhartha then begins trying to elicit a compatible blood type to transfuse Dhepa’s with and recognizes the only one which works is his own. Then Prince Crystal shows up, commanding Siddhartha to rise and he refusing due to the transfusion, which he explains and the boy not caring, bringing out his sword, adamant in getting Siddhartha to obey him. When the Prince threatens to stab Siddhartha, Tatta comes out and clashes swords with him. Siddhartha stops him and Tatta retreats, torn with how he’ll complete his revenge if he can’t kill the Prince. Then Dhepa begins coming around as Prince Crystal retreats in shame of Tatta getting the best of him, ending the volume. This one was a bit harder to get through, but still pretty good with the Yatala part of the story; I’ll be glad to start the next.

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2 thoughts on “Buddha, Vol. 5: Deer Park (Buddha #5)

  1. Pingback: Buddha, Vol. 4: The Forest of Uruvela (Buddha #4) Part 2 of Part 3 | Book Fiend

  2. Pingback: Buddha, Vol. 6: Ananda (Buddha #6) | Book Fiend

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