Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Digha Nikaya

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For criticism see Criticism of Digha_Nikaya
The Digha Nikaya (dīghanikāya; "Collection of Long Discourses") is a Buddhist scripture, the first of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that compose the Pali Tipitaka of Theravada Buddhism. Some of the most commonly referenced suttas from the Digha Nikaya include the Maha-parinibbana Sutta (DN 16), which described the final days and death of the Buddha, the Sigalovada Sutta (DN 31) in which the Buddha discusses ethics and practices for lay followers, and the Samaññaphala (DN 2), Brahmajala Sutta (DN 1) which describes and compares the point-of-view of Buddha and other ascetics in India about the universe and time (past, present, and future); and Potthapada (DN 9) Suttas, which describe the benefits and practice of samatha meditation. Joy Manné argues[1] that this book was particularly intended to make converts, with its high proportion of debates and devotional material.




The Digha Nikaya consists of 34 discourses, broken into three groups:
  • Silakkhandha-vagga -- The Division Concerning Morality (suttas 1-13); named after a tract on monks' morality that occurs in each of its suttas (in theory; in practice it is not written out in full in all of them); in most of them it leads on to the jhanas (the main attainments of samatha meditation), the cultivation of psychic powers and becoming an arahant
  • Maha-vagga -- The Great Division (suttas 14-23)
  • Patika-vagga -- The Patika Division (suttas 24-34)
The individual discourses are:
  1. Brahmajala Sutta (-jāla-): mainly concerned with 62 types of wrong view
  2. Samannaphala Sutta (sāmañña-): King Ajatasattu of Magadha asks the Buddha about the benefits in this life of being a samana (most often translated as "recluse"); the Buddha's main reply is in terms of becoming an arahant by the path outlined above
  3. Ambattha Sutta (ambaá¹­á¹­ha-): Ambattha the brahmin is sent by his teacher to find whether the Buddha possesses the 32 bodily marks, but on arrival he is rude to the Buddha on grounds of descent; the Buddha responds that he is actually higher born than Ambattha and that society treats aristocrats like himself as higher ranking than brahmins, but that he considers those fulfilled in conduct and wisdom as higher, and he explains conduct and wisdom as above
  4. Sonadanta Sutta (soṇadaṇḍa-): the Buddha asks Sonadanda the brahmin what are the qualities that make a brahmin; Sonadanda gives five, but the Buddha asks if any can be omitted and beats him down to two, morality and wisdom,which he explains as above
  5. Kutadanta Sutta (kūṭadanta-): Kutadanta the brahmin asks the Buddha how to perform a sacrifice (Rhys Davids considers this an example of a peculiar straight-faced sort of humour to be found in texts such as this); the Buddha replies by telling of one of his past lives, as chaplain to a king, where they performed a sacrifice which consisted of making offerings, with no animals killed; Kutadanta asks whether there are any better sacrifices, and the Buddha recommends in succession going to the Three Refuges, taking the Five Precepts and the path as above
  6. Mahali Sutta (mahāli-): in reply to a question as to why a certain monk sees divine sights but does not hear divine sounds, the Buddha explains that it is because of the way he has directed his meditation; he then reports the following sutta
  7. Jaliya Sutta (jāliya-): asked by two brahmins whether the soul and the body are the same or different, the Buddha describes the path as above,and asks whether one who has fulfilled it would bother with such questions
  8. Kassapa Sihanada Sutta (-sīhanāda-),Maha Sihanada Sutta (mahā-) or Sihanada Sutta; the word sihanada literally means lion's roar: this discourse is concerned with asceticism
  9. Potthapada Sutta (poṭṭhapāda-): asked about the cause of the arising of saññā, usually translated as perception, the Buddha says it is through training; he explains the path as above up to the jhanas and the arising of their perceptions, and then continues with the first three formless attainments; the sutta then moves on to other topics, the self and the unanswered questions
  10. Subha Sutta: Ananda explains the path as above
  11. Kevaddha Sutta (or kevaḍḍha-) or Kevatta Sutta (kevaṭṭa-): Kevaddha asks the Buddha why he does not gain disciples by working miracles; the Buddha explains that people would simply dismiss this as magic and that the real miracle is the training of his followers
  12. Lohicca Sutta: on good and bad teachers
  13. Tevijja Sutta: asked about the path to union with Brahma, the Buddha explains it in terms of the path as above, but ending with the four brahmaviharas; the abbreviated way the text is written out makes it unclear how much of the path comes before this; Professor Gombrich[2] has argued that the Buddha was meaning union with Brahma as synonymous with nirvana
  14. Mahapadana Sutta (mahāpadāna-): mainly telling the story of a past Buddha up to somewhat after his enlightenment; the story is similar to that of "our" Buddha
  15. Maha Nidana Sutta (-nidāna-): on dependent origination
  16. Maha Parinibbana Sutta (-nibbāna-): story of the last few months of the Buddha's life, his death and funeral and the distribution of his relics
  17. Mahasudassana Sutta: story of one of the Buddha's past lives, as a king; the description of his palace has close vebal similarities to that of the Pure Land, and Dr Rupert Gethin has suggested this as a precursor[3]
  18. Janavasabha Sutta: King Bimbisara of Magadha, reborn as the god Janavasabha, tells the Buddha that his teaching has resulted in increased numbers of people being reborn as gods (according to the Buddhist scriptures, Bimbisara was a Buddhist, but the Jain scriptures say he was a Jain)
  19. Maha-Govinda Sutta: story of a past life of the Buddha
  20. Mahasamaya Sutta: long versified list of gods coming to honour the Buddha
  21. Sakkapanha Sutta (-pañha-): the Buddha answers questions from Sakka, ruler of the gods (a Buddhist version of Indra)
  22. Maha Satipatthana Sutta (-paá¹­á¹­na-): the basis for one of the present-day Burmese vipassana meditation traditions; many people have it read or recited to them on their deathbeds[4]
  23. Payasi Sutta (pāyāsi-) or Payasi Rajanna Sutta (-rājañña-): dialogue between the sceptical prince of the title and a monk
  24. Patika Sutta (pāṭika-) or Pathika Sutta (pāthika-): a monk has left the order because he says the Buddha does not work miracles; most of the sutta is taken up with accounts of miracles the Buddha has worked
  25. Udumbarika Sihanada Sutta or Udumbarika Sutta: another discourse on asceticism
  26. Cakkavatti Sihanada Sutta or Cakkavatti Sutta: story of humanity's decline from a golden age in the past, with prophecy of eventual return
  27. Agganna Sutta (aggañña-): another decline story
  28. Sampasadaniya Sutta (-pasādaniya- or -pasādanīya-): Sariputta praises the Buddha
  29. Pasadika Sutta (pāsādika-): the Buddha's response to the news of the death of his rival, the founder of Jainism, covering various topics
  30. Lakkhana Sutta (lakkhaṇa-): explains the actions of the Budha in his previous lives leading to his 32 bodily marks; thus it describes practices of a bodhisattva (perhaps the earliest such description)
  31. Singalovada Sutta (siṅgālovāda-), Singala Sutta, Singalaka Sutta or Sigala Sutta: traditionally regarded as the lay vinaya
  32. Atanatiya Sutta (Āṭānāṭiya-): gods give the Buddha a poem for his followers, male and female, monastic and lay, to recite for protection from evil spirits; it sets up a mandala or circle of protection and a version of this sutta is classified as a tantra in Tibet and Japan[5]
  33. Sangiti Sutta (saṅgāti-); L. S. Cousins has tentatively suggested[6] that this was the first sutta created as a literary text, at the Second Council, his theory being that sutta was originally a pattern of teaching rather than a body of literature; it is taught by Sariputta at the Buddha's request, and gives lists arranged numerically from ones to tens (cf. Anguttara Nikaya); a version of this belonging to another school was used as the basis for one of the books of their Abhidharma Pitaka
  34. Dasuttara Sutta: similar to the preceding sutta but with a fixed format; there are ten categories, and each number has one list in each; this material is also used in the Patisambhidamagga


  1. Journal of the Pali Text Society, volume XV
  2. Gombrich, Richard (1997), How Buddhism Began: The Conditioned Genesis of the Early Teachings, New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd., ISBN 8121508126
  3. Jounal of the Pali Text Society, volume XXVIII
  4. Malalasekera, Dictionary of Pali Proper Names, volume II, page 564
  5. Skilling, Mahasutras, volume II, parts I & II, 1997, Pali Text Society, Bristol, pages 84n, 553ff, 617ff
  6. Pali oral literature, in Buddhist Studies, ed Denwood & Piatigorski, Curzon, London, 1982/3

See also

External links

Suggested reading

Full translations

  • Dialogues of the Buddha, tr T. W. and C. A. F. Rhys Davids, 1899-1921, 3 volumes, Pali Text Society[1]
  • Thus Have I Heard: the Long Discourses of the Buddha, tr Maurice Walshe, Wisdom Pubns, 1987; later reissued under the original subtitle; ISBN 0-86171-103-3

Selections (more than one sutta)

  • The Buddha's Philosophy of Man, Rhys Davids tr, rev Trevor Ling, Everyman, out of print; 10 suttas including 2, 16, 22, 31
  • Long Discourses of the Buddha, tr Mrs A. A. G. Bennett, Bombay, 1964; 1-16
  • Ten Suttas from Digha Nikaya, Burma Pitaka Association, Rangoon, 1984; 1, 2, 9, 15, 16, 22, 26, 28-9, 31

Translations of parts of the commentary

The commentary, titled Sumangalavilasini, was compiled by Buddhaghosa around 430 AD on the basis of older commentaries, now lost, in Old Sinhalese.
  • Commentary on Brahmajala Sutta, abr tr Bodhi in The All-Embracing Net of Views, BPS, Kandy, 1978
  • Commentary on Samannaphala Sutta, abr tr Bodhi in The Discourse on the Fruits of Recluseship, BPS, Kandy, 1989
  • Commentary on Maha Nidana Sutta, abr tr Bodhi in The Great Discourse on Causation, BPS, Kandy, 1984
  • Commentary on Mahaparinibbana Sutta tr Yang-Gyu An as The Buddha's Last Days, 2003, PTS, Bristol.END=NAM MO SHAKYAMUNI BUDDHA.( 3 TIMES ).RESEARCH BUDDHIST DHARMA BY TAM THANH.AUSTRALIA,SYDNEY.VIETNAMESE.

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