Milindapanha And Nagasenabhikshu Sutra – A Comparative Study: Part Iii – Vimaticchedanapañho



1. The five knowledges are produced by various actions:

(C: 60b, 10-11) = (P: 65, 1-10)

Almost the same, with the following differences: C: Five knowledges: = P: Panca àyatanàni (K. E. not available).

2. Different kinds of actions lead to different types of people:

(C: 60b, 11-18) = (P: 65, 11-29)

Almost the same, with the following differences:

C: “Men in the world are complete with head, beard, hairs, skin, face, eyes, ears, mouth, body, the four limbs, but among them, some are of long life, others of short life, some with many diseases, others with few diseases, some are poor, others are rich; some are noble, others are mean; some are of great family, others of small family, some are handsome, others ugly; some are enjoying confidence of others, others are suspected; some are intelligent, others stupid. Why are they not the same?” (K. E. omits: some are of great family, others of small family)

= P: “By what reason are men not the same? some of short life, others of long life; some with many diseases, others with few diseases; some are ugly, others are handsome; some are of few influenceothers of great influence; some are of few wealth, others of great wealth; some of low family, others of high family; some are stupid, others are intelligent.”

C: “Just like fruits of tree, some are acid, not sweet, some are bitter, some are pungent, some are sweet, some are really sour” (K.E. omits the last one).

=P: “All the trees are not the same, some are sour, some are salty, some are bitter, some are pungent, some are astringent, some are sweet.”

C: “That is why the Buddha said that in accordance with one’s own bad or good actions, one would reap results” (K.E. richness, poverty, handsomeness, ugliness are due to bad and good actions performed in previous lives. One obtains in accordance with one’s own actions):

P: “Kammassakà mànava sattà, kammadàyàdà, kammayoni kammabandhù, kammapatisaranà, kam-ma satte vibhajati, yad idam hìnappanìtatàyàti.”

3. Good deeds shoud be done in the past:

(C: 60b, 18-20; 61a, 1-5): (P: 65, 30-31;66;67,1-3)

Almost the same in both versions, with the following differences:

While the C starts with the king’s question whether people wanting to perform good deeds should have done so in the past or at a later time and Na-hsien replied that he should have performed good actions in the past, as good actions performed later were not useful, the P begins with the king asking if the purpose of adopting a religious life was to eradicate that suffering and to prevent other suffering from arising. And when Nàgasena confirmed that, the king asked again if effort should be displayed in the past or now, and Nàgasena replied that effort at the present moment was akiccakaro, but that in the past was kiccakaro.

The three similes are almost the same, with the following slight differences:

C: “To dig a well

= P: “To dig a well and a pond“.

C: “AsKing people to plough the field, to manure it and to sow crops:” (K. E. to plough, to sow).

=P: Asking people to plough the field, to sow seeds, to harvest crops.”

C: “Ordering people to train horses, elephants, men in the warfare” (K. E.: to take out war materials)

=P: “To dig a moat, to build ramparts, watch-towers, strongholds, to store crops, to train yourself in the warfare about elephants, horses, chariots, bows, sword”.

The concluding passage is not the same.

C: “Thus the Buddha said: “One should strive to perform bodily good actions in the past, as good actions performed at a later stage are not useful.” Na-hsien advised the king (K. E. omits to mention Na-hsien) not to give up the right path and adopt the wrong path, not to follow the ignorant who discarded good and performed evil and had to lament and wail, without any use; people who discarded righteousness and adopted crookedness had to repent at their death-bed:

=P: The P has some similar passages but all was considered as spoken by the Buddha, unlike the C, which attributes the last portion to Na-hsien advising the king. The P gàtha is as follows:

Doing before what he knows to be his own welfare, the wise man should exert himself, not to have the thinKing of the carter.”

As a carter, having left the smooth highway and engaged in the uneven path, has to lament over the broken axle“.

So the ignorant, who has left the right dhamma and followed the wrong dhamma at his death-bed has to mourn over the broken axle.”

4. Fire in the hell is far hotter than ordinary fire.

(C: 61a, 5-17) = (P: 67, 4-30; 68, 1-23)

The passage in which King Milinda showed his disbelief in two statements of the Elder is almost the same in both versions with some slight differences:

C: “You monks said” = P: “You said“.

C: “A small stone put into ordinary fire, up to evening, does not melt away

= P: “A small stone thrown into ordinary smouldering fire the whole day is not dissolved.

C: A big stone

= P: A big stone as big as an upper chamber.

To prove that statement, the C quotes four similes. While the P mentions only three. C I = P I; C 2 = P 2; C 3 = P no; C 4 = P 3.

C I = P I.

C: ” Female sea-serpents, female dragons, female tortoises, female crabs which are pregnant” (K. E. omits female crabs).

=P: “Makariniyo ( a kind of fish), sumsumàriniyo (female crocodiles), kacchapiniyo (female tortoises), moriniyo (pea-hens), kapotiniyo (female pigeons)”.

C: Sand and stones = P: Hard stones and gravels.

C: “Due to a natural, special favour and characteristic they did not dissolve” (the translation is rather forced as the passage is not clear).

=P: “Due to the power of kamma, they did not dissolve.” The P quotes the Buddha as saying: “He will not die as long as his bad kammas are not exhausted“, the C refers also to the same passage, but omits to mention that it was the Buddha’s words.

C 2 = P 2:

C: Lionesses, tigresses, female dogs, female cats who are pregnant (K. E.: lionesses, tigresses, female wolves).

= P: Lionesses, tigresses, leopardesses, female dogs.

C 3=P no

C: cows mares, she-donkeys, tailed deer, female stags, which are pregnant who are eating grass, hay. (K. E. omits she-donkeys).

C 4=P 3: C: women, ladies of rich family who are eating delicious food (K. E.: only women)

=P: Delicately nurtured ladies of the Yonakas, of noble caste, of bràhmana caste, of householders who are eating hard food and meat.

5. Wind element supports water element:

(C: 61a, 17-18) = (P: 68, 24-30)

Almost the same. Here the king said that he did not believe in what the monks had said that the great earth rested on the water, the water on the air, the air on the space. To prove that the water rested on the air, Nàgasena took a dhammakaraka ( a water-pot with filter) and showed it to the king.

The C uses the expression shu-shui-shih; book-water-fitting) which baffles any translation (K. E.: wang-shu-shui: king-book-water.?)

6. A definition of Nibbàna:

(C: 61a, 18-26; 61b. I) = (P: 68, 31-32; 69, 1-15)

The purport is the same, but the exposition rather differs with many expressions uncommon in both versions.

C: Nieh-pan path (means that) having gone past, there would be no more becoming.

=P: Nibbànam nirodho.

C: “The ignorant people came yearning for, craving for the inner and outer bodies, sitting upon them (rather clinging) so that they could not escape from old age, sickness and death”.

=P: “All foolish worldling enjoy the internal and the external sense spheres, take pleasure in them and cling to them; so they are carried away by that stream, and are not free from birth, old age and death, from grief, lamentation, suffering, sorrow, despair; I say that they are not free from suffering.”

C: “The wise men, those who had learned the dharma, did not cling to the internal and external bodies, had no craving. Having no craving they had no sense-desires. Having no sense-desires, they had no pregnancy in womb. Having no pregnancy in the womb, there were no birth, no old age. Having no birth, no old age, they had no sickness, no death; having no sickness (no death), they had no grief, no lamentation; having no grief, no lamentation, they had no inner pain, they obtained Nirvàna.”

=P: “The learned ariyan disciple does not enjoy internal and external sense-spheres, does not take pleasure in them, does not cling to them. Having no enjoyment, no taking pleasure, no clinging, craving ceases; craving having ceased, grasping ceases; grasping having ceased, becoming ceases; becoming having ceased, birth ceases; birth having ceased, old age and death cease; grief lamentation suffering, sorrow, despair cease. Thus is the cessation of the whole aggregate of suffering,”

7. Do all learners of the Dharma obtain Nirvàna?

(C: 61b, I-2) = (P: 69, 16-22)

Almost the same, with the following differences:

C: “Do all learners of the Dharma obtain Nirvàna?”

=P: “Do all people obtain Nibbàna?”

C: “Those who rightly bend upon the meritorious path, who learn and know the right thing, those who practise what should be practised, who give up what should not be practised, who think of what should be thought of, who eradicate what should not be thought of, such people would obtain Nirvàna

=P: He who lives righteously, who knows what should be known, who perceives what should be perceived, who gives up what should be given up, who develops what should be developed, who realizes what should be realized, such a man would obtain Nibbàna.

8. Nirvàna is happiness:

(C: 61b, 3-6) = (P: 69, 23-31; 70, 1-3)

The same in both versions.

Here ends the fouth chapter.





1. The Buddha exists:

(C: 61b, 6-9) = (P: 70, 5-16)

Almost the same with some slight differences.

C: “You, your, father, your grand-father“.

=P:”You, your father.

C: “The place where 500 streams meet together”

=P: Uhànad.”

2. The Buddha is incomparable:

(C: 61b, 13-16) = (P: 70, 17-26; 71, 1-2)

Almost the same, with the following differences: C: Five great rivers and each great river has 500 tributaries.

=P: Five great rivers.

C: Heng, Hsin-t’a, Ssu-t’a, Po-ch’a, (K. E. Po-ch’a) Shih-p’i-i, (K. E. Shih-p’i-i-erh).

= P: Gangà, Yamunà, Aciravatì, Sarabhù, Mahì.

The names of the rivers in the 2 versions P and C do not tally except for the C Heng=P: Gangà.

C: Big=P: Deep, immeasurable, unfathomable.

C: It is because those who have attained enlightenent have spoken of the incomparability of the Buddha that I believe it”.

=P: “Thus having seen the great disciples completely emancipated, I know that the Blessed One is incomparable.”

3. The Buddha’s incomparibility is known through his teachings:

(C: 61b, 16-19) = (P: 71, 3-11)

The purport is the same, but the C is with more details.

For the P: Formerly, there was a Master in writing, named Tissatthera; he passed away many years ago. How is he known?” “By his writing”.

The C uses many sentences as follows:

Na-hsien asked the king: “Who is the master in writing books?” The king replied: “The master who wrote books was called Chih.” Na-hsien asked: “Have you ever seen Chih?”

The king replied: “Chih died long, long ago. I have never seen him.”

Na-hsien asked: “O King, you have never seen him, then how do you know that Chih is a master in writing books?” The king replied: “It is because the ancient books and his writings are handed down to us that I know Chih.”

The P adds a passage saying that “he who sees the Dhamma sees the Lord, the Dhamma being taught by the Buddha.”

4. The teachings of the Buddha should be practised for the whole life.

(C: 61b, 19) = (P: 71, 12-15)

Both versions are not the same.

C: The king again asked Na-hsien: “Do you see by yourself that the Buddha’s teachings should be practised for a long time?” Na-hsien replied: “The teachings explained by the Buddha, the rules, the sermons are very quick (?) but, they should be practised up to old age.

=P: The king asked: “Ven Nàgasena, is the Dhamma seen by you?” “The disciples should behave up to the end of their life in accordance with the guidance of the Buddha and the concept of the Buddha.”

5. Rebirth without transmigration:

(C: 62a, 1-4) = (P: 71, 16-29)

Almost the same, with the following differences:

C: “People after death receive a new body but the old body does not transmigrate“.

=P: “Na ca sankamati, patisandahati.

The first simile is the same. The second one is slightly different. The C adds one more detail that when the king learnt the sacred books (P: siloham, verse), from the teacher, the teacher continued to know the sacred books.

6. Bad and good actions follow the doer:

(C: 62a, 4-7) = (P: 71, 30-32; 72, 1-18)

Here the C confines this passage to one paragraph while the P extends it to two panagraphs. There are many points in common between the two versions but their interpretation is not the same.

So the C passage is translated textually here: “The king again asked: ‘Is there anything which (can be called) the Knower (P: Vedagù)?” Na-hsien replied: ‘”There is nothing which can be called the knower.”

For example, there is a thief who steals fruits from the trees of other people, is the thief guilty?’ The king replied ‘He is guilty.’ Na-hsien said: ‘At the time of planting, there was no fruit, why was the thief guilty?” The king replied: ‘If the trees were not planted,what causes the fruits to come into being? That is why the thief has no excuses (chuang) (?).” Na-hsien said: “people are the same. By reason of the performance of good and bad actions in the present life, he would be born in the next life and obtain a new body.” The king asked: ‘Is it by reason of the performance of good and bad action of the old body that new good and bad (results) come into existence?

Na-hsien replied: “The performance of good and bad actions follows the doer, just like the shadow that follows the body. When a man dies, only his body is destroyed, but his performance is not destroyed. Just as at night, one lights the fire to write something, when the fire is extingguished, the writing remains. When the fire is lit, it comes into existence. Thus the performance in the present life leads to its formation in the next life and is received accordingly.”

The king said: “Very good.”

P: The P starts with the king’s question if there was anything called Vedagù and Nàgasena replied that in the ultimate sense, there was no such thing called Vedagù. And the king praised Nàgasena.

In the next paragraph, the king said that if there were no transmigration from one body to an-other, then one would be free from one’s misdeeds.

Nàgasena replied that if one were not to be reborn, one would be free; if one were to be reborn, one would not be free.

And Nàgasena quoted the simile of a thief who stole the mango to prove his point. Then he concluded that this name and form performed good and bad actions and due to those kammas, another name and form was reborn and one was not free from was reborn and one was not free from one’s own misdeeds.

7. Bad and good actions cannot be pointed out:

(C: 62a, 7-9) = (P: 72, 19-32)

There is a slight difference in the interpretation of the simile of this passage. The C want to show that those who are not yet emancipated cannot point out the position of good and bad actions, so in the simile, it shows that when the fruits are not yet born, it is impossible for anyone to foretell that this branch has no fruits.

The P wants also to show that it is impossible to point out the position of good and bad actions, but in the simile, it shows that when the fruits are not yet born, it is impossible for anyone to point out the position of the fruits in such and such a place.

8. One who is to be reborn knows that he will be reborn:

(C: 62a, 9-11) = (P: 73, 1-8)

The same in both versions.

9. The Buddha after his Parinirvàna cannot be pointed out:

(C: 62a, 11-13) = (P: 73, 9-22)

Almost the same. The C adds: “The king again asked Na-hsien: “Is there Nirvàna or not?” Na-hsien replied: “There is Nirvàna”.

The P adds: “The Buddha has passed away without any remainder”. It adds also at the end: “The Buddha can be pointed out through his Dhammakàya, as the Dhamma is preached by the Blessed One.” The remaining is almost the same.





1. The religious ones do not love their body:

(C: 62a, 13-19) = (P: 73, 24-28; 74, 1-17)

Almost the same, with some differences in details.

C: “When taking rest, sleeping, they want to be comfortable; when eating, they want palatable and delicious things, they take good care of themselves

=P: “Kelàyatha mamàyathàti (They take pride in and cherish their body).

C: Wounded by the edge of the knife, by spear, by arrow.

=P: Wounded by an arrow.

C: Using balm to anoint it and cotton, wool to bandage it.

=P: Using salve to anoint it, oil to smear it and smooth cloth to bandage it.

C: I only want the wound to get cured quickly.

=P: So that the flesh might grow up.

C: “The recluses are the same, they do not crave for their body. Although they have to drink, to eat, their mind does not enjoy, does not want things to be delicious, to be well-prepared, they do not want beautiful things, they want to keep the body going on so as to follow the Buddha’s teachings and precepts“.

=P: “Thus, the religious ones do not love their body. They look after it, without clinging to it, for the sake of the Brahmà life. Thus the body spoken of by the Blessed One is similar to a wound. Therefore the recluse should look after the body like a wound, without clinging to it.” The Buddha’s quotation is almost the same in both versions with some slight differences.

C: “The Buddha’s sùtra said: “People have nine apertures like nine wounds caused by spear. The nine apertures are ill-smelling and impure places.

=P: “Covered by living skin, with nine apertures, a big wound, from where completely ooze out impure and ill-smelling things.”

2. The Buddha is omniscient

(C: 63a, 16-19) = (P: 74, 18-31)

The C puts this passage far further. Almost the same in both versions with some slight differences.

C: Does the Buddha know the present as well as the future?

=P: Is the Buddha omniscient, all-seeing?

The rest is almost the same.

3. The 32 marks of the Blessed One.

(C: 62a, 19-20; 62b, 1-4) = (P: 75, 1-29)

Almost the same with some differences in expression.

C: His body is of colour of gold with halo.

=P: Suvannavanno kancanasannibhattaco byàmappabho.

C: People give birth to sons who have some features similar to them.

=P: A son surely should be like his mother or his mother’s family, or he is like his father or his father’s family.

C: A lotus = P: A lotus of 100 petals.

C: This lotus is born of the earth and grows up in the mud, in the water.

=P: It is born in the mud and thrives in the water.

C: His colour is extremely fragrant and beautiful, is it similar to that of the mud and of the water?

=P: Is it similar to the mud either in fragrance or in taste?….Is it similar to the water in colour, in fragrance or in taste?

The C adds: “The Buddha was born in the world, grew up in the world but was not similar to things of the world.”

4. Is the Buddha a disciple of Brahmà?

(C: 62b, 4-7) = (P: 75, 30-33; 76. 1-7)

The purport is the same, but the exposition is slightly different.

C: “Is the Buddha’s conduct similar to that of the Brahmà of the 7th heaven, having no intercourse with womenfolk?”

=P: “Buddho brahmacàrì?”

C: Here at once Na-hsien asked if Brahmà of the 7th heaven had mindfulness or not and to the king’s positive reply, he pointed out that Brahmà of the 7th heaven and the higher heavens should be disciples of the Buddha.

The P puts this passage later, mentions only Brahmà, not the higher heavens. It uses the term sabuddhiko and abuddhiko, not the term mindfulness as in the C.

The simile used by Nàgasena is not the same in both versions.

C: “What is the cry of that bird like?” The king replied: “(That) bird cries like a wild goose.” Na-hsien said: “Then that bird should be a wild goose.”

The P refers to a king’s state-elephant (hatthipàmokkho), his trumpetting is like a heron’s cry, so it should be said that the state-elephant is a disciple of the heron.

5. The Buddha has no teacher.

(C: 62b, 7-9) = (P: 76, 8-15)

Almost the same with some slight differences in expressions.

C: The king asked Na-hsien: “The Buddha should learn, know and practise the Dharma and the Precepts, shouldn’t he?

Na-hsien replied: “The Buddha naturally should learn, know and practise the Dhamma and the precepts.

=P: Is high ordination a good thing? -Yes, O King, high ordination is a good thing.

C: The king asked: “From what teacher did the Buddha receive the Dharma and the precepts?”

Na-hsien replied: “The Buddha had no teacher. When he obtained enlightenment; he knew by himself the Dharma, the Path, unlike disciples who should learn, know the Buddha’s teachings and practise them till old age.

=P: O great King, the Buddha obtained high ordination at the root of the Bodhi tree when he attained omniscience, but he did not receive high ordination from others in the way the Blessed One laid down the precepts for his disciples to observe up to the end of their life.

6. Two kinds of tears

(C: 62b, 9-11) = (P: 76, 16-22)

Almost the same, with the following differences:

C: “The tears at the death of one’s father or mother and the tears when one hears the Dharma, these two kinds of tears, are they different?”

=P: “He who weeps at the death of his mother and he who weeps owing to the love of the Dhamma, of these two kinds of weeping, which tears would act as a medicine, which tears would not?”

C: “To him who weeps for his father or mother, his tears are due to his attachment, his thinking of, his grief, sorrow, suffering. This kind of sorrow is the sorrow of the ignorant people. To him who weeps while hearing the sermon of the Buddha, his heart is (full) of compassion, as he thinks of the suffering in the world, so his tears come out. He would obtain the greatest merit

=P: “The tears of this one are stained and hot with attachment, hatred and delusion. The tears of the other are unstained and cool. There is medicine in what is cool; there is no medicine in heat (passion).”

7. The man with passion and the man without passion

(C: 62b, 11-13) = (P: 76, 23-31; 77, 1-2)

Almost the same with the following differences:

C: He who is emancipated and who is not yet emancipated, what is the difference between them?

=P: What is the difference between a man of passion and a man without passion?

C: Na-hsien said: “He who is not emancipated is with attachment and desire. He who is emancipated has no attachment, no desire. He wants to eat only for the sake of keeping alive”.

=P: One is with craving, the other is without passion (ajjhosito atthiko).

C: The king said: ” I see, people of the world want their body to enjoy (things of the world), want delicious food without being satiated.” Na-hsien said: “He who is not yet emancipated wants things to be delicious and tasty in eating; he who is emancipated, although eating, does not want to enjoy it, does not want it sweet, but only for the sake of keeping alive

=P: The lustful man in eating enjoys both the taste and the lust for taste, the passionless man in eating enjoys the taste of food, but not the lust for taste.

8. Where does wisdom dwell?

(P: 77, 3-7)

9. The meaning of tranamigration.

(P: 77, 8-22)

These two passages are not available in the C text.

10. Memory and mind.

(C: 62b, 13-18) = (P: 77, 23-31)

Not exactly the same. The C is with more details. Here a textual translation would serve the purpose.

C: “The king again asked Na-hsien: “What makes a man, having done some work, remember it far and for a long time?” Na-hsien replied: “When people are sorrowful, one remembers far and for a long time.”

The king asked: “By what does one remember, by mind or by memory?” Na-hsien asked the king: “Having learnt and known something, later on do you remember it?” The king said: “Having learnt and known something, later on I forget it.” Na-hsien asked: “At that time, is it due to your mind that you have forgotten?” The king said: “At that time, I have no memory.” Na-hsien said.……(some corruption in the text cannot be translated).

The king again asked Na-hsien: “People remember what they have done, like things done in the past. Now do they use their memory to remember things which are being done in the present? Na-hsien replied: “Things of the past are known by the memory. Things of the present are also known by the memory.

The king said: “Thus people can remember only things of the past but cannot remember new things?” Na-hsien said: “If things newly done cannot be remembered, past things would be like that.

The king said: “People who just learn books, crafts, do they forget?” Na-hsien said: “People who just learn books and arts have their memory so the disciples who have learned would know. That is why there is memory.” The king said: “Very good.”

The P version is rather different. Nàgasena here wanted to point out to the king that one recollected by the memory, but not by the mind, because if one recollected by the mind, when one forgot things, then there would be no mind, and this would be absurd.”

11. Learning and memory.

(P: 77, 35; 78, 1-9).

Not available in C.

Nàgasena showed to the king that memory arose depending upon internal stimulus as well as externel stimulus, because without the latter, there would be no need of practice, or art, schooling and there would be no need of teacher.





1. Memory springs up in 16 ways.

(C: 62b, 18-20; 63a, 1-16) = (P: 78, 11-24; 79; 80,1-16)

Here both versions are almost the same, with 16 ways, in which memory comes into play. They are in the same order, but their explanations are not all the same and the P adds another extra, the 17th ANubhùta, meaning experience.

C I = P I.

C: By things done far away (in the past)

=P: Abhijànato (by recollection)

C: There were the Buddha’s disciples, such as A-nan, and a lay woman disciple called Chiu-ch’-ou-tan-pa who remembered previous birth and other religious people who remembered the past. Due to that, memory came into being.

=P: ànanda, Khujjuttarà upàsikà anne pi keci jàtissarà jàtim saranti.

C2 = P2.

C: By newly learned things =P: Katumikà.

C: Just like people who have learned accountancy but later forget it. When they see people doing accounts, they remember it.

=P. People of forgetful nature are constantly reminded by others.

C 3 = P 3.

C: By big event = P: Olàrikavinnànato.

C: Just like the coronation of a crown-prince who remembered the greatness and the magnificence of a King

=P: Just like the coronation of a king or the attainment of the stream winner stage.

C 4 =P 4.

C: By thinKing of good things=P: Hitavinnànato.

C: Just like a man who has received a hearty and welcome invitation and he thinks of this good and memorable event.

=P: When one thinks of happy event.

C 5 =P 5.

C: By thinKing of what one suffers =P: Ahitavinnànato.

C: Just like a man who is beaten or is thrown into prison and he remembers these painful events.

=P: When one thinks of a painful event.

C 6 =P 6.

C: By thinking =P: Sabhàganimittato.

C: Just like what one has seen frequently, such as one’s family, relatives, domestic animals.

=P: Having seen similar persons, one remembers one’s mother or sister; having seen a camel, a cow, or a donkey, one remember other similar camels, cows, or donkeys.

C 7 =P 7.

C: By a mixture of actions =P:Visabhàganimittato (by difference of appearance).

C: Just like name of people, things of the world, different kinds of letters, material forms, good smell, bad smell, sweetness, bitterness; thinking of them, or speaking of them is called memory by a mixture of actions=P: Such a thing, of such a colour, of such a sound, of such a smell, of such a taste, of such a touch.

C 8 = P 8.

C: By teaching people =P: Kathàbhinnànato.

C: One is prone to forgetfulness; people nearby (The C passage is not clear)… =P: One is forgetful by nature. Other people help him to remember.

C 9 = P 9.

C: By similarity =P: Lakkhanato.

C: People, cows, houses each has its own characteristic, this is called memory by similarity

=P: We remember an ox by a sign or brand.

C 10 = P 10.

C: By frequently urging reminders =P: Saranato.

C: Just like people who suddenly become forgetful, then by thinking much by oneself, one remembers.

=P: One is forgetful by nature. He is made to recollect by being urged to be mindful again and again.

C 11 = P 11.

C: By consciousness, by recognition.=P: Muddàto.

C: One who reads book is searching its letter

=P: One knows by learning through writing that such a letter should follow such a letter.

C 12 = P 12.

C: By accounting =P: Gananàto.

C: Just like one who is trained in accountancy and knows the method very well.

=P: By training in accountancy one becomes expert in doing big sums.

C 13 = P 13.

C: By incurring debt =P: Dhàranato.

C: (explanation not clear)

=P: A mnemonician who by dint of learning has recollected much.

C 14 = P 14.

C: By onepointedness =P: Bhàvanato.

C: A monk with one-mindedness remembers things in the past thousand lives.

=P: A monk recollects his various past lives with their characteristics and modes.

C 15 = P 15.

C: By reading a book

=P: Potthakanibandhanato.

C: The king has a book of high antiquity which refers to such a king of such a period

=P: The king recollects through references to a book.

C 16 = P 16.

C: By recollecting what one has sent.

=P: Upanikkhepato.

C: Having sent it, one sees it with one’s own eye

=P: On seeing things deposited, one recollects. The P adds one more extra Anubhùtato, from experience.

2. Power of one thought of the Buddha:

(C: 63a, 19-20; 63b, 1-3)=(P: 80, 17-27)

Almost the same, with the following differences.

C: Depositing mei big stones in a boat

=P: Depositing 100 cart-loads of stone in a boat.

C: 100 big stones in a boat do not sink due to the boat. Although one has done evil in the past, yet with one thought of the Buddha, one does not fall into the Hell and is reborn in the heaven. A small stone that sinks is like people who do evil but do not know the Dharma of the Buddha; when they die, they will fall into the Hell.

=P: Good actions should be understood as the boat.

3. To remove suffering in the future:

(C: 63b, 3-7) = (P: 80, 28-31; 81; 82, 1-11)

The purport is the same in both versions but the C explanation is very simple.

The P starts with the king’s three questions: “Do you exert yourself for the eradication of past suffering, of future suffering, and of present suffering?” (to each question, Nàgasena replied in the negative). These questions are not available in the C.

C: “For what purpose do you learn the Dharma and become a monk?”

=P: If you do not exert yourself for the eradication of suffering of the past, of the future and of the present, so for what purpose do you exert yourself?

C: For the purpose of eradicating past suffering, future suffering, and not wanting to experience it again, we learn the Dharma and become monks.

=P: What for? For the purpose of stopping this suffering and for preventing other suffering from arising we exert ourselves.

C: “If suffering is in the next life, then for what purpose does one prepare to learn the Dharma and become a monk?”

=P: Here the king asked Nàgasena if there was such a thing as suffering in the future and to Nàgasena’s negative reply, the king said that Nàgasena was very wise to exert himself for the eradication of some thing which did not exist.

The remaining three similes: to prepare to fight against any would-be enemy, to dig a well and to sow corn are almost the same in both versions, the P giving far more details.

4. How far the Brahmà world is?

(C: 63b, 7-11) = (P: 82, 12-28)

Almost the same, with some slight differences as follows:

C: The 7th Brahma-heaven is very far. If a big rock like the king’s palace is dropped from the 7th Brahmà heaven, it takes six months (K. E.: six days) to reach this earth

=P: If a rock like a kùtàgàra (upper pinnacle) falls down from that place, at a speed of 48.000 yojanas day and night, it takes four months to reach this earth.

C: I was born in Ta-ch’in-kuo named A-li-san

=P: Alasando nàma dìpo.

C: A-li-san is of 2000 yu-hsun (yojanasdistant from here (K. E. or 80.000 li)

=P: About 200 yojanas.

The rest is almost the same.

5. The speed taken by a living being in his rebirth.

(C: 63b, 11-16) = (P: 82, 29-32; 83, 1-20)

Almost the same, with the following difference: C: Chi-pin of 720 li distant

=P: Kasmira of 12 yojanas distant.

The remaining is almost the same.

6. Seven kind of wisdom:

(C: 63b, 16-20) = (P: 83, 21-30)

Not exactly the same in both versions. While the P refers to satta bojjhangà, the C refers to the following seven: (1) Thinking of good and evil things; (2) exertion; (3) To enjoy the dharma; (4) To subdue the mind in doing good. (5) Thinking of the Path, (6) One mindedness, (7) To meet things without attachment, without hatred.

C: The wise take only the wisdom that can distinguish between good and evil, and know the Path, but it is not necessary to use the whole seven.

=P: One uses only one factor of wisdom to become wise: the investigation of the Dhamma.

C: Although the mind of the man is clear, the investigation of the Dharma should be obtained together with the other six so as to attain wisdom.

=P: Without the investigation of the Dhamma, the remaining six factors of wisdom cannot lead to wisdom.

7. Merit is greater than demerit.

(C: 63b, 20; 64a, 1-3)=(P: 83, 31-32; 84, 1-12)

Although the purport is the same, the exposition is quite different.

C: The king asked: “People doing good obtain great merit or people doing evil obtain great demerit?” Na-hsien replied: “People doing good obtain great merit, people doing evil obtain small demerit.”

=P: Which gives more (result), merit or demerit? -Merit is more, demerit is less.

C: When people are doing evil daily they repent, so their offence diminishes daily. When people are doing good, day and night they rejoice, so they obtain big merit.

=P: He who performs demerit is remorseful and recognises his demerit, so his evil does not increase. He who performs merit, is not remorseful. Being not remorseful,gladness arises; Being glad, joy arises; being joyful, his body becomes light; his body being light, he experiences happiness; being happy, his mind becomes concentrated. Being concentrated, he knows things as they really are. Due to that, his merit increases.

C: Formerly, when the Buddha was living, in the country there was a man without hands and feet. He took some lotuses and offered them to the Buddha. The Buddha then told the monks: “This man without hands and feet in 91 kalpas would not fall into the hell, into the animal Kingdom, into the Kingdom of the departed; he would be born in the heaven. Then from heaven, he would be born as man.”

That is why I know that if people do little good, they obtain great merit; if they do evil, they would repent and their (offence) would diminish and be extinguished. That is why I know that when people do evil, their demerit is small.

=P: A man, whose hands and feet were cut off, having offered a handful of lotuses to the Blessed One, would not enter the purgatory for 91 kalpas. Due to this reason, I say merit is more effective and demerit is less effective.

8. To do evil without knowing and to do evil knowingly:

(C: 64a, 3-7) = (P: 84, 13-25)

Almost the same, with the following differences:

C: Burning steel.

=P: Blazing mass of iron, glowing, burning.

C: In my country, according to the law, if a great minister commits offence, his offence is grave; if an ignorant man commits an offence, his offence is light

= P: If any of our princes or ministers commits evil, his punishment would be double.

9. Power of travelling:

(C: 64a, 7-10) = (P: 84, 26-32; 85, 1-9)

Almost the same, with the following differences:

C: Can any person with this body fly up to the 7th Brahmà heaven and up to Yu-tan-yueh or other places, he wishes to go?

=P: Is there anybody who with this body can go up to Uttarakuru or to Brahmà heaven or to other continent?

C: O King, when you were small, did you in playing jump a chang? =P: O King, do you remember having jumped across the ground a vidatthim (span) or a ratanim (cubit?) .

Here the P adds: “Ven. Sir, having made up my mind that I should reach such a place, due to this determination of the mind, my body becomes light.

C: In the same way, he who realizes the Dharma can take this body and fly up to the 7th Brahmà heaven or to Yu-tan-yùeh.

=P: In the same way, the monk endowed with psychic powers, who has mastery over his mind, with the power of his mind can travel through the air.

(K.E. Available, but this passage is placed near the end of the book).

10. Very long bones:

(C: 64a, 10-12) = (P: 85, 10-17)

Almost the same with the following differences:

C: There is a bone of 4000 li long.

=P: 100 leagues long.

C: A big fish called Chih of 28.000 li long

=P: Fish of 500 leagues long. (K. E. Available near the end of the book).

11. Stop breathing:

(C: 64a, 12-14) = (P: 85, 18-30)

Almost the same, but in the C, some expressions are rather difficult to understand, with the following differences:

C: Have you ever heard about chih (determination)The king replied: “I have heard about it.”

Na-hsien asked: “O King, is this Chih inside the body, isn’t it?” The king replied: “I consider the determination to be inside the body.”

Na-hsien said: ” O King, an ignorant man cannot control his body and speech, cannot follow the Dharma and the precepts. Such a man does not enjoy his own body. Na-hsien said: “People who learn the Dharma can control their body and speech, can follow the Dharma and the precepts, can obtain one-mindedness and the 4th Dhyàna states so why are they unable to stop their breathing?”

Here the P is different. At first, Nàgasena asked the king if he ever heard a man coughing (kàkacchamàno) and Nàgasena explained that the man could stop coughing by bending his body (kàyenamite). Then he concluded: That man who is not trained in the body, in the precepts, in concentration, in wisdom, can stop his coughing by bending his bodywhy can a man who is trained in the body, in the precepts, in concentration, in wisdom not stop his breathing?

(K. E. available only the last portion. The whole passage is found again at the end of the book. It shows that the K. E. is much corrupted.)

12. The ocean:

(C: 64a, 14-15) = (P: 85, 31-32; 86, 1-3)

Almost the same, with a slight difference in expression.

C: What is called ocean, is it the water that is called ocean or due to another reason?

=P: Ocean is called ocean; by what reason is the water called ocean?

C: Ocean is called ocean because water and salt mix together by half and half.

=P: Because there is as much water as there is salt; and as much salt as there is water. That is why it is called ocean.

13. Saltiness:

(C: 64a, 15-16) = (P: 86, 4-7)

Almost the same, with the following differences:

C: For what reason is the ocean salty like the taste of salt?

=P: For what reason has the ocean only one taste, the taste of salt?

C: The ocean is salty because it has been stored up for a very long time and because fishes, turtles have lived together in it (ch’ing-pien?)

=P: Because the water has been stored up for a very long time.

14. Power of wisdom:

(C: 64a, 16-18) = (P: 86, 8-16)

Not exactly the same. The questions are different, but the answers are rather similar.

C: He who obtains the Dharmas, can he ponder over all subtle and deep matters?

= P: Can the most subtle thing be divided?

C: He who obtains the Dharma can ponder over all abstruse, subtle and profound matters

= P: Yes, all subtle things can be divided.

C: Na-hsien said: “The Buddha Dharma is the most abstruse and profound matter, which cannot be fathomed. But it can be divided (or analysed) by knowledge “

=P: Dhamma is the most subtle matter, but not all dhammas are like that, as there are expressions of subtleness and coarseness. Whatever can be divided is divided by wisdom, there is no second occasion for being cut by wisdom.

15. There is no spirit in the body:

(C: 64a, 18-20; 64b, 1) = (P: 86, 17-31; 87, 1-2)

The purport is the same,but there are differences in expressions:

C: The spirit of a man, wisdom and the nature of things, are these three the same or different?

=P: Consciousness, wisdom and the life principle in a living being, are these dhammas different in meaning, different in expression or are they the same in meaning and different in expression?

(Here the C uses the expression spirit for consciousness.)

C: The soul of a man knows, wisdom realizes the path and the nature of things is emptiness, without any individual.

=P: The characteristic of consciousness is knowledge, that of wisdom is realization and there is no life-principle in a living being.

C: How to obtain an individuality? Eyes see material forms; ears hear sounds; nose smells odour; mouth experiences taste; the body knows coarseness, smoothness; the mind knows good and evil, so how to obtain an individuality?

=P: If there be no life principle, then what sees material forms with eyes, hears sound with ears, smells odours with nose, experiences taste with tongue, feels touch with body and knows things with the mind?

C: If the individuality can make the eyes see, so when the eye-balls are plucked out, can he see farther and wider? When the ears are torn open and big, can he hear farther and wider? When the nose is dug out to make it big, can it smell odour farther and wider? When the mouth is widely open, can he know taste farther and wider? When the skin is cut and peeled off, can he know coarseness and smoothness? When the mind is thrown out, can the thought become numerous?”. The king replied: ‘No’ (Here the C stops without the usual ‘well said’)

= P: The P is almost the same with some slight differences in expressions. Here the P adds: “Thus there is no life principle in a living being.

(K. E. has only the 1st portion. The last portion is taken from other paragraph and does not fit in with this passage.)

16. Very difficult is the work done by the Buddha:

(C: 64b, 1-6) = (P: 87, 3-19)

The purport is the same but the exposition is different.

C: Na-hsien said: “What the Buddha has done is very difficult, what the Buddha knows is very subtle“.

=P: “What the Blessed One has done is very difficult.”

C: Na-hsien said: “The Buddha said that (he) knows what is inside the body of a man (or he knows the individuality inside the body if the term jen should be understood in this way), what the eyes see, he understands it all. He understands things concerning the eyes, things concerning the ears, things concerning the nose, things concerning the mouth, things concerning the body, he understands destruction, he understands doubts, he understands what is thought of, he understands the spirit

=P: (quite different): Here the Buddha is praised in his analysis of these immaterial dhammas, mind and psychic factors such as: this is contact, this is feeling, this is perception, this is volition, this is the mind.

The simile is different but the purport is almost the same.

C: A man takes some water of the ocean in his mouth, can he know that in his mouth, such portion of is the water of such a spring, such portion is the water of such a stream, such portion is the water of such a river?” The king said: ” All the waters have mingled into one, it is very difficult to distinguish them.”

Na-hsien said: “What the Buddha has done is very difficult, he knows how to distinguish the tastes of different waters. Now of the ocean water before the eye, O King, you still do not know, (so how about) the spirit inside the body which cannot be seen, about the six things which cannot be seen?”

“That is why the Buddha understands all things from the mind and psychic factors up to what is seen by the eyes, what is heard by the ears, what is smelt by the nose, what is tasted by the mouth and what is felt by the body, unpleasant, pleasant, cold, hot, coarse, smooth; from the mind and psychic factors to everything else alike the Buddha knows all and analyses them.

The P simile is not exactly the same. It refers to a man who enters the ocean, takes some water in his hand and tastes it with his tongue. It is very difficult for him to distinguish that this is the water of the Ganges, this is the water of the Yamunà, this is the water of Aciravatì, this is the water of Sarabhù, this is the water of Mahì.



(C: 64b, 6-17) = (P- 87, 21-26; 88;89, 1-16)

Both are almost the same, but the Pàli is far more detailed. C: Here Na-hsien said that is was past midnight, he wanted to go, then the king ordered his attendants to have four rolls of cloths dipped in the oil to serve as torches and see Na-hsien to his place, with all due respect to Na-hsien as if to himself, saying that with a teacher like Na-hsien and with a disciple like himself, the realization of the Dharma should be quick, as all his questions were given suitable answers by Na-hsien.

Here the P first adds Nàgasena’s enquiry as to the time and the king replied that the first watch had passed, the second watch was ushered in, the torches were lit, the four banners were raised and the gift from the king would come from the treasury. Here the P adds that the Yonakas praised Nàgasena as pandita and the king approved of their praises saying that with such a teacher as Nàgasena and such a disciple as himself, a scholar would realize the Dhamma before long.

C: The king was pleased and ordered clothes worthy of 10.000 (coins) to be offered to Na-hsien from the treasury and informed him that from now on, he together with 800 monks would be invited to take their daily meals in the palace and to be provided with what they desired. But Na-hsien declined, saying that a religious man had no desire.

The king said that Na-hsien should protect him and should also protect himself, because people would blame the king of being miserly as Na-hsien had solved the latter’s doubts but did not receive any thing from him; people also would blame Na-hsien of being unable to solve the king’s doubts so the latter did not offer him anything.

And the king added that by receiving his present, Na-hsien would protect his fame and help the king to earn merit.

Here the king quoted the simile of a lion in a golden cage longing for freedom outside to illustrate his own case of being imprisoned in the palace but his mind did not relish and longed to leave the country and study the Dharma.

=P: The P is almost the same with the following differences:

C: Na-hsien together with 800 monks daily=P: Atthasatabhattam (800 meals).

C: A robe worthy of 100.000 =P: Satasahassa-gghàakà kambalà. Here the P adds: “The king said that if he were to adopt the religious life, he would not live long because he had many enemies.”

C: Then Na-hsien returned to the temple.

When Na-hsien had just left, the king pondered over all the questions put to Na-hsien and all the answers given by Na-hsien and he realized that all questions had been replied and explained by Na-hsien himself.

When he returned to the temple Na-hsien pondered over all the questions put to him by the king and all his replied to them and he realized that he had explained all the questions asked by the king. Na-hsien thought over these matters up to daylight.

Then he robed himself, took the begging bowl, entered the palace and sat in the royal hall. The king first paid homage to Na-hsien, sat down and informed Na-hsien of what he was thinking on the previous night and said that these thoughts kept him happy up to the morning.

Na-hsien then reported what he was thinking on the previous night and said that these thoughts kept him happy up to the morning. Having said that, Na-hsien wanted to depart. And the king paid homage to Na-hsien.

The P is almost the same except that P adds the expression: “well put were the questions asked by the king and well replied were the answers given by Nàgasena. Here the wording is slightly different. The king asked Nàgasena not to think that he had rejoiced the whole night over what he had asked Nàgasena.

Nàgasena also asked the king not to think that he had rejoiced the whole night over what he had answered the king. Here the P omits the departure of Nàgasena and the homage paid by the king at the end, but mentions instead that both great men praised each other.

Here ends the Chinese version, while the P adds the Mendakapañho, where King Milinda asked Nàgasena to solve many dilemnas called Mendaka, in which two-pronged questions were put to Nàgasena, each question containing two statements which seem contradictory; and to these questions, Nàgasena gave answers to the entire satisfaction of the king.

Next come the three books on Anumanapañha, Dhuøtangas and Opammakathàpañha, which are all considered later additions by the Pàli compilers, because the doctrine treated here is more complicated, more subtle and therefore not suitable to such people as the Yonakas at the time of King Milanda. Rather, they are works of several intelligent and well-learned Elders, well-versed not only in the Suttapitaka, but also in the commentaries. That is why they have expanded the original to the present bulk according to the tradition of their school.




1. Some archaic terms:

As the C translation is a very old one, we observe many archaic terms, which cannot be found in later texts :


Pàli Our text Later translation
Uddhacca-kukkucca Hsi-lo Tao-chu
Sìla Hsiao-shun Chieh
Cattàro-satipatthàna Ssu-i-chih Ssu-nien-ch’u
Kàyànupassanà-satipatthàna Kuan-sheùn-shen-chih
Vedanànupassanà-satipatthàna Kuan-t’ung-yang t’ung-yang-chih
Cittànupassanà-satipatthàna Kuan-i-i-chih
Dhammànupassanà-satipatthàna Kuan-fa-fa-chih
Cattàro-sammappadhànà Ssu-i-tuan Ssu-chéng-chin
Sattabojjhangàni Ch’i-chueh-i Ch’i-chueh-chih
Sati I Nien
P’ti Kho Hsi
Passadhi I Ch’ing-an
Upekkhà Hu Sheù
Sammà Chih Cheng
Sankappa Nien Ssu-wei
Atthangikamagga A-kou Pa-cheng-tao
Sammà-àjiva Chih-chih Cheng-ming
Nàma-rùpa Ming-shen Ming-se
Sankhàra Shen Hsing
Vinnànam Shen Shih
Salàyatanam Liu-chih Liu-ju
Phassa Pei Ch’u
Vedanà Chih-k’u-chih-lo Shou
Tanhà Yin-ai Ai
Upàdànam San-yu Ch’ou
Bhava Yu-chih Yu
Manasikàra Chih Tso-i
Saddhà Cheng-hsin Hsin
Samàdhi I-hsin Ting
Sukhavedanà Keng-lo Lo-shou
Dukkhavedanà Keng-k’u K”u-chou
Avijjà Yu-Chih Wu-ming
Sannà Chueh Hsiang
Vitakka Tung or Nei-tung Hsin
Vicàra Hsing Ssu
Manovinnanam Shen I-shih

2. Some obscure and curious translations:

Sometime we find some obscure and curious translations, rather puzzling and difficult to explain:

Fu-tao: Underground road? Ch’uan-pai: White? Shu-shui-shih: Book-water-filling for the P: Dhammakaraka. Chih: P: Tissatthere. Ta-ch’in-kuo: Country of the Yonakas. Chih: A big fish.

Dr. Kogen Mizuno is of the opinion that although the C book mentions that the translation was done in Tung-hsin period (317-420), it should have been earlier, probably in Hou-han period, not later than San-kuo period for the following three reason:

The translated terms are archaic; the Gàthà is translated in prose form and the use of the term Ta-ch’in-kuo.

In his chart, Dr. Kogen Mizuno points out that the terms adopted by our translators are not the same as those adopted by An-shih-kao. It shows that the translation should have been done earlier than An-shih-kao period. It couldnot have been dated later than Tung-hsin or Hsi-hsin period, but rather in Hou-han period.

As seen earlier, there is no gàthà form in the C version. Dr. Kogen Mizuno cites the case of the P gàthà: Arogyà paramà làbhà, santutthì paramam dhanam, vissàsa paramà nàti, Nibbànam paramam sukham.

This gàthà is translated by Chih-ch’ien of San-kuo period as follows:

Wu ping tsui li,
Chih tsu tsui fu,
Hou wei tsui yu,
Ni-yuan tsui lo.

Chu-fu-nien of Tung-hsin period rendered the same gàthà in verse form:

Wu ping ti i li,
Chih tsu ti i fu,
Chih-ch’in ti i yu,
Ni-yuan ti i lo.

As the translator of our text adopts the prose form to translate this P gàthà, the C version should have been older than San-kuo and Tung-hsin period.

In the C version, the term Ta-ch’in-kuo is used to translate the country of the Yonakas.

According to Dr. Kogen Mizuno, the Greek territory was translated into Ta ch’in during and after Hou-han period. So there is possibility that our version was dated in Hou-han period. With the three reasons mentioned above, Dr. Kogen Mizuno concluded that our Chinese text was dated not in Tung-hsin period as mentioned in our text, but the translation was done during, if not earlier than Hou-han period.

Mr. Tarn mentions that the C translation was made several centuries later than the P version. This is rather doubtful. First, we should note that the original from which the C derives its translation is earlier than the P text. So even if we suppose that the C translation were made later than the P version, it does not imply that all the data supplied in the C version should be dated later than those of the P text.

Moreover, the date of the P version cannot be ascertained yet and it might have been ranged from 1st A.D. to 6 A.D. when Buddhaghosa wrote his Visuddhimagga. As to the C translation, Dr Mizuno dated it during the Hou-han period (25.A.D. to 189 A.D.) , or according to the date mentioned in the C text (Tung-hsin period: 317-419 A.D.) So in either case Mr. Tarn is not justified in referring to the C translation as being made several centuries later than the P version.