Enlightened by Sachi Ediriweera tells a fictionalized tale of how the Buddha came to be. What drew me to this title is that it’s the first time I’ve seen the story told in graphic novel format. It’s also aimed at ages 12 and up, so you know it won’t have any complicated terminology that could turn off certain readers. I already know the story of the prince turned monk turned Buddha, and I was curious to see how the author would portray it in a graphic novel form.
What Is It About?
Prince Siddhartha has lived his entire life inside a beautiful palace with no contact with the people outside. Frustrated that he has no idea about the world outside his window and that one day he will be asked to lead them without knowing them, he sneaks out with one of the palace workers and sees the hardships that the people face.
In time, he gets married and has a child. His wife and child are subjected to the same confinement within the walls as he has been subjected to his entire life. He realizes he doesn’t want his son to grow up knowing nothing about the outside world. He leaves under the darkness of the night and sets out to learn the nature of human suffering, determined to not return until he fully understands it.
Character Thoughts and Development
As a parent of a son, this story is heartbreaking to me. To think that my husband would abandon us right after the birth of our child to pursue knowledge without taking me with him would both hurt and anger me.
You see Prince Siddhartha change over the years he is away in terms of maturity, understanding, and eventually, enlightenment. You also get to see how other characters who encountered him before enlightenment react after he’s reached it and can see a difference in him.
The Reading Experience
The art is beautiful. I read the whole book in one sitting because it was so engaging and I wanted to see how it played out the events of Prince Siddhartha becoming the first Buddha. Since I already knew the story, I was aware of the heartbreaking points as well as the uplifting ones.
I would say it has a high re-read score. Especially if you are interested in the history of Buddhism.
I can’t say I walked away from this story feeling all warm and fuzzy. The idea of a father and husband walking away from his family to seek enlightenment upsets me. However, knowing what he learned from that experience and how it continues to help people today, makes me overlook those feelings and be grateful for what he did.
You can find Enlightened by Sachi Ediriweera wherever books are sold.
Disclaimer: GeekDad was given a review sample.