Sonia Mehta is back with another stellar biography- that of Gautama Buddha. The fourth in the Junior Lives Series by Puffin Books, the book takes young readers through the lives and times of Gautama Buddha. Buddha is highly revered and immortalizing his story into this biography makes him more accessible to children.
The book reads like a chapter story book. It all starts with the birth of Prince Siddhartha. It gently propels the reader to discover how a prince raised in the lap of incredible luxury renounced everything worldly and turned to spirituality.
There are many legends associated with the life of Buddha. For example, it is said that he walked immediately after birth! These have been boxed and presented separately.
There are also various background facts about the life and times of Buddha. These are put in little boxes as sidebars to add an additional element of interest. For instance, I was surprised to learn that his wife Yashodhara was actually his cousin and the sister of his boyhood companion. They belonged to the neighbouring kingdom that was also home to his mother, Mahamaya.
I especially found the section on Nirvana described really well. The entire process of how Buddha attained Nirvana has been explained in a very simple and accessible manner. The Four Noble Truths and The Noble Eightfold Path is also enumerated in a way that children will be able to relate to. The illustrations by Jitendra Mahadik enhance the reading experience.
The book goes much beyond the life of Buddha. It continues to describe the spread of Buddhism even after Gautama Buddha attained Nirvana. It talks about how the philosophy spread to other Asian countries. A later chapter also contains some stories about different lives that Buddha had touched.
This biography presents the story of Gautama Buddha in an interesting way, explaining several historical facts and shedding light on some unknown facets of his life. It not only narrates the tale of Gautama Buddha but also highlights key teachings, principles and symbols of Buddhism.
BOOKS IN THE JUNIOR LIVES SERIES:
Title: Gautama Buddha
Author: Sonia Mehta
Illustrator: Jitendra Mahadik
Publisher: Puffin Books
Age group: 8 +