his work is well written and equally well narrated by Ben Kingsley. The only place where I did not agree with the author was when he said that Brahmanical "Moksha" was renamed to "Nirvana" by Buddha and its ritualistic dependence was de-emphasized by Buddha. This is not fully accurate, IMHO. All pre-Buddhist Upnishads had essentially said the same thing as Buddha when they said that rituals do not lead to "Moksha" and it can be attained only through knowledge of Brahman acquired through meditation and self-reflection. This is why the ritual section of Vedas is called "Karma Kanda" , or "Ritual Section" and liberation or "Moksha" related section of Vedas , i.e., Upnishads/Vedanta is called "Jnana Kanda" or "Knowlege Section". In Buddha's time the corrupted Brahmin clergy emphasized mainly the "Karma Kanda" section of Vedas, ignoring the "Jnana Kanda" section which has a higher authority within vedic framework. So there was nothing radically different in Buddha de-emphasizing the need of rituals for Moksha or Nirvana. It was more of revival of an earlier Vedantic Sharaminic tradition, rather than a revolt against it, which was very much also a part of Brahmanism even before Buddha. Upnishads were a product of this tradition much before Buddha appeared on scene. What Buddha did that was a bit radical was to open the gates of this teaching for all and sundry rather than keeping it esoteric and restricted to certain groups.
The book has been written with a great deal scholarly rigour and is far superior to other works on Buddhism written by hobby Buddhists or some other New-Age teachers based on their own self-projections (on what Buddha ought to have been ... like being a "rebel", "atheist", "rationalist", etc) rather than on what the academic facts say. This work has neutral tone which is very good.
I recommend this book.
Almost started enjoying this book until read some information which is patently false and would be considered offensive by many faithful Hindus, although Westerners, except for ISKON converts, would not easily notice them. The most glaring falsehood that this work propagates are as follows:describes Krishna's supposed 'love affair' with Radha (who allegedly married to somebody else)as a story which is canonical and part of Hindu belief. He further alleges that Gopis who danced with Krishna were married and had a "love affair" with him. The attempt is to portray the holiest figure of Hindus as a fornicator. This is the most glaring scholarly gaffe from this author and reveals serious shortcomings in his claim as a scholar of Hinduism.A brief examination, undertaken with sincere intent, would have revealed to him that Radha is a completely fictional character invented by poet Jayadeva around 12th century CE and that none of any canonical accounts of Krishna in Puranas and Mahabharata have any mention of Radha. With regard to supposed affair of Krishna with married Gopis, the author again shows callous disregard or ignorance of the Hindu, scriptures. According to Bhagavatham, whence this story comes, Krisnha was merely a boy of eight when he played pranks on Gopis. Out of hundreds of pages dedicated to Krishna, the episode describing the childhood pranks of Krishna with Gopis barely lasts a page. The rest of the scripture describes his miracles, statesmanship and military exploits in great detail.The author obviously ignored the canonical texts of Hinduism and built a narrative of Krishna as a playboy based on non-canonical stories which are popular only in a heretical fringe of Hindu society.Other glaring mistakes: failure to designate left-hand tantric practices as ostracized by lay Hindus,Sikh scripture not using Hindu names for God & containing Mira's verses,South Indian kings being Shudras,etc.
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