- 45,00 kr
An accomplished history of the Buddha, An End to Suffering is also a deeply personal story -- the story of Pankaj Mishra's search for meaning, for truth and peace in the modern world and, specifically, in post-colonial, independent India. As he describes his travels to unearth the origins of the Buddha, Mishra offers glimpses into his own quest for enlightenment, from childhood to September 11, from family background to friends met and made, from lessons learned to achievements as a writer. Through this, Mishra reveals the parallels between his time and the Buddha's, between their respective journeys -- and that of their country -- in search of progress and reconciliation.
Mishra (The Romantics) offers an ambitious "book-length essay" that combines an overview of the life, times and teachings of the Buddha with personal anecdotes and extended multidisciplinary forays into realms such as ancient and modern history, philosophy, politics and literary criticism. If Mishra's approach is broad, it is also deep and often effective. For example, his close reading of early Indian scriptures and his historical-political examination of the Buddha's society bring to life a "half-mythical antiquity" that, in turn, helps the reader see the Buddha's teachings afresh: not as generic spiritual truisms but rather as specific responses to particular religious and social conditions. Yet the book fails to anchor its broad perspective in a strong central thesis. While it follows the chronology of the Buddha's life, Mishra intersperses whole chapters exploring topics such as "The Death of God" and "Empires and Nations." These discussions of Nietzsche's opinions of the Buddha or Zen Buddhism's endorsement of Japanese imperialism are themselves compelling, but feel disjointed. Mishra also frequently shifts the focus to his own life; sometimes this artfully illustrates a point, but at other times it borders on the self-indulgent. Nevertheless, for serious readers the book is a rich and challenging if sometimes meandering invitation to explore the Buddha's legacy across centuries, continents and cultures.