Tuesday, April 26, 2022

The Milinda Panha

THE MILINDA PANHA (Indian Buddhist, 100 BCE-200 CE)

The Questions of [King] Milinda is a Buddhist text from sometime between 100 BCE and 200 CE, in which the Indo-Greek king of Bactria, Menander I (called in Pali Milinda), questions the great Indian Buddhist sage Nagasena about the Buddha's teachings. Milinda is historical; he reigned in the 2nd century BCE. Nagasena seems to be unknown outside of this dialogue, which is almost largely fabricated. Nevertheless, it is included in the canons of Burma and, in an abridged form, China; Thai and Sri Lankan Buddhism do not accept it as such. After each question has been addressed, the king responds (in one translation), "Well answered, Nagasena!" Tradition says Nagasena's answers were indeed effective: after the discussion, Milinda took refuge in the Buddha and turned his kingdom over to his son. Further tradition says he ultimately attained enlightenment.


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