The following hnadouts are perfect to use in classes or workshops on the Sutta Pitaka. They show the structures of the Nikayas and give some highlights of topics covered.
The complete PDF version of Bhikkhu Nanamoli’s anthology Life of the Buddha According to the Pali Canon is now available as a free download from Pariyatti.org.
This anthology pieces together the biographical information about the Buddha into a continuous narrative from throughout the Pali canon. Several features make this book uniquely valuable:
- Many books about the Buddha do not make clear where the material is coming from. In this book it gives clear references to the original texts or makes clear that material comes from the ancient commentaries.
- Texts from the Vinaya: This is one of the only easily available English sources of text from the Vinaya in print form. Most of the Vinaya is rules for the monks and nuns but there are many important parts of the Buddha’s life explained
- There are also texts that explain basic doctrinal information. In many cases repetitions are removed to make it easier for people new to reading suttas.
Be sure to read and understand the explanation of the “cast” of voices that the author uses to present the text, found on the page immediately before the first reading.
You may also want to print out a copy of the simple chart of the Sutta Pitaka to refer to until you are familiar with all of the citations.
Scroll down and look for the free download link. Pariyatti is an official publisher of this book (along with the Buddhist Publication Society) so this is a legitimate offer. Now, if you buy the print edition you get a free copy of an epub and mobi. Or you can buy the epub and mobi alone.
Have you read this book? Leave a comment below.
- Make a Sutta Reading Practice Plan
- Using an anthology as a daily reading
- Buddhist Stories from the Khandhakas: Selections from The Book of the Discipline—Epub, Kindle
- Jataka Full Translation by E. B. Cowell: Epub, Kindle, Mobi
- Anthologies for practice
- Simple chart of the Sutta Pitaka
Learn to find your way around the Sutta Pitaka with this simple chart.
Below are some resources for helping you become familiar and more comfortable with the books of the Pali Sutta Pitaka.
This chart (as shown in the image above) lists the five main Nikayas and the first ten books of the Khuddaka Nikaya. It also includes the common translation of the title if there is one as well as the number of suttas or verses each contains. The exact numbers sometimes varies according the the original manuscript. These numbers are based on the Sri Lankan Buddha Jayanti Edition.
Simple Chart, Four to a Page
This is the same chart with four copies on each page. This is useful to cut up and use as a bookmark so:
- You will see it frequently
- You can be in the habit of checking what the abbreviations stand for
- As you learn you will have a visual sense of where each book falls in the Canon.
It is also good to carry with you so you can memorize the names and the order.
Audio Recording of the Titles
We need to not only be comfortable knowing what the books are and where to find them, but we should feel confident in pronouncing them as well. This is an MP3 recording of all the titles twice with a pause between each one so you can practice.
Test your knowledge by using this puzzle. See how quickly you can assemble the canon. The pieces can also be folded in half and used as small flash cards, or cut appart the Pali and English names for an extra challenge.
Have you memorized the list of the books in the Sutta Pitaka by heart? How has it helped you to feel comfortable and confident when approaching the teachings? Leave you comments below.
- Canonical Collections for practice: more information about the books in the charts above.
- Building a Sutta Library
- Living in the Land of the Buddha: a Map of Ancient India
- Sutta Practice Life List
- Using an Anthology for Practice
Because there is no single vloume that contains all of the ancient Pali scriptures, it can be a little confusing trying to complete your collection. It can also be difficult to decide which translations are best and whether or not the book is a complete translation or just an an thology.
Below is a link to a two-page PDF that gives book recommendations and sources for building a near complete library of the teachings of the Buddha found in the suttas. It is intended to be a resource for people beginning to explore the suttas as well as people who are tasked with creating an actual sutta library for an organization. It is also very useful for Buddhist families where the parents want their children to grow up in a home that has all of the Blessed One’s teaching.
The following is the main text of the PDF above:
Use this list to build a basic collection of the discourses of Gotama Buddha that is very accurate and written in clear English. The following is a good foundation for a sutta library; other translations may be obtained later as interest grows. For other reliable translations, visit the Canonical Collections for Practice page at ReadingFaithfully.org. Paperback editions are listed when available. See the second page for useful anthologies and book sources. Those books marked with a * can be given priority for people just starting to read the suttas.
These are books of suttas grouped in the ancient categories. Unless otherwise indicated, they are complete translations.
- The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Dīgha Nikāya, by Maurice Walsh (Wisdom Publications, ISBN: 978-0861711031)
- * The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya, by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli, edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi (Wisdom Publications, ISBN: 978-0861710720)
- The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Saṁyutta Nikāya, by Bhikkhu Bodhi (Wisdom Publications, ISBN: 978-0861713318)The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Anguttara Nikaya, by Bhikkhu Bodhi (Wisdom Publications, ISBN: 978-1614290407)
- * The Dhammapada: The Buddha’s Path of Wisdom, by Acharya Buddharakkhita (BPS, BP203S)
- * The Udāna and the Itivuttaka: Two Classics from the Pali Canon, by John D. Ireland (BPS, BP214S)
- The Suttanipāta: An Ancient Collection of the Buddha’s Discourses Together with Its Commentaries, by Bhikkhu Bodhi (Wisdom Publications, ISBN: 9781614294290)
- Stories of Heavenly Mansions (Vimānavatthu) and Stories of Ghosts (Petavatthu), by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thera. Complete translations in simple, modern language. (Mahamegha Publications, available on Amazon.com)
- The Voice of Enlightened Monks (Theragāthā), by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda (Mahamegha Publications, available on Amazon.com). For a more literal translation, try Poems of Early Buddhist Monks (Theragāthā), by K. R. Norman (PTS, paperback ISBN 0 86013 339 7)
- The Voice of Enlightened Nuns (Therīgāthā), by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda (Mahamegha Publications, available on Amazon.com) Poems of Early Buddhist Nuns (Therīgāthā), by Mrs. C.A.F. Rhys Davids and K. R. Norman (PTS, paperback ISBN 0 86013 289 7)
- Jataka Tales of the Buddha: An Anthology (three volume set) by Ken and Visakha Kawasaki (BPS, BP 622S / BP 623S / BP 624S) This is a collection of the commentarial stories with the verses included in the prose narration. It is a selection of the most important stories.
These are book that contain selections of suttas based on a particular topic. Anthologies are an excellent way to begin reading suttas.
- * In the Buddha’s Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon, Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi (Wisdom Publications, ISBN: 978-0861714919) This is the single best starting place for beginning to read the teachings of the Buddha.
- Handful of Leaves Volumes 1–4 (an anthology of the suttas), Dhammapada, Itivuttaka, Merit, Into the Stream, A Mediator’s Tools, Beyond Coping, A Burden Off the Mind, Mindful of the Body, Recognizing the Dhamma. All translated by Ajahn Ṭhanissaro (Metta Forest Monastery, free)
- The Life of the Buddha: According to the Pali Canon, by Nyanamoli Thera (BPS, BP 101S)
- Buddha, My Refuge: Contemplation of the Buddha, by Bhikkhu Khantipalo (BPS, BP 409S)
- Every sutta library must have a good English dictionary readily available for looking up unfamiliar words. It should be as large as possible.
- Concise Pali-English Dictionary, by A.P. Buddhadata Mahathera. Provides simple definitions for thousands of Pali words. Available from Pariyatti.org. (Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN: 978-81-208-0605-4, Paperback)