The Birth of the Maitreya
Translated from the Bengali by Sipra Bhattacharya
royal pb 501pp ISBN 81-85604-61-4 Rs 300 Feb 2004
In writing about the times of the Buddha, Bani Basu composes a new Jataka, the traditional format in which the tales of the different births of the Buddha were written down. In this novel, she grapples with history and the revolutionary ideas of the Buddha, who suggested new ways of living, new political formations, new beliefs about God or the absence of one. Basu also presents many female characters like Bishakha, a brilliant independent woman, her remarkably wise and capable mother, the Lady Sumana, and learned and respected courtesans like Amrapali and Jitasoma. Bani Basu’s portrayal of this brilliant age with the Buddha as its tragic heart will dazzle and move the reader.
Bani Basu is a distinguished writer of short stories and novels in Bengali. Sipra Bhattacharya teaches history and is an independent researcher and translator.
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