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Sutta Pitaka (suttapiṭaka; or Suttanta Pitaka; Basket of Discourse; cf
Sanskrit सूत्र पिटक Sūtra Piṭaka) is the second of the three divisions
of the Tripitaka or Pali Canon, the Pali collection of Buddhist writings
of Theravada Buddhism. The Sutta Pitaka contains more than 10,000
suttas (teachings) attributed to the Buddha or his close companions.
The other two collections are the Vinaya Pitaka and the Abhidhamma Pitaka.
scripture describes the first Buddhist council. It was held shortly
after the Buddha’s death, and collected the set of rules (Vinaya) and
five sets of Dhamma. Tradition holds that little was added to the Canon
after this. Scholars are more skeptical, but differ in their degrees of
skepticism. Richard Gombrich thinks most of the first four nikayas (see
below) go back to the Buddha, in content but not in form. The late
Professor Hirakawa Akira says 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.
Further information: List of suttas
There are five nikayas (collections) of suttas:
Digha Nikāya (dīghanikāya), the “long” discourses.
Majjhima Nikāya, the “middle-length” discourses.
Saṁyutta Nikāya (saṃyutta-), the “connected” discourses.
Anguttara Nikāya (aṅguttara-), the “numerical” discourses.
Khuddaka Nikāya, the “minor collection”.
Main article: Digha Nikāya
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.
Main article: Majjhima Nikāya
includes Shorter Exposition of Kamma, Mindfulness of Breathing, and
Mindfulness of the Body. There are 152 medium-length suttas in this
Main article: Saṁyutta Nikāya
There are, according to one reckoning, 2,889, but according to the commentary 7,762, shorter suttas in this Nikaya.
Main article: Anguttara Nikāya
teachings are arranged numerically. It includes, according to the
commentary’s reckoning, 9,565 short suttas grouped by number from ones
to elevens. According to Keown, “there is considerable disparity between
the Pāli and the Sarvāstivādin versions, with more than two-thirds of
the sūtras found in one but not the other compilation, which suggests
that much of this portion of the Sūtra Piṭaka was not formed until a
fairly late date.”
Main article: Khuddaka Nikāya
is a heterogeneous mix of sermons, doctrines, and poetry attributed to
the Buddha and his disciples. The contents vary somewhat between
editions. The Thai edition includes 1-15 below, the Sinhalese edition
1-17 and the Burmese edition 1-18.
Nettipakarana or Netti
For more on these editions also see Pali Canon
first four nikayas and more than half of the fifth have been translated
by the Pali Text Society. The first four have also been translated
in the Teachings of the Buddha series by Wisdom Publications.
Selections (including material from at least two nikayas):
Suttas, ed & tr T. W. Rhys Davids, Sacred Books of the East, volume
XI, Clarendon/Oxford, 1881; reprinted by Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi
(& ?Dover, New York)
The Word of the Buddha, ed & tr Nyanatiloka, 1935
Early Buddhist Poetry, ed I. B. Horner, Ananda Semage, Colombo, 1963
The Book of Protection, tr Piyadassi, Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka, 1981; translation of the paritta
In the Buddha’s Words, ed & tr Bodhi, Wisdom Pubns, 2005
Early Buddhist Discourses, ed & tr John J. Holder, 2006
Sayings of the Buddha, ed & tr Rupert Gethin, Oxford University Press, 2008
Basic Teachings of the Buddha, ed & tr Glenn Wallis, New York: Random House, 2007