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The author, Bhikkhu Pesala, is a Buddhist monk who had training in Burma and Thailand whose knowledge of Pali has enabled him to check areas of ambiguous translation to compile this concise and readable work in elegant, modern English while his knowledge of Buddhism has enabled him to clarify some obscure ideas. A Sri Lankan supporter, Indrajit Samaranayake, gave me the keys to his house, and I typed the first draft on his computer while he and his wife were at work.I started work on the first edition of “The Debate of King Milinda” in 1988 at the instigation of Ven. In 1990 the first paperback edition of 500 copies was published for free distribution.
In the Pāḷi book it says that the conversations between King Milinda and Nāgasena took place five hundred years after the Parinibbāna of the Buddha. He said, “I venture to think that the The style of the Milinda Pañha is very much like a Platonic dialogue, Nāgasena playing the part of Socrates and winning over King Milinda to the Buddhist view point by his sound reasoning and his fitting similes.
Therefore, I produced a pocket edition for the Association for Insight Meditation.
Inward Path Publications brought out a beautifully presented edition for free distribution in 2001, but it seems that that edition is now used up.
The discovery of an Attic Tetradrachm of Menander sets speculation at rest; he must have ruled over the Kabul region. (thus dating his conversations not much more than 400 years after the of the Buddha).
In the north he occupied Hazara and the Swat valley.¹ So Menander was one of the most important of those Greek kings who continued in Bactria the dominion founded by Alexander the Great. Strabo, draws attention in passing to the remarkable way in which the kingdom of Bactria expanded beyond its original limits, and he mentions incidentally that the kings chiefly responsible were Demetrius and Menander ...
I presume this debate was conducted in the Bactrian Greek language but was later translated into Pali and Sanskrit.
This well-known Pali book called Milinda Pañha or Questions of King Milinda has twice been translated into English: in 1890, and in 1969.The author is not known but it is almost certain that he lived in the far northwest of India or in the Punjab, since he mentions no place in the interior of India south of the Ganges.² This is supported by what is definitely known about King Menander, a Bactrian king identified with Milinda. Many of his coins have been found over a wide area of northern India, as far west as Kabul, as far east as Mathura and as far north as Kashmir.The portrait is sometimes of a young man and other times that of a very old man.This edition was previously published as a paperback for free distribution by The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation in 2010.This edition is fully indexed, and includes the glossary and list of Pāḷi Quotations. Since it is compiled from several different sources, it may not be geographically accurate.Both translations are literary and, in many places literal, therefore they were mainly confined to scholars.