Twenty-four of the Buddha's most distinguished disciples are brought to life in ten chapters of rich narration. They include monks who were very close to him throughout his life, including Sariputta and Mahamoggallana; his cousin and companion Ananda; his principal women disciples, including the nun Isidasi and his lay disciple, the courtesan Ambapali; and the serial killer Angulimala, whose character was transformed after meeting the Buddha.
"Beautiful stories of Buddhism's earliest heroes"
The Theragatha is one of the most striking texts in the Pali Canon. It is a collection of 264 poems or verses - some short, some long - by monks who, traditionally, lived at the time of the Buddha, and which expressed their experience of insight, the culmination of their spiritual path. In fact, it is generally recognised now that this collection was added to over the years, so that some of the verses date from a later time.
The Dhammapada, a collection of 423 verses in 26 chapters, is perhaps the most famous of all Buddhist texts. It presents the Buddha’s teachings in a clear and highly accessible form and has been used for personal instruction and teaching for centuries throughout the Buddhist world. It comes from the Khuddaka Nikaya section of the Pali Canon and is here collected with two other key texts from the same source.
"Pure common sense !"
Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar was one of the most remarkable figures in the 20th century. Born an Untouchable - the lowest element of Indian society deemed to be outside the caste system, and literally 'untouchable' - he rose from abject village poverty to become the architect of the new Constitution of India following its independence from Britain in 1947. A combination of exceptional talent, hard work and determination, vision and luck took him to Harvard and the LSE, and then back to his home country.
Having realized, as a 16 year old in pre-WWII London, that he was a Buddhist, the early life of Dennis Lingwood and his path to becoming a bhikkhu named Sangharakshita is a most extraordinary personal story. He was serving as a signals officer in India when, at the conclusion of the war, he threw away his official identity cards, took off his uniform, donned yellow robes and set off, barefooted, along the dusty paths of India as a spiritual seeker, begging for his food, as the Buddha did 2,500 years ago.