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Encyclopedia > Sutta Pitaka

The Sutta Pitaka (suttapiṭaka; or Suttanta Pitaka; Sanskrit सूत्र पिटक Sutra Pitaka) is the second of the three divisions of the Tipitaka or Pali Canon, the great Pali collection of Buddhist writings, the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism. The Sutta Pitaka contains more than 10,000 suttas (teachings) attributed to the Buddha or his close companions. The Sutta Pitaka (or Sutra Pitaka) is the second of three divisions of the Tipitaka, the great Pali collection of Buddhist writings. ... The Tripitaka (Sanskrit, lit. ... Standard edition of the Thai Pali Canon The Pali Canon is the standard scripture collection of the Theravada Buddhist tradition. ... Pāli is a Middle Indo-Aryan dialect or prakrit. ... There are a great variety of Buddhist texts. ... Many religions and spiritual movements hold certain written texts (or series of spoken legends not traditionally written down) to be sacred. ... Theravada (Pāli: theravāda; Sanskrit: sthaviravāda; literally, the Way of the Elders) is the oldest surviving Buddhist school, and for many centuries has been the predominant religion of Sri Lanka (about 70% of the population[1]) and continental Southeast Asia (parts of southwest China, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia... Buddhism (also known as Buddha Dharma, Pali: बुद्ध धम्म, the teachings of the awakened one) is a dharmic, non-theistic religion, a way of life, a practical philosophy, and a life-enhancing system of applied psychology. ... SÅ«tra (sex) (Sanskrit) or Sutta (Pāli) literally means a rope or thread that holds things together, and more metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula), or a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual. ... Media:Example. ...



The scriptures tell how the First Council held shortly after the Buddha's death collected together the discipline (vinaya), and the dhamma in five collections. Tradition holds that little was added to the Canon after this. Scholars are more sceptical, but differ in their degrees of scepticism. Dr Richard Gombrich, Academic Director of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, former Boden Professor of Sanskrit at Oxford University and former President of the Pali Text Society, thinks most of the first four nikayas (see below) goes back to the Buddha, in content but not in form.[1] The late Professor Hirakawa Akira (surname first in accordance with Japanese practice) says[2] that the First Council collected only short prose passages or verses expressing important doctrines, and that these were expanded into full length suttas over the next century. L. S. Cousins, former lecturer in the Department of Comparative Religion at Manchester University and former President of the Pali Text Society, holds[3] that in early times sutta was a pattern of teaching rather than a body of literature. Dr Gregory Schopen, Lecturer in Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Buddhist Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, says[4] that it is not until the fifth to sixth centuries C.E. that we can know anything definite about the contents of the Pali Canon. // 1st Buddhist council (5th century BC) The first Buddhist council was held soon after the death of the Buddha under the patronage of king Ajatasatru, and presided by a monk named Mahakasyapa, at Rajagaha (todays Rajgir). ... The word dharma (Sanskrit; धर्म in the Devanagari script) or dhamma (Pali) is used in most or all philosophies and religions of Indian origin, Dharmic faiths, namely Hinduism (Sanatana Dharma), Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism. ... CE may stand for: Capillary electrophoresis Civil Engineer (Engineers degree in civil engineering) Civil engineering Common Era (this year is 2005 CE) Communauté Européenne (French for European Community) the CE logo is a stylized CE placed on products to signify conformance with European Union regulations Computer engineering Concord...


There are five nikayas (collections) of suttas: Nikaya is a word of Pali origin and Sanskrit usage which was adopted into English in reference to Buddhist texts. ...

  1. Digha Nikaya (dīghanikāya), the "long" discourses.
  2. Majjhima Nikaya, the "medium-length" discourses.
  3. Samyutta Nikaya (saṃyutta-), the "clustered" discourses.
  4. Anguttara Nikaya (aṅguttara-), the "gradual collection".
  5. Khuddaka Nikaya, the "minor collection".

The Digha Nikaya (Collection of Long Discourses) is the first part of the Sutta Pitaka- one of the three baskets that compose the Pali Tipitaka. ... The Majjhima Nikaya, or Middle-length Discourses of the Buddha, is the second of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka of the Tipitaka. ... The Samyutta Nikaya, the third Nikaya (division) of the Sutta Pitaka of the Tipitaka, contains 2,889 suttas grouped into five sections (vaggas). ... The Anguttara Nikaya (Gradual Collection) is the fourth of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the three baskets that compose the Pali Tipitaka. ... The Khuddaka Nikaya, or Minor Collection, is the last of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka of the Tipitaka. ...

Digha Nikaya


  • Dialogues of the Buddha, tr T. W. and C. A. F. Rhys Davids, 1899-1921, Pali Text Society, 3 volumes
  • Thus Have I Heard: the Long Discourses of the Buddha, Wisdom Pubns, 1987; later reissued under the original subtitle; "a 'substantive' translation ... Nothing has been omitted except ... repetitions"

This includes The Greater Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness, The Fruits of the Contemplative Life, and The Buddha's Last Days. There are 34 long suttas in this nikaya.

Majjhima Nikaya


  • Further Dialogues of the Buddha, tr Lord Chalmers, 2 volumes, 1926-7; currently available from Books on Demand, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
  • The Book of the Middle Length Sayings, tr I. B. Horner, 1954-9, Pali Text Society, 3 volumes
  • Discourses of Gotama Buddha: Middle Collection, tr David Evans, Janus Pubns, 1991; "Translation in an abridged form ... just about one third the size of Horner's translation, but with well over 90% of the significant content"
  • Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, tr Nanamoli, rev Bodhi, Wisdom, 1995 ([http://jbe.gold.ac.uk/4/cous1.html review)

This includes Shorter Exposition of Kamma, Mindfulness of Breathing, and Mindfulness of the Body. There are 152 medium-length suttas in this nikaya.

Samyutta Nikaya

There are, according to one reckoning, 2,889 shorter suttas clustered together by subject.

Anguttara Nikaya

These teachings are arranged numerically. It includes, according to the commentary's reckoning, 9,557 short suttas grouped by number, from ones to elevens.

Khuddaka Nikaya

This is a heterogeneous mix of sermons, doctrines, and poetry attributed to the Buddha and his disciples. The well-known Dhammapada is in this section. The Dhammapada (Pali, translates as Path of the Dharma. ...


  1. ^ Theravada Buddhism, 2nd edn, Routledge, London, 2006, pages 20f
  2. ^ History of Indian Buddhism, volume 1, 1974, English translation University of Hawai'i Press, pages 69f
  3. ^ "Pali oral literature", in Buddhist Studies, ed Denwood and Piatigorski, Curzon, London, 1982/3, page 3
  4. ^ Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks, University of Hawai'i Press, 1997, page 24

See also

The abhidhamma is the name of one of the three pitakas, or baskets of tradition, into which the Tipitaka (Pali; Sanskrit: Tripitaka), the canon of early Buddhism, is divided. ... Pali or Sanskrit word meaning discipline. The Vinaya is the textual framework for the Buddhist monastic community, or sangha. ...

External links

  • [1] Access to Insight translations of Pali Suttas in English
  • Pali Tet and English Translations <- offline
  • How old is the Sutta Pitaka? - Alexander Wynne, St John's College, Oxford University, 2003.

  Results from FactBites:
Tipitaka (231 words)
The first category, the Vinaya Pitaka, was the code of ethics to be obeyed by the early sangha, monks and nuns.
The second category is the Sutta Pitaka (literally "basket of threads", Sanskrit: Sutra Pitaka) representing the philosophical teachings of the Buddha and other early teachers, along with some "biographical sketches".
The third category, the Abhidhamma Pitaka, is a collection of texts in which the underlying doctrinal principles presented in the Sutta Pitaka are reworked and reorganized into a systematic framework that can be applied to an investigation into the nature of mind and matter.
Overview of the Tipitaka (1243 words)
One who reads the Vinaya Pitaka cannot but be impressed by the democratic constitution of the Sangha, their holding of possessions in common, the exceptionally high moral standard of the Bhikkhus, and the unsurpassed administrative abilities of the Buddha, who anticipated even the present Parliamentary system.
Sutta Pitaka The Sutta Pitaka consists chiefly of instructive discourses delivered by the Buddha to both the Sangha and the laity on various occasions.
Abhidhamma Pitaka The Abhidhamma Pitaka is the most important and most interesting of the three containing as it does the profound philosophy of the Buddha's teaching in contrast to the simpler discourses in the Sutta Pitaka.
  More results at FactBites »



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