Expect surprise. This is what I have learned. One surprise in my life, the one that occasioned this website, is The Sati Trilogy. It happened like this: I was attending a meditation retreat, sitting in a beautiful hall and listening to a teacher comment on a Buddhist scripture, when inspiration struck.
It was sparked by outrage, not at the content, but at the peripherals of the scripture. In that scripture, a monk named Sati was chastised for misunderstanding and presumably incorrectly passing the Buddha’s teaching on to others. In those days when word of mouth was the sole means by which spiritual wisdom was conveyed, a monk’s misunderstanding was a serious matter. I grasped the issue but was outraged by the harshness with which the Buddha criticized Sati.
The nucleus of a story tapped me on the shoulder, grabbed my heart and said, “Write!” Although I’d been writing for years, historical fiction had never been part of my plans. I knew nothing about writing fiction, nor about ancient Indian history and culture. But writing historical fiction as a means of conveying spiritual truths and, by the way, redeeming Sati’s reputation is just what the inspiration insisted on. Though I initially resisted, by the end of the evening, I hesitantly jotted down a few ideas.
In the weeks that followed, my sense of inadequacy slowly gave way to excitement and my ignorance led me into a dense forest of historical material where I found richness. I fell in love with Sati, who is mentioned only once in all the thousands of pages of the Buddha’s teachings (these teachings were put into writing a few hundred years after the Buddha’s death), and I fell in love with those around Sati who were caught, as most of us are, in their surging longings and schemes. So The Kosambi Intrigue was born.
Then, another surprise, the first novel turned into triplets—The Sati Trilogy. While writing Kosambi, I realized that the full story, the one I had initially envisioned, couldn’t be told in a single book. Thus emerged The Jealous Heart, which occurs in 433 and 432 B.C., thirteen years after events in the first novel. But the tale still wasn’t finished. The Yes Sayers, novel number three, which opens in 419 B.C. completes Sati’s story—in a surprising way.
Through this website, I share my excitement about these books. Little else like them exists in the world of historical fiction. Since Hermann Hesse’s beloved masterwork Siddhartha was published in the middle of the twentieth century, few novels have been situated in the Buddha’s era. The Sati Trilogy is a groundbreaker. Now that you know about it, I hope you’ll travel with me and enjoy and maybe be inspired by the trilogy.