Sunday, June 7, 2009

Searching for Sujatha

I just completed reading Deepak Chopra’s “Buddha – A story of Enlightenment”. This book is a historical fiction with characters introduced to develop greater spiritual meaning to the historical Buddha and his teachings.

What impressed me was the way the renunciation of princely life by Siddhartha is handled by Deepak in his book. The young Siddhartha is under constant tutelage of a venerable Brahmin from his early childhood but the teacher is an ally of the father king who wants to hide reality and truth from the young prince. What Siddhartha is taught is paper knowledge and ritualistic obligations. He is never allowed to question and his enquiries are deflected. This conforms to the knowledge slavery that is practiced by organized religions today. But in spite of all this masking there is an innate desire for Siddhartha to know the absolute reality.

The story takes an interesting turn from the original Buddha life story as Siddhartha’s first hold to his materialistic existence, his love interest, disappears from his life. Sujatha is her name and she comes from a poor family in the distant village where the King had banished all infirm and non-valuable citizens of his kingdom. This signifies the banishment of basic human values from one’s life while trying to achieve personal glory and power.
Siddhartha seeking Sujatha is symbolical of one’s search for the true inner beauty. Sujatha in Sanskrit means beautiful.

The prince leaves the palace, on his stallion, with the assistance of a low caste servant who is a stable hand.
The purpose of the rearing of horses was for the King to launch wars. The purpose of Ashvamedha (horse sacrifice), which had to be performed only by the King was to gain glory and power over his enemies. It was a glorified act of a Great king flaunting his superiority by letting loose a well bred horse which was free to go where ever it wanted. When it entered the territory of another ruling king, the king there either challenged the Great king which resulted in war or submitted and paid tribute to him. This defined the Great king’s superiority. Prince Siddhartha performs a different type of Ashvamedha as after reaching the village of Sujatha, an alien territory, he surrenders to a new reality and through this act he gains a new domain of consciousness and the power of insight into seeking a new path. What a high caste Brahmin, symbolizing Jnana, could not impart is brought to the consciousness of Siddhartha through this servant, experiential knowledge. He takes Siddhartha to the place of human reality which is suffering, aging and dying. Even there the prince does not find his Sujatha or the beauty of his inner self. But this experience is the portal through which he makes a transition to a new stage in his path towards self realization.

I highly recommend this book which is written in simple style but with deep meaning.

Love to you all


  1. TIBS,
    This is simply beautiful, and so very meaningful. And now, on your recommendation I must buy Deepak's book. Thank you for sharing posts in elevation.

  2. Thank you Bhaskar.
    Your appreciation is like a tonic and will enrich future posts.