Benimadhab Barua was born on 31 December 1888 in Chittagong. Among the schools and college he attended were the Chittagong Collegiate School, Chittagong College, Scottish Church College and Presidency College, Krishnath College from where he passed BA (Hons) in Pāli in 1911. In 1913 he earned an MA degree in Pāli from University of Calcutta. Thereafter he also studied law at Calcutta City College and Calcutta Law College, affiliated with the same university.
Benimadhab Barua joined the Mahāmuni Anglo-Pāli Institution as headmaster in 1912. From 1913 to 1914 he worked as a lecturer in the Pāli department of the University of Calcutta. He went to England on a government scholarship in 1914. He earned an MA in Greek and Modern European Philosophy from the University of London. In 1917 he was awarded a D.Litt. by the University of London. He was the first Asian to do so.
After returning to India in 1918, Barua rejoined Calcutta University and was promoted to a professorship. He developed the syllabus of the MA course in Pali along with his work in the departments of Ancient Indian History and Culture (1919–48) and Sanskrit (1927–48) in the same university.
Barua’s 1921 work on The Ajivikas served as the background for “History and Doctrines of the Ajivikas” (1950) the PhD dissertation of A. L. Basham, who cites Barua’s work frequently.