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.

Buddha CharitaBuddhism in India

The Complete Translation of the Buddhacharita - The great source of Buddhist biography, also known as the "Praise of Buddha's Place of Practice" by Ashvaghosha (Ma-Ming)! An epic of Buddha's life!



JainismIndian thought, culture and history

Kenji Watanabe, "Jainism: Non-Possession, Non-Violence, Non-Killing: Its Doctrine and Real Life" - A recommended commentary with interesting comparisons to Buddhism!

This book provides an easy-to-understand introduction to the basic tenets of Jainism and the background of its formation.

I especially appreciated the book's detailed knowledge of the Six Master Exoteric Traditions as the background from which Jainism emerged.

The Six Teachers of the Exoteric Tradition are Indian thinkers who were contemporaries of the Buddha from the Buddhist side. One of these would be Mahavira, the founder of Jainism (called Niganta Namaputta in Buddhism).

The thinkers of the Six Masters and the Way of the Buddha are also very important in learning about the period in which the Buddha lived. After all, Buddhism and Jainism were born in the same cultural background at the same time and share many similarities in their formation process.

I highly recommend this book to learn what Jainism is all about along with this historical background.

インド仏教史Buddhism in India

Akira Hirakawa, "History of Buddhism in India" - An immortal classic of Buddhist studies! A masterful book covering the history and doctrines of Buddhism!




カーマスートラIndian thought, culture and history

The "Kama Sutra" - Ancient Indian code of sexual love. Also deeply related to Khajuraho temples, Tantrism and Esoteric Buddhism.

What I found when I actually read the Kama Sutra was that it was very similar to the so-called modern love instructions.

I was surprised at the extremely familiar topics that came up, such as "what kind of men are popular with women" and "how to attract men." I couldn't help but laugh when I read passages such as "how to keep away a man you don't like who comes on to you" and "how to cheer up a man who has no energy. It was as if I could picture the situation between men and women at that time. There is no doubt that this is a first-rate resource that gives us an insight into the culture and lifestyle of the time.

The Kama Sutra is not just a pornographic work. Although it is often misunderstood as being full of explicit sexual expressions, it is only one part of the life between a man and a woman. The Kama Sutra includes the entire encounter between a man and a woman, and the life they lead together. When I read this code, I was surprised to find that it is full of rules for life between men and women.

realism (as opposed to nominalism)Indian thought, culture and history

Kautilya's "Pragmatics" - Ancient Indian Machiavellianism! What a thoroughgoing imperialism that should be compared to "The Theory of Monarchs"!

Machiavelli's "The Theory of the Monarchs" is a rather gruesome treatise on power and intrigue, but this "Theory of Pragmatism" is also quite gruesome.

The commentary also states, "The author of this book describes every possible tactic a monarch should employ in order to protect his own security, increase his national power, and acquire the territory of others. The examples of espionage activities that are developed throughout the book are among the most noteworthy. In the Indian classics, espionage is given great importance, and even in later works of literature, kings who fail to make proper use of spies are condemned. The use of spies is especially carefully explained, as stated in the following passage.

Reading this book, I do not envy you at all for being born in royalty. No matter how extravagant I may be, I would respectfully give back that right. Maybe Buddha felt that way too.

manu codeIndian thought, culture and history

The "Code of Manu" - The cornerstone of Indian Hindu society. Scriptures expounded on a grand scale from the creation of the world to the laws of human reason.

The Code of Manu is more than just a law book. The first thing that surprises you when you start reading "The Code of Manu" is that the scripture suddenly begins with the story of creation. It begins with a magnificent cosmology and worldview centering on the Creator, Brahman, and from there, it tells us how we should live and what should be the norms and rules for our lives.

In reading the Code of Manu, I strongly feel that Hindu practices and ideas are incorporated into every aspect of life. Furthermore, I found that not only that, but also detailed regulations are set forth in the rites of passage from birth to death. I strongly felt that the Hindu view of the world is carried through from birth to death, and even to the afterlife.

The Code of Manu is a very significant scripture in the study of Buddhism.

manu codeIndian thought, culture and history

Nobuyuki Watase, "Code of Manu, the prototype of the Hindu world" - Recommended for learning about the Indian worldview and code of life that has been followed since ancient India.

When we Japanese try to study Buddhism in India, we tend to see the Indian world only from the Buddhist side. In India, however, Buddhism was more of an outsider's existence. The mainstream is still Hinduism.

Moreover, Buddhism adopted a policy of not intervening too much in the daily lives of its lay believers. In other words, the daily life and rites of passage of Buddhists remained within the framework of the Hindu world.

This book is very valuable to know the norms of life and worldview of the Hindu world, which has also coexisted with such Indian Buddhists. I think it is a very significant work for thinking about Indian Buddhism.

ヒンドゥー教と叙事詩Indian thought, culture and history

Hinduism and Epic Poetry, Volume 30 of Gen Nakamura's Selected Works - A masterpiece that also provides insight into the connections with Buddhism and Japan! Experience the depth of Indian thought




Introduction to Indian MythologyIndian thought, culture and history

Akira Hasegawa, "Introduction to Indian Mythology" - Hindu Gods for Visual Learning! Recommended for an introductory book!


As foreigners, it is difficult for us to distinguish between Indian deities at a glance, but there are certain points that can be used to identify them. Each deity has its own unique appearance and possessions. Once you know how to recognize them, you will feel more familiar with Indian deities.