The Debate of King Milinda
edited by Bhikkhu Pesala
Buddha Dharma Education Association Inc.
4 Fruits of the Path
1. The Stream-winner (sotàpanna). On realising nibbàna
for the first time the stream-winner destroys the three
fetters of personality-belief, belief in rites and rituals,
and doubts. He is incapable of committing any of the
heinous crimes and if he does any other evil he is
incapable of concealing it. He is assured of attaining
arahantship within seven lives at the most.
2. The Once-returner (sakadàgàmi) greatly reduces the
strength of the fetters of desire and ill-will and will, at
most, be reborn only once more on earth before
3. The Non-returner (anàgàmi) eradicates totally the
fetters of desire and ill-will and will not be reborn again
on earth but will gain arahantship in the higher planes of
devas or Brahmàs.
4. The Arahant removes the remaining five fetters,
destroys all ignorance and craving and puts an end to
all forms of rebirth, thus gaining the final goal of the
4 Modes of Fearlessness (vesàrajja)
The Blessed One said, “I do not see any grounds on which
anyone might reprove me as to: 1) being fully awakened,
2) the floods being fully destroyed, 3)knowledge of what
is an obstacle to progress, 4)knowledge of Dhamma that
leads to the destruction of the floods.
5 Aggregates of Being (khandha)
When we say ‘living being’ it is just a conventional way of
speaking. Underlying this convention are the wrong views
of personality-belief, permanence and substantiality.
However, if we consider more carefully what a living be-
ing or a person really is we will find only a stream of ever
changing phenomena. These can be arranged in five
groups: the body or material phenomena; feelings, percep-
tions, mental formations and consciousness. It should not
be understood that these groups are something stable;
they are only categories.
5 Hindrances (nãvaraõa)
Sensual desire, ill-will, sloth and torpor, restlessness and
remorse, doubt. These defilements are called hindrances
because they obstruct the development of concentration.
8 Causes of Earthquakes
1.This earth is supported by water, the water by air, the
air by space. At times great winds blow strongly and
the water is shaken. When the water is shaken, the
earth is shaken. (N.B. Water is the element of cohesion
or fluidity, air the element of motion. These elements
are present even in molten rock).
2.A recluse or deity of great power causes the earth to
shake by the power of concentration.
3.When the Bodhisatta passes away from the Tusita
heaven, mindfully and deliberately, and is conceived in
his mother’s womb, the great earth shakes.
4.When the Bodhisatta issues forth from his mother’s
womb, mindfully and deliberately, the great earth shakes.
5.When the òathàgata attains the supreme and perfect
enlightenment the great earth shakes.
6.When the Tathàgata sets in motion the wheel of the
Dhamma the great earth shakes.
7.When the Tathàgata, mindfully and deliberately, gives
up the life-sustaining mental process, the great earth
shakes. (He could prolong his life by supernormal
power but not being asked, he gives up the possibility
and announces the time of his death.)
8.When a Buddha passes away and attains parinibbàna
the great earth shakes.
10 Fetters (saüyojana)
Sensual desire (kàmachanda), ill-will (byàpàda), pride
(màna), personality-belief (sakkàyadiññhi), doubt (vicikicchà),
adherence to rites and ceremonies (sãlabattaü), desire for
existence (råparàga), jealousy (issà), avarice (macchariya),
10 Perfections (pàramã)
Generosity (dàna), virtue (sãla), renunciation (nekkhamma),
wisdom (pa¤¤à), energy (viriya), patience (khanti), truthful-
ness (sacca), determination (adhiññhàna), loving-kindness
(mettà) and equanimity (upekkhà).
18 Characteristics of a Buddha (Buddhadhammà)
1–3) Seeing all things; past, present and future. 4–6) Pro-
priety of action, speech and thought. 7–12) Establishment
of the following so that they cannot be frustrated by others:
intentions, doctrines, that which proceeds from concentra-
tion, energy, liberation and wisdom. 13) Avoiding pleas-
ures or anything that could invite ridicule; 14) Avoiding
strife and contention. 15) Omniscience. 16) Doing all
things fully conscious. 17) Doing all things with some
purpose. 18)Not doing anything from unwise partiality.
32 Parts of the Body (for contemplation)
Head hairs, body hairs, nails, teeth, skin; flesh, sinews,
bones, bone-marrow, kidneys; heart, liver, membranes,
spleen, lungs; large intestine, small intestine, mesentery,
gorge, faeces; bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat; solid fat,
liquid fat, saliva, nasal mucus, synovic fluid, urine, brain.
Abhidhamma — the higher teaching. It uses the analytical
method. Whereas the discourses use the conventional
language of man or being the Abhidhamma uses terms
like ‘five aggregates of being,’ mind and matter, visible
object and sensitive eye-base etc.
Absorptions (jhàna) — Stages of mental concentration
gained by inhibiting the five hindrances. The result of
these states is rebirth in the Brahmà realm.
Austerities (dukkarakàrikà) — These are practices of self
mortification, which were practised by the Bodhisatta.
They should be distinguished from ascetic practices
(dhutanga), which, although difficult, are neither ignoble
Arahant — See 4 Fruits of the Path.
Bactrian Greek — (Yonaka). There are several references to
Yonaka other than in the Milinda Pa¤ha. An inscription in
caves at Nasik, near Bombay refers to nine Yonaka who
were donors, and the Mahàvaüsa has references to
monks from Yona, one Yonadhammarakkhita who must
have been a Bactrian Greek bhikkhu.
Bhikkhu — A Buddhist monk who has received the higher
ordination. The literal meaning is ‘beggar’ though a
bhikkhu is not allowed to beg, but may only stand and
wait for alms to be offered.
Bodhisatta — A being totally dedicated to the attainment
of the perfect enlightenment of a Buddha, for which one
has to develop the perfections for many aeons.
Bodhi Tree — The tree under which the Bodhisatta be-
came Buddha. The ânanda Bodhi Tree was a sapling of
the original tree that ânanda brought to Sàvatthi to re-
mind people of the Buddha when he was away.
Another sapling was sent to Sri Lanka by Asoka and is
Brahmà — A god or divine being who is in a plane of exist-
ence detached from sensuality.
Brahmacàrin — One who leads a life of chastity.
Brahman — A Hindu priest or one of that caste.
Càra (good conduct) is the fulfilment of duties. Its counter-
part, sãla, is refraining from wrong-doing.
Merit (pu¤¤à) — Good actions that are the basis for happi-
ness and prosperity in the round of rebirths.
Minor and Lesser Precepts — The Pàñimokkha rules are ar-
ranged in seven groups in order of severity. Offences of
Defeat (pàràjika), Formal Meeting (saïghàdisesa), Indeter-
minate (aniyata), Forfeiture (nissaggiyà pàcittiya), Expia-
tion (pàcittiya), Confession (patidesaniyà) and Wrong-
doing (dukkaña). Wrong speech (dubhàsita) is not included
in the Pàñimokkha itself but is found elsewhere in the
Vinaya rule. The author’s decision on this matter is very
reasonable, since the pàcittiya rules include killing ani-
mals, drinking intoxicants, telling lies, hitting or abusing
monks. These could not be called ‘minor’ training rules
that the Buddha might have considered optional after
his passing away.
— See 4 Fruits of the Path.
Parinibbàna — The death of a Buddha, Pacceka Buddha or
Patimokkha — The 227 training rules that the monks recite
in the Uposatha day ceremony every full-moon and new-
Puthujjana (Ordinary Person) — A distinction should be
made between a blind worldling (andho puthujjana) and a
well-informed person (kalyàõa puthujjana). Neither is free
from personality belief, but the well-informed person
who has faith in the Buddha’s enlightenment and be-
lieves in kamma will cultivate the path to enlightenment.
The blind worldling, who holds wrong views, will rarely
do wholesome deeds like charity, let alone take up the ar-
duous practice of meditation for concentration or insight.
Rains (vassa) — The three months from August to October
during which the monks remain in one place. A monk’s
seniority is measured in rains or the number of years he
has been a monk.
Reasoning (yoniso manasikàra) — Often translated as ‘Sys-
tematic attention’. It means paying attention to the char-
acteristics that reduce defilements rather than to those
that increase them.
Samaõa — A recluse or ascetic, not necessarily Buddhist.
Solitary Buddha — A Pacceka Buddha or one who attains
enlightenment without the help of an Omniscient Buddha.
Unlike an Omniscient Buddha, the Solitary Buddha has
not fully developed the ability to teach others.
Stream-winner — See 4 Fruits of the Path.
Sutta — The collection of discourses containing the major-
ity of the Buddha’s teaching to both monastics and laity.
Tipiñaka — The threefold collection of Sutta, Vinaya and
Abhidhamma; i.e. discourses, disciplinary rules and
Vedagå — is used in the Milinda Pa¤ha in the sense of a soul
or experiencer who sees, hears, smells, tastes, feels or
knows. It is also an epithet of the Buddha meaning ‘The
one who has attained to knowledge’.
Vinaya — The six books of the Tipiñaka that deal with the
monks’ discipline and other regulatory matters.
Visuddhimagga — A much respected manual, written in
Pali in the 3rd century A.D. by Venerable Buddhaghosa,
that elucidates the three-fold training of virtue, concen-
tration and wisdom.