India at the Time of the Buddha - Book Recommendations

I’m looking to understand better what ancient India was like, especially at the time of the Buddha, and was wondering what book (other than the Nikayas :laughing:) y’all would recommend.


Probably the book by Richard Salomon “The Buddhist Literature of Ancient Gandhara” may contain what you are looking for. I bought the book but did not get a chance to read it.
With Metta

Buddhist India by T. W. Rhys Davids. Download available here:


I’m not sure how familiar you are with the Vinaya. It is full of stories of everyday life, and you get a very good idea about dwellings, clothes, everyday requisites, medicinal treatments, etc. (I particularly like the 8th Khandhaka which is said to be on robes, but it contains some utmost lovely stories about the life of Jīvaka the doctor and his work!)


This is hundred of years after and hundreds of miles northwest of the time and place I’m interested in.

Wow! This whole class looks great! Thanks for the link!

Yeah! I love reading the Vinaya narratives. So inspiring oddly enough. Haven’t made it to the 8th Khandhaka yet… I put my Vinayapitika reading on hold after I heard about Ajahn Brahmali’s forthcoming translation :slightly_smiling_face:


That will still take a while… :blush:

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@Khemarato.bhikkhu Alex, I have always found (from Bhante Sujato and Ajahn Brahmali) to be an interesting and descriptive read of what north India was like during the time of the Buddha.


I hear there’s a neat and useful summary in the Guides available on SuttaCentral itself :wink:


Oh? Is there an estimated release date? (I won’t hold anybody to it)

Oh-ho! Is this a liquid below its freezing temperature? Cause this is supercool! :joy:


Curious to hear what you think about Karen Armstrong’s books (“Buddha” and her other work on the axial age).

I like Karen Armstrong, although she is definitely stronger in her own field than when talking about the Buddha, or India in general.

I can’t recall if I’ve read her work on the axial age specifically; if I did, it mustn’t have made much of an impression!

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Sarao’s work is still a good read

Sarao - Origin and Nature of Ancient Indian Buddhism

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