The Life of the Buddha from the Earliest Sources

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Footprints in the Dust: The Life of the Buddha from the Earliest Sources

A biography of the Buddha's life from the Suttas of the Pali Canon.


Shravasti Dhammika


Link to the pdf

Table of contents with brief description

Like Ñānamoli’s famous book, only more detailed and thorough, this one relates the Buddha’s biography using only information from the Pali Canon, the oldest record of the Buddha and his teachings.

  • Chapter 1 detailed introduction
  • Chapter 2 gives a lively account of Indian society in the 5 th /4 th centuries BCE.
  • Chapter 3 focuses on the religious life of the time.
  • Chapter 4 is about the Sakyans, what both the texts and archaeology tell us about them.
  • Chapter 5 recounts the Buddha’s early life and his spiritual quest up to his awakening.
  • Chapter 6 gives a full and fascinating account of how the Buddha communicated his Dhamma: his teaching method; the similes he used; how he conducted himself in public debates, etc.
  • Chapter 7 assembles the numerous brief comments and observations in the Canon about the Buddha’s daily life which together tell much about his character and personality.
  • Chapter 8 examines the Buddha’s extensive travels throughout northern India.
  • Chapter 9 relates what the Buddha’s admirers and detractors said and thought about him.
  • Chapter 10 looks at those who followed the Buddha: monks and nuns; layman and women.
  • Chapter 11 looks at some of the less well-known or noticed issues the Buddha addressed.
  • Chapter 12 examines the serious problems that arose in the Sangha during the last decade of the Buddha’s life.
  • Chapter 13 recounts the last months of the Buddha’s life.
  • Chapter 14 relates what happened subsequent to the Buddha’s passing.

The book ends with two Appendixes, the first presents the textural and archaeological information of 22 places the Buddha stayed in or visited, while the second examines the claim that the Buddha copied the ideas of kamma and rebirth from the Upanisads.

Anyone interested in Buddhism will find Footprints in the Dust a new and stimulating account of the Buddha’s life.