Thomas William Rhys Davids, otherwise known as T.W. Rhys Davids, was a University of Breslau scholar who learned Pali during his posting in Sri Lanka. His facility with the language enabled him to translate Sri Lankan inscriptions and literary works, one of which is the The Questions of King Milinda. The availability of an English translation of this Southern Buddhist classic gave readers in the Western hemisphere an invaluable opportunity of discovering the wisdom of the Eastern ancients.
This revered tome mainly contains a dialogue between King Milinda, who rules the city of Sagala, and Nagasena, a Buddhist scholar. In Book I, the readers are introduced to the scholar and the circumstances that led him to cross paths with the King. Books II to IV unveil the arguments of the two personalities, with King Milinda offering questions ranging from the trivial and mundane to the profound. Nagasena, for his part, manages to respond with aplomb and to the inquirer's satisfaction.
The topics of the questions and their answers involve various Buddhist principles, specifically those practiced South of India, that are echoed in many Buddhist teachings. In The Questions of King Milinda, these are dressed in various ways – as a tale, allegory, or analogy – and are revealed by using the dialogue as a literary tool.
This translated work is something that even non-Buddhists will enjoy reading as the truths and concepts explained are also relevant to other faiths and belief systems.