Buddhism in India

Indian Buddhist siteBuddhism in India

Recommended books for those who want to know more about Indian Buddhism - From introductory to specialized books, here are some of the best books I would highly recommend.

This article will recommend some works as an introduction to the Buddha and Indian Buddhism, followed by a selection of reference books for those who want to learn more about Buddhism.

My selection of reference books is an unusual lineup for a Buddhist book, but I am sure that they will help you to discover something new.

Buddhist Thought 4Buddhism in India

Buddhist Thought 4: Recognition and Transcendence <唯識〉 - A recommended commentary on the highest level of Mahayana Buddhist thought!

While "Buddhist Thought 2: Analysis of Existence " introduced in the previous article explained Abhidharma, the pinnacle of Buddhist philosophy in Theravada Buddhism (or more precisely, Theravada Buddhism), this work, "Buddhist Thought 4: Recognition and Transcendence " is a recommended reference book on the philosophy of wisdom, considered the pinnacle of Mahayana Buddhist thought. The book is a highly recommended reference book on the highest level of Mahayana Buddhist thought.

In this book, we will first look at what materialism is in the first place and from what historical aspect it has emerged. For us readers, it would be too strict to start with an esoteric idea. Therefore, this book is an introductory book, so we will start by looking at the process of its formation rather than the esoteric philosophy of materialism and get a rough overall picture of it. This was very helpful to read.

Buddhist Thought 3 AbhidharmaBuddhism in India

Buddhist Thought 2: Analysis of Existence (Abhidharma)" - Why are Abhidharma and Kusha Theory important? What is their significance? Recommended commentary!

This book, "Buddhist Thought 2: Analysis of Existence (Abhidharma)" is the second volume in the "Buddhist Thought Series. This series has long been a favorite bestseller as an introduction to Buddhist thought, and my Buddhist studies professor recommends this series.

The theme of this book is Abhidharma, which is a huge obstacle not only for general readers but also for us monks. Although the image of "Abhidharma = difficult and complicated" has already been created, you will learn in this book how significant this Buddhist idea of Abhidharma is for the study of Mahayana Buddhism as well.

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Kan Sasaki, "Mahayana Buddhism: Where is Buddha's Teaching Headed?" - An important book for considering Japanese Buddhism in the first place!

I knew the term Mahayana Buddhism, and I knew that Japan was a Mahayana Buddhist country, but I had no idea what this Mahayana Buddhism was all about. But I had no idea what this Mahayana Buddhism was all about.
This is not only true for general readers, but in fact, many monks themselves may feel the same way.
As monks, we too learn the basics of Buddhism, but we tend to focus on studying the doctrines of our own sect.
Of course, I have learned what Mahayana Buddhism is and the characteristics of the major Japanese sects, but to be honest, it is difficult to go into the details of the process of its formation, scriptures, and doctrines.
In this aspect, this book is a very significant commentary for monks of all sects.

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Kan Sasaki, "What is an ordained priest?" - What is a priest in the first place? Recommended reference book for thinking about Japanese Buddhism and precepts.

As the title of this book suggests, "What is ordination? Some may get the impression from the introduction that this book sounds difficult, but rest assured, it is not. The narrative of Dr. Kan Sasaki is very easy to understand and read.

The book also discusses the uniqueness of such Japanese Buddhism. After all, it is only by comparing the two that we can see what we can see. The book is also very stimulating because it provides a detailed look at the actual conditions of life in early Buddhism in India and Sri Lanka.

From Ruins to "Sacred Sites"-Buddhist Sacred Sites Living in GlobalizationBuddhism in India

Noriko Maejima, "From Ruins to 'Sacred Sites': Buddhist Sacred Sites for Living with Globalization" - The Shocking Facts about Buddha's Sacred Site of Enlightenment, Buddhagaya

This book is a work that lets you know the shocking facts about Bodh Gaya, a sacred Buddhist site in India.

Bodh Gaya is a world-famous holy site where the Buddha attained enlightenment.

But what if this sacred place has been forgotten for a long time and was only recently discovered?

Frankly, what is written in this book may be quite shocking to Japanese people.

I believe that it is never a waste of time to know what was happening here. However inconvenient that may be to me as a Buddhist...

大唐西域記Buddhism in India

Xuanzang's Journey to the Western Regions of the Tang Dynasty - Xuanzang Sanzo's quest for Buddhism in India, which became the model for the "Journey to the West"!

The current work, "Datang Saiyuki" is the model for that "Journey to the West".

He is so famous in Japan that the name "Sanzang-hōshi" (a Buddhist monk) is synonymous with Genjo. He became world-famous for his feat of traveling all the way from China to India in search of the Sanzang (a group of sutras: sutra, law, and treatise) and safely bringing a large number of sutras back to China.

This work, "Records of the Western Regions of the Tang Dynasty," is a book that describes the journey of Xuanzang.

But as soon as you start reading this book, you realize that the narrative is so bland...

It's quite different from the exciting adventure stories we imagine...

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Teruyoshi Matsumoto, "Jataka: The Story of Buddha's Former Life" - A recommended introduction to Buddhist discourses that greatly influenced Mahayana Buddhism.

This book is a recommended introduction to the Jataka, which is believed to have been prototyped a couple of hundred years after the Buddha's demise.

The Jataka is the story of Buddha's previous life, a simple tale of altruism and self-sacrifice. One of the most representative stories is the "Sutekimi Tiger," which is also depicted in the Tamamushi Kitchen of Horyuji Temple. It is a famous story about a man who gave his own body to save a starving mother tiger. This story is also included in this book.

In addition to the famous stories, there are many more interesting discourses, so I highly recommend this book to get a feel for the atmosphere of the Jātaka. I also think it is very significant to study the Jataka in the sense that the flow of Mahayana Buddhism started from these Buddhist discourses.

Birth of BuddhismBuddhism in India

Kan Sasaki, The Birth of Buddhism - A good introduction to Buddhism for beginning students!

This work, "The Birth of Buddhism" is a highly recommended reference book for an introduction to Buddhism. If you ask me, "I am interested in Buddhism, but what should I read? I have recently been recommending this book to people who ask me "What should I read? It is so easy to understand and read. Moreover, it is very practical because you can think about how Buddhism is related to our daily life. This book is not just a book of knowledge, but a book of wisdom for living Buddhism.

I have introduced various Buddhist books on this blog, but this book is the best introductory book. I would highly recommend it as well.

ブッダの生涯Buddhism in India

Akira Hirakawa, "The Life of the Buddha: Reading the 'Buddha's Praises'" - Recommended introductory book that looks at the life of the superhuman Buddha based on the Chinese translation of the Buddha's biography.

In our previous article, we introduced the Buddhacharita, a Buddhist epic by Ashvaghosa, who was active around the 2nd century.

This "Buddhacharita" was translated into Chinese around A.D. 430 as "Buddhacharita" (仏所行讃) by Cloudy I-Ching. It was introduced to Japan and passed down to Japanese Buddhists. Saicho, Kukai, Honen, and Shinran must have read this Buddhist biography and thought about Buddha.

This book is an introduction to Buddhism in which the life of the Buddha is explained in an easy-to-understand manner while reading a transcript of this Chinese translation of the Buddha's Praises for the Practice of Buddhism.