The Buddha and the Terrorist

The Buddha and the Terrorist

eBook - 2012
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Not every book will change your life, but any book can. Not every discussion will make a difference, but a conversation can change the world. In this timely retelling of an ancient Buddhist parable, peace activist Satish Kumar has created a small book with a powerful spiritual message about ending violence. It is a tale of a fearsome outcast named Angulimala ("Necklace of Fingers"), who is terrorizing towns and villages in order to gain control of the state, murdering people and adding their fingers to his gruesome necklace. One day he comes face to face with the Buddha and is persuaded, through a series of compelling conversations, to renounce violence and take responsibility for his actions. The Buddha and the Terrorist addresses the urgent questions we face today: Should we talk to terrorists? Can we reason with religious fundamentalists? Is nonviolence practical? The story ends with a dramatic trial that speaks to the victims of terrorism -- the families whose mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters Angulimala has murdered. It asks whether it is possible for them to forgive. Or whether it is even desirable. No one can read The Buddha and the Terrorist without thinking about the root causes of terrorism, about good and evil, about justice and forgiveness, about the kind of place we want the world to be, and, most important, about the most productive and practical way to get there.
Kumar (You Are, Therefore I Am) neatly reworks an ancient allegory of Buddha's conversion of a bloodthirsty killer. In the northern Indian city of Savatthi, a renegade Untouchable called Angulimala murders people indiscriminately and cuts off their fingers (his name means "Wearer of a Finger Necklace"). Apprised of the danger, Buddha insists that he must also console "those who are possessed with anger and ignorance" and seeks him out. With Buddha's gentle instruction in the forest, Angulimala recognizes the futility of violence in dealing with his profound sense of abandonment and separation from loved ones. He takes the name Ahimsaka ("Nonviolent One"), becomes a monk and lives by the Four Noble Truths. The king and relatives of Angulimala's victims nevertheless cry out for vengeance. Skillfully, Kumar demonstrates the transformation necessary in the consciousness of a society bent on punishment rather than persuasion, or as the king says: "What one person, the Buddha, has achieved, my entire army could not." In a foreword, Thomas Moore draws parallels between this parable and the Gospels, the Tao De Ching and the Sufi "way of love." More a pamphlet than a novella, this short piece hits its mark with studied grace. -- Publishers Weekly
Publisher: [New York] : Algonquin Books, 2012
ISBN: 9781616202408
Characteristics: 1 online resource (144 pages)
data file
Additional Contributors: Moore, Thomas 1940-
Call Number: eBook


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

There are no comments for this title yet.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further


Subject Headings


Find it at DCL

To Top