10 - What Is “Zen Practice” Anyway?
12 - Buddhist History 4: Life of Shakyamuni Buddha Part 2 - Before and After Enlightenment


Buddhism began when Siddhartha Gautama experienced a spiritual awakening over 2,500 years ago in India, and became an “awakened one,” or Buddha. This episode is the first of two in which I’ll cover the life of Shakyamuni Buddha, and it’s part of my “Buddhist History” series.



Quicklinks to Transcript Content:
A Note about Names and Terms [2:09]
Physical Evidence of the Buddha’s Life [3:40]
The Buddha’s Life in Canonical Buddhist Texts [5:40]
Historicity of the Pali Canon Account [8:20]
“Introduction to the Jataka”: Another Ancient Text about the Buddha’s Life [11:51]
Historicity of the “Introduction to the Jataka” [14:37]
The Birth of Siddhartha Gautama [20:34]
The Future Buddha’s Childhood [23:34]
Siddhartha Gets Dissatisfied with Worldly Life [27:42]
Siddhartha Leaves Home – Pali Canon Version [30:13]
Siddhartha Leaves Home – “Intro to the Jataka” Version [31:44]


I’ll begin by talking about the various sources of information we have about Shakyamuni Buddha and discuss their origin, historicity – or historical authenticity – and, in general terms, the kind of picture they present of the Buddha’s life. The stories of the texts are fascinating and important in and of themselves, which is why it might be appropriate to call this series of podcast episodes “Buddhist History and Seminal Texts” – the texts are an intimate part of Buddhist history.

Then I’ll start going through the Buddha’s life chronologically, giving you information from the most authoritative sources but also sharing some of the colorful myths about the Buddha (I’ll always let you know where the stories come from). In this episode, I’ll start my story before the Buddha’s birth and end with him leaving home to become a spiritual renunciate as a young man. I’ll continue the story in the next episode, which I’ll release next week, where I’ll cover the rest of the Buddha’s life.

A Note about Names and Terms

Before I begin, a brief note about terms: the Buddha is known by several names, or titles. From his birth up until his enlightenment he is called “Siddhartha Gautama,” with Siddhartha being a personal name, and Gautama being his clan name. After his enlightenment, he is called “Buddha,” which simply means “awakened one,” or “the Buddha” because he is believed to be the first and foremost “awakened one” in our world system. You’ll also hear him called “Shakyamuni Buddha,” or just “Shakyamuni,” which means “sage of the Sakya lineage,” another reference Siddhartha’s clan affiliation.

Also, you might notice me using two different versions of some basic Buddhist terms, particularly “dharma,” which means truth or teachings, and “sutra” which is a Buddhist text that contains teachings from the Buddha. “Dharma” and “sutra” are the Sanskrit versions of these terms, and they’re the versions we use in Zen. When talking about original Buddhist teachings, however, we often refer to the Pali Canon (more on what that is in a moment), and the Pali versions of our common terms are “dhamma” and “sutta.” (Basically, drop the “r.”) Hopefully you’ll get used to hearing these terms interchangeably.

Physical Evidence of the Buddha’s Life

When I set about preparing for this episode, I had the intention to give you a picture of Shakyamuni Buddha’s life that was as historically accurate as possible. Of course, I knew there is no archeological or historical evidence of the Buddha dating from his own lifetime. However, there’s still ample evidence he existed.

In terms of physical evidence, there are numerous locations and ancient monuments associated with the Buddha and the significant events in his life. According to tradition these have been visited and revered continually through the millennia since the Buddha died. These include his birthplace, the place he was supposed to have attained enlightenment, teaching locations, and where he died. Such pilgrimage sites also include stupas, or memorial mounds supposedly built over relics of the Buddha. Stupas may or may not be located at one of the aforementioned historically significant sites, and relics consist either of physical remains of a revered figure, or objects that belonged to, or were touched by, such a person.

Dhamekh Stupa, where the Buddha gave the first sermon on the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to his five disciples, Sarnath

Dhamekh Stupa in India, where the Buddha is said to have given his first sermon

Of course, there is no way to verify the historicity of these sites, but they strongly suggest the actual existence of someone around the time of the Buddha who came to be widely revered as a spiritual leader, and was associated with the Buddhist teachings, practice, and community. I won’t talk more about this kind of evidence of the Buddha’s life as I tell his life story because it doesn’t provide any more information than locations.


The Buddha’s Life in Canonical Buddhist Texts

After the Buddha’s death, Buddhists got together at Councils to establish a canon, or a collection of sacred texts that were generally accepted as genuine. Note that although we refer to these as “texts,” they were orally transmitted for hundreds of years after the Buddha’s death, only being committed to writing in the first century BCE. According to Buddhist tradition, the first Council was held shortly after the Buddha died. At later Councils, Buddhists started to split into different schools and disagree on what to include in the canon.

Eventually there were several different lineages of texts, including some that went north to China and survived there in Chinese translation although the original texts were lost.[1] We could follow that lineage, but it’s easier to stick with the canon of the Theravadin school of Buddhism, which is more widely available in English translation and is generally held to be one of the most accurate available versions of the original Buddhist teachings. The Theravadin canon is called the “Pali Canon,” so named for the language, Pali, in which the canonical texts were originally transmitted and preserved. (I’ll go more deeply into the history and development of Buddhist texts at some future date!)

The Pali Canon includes many texts attributed to Shakyamuni Buddha that include pieces of autobiographical information. However, the purpose of these texts was to convey the Buddha’s teachings, not to tell the story of his life, so these snippets of biographical information about him were generally shared only in order to illustrate a particular teaching. For example, the Buddha might have been teaching about patience, and he’d go, “That reminds me of the time when…” and then he’d tell a story from his past experience that demonstrated the importance of patience. Therefore, the picture of the Shakyamuni’s life we get from the Pali Canon is incomplete, particularly as regards his early years. An interesting side note, however: taken as a whole, the stories about his own life the Buddha tells in the Pali Canon represent one of the earliest extended autobiographical accounts in human history![2]

Historicity of the Pali Canon Account

When I tell the Buddha’s story, I’ll let you know what pieces come directly from the Pali Canon and may therefore be the oldest and most accurate versions of his biography. Of course, that doesn’t mean everything that comes from the Pali Canon is true, at least in a literal or historical sense. First, Pali texts were transmitted orally for hundreds of years before being written down, and could easily have been inadvertently – or deliberately – changed or added to in that time.

Second, the purpose of Buddhist scriptures was to convey doctrine and provide the framework for a religion, and they contain plenty of accounts of supernatural events and conversations with deities and other supernatural beings. Such accounts aren’t the main point of any of the texts, but they’re mentioned as if such things were part of the normal, everyday experience of a spiritual leader of the Buddha’s caliber. Once we get to the Buddha’s story, you’ll see what I mean.

From a modern, scientific point of view these aspects of the Buddha’s story are obviously untrue – at best, embellishments on the real events, or else complete fabrications. However, it’s good to keep in mind that at the time the original Buddhist texts were composed, even the intellectual elite wouldn’t have drawn such stark boundaries between reality and fantasy. I suggest we accept the Pali Canon accounts at face value – not as historically accurate, but as how the Buddha’s story was undeniably told, starting not long after his death.

While aspects of the Pali Canon may seem quite mythological, generally speaking it presents a fairly simple and austere story compared with other, particularly later, texts about the Buddha’s life. In his excellent anthology of Pali Canon sources called The Life of the Buddha: According to the Pali Canon, Bhikku Nanamoli describes later versions of the Buddha’s story “ornate and florid.” In comparison, he says, the Pali Canon accounts – particularly of Buddha’s early life – seem “as lean and polished as a rapier, a candle flame or an uncarved ivory tusk.”[3]

Note: Many of the Pali texts you can read in full on an excellent website I visit all the time: accesstoinsight.org. If I was able to find a particular source I needed on that website, I used it so you would be able to access it, and I link to the source text.

“Introduction to the Jataka”: Another Ancient Text about the Buddha’s Life

In addition to the canonical texts, there are other Buddhist texts that describe the Buddha’s life. Some of these are very old, although in general it’s difficult to be sure of their exact origins. In particular, there evolved a collection of Jataka Tales, or birth stories, which purported to describe previous lives of Shakyamuni Buddha. The idea was that it took many lifetimes as a diligent spiritual practitioner, or bodhisattva, to develop the spiritual potential to fully awaken as a Buddha, as Shakyamuni did. Stories of his previous lives, then, served as good examples of the kinds of efforts Buddhists needed to make in order to achieve what he had.

The Theravadin Pali canon includes a text called the Jataka comprised of 6,653 verses, or gathas, that represent 547 of these birth stories. Many of them are no more than a verse or two, conveying the moral of the story but not the story itself.[4] At some point early on, a commentary was composed that fleshed out the stories associated with each canonical Jataka verse, and this text is called the Jataka-atthakatha (which just means “Jataka commentary”). This commentary was maintained as an important Buddhist text but was not included in the Pali Canon.

Sometimes the Jataka commentary explained the situations in Shakyamuni’s life where he felt compelled to tell a birth story. For example, the commentary might describe a situation in which the Buddha was trying to convey a particular message to particular people, and then he’d go, “That reminds me of the time…” and subsequently tell a story from one of his past lives. Based in part on these pieces of the Jataka commentary about Shakyamuni – in his lifetime as the Buddha – a separate commentary was developed that told the life story of the Buddha in a full, chronological, narrative form. This story of the Buddha is called the Nidanakatha, usually translated as the “Introduction to the Jataka” because it was appended to the beginning of the Jataka commentary.

Historicity of the “Introduction to the Jataka”

In preparation for this episode, I did many hours of research on the “Introduction to the Jataka,” but I was only able to find English translations of it that are over 100 years old (Rhys Davids 1878, Warren 1896). I was also unable to access modern scholarship about its origins or historicity, although someone at the University of Chicago included the subject in his dissertation in 1982.[5] (If you know of any modern, available sources, please let me know by email!)

According to Buddhist tradition, not long after the second Buddhist council around 250 BCE, Buddhist texts were orally transmitted to monks in Sri Lanka, and these included the Jataka, its commentary and introduction, along with other Buddhist commentaries maintained in the Pali language. In time, these oral texts were written down in Sinhalese, the language of Sri Lanka. At some point in the subsequent centuries, the Pali versions of many the commentaries – including the “Introduction to the Jataka” – were lost, so the texts survived only in Sinhalese. These writings couldn’t be read by most Buddhist scholars (Pali being the lingua franca of Buddhism at the time), so they fell into obscurity.[6] Then, in the 5th century CE, an Indian or Burmese scholar named Buddhaghosa traveled to Sri Lanka and translated many Sinhalese commentaries[7] back into their original Pali, including the “Introduction to the Jataka.”

Rhys Davids, one of the translators of “Introduction to the Jataka,” expressed skepticism about this traditional Buddhist version of events surrounding the age and authenticity of their texts, particular because of the temptation to believe sacred texts existed in more or less their current form shortly after the death of the Buddha. However, Winternitz, in his book A History of Indian Literature, suggests the “Introduction to the Jataka” is still likely to be quite old. He writes:

“Unfortunately, we have no clue for a definite determination of the date of Jataka commentary, and consequently, not of the Nidana-Katha either. One thing, however, is certain. The many points of agreement between the Buddha legend as it is related in the Sanskrit sources, and Nidana-Katha, prove that the last-mentioned work is based on the same Indian tradition as the former, and therefore probably also reaches back to commentaries which were brought from India to Ceylon [Sri Lanka]… At all events the Nidana-Katha represents an earlier phase in the development of the Buddha legend than [later works such as] the Lalitavistara…”[8]

Regardless of their exact provenance, Pali commentaries like the “Introduction to the Jataka” are valued by the Theravadin tradition even though they are called “post-canonical.” As explained on the Acccess to Insight website, “The question of the authority of the post-canonical texts thus remains a point of controversy within Theravada Buddhism.” However, it argues that the texts deserve to be given some authority because:

“…although many of these texts were indeed first written in Pali a thousand years after the Buddha, most Sinhala versions upon which they were based were written much earlier, having themselves been passed down via an ancient and reliable oral tradition. But (one might object) mustn’t those early texts themselves be suspect, since they are based only on hearsay? Perhaps, but by this argument we should reject the entire oral tradition — and hence the entire Tipitaka [Pali Canon] itself, which similarly emerged from an oral tradition long after the Buddha’s death.” [9]

What about the flavor of the “Introduction to the Jataka?” Rhys Davids describes the text this way: “In its treatment of the Buddha-legend and the story of the life of the very real founder [who] had by that time become legendary it occupies a midway house between the biographical fragments in the Vinaya and chief Nikayas [the central parts of the Pali Canon], and those later more highly embroidered lives of which there are not a few.”[10] To put in another way, using Bhikku Nanamoli’s words, the “Introduction to the Jataka” offers a story of the Buddha’s life that, while not as “lean and polished” as accounts from the Pali Canon, are not as “ornate and florid” as later ones.

In order to give you a full sense of the Buddha’s life story, as I proceed chronologically through it I’ll rely heavily on the Pali Canon. However, I’ll also share stories from the “Introduction to the Jataka” when it elaborates on a particular event or situation, or where it fills in gaps not covered by the Pali Canon. As I go, I’ll always tell you which source I’m using.

The Birth of Siddhartha Gautama

Shakyamuni Buddha was born Siddhartha Gautama somewhere between 578 and 447 BCE. (Buddhist sources disagree on the date.) In various places in the Pali Canon, the Buddha lets on that he was born in a prosperous country “right up against the foothills of [the] Himalaya,” as part of the Shakyan lineage, the Gautama (Gotama) clan, and the kshatriya, or warrior-noble, caste.[11] His father Suddhodana, was a ruler of one of the many small republics of the time.

Now, right off the bat, we encounter a Pali Canon account that includes mythological imagery. According to the Majjhima-nikāya 123, before birth as the Buddha, when he was just a bodhisattva (bodhisatta in Pali), he resided in a heavenly realm. He looked down on earth and carefully chose his mother, Queen Maya, because of her excellent and virtuous qualities, and then descended into her womb. (He was conceived without intercourse – sound familiar?) The “Introduction to the Jataka” adds that the bodhisatta took the form of a white elephant who entered Maya’s womb through her right side.

According to the Pali Canon, Queen Maya experiences no pain or fatigue during her pregnancy, and after 10 months:

“When the Bodhisatta came forth from his mother’s womb, just as if a gem were placed on Benares cloth, the gem would not smear the cloth or the cloth the gem—why not?—because both are pure, so too the Bodhisatta came forth from his mother’s womb unsullied, unsmeared by water or humours or blood or any sort of impurity, clean and unsullied… As soon as the Bodhisatta was born, he stood firmly with his feet on the ground; then he took seven steps to the north, and, with a white sunshade held over him, he surveyed each quarter. He uttered the words of the Leader of the Herd: ‘I am the Highest in the world, I am the Best in the world, I am the Foremost in the world; this is the last birth; now there is no more renewal of being in future lives.’”[12]

Baby Siddarhtha

A statue of the baby Siddhartha

So, there you go: The Buddha’s birth from our most austere source, the Pali Canon. Looking at this as myth, of course, it presents a picture of early Buddhists feeling a need to establish the legitimacy of their new religion by lending a supernatural aura to the birth of its founder. Sadly, the Buddha’s mother dies seven days after he is born, although she goes immediately to a heavenly realm after her death. Siddhartha is subsequently raised by his mother’s sister, Pajapati.[13]


The Future Buddha’s Childhood

Continuing with the Pali Canon: Shortly after the birth of Siddhartha, a seer named Asita notices the gods are celebrating and asks them why. They reply that a bodhisatta has been born who will live a holy life and “turn the wheel of Dhamma” – that is, he would offer great spiritual teaching. Asita goes to see the baby for himself and confirms what the gods have predicted. Then he starts to weep, and people are worried that he forsees danger for the child. Asita replies:

“I foresee for the prince
no harm.
Nor will there be any danger for him.
This one isn’t lowly: be assured.
This prince will touch
the ultimate self-awakening.
He, seeing the utmost purity,
will set rolling the Wheel of Dhamma
through sympathy for the welfare of many.
His holy life will spread far & wide.
But as for me,
my life here has no long remainder;
my death will take place before then.
I won’t get to hear
the Dhamma of this one with the peerless role.
That’s why I’m stricken,
afflicted, & pained.”[14]

Now, here’s where it’s fun to dip into the Nidanakatha, the “Introduction to the Jataka.” It gets a little more specific about the predictions about Siddhartha’s future. According to the “Introduction to the Jataka,” eight brahmans, or Vedic priests, appear at the celebrations surrounding Siddhartha’s birth. They are asked to prophesy his fortune. They answer that Siddhartha was so remarkable, he faced two paths: If he continued in the “household life,” he would become a “Universal Monarch,” or the most excellent and powerful of worldly rulers, or, if he retired from the world, he would become a Buddha, or awakened one.

Siddhartha’s father Suddhodana asks what would make his son “retire from the world,” and the brahmans reply that Siddhartha would leave worldly life after encountering the “four signs:” namely, an old person, a sick person, a dead person, and a monk. The king replies:

“’From this time forth… let no such persons be allowed to come near my son. It will never do for my son to become a Buddha. What I would wish to see is my son exercising sovereign rule and authority over the four great continents…”[15]

The story in the “Introduction to the Jataka” continues with Suddhodana taking extravagant and expensive measures to protect Siddhartha from encountering the four signs, or from experiencing any kind of discomfort or dissatisfaction. Even if this story isn’t literally true, it doesn’t seem at all far-fetched that a ruler would try to keep his talented son comfortable and complacent, and insulated from anything that would encourage him to “retire from the world.” Note: Although renouncing the world and going to off to live in the wilderness as a medicant and spiritual seeker was a radical choice, it wasn’t unreasonable for Suddhodana to worry that his son might take this path. It was a well-established, if marginal, tradition at the time in India. (I talk about this path of the sramana or parivrajaka in Episode 6: Arising of Buddhism Part 2.)

Siddhartha Gets Dissatisfied with Worldly Life

Despite poor king Suddhodana’s best efforts, however, Siddhartha ends up dissatisfied with worldly life. In the Pali Canon, the Buddha describes his youth:

“Monks, I lived in refinement, utmost refinement, total refinement. My father even had lotus ponds made in our palace: one where red-lotuses bloomed, one where white lotuses bloomed, one where blue lotuses bloomed, all for my sake. I used no sandalwood that was not from Varanasi. My turban was from Varanasi, as were my tunic, my lower garments, & my outer cloak. A white sunshade was held over me day & night to protect me from cold, heat, dust, dirt, & dew.”[16]

The description of the luxury goes on, although it doesn’t get as elaborate as the “Introduction to the Jataka” does. Nonetheless, the Buddha describes how, at some point, he realizes everyone, including him, is subject to old age, disease, and death. He recognizes how ignorant people are “horrified, humiliated, and disgusted” when they encounter these conditions, as if they themselves weren’t also subject to old age, disease, and death. The Buddha says his intoxication with youth, health, and life dropped away at that point, and he saw the path of renunciation as “rest.”

As is usual, the story from the “Introduction to the Jataka” is more dramatic. It says the young Siddhartha was feeling restless and wanted to go out in the city in his chariot. The gods take this opportunity to show him the four signs, appearing in front of him as an old person, a sick person, and a corpse. Siddhartha – unimaginably naïve, having been carefully protected from the realities of life by his father – asks his charioteer about these strange people, and his charioteer explains that all people are subject to old age, disease, and death. When the young man sees a meditating monk, the desire to renounce the worldly life is born.[17]

Four Heavenly Messengers

Siddhartha encounters the four sights


Siddhartha Leaves Home – Pali Canon Version

Several canonical sources say Siddhartha was 29 years old when he left home to become a mendicant spiritual seeker.[18] The Pali Canon doesn’t go into great detail about this process, which was greatly elaborated on by other sources. The Canon simply says this:

“Before my Awakening, when I was still an unawakened Bodhisatta, the thought occurred to me: ‘The household life is crowded, a dusty road. Life gone forth is the open air. It isn’t easy, living in a home, to lead the holy life that is totally perfect, totally pure, a polished shell. What if I, having shaved off my hair & beard and putting on the ochre robe [of a medicant], were to go forth from the home life into homelessness?’

“So at a later time, when I was still young, black-haired, endowed with the blessings of youth in the first stage of life, having shaved off my hair & beard — though my parents wished otherwise and were grieving with tears on their faces — I put on the ochre robe and went forth from the home life into homelessness.”[19]

Elsewhere the Pali Canon describes how, having gone forth from the householder’s life, he wandered from house to house seeking alms, had no fixed abode, and avoided all physical and verbal misconduct.[20]

Siddhartha Leaves Home – “Intro to the Jataka” Version

Apparently, the composers of the Jataka commentaries saw Siddhartha’s decision to leave home as much more climactic. They describe how Siddhartha – already considering the possibility of renunciation – looks over a scene where all of his beautiful female companions have fallen asleep. They lay with their limbs all askew:

“…some with their bodies wet with trickling phlegm and spittle; some grinding their teeth, and muttering and talking in their sleep; some with their mouths open; and some with their dress fallen apart so as plainly to disclose their loathsome nakedness.”[21]

Seeing this, Siddhartha feels even greater aversion for sensual pleasures and decides to leave home. Before he goes, he peeks in on his wife, Yasodhara, and infant son Rahula. He gazes at them from the threshold, thinking:

“If I were to raise my wife’s hand from off the child’s head, and take him up, she would awake, and thus prevent my departure. I will first become a Buddha, and then come back and see my son.” [22]

In modern times, especially in this age where active lay practitioners of Buddhism far outnumber monastics, Siddhartha’s desertion of his family is often seen as controversial. I won’t discuss this aspect of the Buddha’s life story in detail in this episode, but some of the arguments in his favor point out that he had already provided his wife with a son, and because they belonged to a wealthy ruling family they would be taken care of in his absence. In any case, it’s sweet to read the account in the “Introduction to the Jataka” where Siddhartha wishes he could give his son a cuddle before taking off.

In the “Introduction to the Jataka,” the subsequent story of Siddhartha’s actual departure from his father’s palace is very exciting. In the middle of the night, the future Buddha summons his servant, Channa, to ready his massive steed, Kanthaka. The gods get involved, making sure no one else wakes up to learn of Siddhartha’s departure. King Suddhodana, to prevent just such an escape, has made the gate to the city so heavy it required a thousand men to move it, but a deity opened it for Siddhartha and crew.

After being accompanied a long distance by many deities, the future Buddha decides to dismount, cut his hair off, and trade his fancy clothes for the simple garments of a monk (conveniently provided by a god). He sends Channa and Kanthaka back home. Channa begs to be allowed to renounce the worldly life as well, and come with Siddhartha, but his master refuses to let him. Channa sadly prepares to return to the palace, but Kanthaka the horse can’t bear to be separated from Siddhartha so – and this is personally one of my favorite parts of the whole story – he walks out of sight and dies of grief on the spot.[23]

Read/listen to Life of Shakyamuni Buddha Part 2

The Great Going Forth

The Great Going Forth


Tune in to the next episode, where I tell you the rest of the Buddha’s story, starting with his initial efforts as a mendicant spiritual practitioner!

Photo Credits: 
Stupa: By Ken Wieland [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Baby Siddhartha: By Tktru (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Going Forth: By myself (Picture of a painting in a monastery in Laos) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


Buswell, Robert E. Jr., and Donald S. Lopez Jr. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2014.
Datta, Amaresh. Encyclopaedia of Indian Literature, Volume 2. New Delhi: Sahitya Akademi, 1988. (Google books preview: https://books.google.com/books?id=zB4n3MVozbUC&lpg=PA1809&dq)
Mitchell, Donald and Sarah Jacoby. Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience, Third Edition. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2014.
Nanamoli, Bhikkhu. The Life of the Buddha: According to the Pali Canon. Pariyatti Publishing. Kindle Edition. 1972.
Rhys Davids, T.W. Buddhist birth-stories: Jataka tales. The commentarial introd. entitled Nidanakatha; the story of the lineage. Translated from V. Fausböll’s ed. of the Pali text. London: G. Routledge, 1878.
Robinson, Richard R., Willard L. Johnson, and Thanissaro Bhikku.  Buddhist Religions: A Historical Introduction.  Fifth Edition.  Belmont, CA: Wadsworth/Thomson Learning, 2005.
Thanissaro, Bhikku. The Wings to Awakening: An Anthology of the Pali Canon. Barre, Massachusetts: Dhamma Dana Publications, 1996. (Also available online: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/wings/index.html.)
Warder, A.K. Indian Buddhism. New Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1970.
Warren, Henry Clarke. Buddhism in Translations. New York: Atheneum, 1972. (Original copyright 1896.)
Winternitz, Maurice. A History of Indian Literature, Volume II. Calcutta: University of Calcutta, 1933.


[1] Warder 1970
[2] Thanissaro 1996
[3] Nanamoli 1972
[4] Datta 1988
[5] Aronoff, Arnold L. Contrasting Modes of Textual Classification: The Jataka Commentary and its Relationship to the Pali Canon. 1982. http://southasiadissertations.uchicago.edu/content/aronoff-arnold-l
[6] Access to Insight, ed. “Beyond the Tipitaka: A Field Guide to Post-canonical Pali Literature.” Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 1 December 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/noncanon/fieldguide.html.
[7] Buswell & Lopez 2014
[8] Winternitz 1993, p 189
[9] Access to Insight, ed. “Beyond the Tipitaka: A Field Guide to Post-canonical Pali Literature.” Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 1 December 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/noncanon/fieldguide.html.
[10] Rhys Davids 1878. Later accounts of the Buddha’s life include the Mahavastu (“Great Story,” 1st century CE), Lalitavistara (“Graceful Description,” 1st century CE), and the Buddhacarita (“Acts of the Buddha,” by Asvaghosa 2nd century CE).
[11] Sutta-nipāta 3:1, from Nanamoli 1972.
[12] Nanamoli 1972
[13] Anguttara-nikāya 8:51, from Nanamoli 1972
[14] “Nalaka Sutta: To Nalaka” (Sn 3.11), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 30 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.3.11.than.html.
[15] From the “Introduction to the Jataka” in Warren 1896
[16] “Sukhamala Sutta: Refinement” (AN 3.38), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 1 December 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.038.than.html.
[17] From the “Introduction to the Jataka” in Warren 1896
[18] Warder 1970
[19] “Maha-Saccaka Sutta: The Longer Discourse to Saccaka” (MN 36), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 30 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/mn/mn.036.than.html.
[20] “Pabbaja Sutta: The Going Forth” (Sn 3.1), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 30 November 2013, http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/kn/snp/snp.3.01.than.html.
[21] From the “Introduction to the Jataka” in Warren 1896
[22] From the “Introduction to the Jataka” in Warren 1896
[23] From the “Introduction to the Jataka” in Warren 1896



10 - What Is “Zen Practice” Anyway?
12 - Buddhist History 4: Life of Shakyamuni Buddha Part 2 - Before and After Enlightenment