PRINCIPAL TEXTS OF THE KHUDDAKA NIKĀYA VOLUME 3
Anonymous / Various Translators
Read by Ratnādhya, Taradasa
22 hours 55 minutes
In this, the final volume in Dharma Audiobooks’ compilation of the Principal Texts of the Khuddaka Nikāya, the major work, and in some ways the most unusual, is Milinda’s Questions. For while the other two, the Buddhavaṃsa and the Cariyāpitaka, may date from the early years of Buddhism, there is no doubt that Milinda’s Questions comes from a later period.
Modern scholars place it between 100 BCE and 200 CE – with sections being added as the years passed. And even though only the Burmese tradition places it within the Khuddaka Nikāya collection, it is a uniquely fascinating, challenging and even entertaining document. The Milinda Pañha (its formal Pāli name) brings together Milinda, a Greek-Bactrian king and Nāgasena, a monk. (Milinda was actually an historical figure known as Menander). Having studied the Dhamma, Milinda searches in vain for a learned monk who can answer his questions and satisfy his doubts – in vain, that is, until he encounters Nāgasena. When they meet, Milinda instructs his attendants to depart leaving the two of them alone, and so ensues an intense period of question and answer covering a wide range of Dhamma topics. Again and again, Milinda challenges Nāgasena, sometimes forcefully. The questions demonstrate that the king has studied and prepared for this encounter – but he is surprised (and not displeased!) that this simple monk can allay all his doubts. The dialogue is wide-ranging and even combative at times, but deeply immersed in Buddhist philosophy and views; and if, at times, it also reflects the culture and faith of an ancient time, it can be enjoyed on many levels. Faith is very much present in the other two texts which, on this recording, precede Milinda’s Questions.
In the Buddhavaṃsa (the Chronicle of Buddhas) the Buddha Gotama relates the circumstances and history of the 24 previous Buddhas, and the early steps on the Bodhisatta path which led eventually to his own awakening. The Cariyāpitaka, Basket of Conduct is from a slightly later, (probably post-Asokan) period. The translator I. B. Horner writes: ‘It is a collection of thirty-five stories, each descriptive of conduct engaged in by the Bodhisatta when, in birth after birth as deva, man, animal, snake, bird or fish, he was consolidating the vast aim he had set himself aeons ago of winning omniscience by gradually mastering the ten perfections’.
Ratnadhya and Taradasa bring years of experience and understanding to their readings.
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