Mindset of the Sāvaka

I’m very close to the beginning of my study of the dhamma and I was wondering if there was any contemporary texts or texts other than the EBTs themselves, that would help me get into the the mindset of the people who were being taught by the Buddha.

I understand that there were lots of different worldviews in India at that time, and I’m guessing that the Buddha taught to followers of many of them, but it would be great to have something that helped me to orientate my mind with the listeners of the suttas. That way I could maybe get more out of the EBT’s themselves.

I have gone through the Karma and Rebirth course and that has helped a lot. So more like that maybe?

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Make it real, not just on-line.

Archaeologically, the period in question is the Northern Black Polished Ware culture during the second urbanization period. Good books aren’t easy to find, I think, but try this one:

India’s Ancient Past, by R. S. Sharma

This book presents a complete and accessible description of the history of early India. It starts by discussing the origins and growth of civilizations, empires, and religions. It also deals with the geographical, ecological, and linguistic backgrounds, and looks at specific cultures of the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Vedic periods, as well as at the Harappan civilization.

In addition, the rise of Jainism and Buddhism, Magadha and the beginning of territorial states, and the period of Mauryas, Central Asian countries, Satvahanas, Guptas, and Harshavardhana are also analysed. Next, it stresses varna system, urbanization, commerce and trade, developments in science and philosophy, and cultural legacy.

Finally, the process of transition from ancient to medieval India and the origin of the Aryan culture has also been examined.


As I’ve said before on here, I’ve been reading Richard Gombrich a lot and he’s great. @sujato ‘s book is pretty solid too for getting an idea of how reliable the texts themselves are. Another great one is called “Approaching the Dhamma” compiled by Anne Blackburn.

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Thank you for the suggestions

Richard Gombrich I recognise from the Karma and Rebirth course. Which book would you recommend that I start with?

Also the same for @sujato Which book would that be?

Ooh! Is not too expensive either! Very good. Ordered.