Hajime Nakamura and Gotama Buddha

The last set of books I will be looking at, for now, on the life of the Buddha is Hajime Nakamura’s two volume Gotama Buddha: A Biography Based on the Most Reliable Texts.

This set of books is much broader in scope than Bhikkhu Nānamoli’s The Life of the Buddha and H. W. Schumann’s The Historical Buddha (tr. M. O’C. Walshe). Nakamura relies on the Pāli Canon, as the others do, but he incorporates much more into his research on the historical Buddha: archeological findings, artistic representations of events in the Buddha’s life, as well as scriptures outside the Theravadan Buddhist tradition and outside the Buddhist tradition altogether. The result is a sometimes difficult, but rewarding and sophisticated discussion of the Buddha’s life – or, what can be pieced together about the Buddha’s life.

For those interested in reading about the Buddha’s life, I would suggest starting with either Bhikkhu Nānamoli or H. W. Schumann. Otherwise, it is easy to get lost in Nakamura’s details. But, if the interest is there, I highly suggest this two volume set. Nakamura sets a high standard for retelling the life of the Buddha!

(Note: To purchase Nakamura’s books, click on the following links – Gotama Buddha: A Biography Based on the Most Reliable Texts, Volume I and Gotama Buddha: A Biography Based on the Most Reliable Texts, Volume II.)

4 thoughts on “Hajime Nakamura and Gotama Buddha”

    1. Great thing about being internet-connected these days is that you can always borrow a book (or two) from afar! When I am done with them, I guess…still need to finish the beasts! (By the way, thank you for your posts this week at Ox Herding!)

  1. Oh Cool! I didn’t realize there was a volume 2. Nakamura’s first volume was a terrific read, setting the context and widening the scope of our understanding of the Buddha’s life. I had trouble with Thich Nhat Hanh’s Old Path, White Clouds but strangely after Nakamura, it was an “easier” read because I could “see” through the mythology into the message of the stories.

    Just my 2cents…

    Thanks for sharing your teachings, Kusa. I had forgotten about your blog 😦 but am so happy to find it again!

    1. Hello! Thank you for the comments! And also for reminding me about Old Path, White Clouds. I have not read it, but hope to soon. At least I will be prepared for it now! Thank you again for the comment…

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