Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment

( 703 )

Overview

Deepak Chopra brings the Buddha back to life in this gripping New York Times bestselling novel about the young prince who abandoned his inheritance to discover his true calling. This iconic journey changed the world forever, and the truths revealed continue to influence every corner of the globe today.

A young man in line for the throne is trapped in his father's kingdom and yearns for the outside world. Betrayed y those closest to him, Siddhartha abandons his palace and ...

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Overview

Deepak Chopra brings the Buddha back to life in this gripping New York Times bestselling novel about the young prince who abandoned his inheritance to discover his true calling. This iconic journey changed the world forever, and the truths revealed continue to influence every corner of the globe today.

A young man in line for the throne is trapped in his father's kingdom and yearns for the outside world. Betrayed y those closest to him, Siddhartha abandons his palace and princely title. Face-to-face with his demons, he becomes a wandering monk and embarks on a spiritual fast that carries him to the brink of death. Ultimately recognizing his inability to conquer his body and mind by sheer will, Siddhartha transcends his physical pain and achieves enlightenment.

Although we recognize Buddha today as an icon of peace and serenity, his life story was a tumultuous and spellbinding affair filled with love and sex, murder and loss, struggle and surrender. From the rocky terrain of the material world to the summit of the spiritual one, Buddha captivates and inspires—ultimately leading us closer to understanding the true nature of life and ourselves.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In his author's note to Buddha, Deepak Chopra writes: "I wrote this book as a sacred journey, fictionalized in many of its externals but psychologically true, I hope, to what the seeker's path feels like. In all three phrases of his -- Siddhartha the prince, Gautama the monk, and Buddha the Compassionate One -- he was as mortal as you and I, yet he attained enlightenment and was raised to the rank of an immortal. The miracle is that he got there following a heart as human as yours and mine, and just as vulnerable." Chopra's soulful take on Buddha offers a refreshing view of an ancient sage.
Wayne Dyer
“A page turning masterpiece. This book is destined to become a classic.”
Brian Grazer
“Essential reading for anyone curious about the foundations of Buddhism.”
Peter Guber
“An adventure in enlightenment with all the twists and turns of a great movie.”
Ken Wilber
“A wonderful novelization of the greatest adventure you will ever undertake....”
People Magazine
"Chopra’s engaging novel has the over-the-top appeal of a TV extravaganza like Rome..."
People
“Chopra’s engaging novel has the over-the-top appeal of a TV extravaganza like Rome...”
People
“Chopra’s engaging novel has the over-the-top appeal of a TV extravaganza like Rome...”
Booklist
“The Buddha’s story is compelling and… Chopra captures the essence of the spiritual seeker.”
Publishers Weekly

Eastern philosophy popularizer and mind-body pioneer Chopra has done novels before, and critics have not found fiction his long suit. That should change with this tale of how the Indian prince Siddhartha came to be the enlightened one, the Buddha. The subject is tailor-made for Chopra. He can draw on what he's familiar with: the ancient Indian culture that shaped the historic personage of the Buddha, and the powers of mind that meditation harnesses. Although the novel begins a little slowly with exposition and character introduction, once the character of the Buddha is old enough to occupy center stage, Chopra simply portrays the natural internal conflict experienced by any human seeking spiritual wisdom and transformation. Centered on a single character, the narrative moves forward simply and inexorably. Especially imaginative and intriguing is the low-key nature of the Buddha's enlightenment experience. In case Chopra's fans want something more direct, an epilogue and concluding "practical guide" offer nonfiction commentary and teaching on core Buddhist principles. Chopra thanks a film director friend for sparking the project, and the novel has clear cinematic potential. This fast and easy-to-read book teaches without being didactic. Chopra scores a fiction winner. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal
Once you get past the marketing package (got enlightenment?), what remains here is a fictionalized versionof the Buddha story. Famed New Age guru Chopra presents Buddha's journey from Siddhartha the prince to Gautama the monk and on to enlightenment, with half of the book spent on the tale of Siddhartha's. More mythic fable than biography, this story is filled with imagined details and dialog combined with legend, fantasy, and the supernatural. Chopra's goal of bringing Buddha's story to the mainstream may be hard for some to swallow, as there is so much less focus on the teachings than the life, as it is fantastically presented here. Only in the epilog are some of those connections made clearer. Given Chopra's following and a major media push, this book will be in demand, but it may be one that people talk about more than read. Recommended for where there is interest in Chopra's writings.
—Nancy Almand
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060878818
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/26/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 252,543
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Deepak Chopra is the author of more than fifty-five books translated into over thirty-five languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers in both fiction and nonfiction categories.

Biography

The practice of holistic and mind-body medicine has long been a controversial subject among medical professionals. Some view it as a healthy and natural alternative to chemical pharmaceuticals. Others see it as a system of placebos and new-age chicanery. No matter where one stands on this issue, there is no denying the influence that mind, body, and spirit practitioner Deepak Chopra has had on the world of medicine.

Chopra's bestselling books on a variety of topics have been translated into 35 languages. His lectures, seminars, and learning materials are immensely popular, as are his television specials for PBS. In addition, he has founded his own medical center called the Chopra Center for Well Being and has won fans amongst celebrities ranging from Prince Charles to Mikhail Gorbachev to Demi Moore to David Lynch. When financier/philanthropist Michael Milken was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he claimed that Chopra's holistic methods shrunk his lymph nodes by 90%.

Chopra's interest in alternative medicine initially grew out of concern for his own health. After moving from India to set up a practice medicine in Boston some 25 years ago, Chopra succumbed to many of the stresses that plague medical professionals. As a result, he guzzled coffee, chain-smoked, and drank heavily. Once he began studying eastern philosophies by way of Krishnamurti and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, he became aware of medical practices outside of the sometimes limited western perspective. This awakening changed his life.

While Chopra is viewed as a major proponent of the role of Eastern philosophies in healing, he does not reject western medicine. In fact, what makes his approach so unique is the way he incorporates the best aspects of western medical research into his theories. This amalgamation of medical philosophies is at the root of self-help volumes like Restful Sleep, Perfect Weight, and Boundless Energy. Elsewhere, Chopra has addressed such diverse issues as reversing the aging process (Ageless Body, Timeless Mind), perfecting personal relationships (The Path to Love), and achieving capitalist goals via Eastern philosophies (The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success).

Chopra has also become concerned with the causes of war and violence and the principles of Eastern religions, especially Buddhism, and his books on these subjects have garnered praise from such major international figures as the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and Boutros-Boutros Ghali. Consequently, Chopra continues to play a significant role in world health and world politics in spite of detractors and skeptics. With an immense body of work behind him and more volumes of wisdom sure to follow, he continues to preach the simple philosophy he is certain is the key to understanding ourselves, mentally and physically: "We're not human beings that have occasional spiritual experiences, it's the other way around: we're spiritual beings that have occasional human experiences."

Good To Know

In 1999, Time magazine named Chopra one of the Top 100 Icons and Heroes of the Century.

Chopra's father was a prominent cardiologist and an anglophile who distrusted Indian philosophies and alternative medical practices.

Despite his reputation as a serious-minded intellectual, Chopra describes himself as "playful" and "carefree."

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    1. Also Known As:
      Deepak Chopra M.D.
    2. Hometown:
      La Jolla, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      October 22, 1946
    2. Place of Birth:
      New Delhi, India
    1. Education:
      All India Institute of Medical Sciences

First Chapter

Buddha

Chapter One

The Kingdom of Sakya, 563 BCE

One crisp spring day King Suddhodana turned in his saddle to survey the battlefield. He needed a weakness to exploit, and he was confident the enemy had left one for him. They always did. His senses were closed to everything else. Screams of the wounded and dying were heightened by the hoarse commands of his officers bellowing orders and calling on the gods for help. Torn by hooves and elephants' feet, cut by iron-rimmed chariot wheels, the land oozed blood as if the earth itself were mortally wounded.

"More soldiers! I want more soldiers now!"

Suddhodana didn't wait for anyone to obey. "If any man within the sound of my voice runs away, I will kill him personally!"

Charioteers and infantry moved toward the king, battered figures so filthy with fighting they could have been demiurges fashioned from the mud of the field.

Suddhodana was a warrior king, and the first thing to know about him is this: he mistook himself for a god. Along with his army, the king would kneel in the temple and pray before he went to war, but he put no trust in divine help. Leaving the gates of the capital behind, Suddhodana turned his head for one last look at home. But as the miles lengthened from Kapilavastu, his mood changed. By the time he came to the battlefield, its roiling activity and the smells that assaulted his nostrils—straw and blood, soldiers' sweat and dying horses—carried Suddhodana into another world. It smothered him completely in the belief that he could never lose.

The present campaign wasn't of his doing. Ravi Santhanam, a northernwarlord along the Nepalese border, had taken one of Suddhodana's trade caravans in a surprise attack. Suddhodana's retaliation came almost immediately. Even though the warlord's men had the advantage of the high ground and home terrain, Suddhodana's forces steadily chewed into their holdings. Horses and elephants trampled over the fallen, dead or still alive but too weak to escape. Suddhodana guided his mount next to the belly of a rearing bull elephant, narrowly avoiding the massive feet as they plunged downward. Half a dozen arrows had pierced it, driving the beast into a frenzy.

"I want a new line of chariots, close file!" He had seen where the enemy front was exhausted and ready to buckle. A dozen more chariots pulled up in advance of the infantry. Their metal-bound wheels clattered across the hard ground. The charioteers had archers standing behind them who unleashed arrows into the warlord's army.

"Make a moving wall," Suddhodana shouted. "I want to crush their line."

His charioteers were experienced veterans; they were hard-faced, merciless men. Suddhodana rode slowly before them, ignoring the strife only a short distance away. He spoke quietly. "The gods command that there can be only one king. But I swear that I am no better than a common soldier today, and you are as good as kings. Each man here is part of me. So what's left for the king to say? Only two words, but they are the two that your hearts want to hear. Victory. And home!" Then his command cracked like a whip.

"All together—move!"

Both armies rushed screaming into the breach like opposing oceans. Violence brought contentment to Suddhodana. His sword whirled as he split a man's head with a single blow. His wall was advancing, and if the gods willed it, as they had to will it, the enemy forces would open, one corpse at a time, until Suddhodana's infantry moved in, a tight wedge gliding forward on enemy blood. The king would have scoffed at anyone who denied that he was at the very center of the world.

At that hour Suddhodana's queen was being carried in a litter through the depths of the forest. She was ten months pregnant, a sign, the astrologers said, that the baby would be extraordinary. But in Queen Maya's mind nothing was extraordinary except the anxiety that surrounded her. She had decided, much too impetuously, to travel back to her mother's home to have her baby.

Suddhodana hadn't wanted to let her go. It was the custom for new mothers to go home to deliver, but he and Maya were inseparable. He was tempted to refuse, until in her guileless way Maya asked his permission in front of the assembled court. The king couldn't refuse his queen publicly, despite the dangers involved.

"Who will accompany you?" he asked with an edge of harshness, hoping to frighten her away from this foolhardy plan.

"My women."

"Women?"

He raised his hand in grudging assent. "You'll have some men, whoever can be spared." Maya smiled and withdrew. Suddhodana didn't want to argue, because in truth his wife mystified him. Making her afraid of danger was futile. The physical world was like a thin membrane she glided over, as a midge glides over the surface of a pond without breaking the water's skin. Therefore, the world could touch Maya, move her, hurt her, but never change her.

The queen departed from Kapilavastu a day before the army. Kumbira, the eldest court lady, rode at the head of the procession as it moved through the forest. It was a meager company, consisting of six soldiers too old to serve in the war astride six nags too weak to charge the enemy. After them came four litter bearers, who had taken off their shoes to negotiate the stony path, shouldering the tasseled and beaded palanquin bearing the young queen. Maya made no sound hidden behind the swaying silk drapes, except for a stifled moan whenever a bearer stumbled and the litter took a sharp jolt. Three young ladies-in-waiting, who grumbled in low voices about having to walk, brought up the rear.

Gray-haired Kumbira kept her gaze moving, aware of the dangers that lurked on both sides. This road, which was just a narrow cut in the granite slope, had begun as a smuggler's trail when poached deer hides, spices, and other contraband were trafficked to Nepal; it was still favored by bandits. Tigers were known to snatch their prey from terrified bands of travelers in this area, even in the brightest hour of the day. To ward them off, the bearers wore masks facing backward on their heads, believing that a tiger will only leap from the rear, never directly at a person who is looking at it.

Buddha. Copyright © by Deepak Chopra. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 703 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(176)

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(187)

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2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 710 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Engaging Entertaining Novel

    Knowing almost nothing about Buddha, I was surprised how exciting this novel is. I enjoyed it immensely and found it fun AND enlightening. You do not have to be interested in becoming a buddhist to enjoy this exciting, almost fairy tale-like novel.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 10, 2012

    Words can't describe this book.

    Wow, the path to finding your true self within. If you have an open mind then this book is for you.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 23, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Absolutely incredible

    I rarely give five star reviews... usually the best I do is four. And I came at this skeptically because of the touchy feely repuation of the author. I was wrong. This is an absolutely incredible book.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2012

    excellent

    Great historical look in an interesting format.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 29, 2011

    Lovely book

    Best telling of the Buddha story I've read. Read it while traveling through Thailand and it was perfect complement to what I was seeing and experiencing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    .....read this book.

    When it comes to reading books, I rarely choose historical fiction. In fact, this was my first spiritual historical fiction. (At least that I remember!) So I will admit some reluctance in starting this book.

    Mr. Chopra does a fine job of storytelling with this 'possible' tale of how Siddhartha Gautama became The Buddha. He outlines Siddhartha's separateness before birth and how human he was. And how different he was from others around him. Yet he was the same, for he felt pain, suffered, and enjoyed pleasures as all humans do. Siddhartha's difference is what made him seek out the answers to the questions we all ask.

    I will not say much more about the book for fear of telling too much. I will say I felt what Siddhartha felt and at times had to put the book away until my eyes were not clouded with tears. (Maybe I was just tired and thus the watery eyes?) And the end is not quite what I had envisioned but it was great.

    Now for the not so good: I felt the story plodded much of the time. Sometimes the scene changed abruptly which caused me to go back over what I had read to make sure I hadn't missed a line or so. I also felt there was not always a clear reason for the main character to make a decision when he did.

    All this taken into consideration, I say.....read this book. Glean from it as you may or not. 'Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment' is worth your time. ~ Debra Saturday

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Worth pushing through

    I had trouble getting into this book but after I got into it I really enjoyed it. Not having any real knowledge of who Buddha was except that there was a religion based on his teachings I really liked that the author took what is known about Buddha and made it into a novel that was educational and interesting (I know that should have been one or two sentences but I've been taking down Christmas decorations and I'm tired). Obviously it's fiction so the book is not 100% true to his life but after researching more about Buddha after finishing the book I found that the author didn't really change to much.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Compelling spiritual read AND great novel

    I attended Catholic school for thirteen years and, as a result, I'm not very religious. I also have never considered myself a particularly spiritual individual. This book, while a fictionalized account of the life of Siddhartha Gautama, made me really want to investigate Buddhism.

    Deepak Chopra, while not famed for being a novelist, demonstrates a compelling way with words. His prose feels heightened without being flowery or ornate. You can approach this book as a novel, a spiritual treatise, or a mix of both. You are in good hands with Chopra and the experience will move you.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 21, 2010

    Must Read!

    I loved this book! I have only mediocre knowledge of the story of Buddha but always had a yearning to discover it. I was interested the entire way through and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great story. I had thought it would be focused on spirituality but Deepak Chopra does an excellent job of creating a story of it!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 21, 2010

    Enchanting as well as Enlightening!

    Very well written, good job Mr. Chopra! I feel as though I was beside Siddhartha, on his Journey to understanding himself and his Quest for "Nirvana/Buddha"! I will recommend this excellent read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 9, 2014

    Enlightening

    I enjoyed this book because it was the telling of a story. The reader met the characters and had the opportunity to like and dislike them. I felt I learned something without having Buddhism shoved down my throat. I would have given this 5 stars had the book ended with the story and references to seek more information rather than including the questions and answers which weren't a novel anymore.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2013

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2012

    Great book

    Great book

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  • Posted June 23, 2011

    Can not download it

    Hi, i'm trying to buy the book but it says it is unavailable... what does it mean? :s

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Compelling spiritual read AND a great novel

    I attended Catholic school for thirteen years and, as a result, I'm not very religious. I also have never considered myself a particularly spiritual individual. This book, while a fictionalized account of the life of Siddhartha Gautama, made me really want to investigate Buddhism.

    Deepak Chopra, while not famed for being a novelist, demonstrates a compelling way with words. His prose feels heightened without being flowery or ornate. You can approach this book as a novel, a spiritual treatise, or a mix of both. You are in good hands with Chopra and the experience will move you.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 5, 2010

    What a trip!

    The trip to spiritual enlightenment is the hook. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It helped me see my own religion in a different light.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 16, 2010

    loved it, must read

    this book was an easy read, inspering and enlightening

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 3, 2010

    Wow! Wow! Wow!

    This book brings Buddha to life and blends the physical world with the mystical in a seamless and enjoyable manner. Mr. Chopra has managed to portray Buddha in a way that all faiths and cultures can appreciate.

    The struggles and suffering that Buddha experiences are universal. Buddha's journey is however, very unique. His humility and devotion to truth is absolutely inspiring. His gentleness is powerful.

    I look forward to reading more of Deepak Chopra's work and feel my eyes have been opened to a world once unknown to me. Thank you Mr. Chopra!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 23, 2010

    HIGHLY RECOMMENED

    Easy to read and well done. A beliveable account of a great man. Thought provoking and still fun to read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2010

    Good Book

    Well written. Good story in typical Chopra style.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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