Upali, embittered survivor of a brutal war of conquest, is given a job by the emperor, Ashoka, the victor of that war - to write the first ever chronicle about the Buddha, three hundred years after he sets in motion the Wheel of Dhamma. For the emperor is set on a new conquest, that of Dhamma...
So begins a search for the Buddha and a fight over his message. Was it renunciation? Individual salvation? Universal compassion? Tolerance, of even intolerance? Questions surface among the Buddha's followers, fearful and then angry, to be fought over viciously even as the sangha rises to glorious imperial patronage, a patronage that will sustain it for over a millennium and reach it to half the world.
This is the story of that story, of the Buddha as seen by his admirers and questioners. In unassuming but agile prose, Amita Kanekar takes us to the time of the Buddha, then to that of Ashoka, and back again. The wheel is in motion, we move from one to the other, spinning with the wheel, becoming one with change.