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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.
This book was exactly what I was looking for. I wanted to know the history of Buddhism and this book said it beautifully. I have shared this story with my mom who listens to it regularly while she works with her plants. If ever I wish to be at peace with my day, listening to this story changes my outlook and brings my mind at ease. I have also listened to "The Middle Way (Unabridged): The Story of Buddhism" which I also love.
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