How Buddhism Began: The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

How Buddhism Began

The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings, 1st Edition

By Richard F. Gombrich


180 pages

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Written by one of the world's top scholars in the field of Pali Buddhism, this new and updated edition of How Buddhism Began, discusses various important doctrines and themes in early Buddhism. It takes 'early Buddhism' to be that reflected in the Pali canon, and to some extent assumes that these doctrines reflect the teachings of the Buddha himself. Two themes predominate. Firstly, the author argues that we cannot understand the Buddha unless we understand that he was debating with other religious teachers, notably Brahmins. The other main theme concerns metaphor, allegory and literalism. This accessible, well-written book is mandatory reading for all serious students of Buddhism.


'Few indeed have attempted a critical study of the philosophical and religious ideas proffered by early Buddhists. How Buddhism Began … is an excellent small book that begins to fill this lamentable void in Buddhist studies … highly recommended for both the expert and novice in the field of Buddhist studies.'- Philosophy East and West

Table of Contents

1. Debate, Skill in Means, Allegory and Literalism 2. How, not What: Kamma as a Reaction to Brahminism 3. Metaphor, Allegory, Satire 4. Retracing an Ancient Debate: how insight worsted concentration in the Pali Canon 5. Who was Angulimala?

About the Series

Routledge Critical Studies in Buddhism - Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies

These titles are published in association with the Centre for Buddhist Studies, Oxford, UK.

Founding Editors: Charles S. Prebish, Utah State University, USA and Damien Keown, Goldsmith's College, London University, UK.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
RELIGION / Buddhism / General (see also PHILOSOPHY / Buddhist)
RELIGION / Buddhism / History
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies