Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tezuka's Buddha

Anywhere else in the world, "comics" is what children read before they get to the 'real' stuff. Not so in Japan. Over here, flipping through illustrated books is not just for kids - its a serious adult obsession. Latest tomes of Manga are arguably the fastest moving items in any bookshop or kiosk, and they cover a wide, wide range of tastes.

At least one series that ought to be popular in India (but isn't) is the classic 8-part  "Buddha", created by none other than the 'Father of Manga', Osamu Tezuka. It is by far the most easily readable & comprehensive account of the life and times of Gautama Buddha, narrated with such zest and aplomb that its nearest competitor - the Amar Chitra Katha version - seems utterly shallow and superficial.

Since the series was originally meant for a Japanese audience, it does use a lot culture-specific similies & analogies that may be lost on foreigners ( juku cram-schools or hyoutan-tsugi comic relief's). Also at times the pace of story-telling does slack and slip into absurdities (eg. blood transfusion being improvised by B) but, on the whole, the series does convey, very effectively, a realistic, down-to-earth, human account of the trails & travails of the Sakya prince.

Worth reading.




The cast of characters in Osamu's Buddha (<*> indicates new characters created by the author):

CHAPRA* - slave adopted by Gen. BUDAI of Kosala kingdom
TATTA* - urchin
NARADATTA - Disciple of Sage ASITA, condemned for wasteful killing to a life of a wild savage

PAJAPATI - B's step-mom
BANDAKA - Acearcher, wounds Chapra in an unfair contest; briefly B's archery tutor.
ZIWAKA, Dr.* - Kapilavastu's royal phycisian
MIGAILA* - bandit woman saved by Tatta & Siddhartha's first crush

YASHODARA - Neice of the Koliya king and B's bride (other suitors - PUKSATEE from Chaiti, KACHANNA, BANDAKA fm Koliya, BERATTA fm Magadha)
RAHULA - B&Y's son; means "obstacle"

PRASANAJIT - Kosala king
VIDURAKA - Presanajit's son
DHEPA - son of Kosalan warrior, turned into a monk of the Samana sect
5 ascetics from the Forest of Trials in URUVELA - ONDANYA, BADDIYA, VAPPA, MAHANAMA, JANUSSONI
CHANNA - B's servant and KANTHAKA - B's horse, help him across ANOMA river at Kapilavastu's border, to a village named ANUPIYA

DEVADATTA - son of Bandaka
ANANDA- Devadatta's setp-brother; raised by wolves
GHAGRA - sheltered Devadatta; old hag

BIMBISARA aka SENIA- Ruler of Magadha and one of Buddha's earliest fans
SUJATA - village girl by Niranjanariver who offers milk to a famished B
NATTAPUTTA - ascetic
ALARA, UDDAKA - sages; the former from Vaishali

VIRUDHAKA - Son of Kosala king Prasenajit Sakya maidservant (who P though was a royal) aka "crystal Prince"
AJATASATTU - son of Bimbisara; destined to kill his father
SANJAYA-the-skeptic's followers - SARIPUTTA and MOGGALLANA (later B's disciples)


Amazon.com - http://www.amazon.com/Buddha-1-Kapilavastu-Osamu-Tezuka/dp/193223456X


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