The Clay Sanskrit Library series is, without doubt, a gift from a very benevolent and gracious God (exactly which one of the 330 million is unclear however - but whichever one it is, "thank you"). One of the latest incarnations of this series, Professor Patrick Olivelle's translation of Ashvaghosha's epic poem "Life of the Buddha" is not only a thoughtful and aesthetically pleasing translation but also contains an extremely helpful and fascinating introductory essay. Worth the price of the book nearly on its own the introduction details how Ashvaghosha's work fits into its larger socio-religious milieu - engaging in a dialogue with the Brahmanical tradition over just what "real" dharma truly is. As such, it helps one understand how these traditions of Brahmanism and Buddhism interacted, challenged and developed alongside one another in conversation. I highly recommend this title, not only for the beauty and impact of the poem itself but also for the information Professor Olivelle provides on how to understand the work in its larger context.