For the 6th volume in the series. We begin with a horse and rider coming to inform King Bimbisara of Buddha coming with a thousand monks. Yatala, Bimbisara, and Tatta are all excited to hear from Buddha again. Tatta shows off his triplets and Yatala boasts of his new career as part of King Bimbisara’s soldiers, then Bimbisara has his mind eased by Buddha which upsets Prince Ajatasattu who doesn’t understand Buddha’s reverence and feeling hurt his father could believe he would kill him because of what Buddha told him. Devadatta starts sharing his plan to the monks of starting an organization for Buddha’s disciples, which is agreed upon, but not so much as to who will lead it. Ananda runs into Ahimsa who informs of how Buddha could be disrupted by an assassination during his sermon the next day, which the Prince is confronted by his mother since she’d heard from a maid, the Prince does not deny it and supplies it’s for his father who is so much worse for Buddha’s “lies”, he sets up his plan and hatches a diversion for the guards who follow him, waiting for Buddha to appear at the appointed place.
Even though Buddha is warned of the assassin before starting his sermon, he still goes through with it and it does happen as the Prince planned, but he doesn’t expect Buddha to survive, which he doesn’t know for 3 months due to being locked up in a tower by his father once he’d heard of what he’d done. Devadatta comes up with a plan for Ajatasattu to try and get his father to abdicate the throne and leave, making it possible for the prophecy to not be filled, whether the King wanted to or not. Then we see what’s become of Ahimsa, who’s waiting to hear of Buddha’s death and being interrupted by Yatala grabbing him and bringing him to Buddha. At the end of the meeting Buddha unveils wisdom in Ahimsa’s words and makes another rule for his disciples to follow, naming it after Ahimsa and only making him angrier and discovering why Ananda is following him at all. The chapter ends with Ahimsa still trying to enlist Ananda to become what he was once again and join him, but Ananda is adamant in his new role and trying to stay vigilant, leaving Ahimsa once again with the fact he didn’t want anything to do with him ever again.
Ajatasattu is shown still in the tower, but at least missing the cholera taking over the city after a drought. A guard captain eventually takes pity on him and leads him to a part of the tower where he can rest for a little while, soon seeing a woman whom he becomes infatuated with. He learns of the place the woman he’s found interest in, had emerged from were the kitchens and slaves worked there to prepare food for the prisoners and serve them, but not for he, since the honor is reserved for the guards. He makes a deal with the guard and gets him to let the girl he saw serve his next meal. She’s too intimidated by his royalty to talk to him more than giving her name, it being Yudelka. Meanwhile Ajatasattu’s mother is given a potion by Devadatta to help calm the King by ingestion through his meals, without his knowledge, of course. The Queen soon takes offence to Devadatta’s plan in the slow mind changing drug to get him to agree to step down from his throne to let Ajatasattu take over. Then we see what Ajatasattu is up to with Yudelka, who is making a bit more conversation about where her family is, which makes Ajatasattu hope to make amends with her terrible story by eventually getting her out of slavery.
After almost a week going by and Yudelka’s visits stopping, he enquires a guard about where she’s gone, percieving she’d gotten ill from the plague going around, making him break out of his tower and rescue her from the boarded up Shudra house of plagued slaves. When the King is told of what Ajatasattu had done, he at first wants to take a drastic measure and instead decides to give the Prince a doctor as he wished, but only if they got the girl back into the Shudra house for treatment. The doctor does end up helping the girl get better and gets a mind-opening conversation from the Prince. After talking with Yudelka about her country the Prince, aching to get away from their torment thinks of a plan to get them both away in an impromptu escape plan. He asks her to think it over and by the next morning she’s been given a death sentence, surprising the Prince. Devadatta shows up after the Prince is convinced Yudelka has been killed, accusing him of treachery, not believing his father could go through with such a heartless sentence. Ajatasattu vows not to forget what his father has done, waiting out his own sentence in the tower, ending the chapter.
The next chapter begins with Buddha still recovering and how the illness in Maghada did impact his life in some way during his convalescence, also making him age rapidly with the effort healing is taking. Buddha asks Ananda to go search for a man like Assaji after some of the disciples worry over his ability to get better, confiding in him he’s the only one who can do this task and he’ll become a Sotapanna when he succeeds. We then see later Buddha has given him a robe, his own robe from years before and he goes to locate the man Buddha wished him to seek, running into people in a village who recognized him and accosted him, but he passes through without fighting back. After making it back to a river, he sees Assaji in the water, who apparently shows up at certain times to Ananda, he stating he won’t give up his search for the man, despite all the trouble he’s confronted thus far. On the almost deserted path, Ananda meets a man whom could be the one he’s been searching for, he introduces himself as Sariputta, but then we are introduced to Moggallana who seems to have more powerful seeing powers when he observes Sariputta on the road with Ananda. They go back to their master to update him about what Ananda told them of Buddha, to which he doesn’t believe anything of and eventually all of his disciples leave him to go follow Buddha, which makes him angry, understandably. When they’re on their way, Ananda learns his future which surprises him. Buddha sees of Ananda and the group returning from whispers from Assaji and requests Dhepa to prepare to greet them; when they do arrive Buddha introduces Sariputta and Moggallana as his successors, ending the chapter.
The beginning of the next chapter shows nobody is happy about Buddha’s unexplained decision to have Sariputta and Moggallana take over his cause. Especially Tatta, another monk whom dissolved his sect and Devadatta who immediately decides he must go to Buddha to share what needs to be done. Buddha listens and Devadatta is firm about how Buddha’s sect, which could be a lucrative business, must be run by someone who can manage everything, believing it should be Buddha’s main priority, rather than it being about helping people realize peace and happiness. Devadatta goes overboard with his rambling and flirtatious case though and Buddha puts a stop to it, giving the desired affect of scandalous comedy. Sariputta and Moggallana then deduce how dangerous of an enemy Devadatta will become, which won’t be far away. After which we see a woman barge in, fat with child claiming Siddhartha knocked her up and to beware of his true nature, soon confronting Buddha himself. He’s taken aback by her forward accusations, but soon Moggallana uncovers her ruse and who was behind it. Moggallana predicts accurately this was only the beginning and rumors begin to spread of Buddha which were in bad taste. Ananda then shares with Lata of what Moggallana had predicted about him, after Tatta had commanded he stand sentinel to make sure no one attacked Buddha, what with all the protesters about.
They soon both fall asleep and Ananda is woken by his old demon who offers him the fantasy of being able to marry Lata if he leaves Buddha, which he refuses and so she sends a snake to attack Buddha, but Lata tries to save him and gets bitten. She doesn’t survive her courageous act and they lay her body to rest in the tradition of the times. Buddha then informs Ananda they must continue to do more for the cause in honor of Lata’s sacrifice and then, Buddha gets a visit from Brahman to remind him he hasn’t been as vigilant to his vow he’d made 10 years before as he claimed and when awoken by Ananda and he confides his plan to go to Kosala which he asks whether he would join him, he of course accepts. The other monks soon hear of the rumor and ask Buddha if he does plan on leaving them, which he confirms. Ananda and Buddha have begun their journey and it starts to look hard-going on Buddha once they get to the swamp Buddha is now revisiting since his first trek across it with Dhepa, which took five days. Ananda thought they would be able to rest, but Buddha told him how Dhepa, Assaji and he had to rest the last time around, which didn’t seem possible this time with Buddha’s condition, so Ananda was about to be relieved by spotting a log, but it was already being used by some spiders, which he would’ve disposed of, but Buddha refused letting him, for all living things being connected and the possibility of one of them being Lata reborn, so they keep moving and it begins to rain, like the first time Buddha had made the journey. It doesn’t seem Buddha will have the strength to make it, but they soon see the wall to the town he’d stayed in before. Buddha leads Ananda to the same spot he’d stayed in before and began speaking of his memories of the first time he’d been there until Ananda had prepared their supper, but Buddha soon notices himself alone whilst Ananda had gone off exploring and detecting fresh footprints in the dust, which he follows. Soon he discovers a woman in a hidden wine cellar who seems to have gone mad, Ananda wondering out loud if she is Visakha.
We next see it’s morning and Ananda is anxious to leave, relating to Buddha he’d constructed a raft for them. He gets Buddha to follow, until Visakha appears and Buddha starts wondering whether the town is still inhabited after all, whilst Ananda tries to get him to ignore her and leave, but once Buddha recognizes her, even after being told she’s gone crazy, he tries to make sure it isn’t her by going to Visakha’s home after the woman had run off. Buddha, even though they don’t know whether it is Visakha yet, decides he must help her, first disposing of all her dream potions. Ananda meets her outside and she soon realizes what he’s up to and runs back to the stash, Ananda trying to warn Buddha she’s caught wise. Buddha soon is met by her and senses she must be holding on to a small bit of sanity, since she hadn’t tried to kill him with the knife she was wielding, which he relays to Ananda. Visakha, after being quite upset with the knowledge she had no more drugs, comes down and is able to communicate for only a short time and after they must leave without her, but Buddha refuses to let her stay there alone since it would be the death of her. She doesn’t want to leave though, and fights until getting her on the raft, where she slowly descends back into her fogged mind, which includes getting fresh with Buddha, Ananda percieving it hard to watch and is told he can look elsewhere, Buddha believing she couldn’t do anything much about it anyways. He turns out to be right, since she descends further into her madness and withdrawal of the drugs, tipping the raft over instead and everyone going to the shore to spend the night. They move on to another town, Buddha delivering a sermon since requested to do so, but is soon cut short by Visakha’s madness interrupting with her “kissy kissy” talk. They then travel farther and Ananda is having trouble gathering enough food for all three of them, gathering only enough for one, which Buddha offers to Visakha, but she’s getting weaker and can’t drink the water Ananda tries to give her. Soon he believes she’s died and convinces Buddha to leave her body to the vultures, but after a few miles he’s overcome with the idea she hadn’t died yet, he decides to go back for her, which he realizes he had been right, being met by her on his way back, her now knowing who she is and they continue their journey to Kosala.
As they get closer to Buddha’s country, Kapilavastu, he has been targeted by an arrow, shot by Ahimsa. He still believes if he takes Buddha out, Ananda will want to rejoin him in his criminal activities, Ananda threatening to end him if he tries to harm Buddha any further. Buddha tries to end their fight to the death before it begins, but Ananda is adamant in defending him. Ahimsa is bested, but not for a good run, soon being trapped in a hole, Ananda wanting to leave him for dead, but hearing his cries. Visakha offers to try and see if she can help him since she is able to fit in the hole, realizing Ahimsa had been trapped by rocks falling after him. Ananda offers to go for help whilst Buddha and Visakha await his return. They don’t make conversation with Ahimsa until he begins wondering why it’s so quiet above him, so Buddha begins asking about his reasons for wanting to kill the world’s greatest monk, in Ahimsa’s words. We then see Ananda arrive at the soldiers base and they instead take him for questioning once they discover why he’s there. Soon Prince Crystal discern Buddha is near and so gets his soldiers to go and bring him back. We skip back to see Ahimsa accepting Buddha’s help to change his outlook, due to being so near death and he accepts him as his disciple before Ahimsa stops speaking altogether. Prince Crystal’s soldiers soon arrive after, Buddha and Visakha being greeted by Prince Crystal himself, the Prince arrogant and reminding Buddha where they’d met before. He then shows Buddha all the people he’d given hard labor to and how terribly they were being treated. The Prince then showing him a man in a jail, quite old and unrecognizable to Buddha until the Prince reveals the man being the King of Kapilavastu.
The Prince is quite eager to anger or upset Buddha into goading him to fight, but Buddha reveals to him he only pities the Prince, soon explaining the reason he pities him, which makes the Prince lash out for Buddha deducing correctly. Then he decides to detain him with Ananda since he saw the usefulness of keeping him alive because of the King of Magadha having his back, hoping to teach Buddha a lesson or two. When Buddha is brought to the cell of Ananda he gives him the 411 on his brief encounter with the Prince. Ananda offers to break out his family but Buddha is against this, for it isn’t the reason he brought him, then “The King of the slaves” shows up, being a citizen of Kapilavastu and having the permission of the Prince to visit Buddha. Bhaddiya, the King of slaves, requests Buddha to speak at their assembly and states if he agrees, he will take care of getting Prince Crystal to agree to their gathering, which the Prince readily does, expecting a riot and planning to be ready for one to condemn all to death. Then we see Yashodara expressing to Siddhartha’s mother he’s returned and how they’ll enjoy seeing him at the assembly. We then see Buddha being led to the assembly area for his sermon and wonders if he’ll see his mother, wife and son; they of course, watch him as he goes to his place to begin, everyone falling silent, Prince Crystal keeping his soldiers at the ready for any sign of disorder.
Buddha wonders how he will keep their spirits up, upon seeing their worn and defeated countenances and physical appearance. His long pause is starting to confuse the people, but then Buddha begins, apprehending inspiration in the clouds. When Buddha mentions his son’s name, the boy is so excited he runs up to Buddha on the platform. Parts of Buddha’s speech stirs up first Prince Crystal’s guard and then himself, because Buddha begins speaking of Prince Crystal’s terrible acts which hit close to his heart. The guard wishes to put Buddha to death immediately, but the Prince holds him off and retreats for a nap, soon wondering if he regrets any of the deaths he’d caused through the years, denying he does, upon listing them. Then we see Buddha’s son asking to join him to be taught by him, but Buddha informs him he must undergo the trials given him where he was and learn from them, then he is called upon by the Prince and a guard shares how much he’d gotten from his sermon, he and a few other guards wanting to become his disciples and he accepting them. After, the Prince states to Buddha how the “lies” he’d said of him had kept him from his nap and he would kill him also for the fact there wasn’t anything to stop him now, he would be able to go through with it, but is overcome with such pain he asks Buddha how he can be rid of it, letting him stay for over five hours. The Prince doesn’t get anything useful from his preaching and adds he expects him to be gone by noon, Buddha confessing to him he hadn’t told him everything required to rid him of the pain and to meet him at a certain spot.
The Prince goes to the designated area and asks Buddha why he’s stayed, in return being asked why he showed up, which the Prince told him he had to come see him because it bothered him he was sitting there. He then sees Rahula, Siddhartha’s son and commands him to get back to work, despite being a new disciple of Buddha’s. Buddha then lists what is required to end the Prince’s pain, but the he is affronted by Buddha’s answer confirming his first statement stands, if they stay there, he will send his troops to kill them. Meanwhile, a rebellion is still being planned to go down in 12 nights when there isn’t a moon, then the King of the slaves walks in and threatens of they being caught if they don’t disperse, then realizing Anurudha planned on an attack again, continually suggesting for him to give it up, but he believing it too late to stop what he’d started. Then the lookout advises of the night-watch coming and Bhaddiya makes up a reason for why they were all out.
We then go back to Buddha who is still sitting where the Prince left him and some of his guards come to inform him of his banishment being revoked and to go back to the castle, which Buddha agrees to, but in the morning. The Prince sees them coming and when Buddha arrives, the Prince explains why he’d requested his return. The Prince agrees to have a service for his mother and Buddha will lead it, but he mustn’t mention his mother’s slavery. Buddha shares with the Prince what he planned won’t help him, because he’d still be ashamed of her caste. We then see Rahula getting a beating to make sure he realizes, whether he’s royalty or the great monk’s son, at this moment it doesn’t matter, because he’s a slave. His mother sees the condition he’s in and hopes Buddha is praying for his son, knowing how bravely he’s facing his fate. Meanwhile, Buddha and the Prince argue constantly for 12 days until making a decision his adviser was surprised and hesitatant to carry out, but the Prince commands it and notifies Buddha of when he’d gone through with his command. Then we see the rebellion is about to begin, when one of them spreads the news: of their freedom. The Prince, upon hearing the cheers, asks Buddha if he will come to Kosala to preach more to him and his father as well, Buddha accepting the offer. The fact the Kosalan army was withdrawing would bring a tragedy, but no one could know of this, ending the volume. This leaves me in the dark wanting to uncover the final bit, so now, on to the concluding installment!