“…great value lies in the fact that not only is [The Epic of the Buddha] a contemporary life of the Buddha written in a vanishing classic style, a text that has been translated in painstakingly careful fashion, it is a marvelous introduction to the rich textures of Nepali religious culture in general.”
~ Toshihide Numata Award selection committee
Winner of the Toshihide Numata Book Award in Buddhism and the
Khyentse Foundation Prize for Outstanding Translation
Written in a forbidden language, on scraps of paper smuggled into prison, master poet Chittadhar Hṛdaya’s epic poem Sugata Saurabha (“The Sweet Fragrance of the Buddha”) is a subversive masterpiece. Translated as The Epic of the Buddha, it proves that a beautiful lotus such as this work of art, can bloom even in the mud of an authoritarian government.
Newly edited and finessed by the translators Todd T. Lewis and Subarna Man Tuladhar, this modern Nepalese classic “tells the Buddha’s story in dramatic terms, drawing on images from the natural world to heighten the description of emotionally charged events.
It is peopled with very human characters who experience a wide range of emotions, from erotic love to anger, jealousy, heroism, compassion, and goodwill. By showing how the central events of the Buddha’s life are experienced by Siddhartha, as well as by his family members and various disciples, the poem communicates a fuller sense of the humanity of everyone involved and the depth and power of the Buddha’s loving-kindness.”(Penguin Random House)
About the Author
Chittadhar Hridaya (19 May 1906 – 9 June 1982) was a Nepalese poet. He is regarded as one of the greatest literary figures from Nepal in the 20th century, and a pioneer in writing modern short stories.
Hridaya was a member of the Nepal Bhasa renaissance. He began his literary career when the government did not permit writing in the Nepalese Bhasa language, so authors published their works from abroad.
About the Translation
Translated by Todd T. Lewis and Subarna Man Tuladhar. For this new edition of the English translation, the translators improved the beauty and flow of most every line.
The translation is also supplemented with a series of short essays by Todd Lewis, one of the translators, that articulates how Hṛdaya incorporated his own Newar cultural traditions in order to connect his readership with the immediacy and relevancy of the Buddha’s life and at the same time express his views on political issues, ethical principles, literary life, gender discrimination, economic policy, and social reform.