Milindapañha: The Questions of King Milinda
translated from the Pali by
John Kelly
Alternate translations: Horner | Olendzki

The Milindapañha, the eighteenth book of the Khuddaka Nikaya (according to the Burmese version of the Pali canon), consists of 7 parts as shown below. The conclusion to the Milindapañha states that it contains 262 questions, though in the editions available today only 236 can be found. Although not included as a canonical text in the traditions of all the Theravadin countries, this work is much revered throughout and is one of the most popular and authoritative works of Pali Buddhism.

Composed around the beginning of the Common Era, and of unknown authorship, the Milindapañha is set up as a compilation of questions posed by King Milinda to a revered senior monk named Nagasena. This Milinda has been identified with considerable confidence by scholars as the Greek king Menander of Bactria, in the dominion founded by Alexander the Great, which corresponds with much of present day Afghanistan. Menander's realm thus would have included Gandhara, where Buddhism was flourishing at that time.

What is most interesting about the Milindapañha is that it is the product of the encounter of two great civilizations — Hellenistic Greece and Buddhist India — and is thus of continuing relevance as the wisdom of the East meets the modern Western world. King Milinda poses questions about dilemmas raised by Buddhist philosophy that we might ask today. And Nagasena's responses are full of wisdom, wit, and helpful analogies.

Contents of the Milindapañha: