Education About Asia: Online Archives

The Buddha: A Short Biography

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John Strong’s The Buddha: A Short Biography is an excellent introduction to the Sanskrit and Pali narratives describing the Awakened One. The author introduces us to the primary events in the life of the Buddha from his birth through his awakening, the growth of the early community, and his parinirvana (the end of the cycle of death and rebirth). Holding the reader’s attention, Strong deepens this linear approach by using descriptions from various texts to provide a more nuanced picture of the Buddha. Buddhist communities in different historical periods recounted the Buddha’s life and teachings in ways that reflected their own concerns and perspectives. The tapestry of these narrations presents the Buddha’s life with a richness and depth often lacking in Buddhist texts written for American students.