Putu the Cat

Fear me, if you dare. Meow.

Monday, November 01, 2004

From Butter Chicken to the Buddha

Is indeed a long way to travel. Which is precisely what Pankaj Mishra has done, and if William Dalrymple is to be believed, he's travelled it rather well. Mishra's latest book, An End to Suffering: The Buddha in the World covers "an intimidatingly wide sweep of territory and moves rapidly from the period of the Vedas to that of the Enlightenment, then onto to the world of Osama bin Laden, stopping en route in the company of such diverse figures as Mahavira, Hieun Tsang, Hobbes, Nietzsche, Marx, Schopenhauer, Borges, Sayyid Qutb, Swami Vivekananda, various Buddhist missionaries and a mixed bag of Naga sadhus and gun-wielding Islamists." Phew. But Dalrymple also argues that Mishra is successful precisely because of who/what he is not- a part of the Stephens'/Doon mafia and so he can write about the grim realities of life in provincial Bihar and UP with an authenticity that those inhabiting East Coast universities cannot. Ouch.


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