SuttaCentral is a treasury of early Buddhist texts. There are several traditions of Buddhism, each of which has preserved texts from the earliest canonical collections. Until now, these texts have been kept in separate collections in Pali, Chinese, Tibetan, and various other Indic languages. SuttaCentral gathers these texts and makes them accessible for all.
SuttaCentral is for anyone who has an interest in Buddhism and wants to delve deeper into the canonical scriptures of the earliest period.
SuttaCentral includes detailed references, shows relationships between texts in diverse collections, and, where possible, provides original text and translations. Texts include the Pali canon of the Theravāda school, which we have in both modern translations and the original Pali. SuttaCentral also provides the early Āgama texts in the Taishō edition of the Chinese canon, as well as references for the Tibetan Kangyur, Sanskrit, and other languages, which are much smaller in number than the Pali and Chinese collections.
The main navigation is through the tables of parallels on the “Home” tab, which you can also access through the navigation menu bar in the top header. If you’re looking for a particular Sutta, try searching the title. If you want to read some translations, click the “Read” tab. Still lost? See our help page.
SuttaCentral aims to gather the best translations for early Buddhist texts in various world languages. The Buddha told his followers to learn the Dhamma in their own language, so students should not have to undergo a lengthy course in arcane languages before studying the Dhamma. We are, however, limted by the availability of translations, so this is a work in progress.
These include classic works by Bhikkhu Bodhi, new English translations of Chinese Saṁyukta Āgama texts by Bhikkhu Anālayo, fresh translations from the Tibetan Upāyikā by Sāmaṇerī Dhammadinnā, and others from a variety of sources.
In the lists of texts on the “Home” tab, you’ll see that some of the items have English titles. These are the collections for which we have translations. Click through to the next page, and the list of translated texts is on the right.
SuttaCentral include three of the most important discourses of the Dīgha Nikāya, translated by the eminent Pali translator, Bhikkhu Bodhi: the Sāmaññaphala Sutta on the fruits of the spiritual path, the Brahmajāla Sutta on the net of misleading views, and the Mahānidāna Sutta on causation.
In 1929 Chizen Akanuma, a Japanese scholar, published Comparative Catalogue of Chinese Agamas & Pali Nikayas. This was the first comprehensive list of parallels between the Pali and Chinese texts. His work has been corrected and expanded by a succession of scholars, and revised for SuttaCentral by Rod Bucknell and Bhikkhu Anālayo.
We use “parallel” for variant texts that appear to be descended from a common ancestor. Often, the texts are so close that this identification is simple. Sometimes, however, there is a less close relationship between a two given texts. In such cases we indicate a “partial parallel” with an asterisk*. This doesn’t imply any particular kind of relationship between the partial parallel and the basic text. It simply suggests that if you are studying the basic text, you might want to look at the partial parallel, too. For a detailed discussion, see here.
There are thousands of texts in the corpus of early Buddhist literature, and it is no trivial matter to discern what texts should be regarded as parallel. Texts often agree in many details, and disagree in others. When does a text stop being a full parallel and start being a partial parallel? And when does it become merely a text that bears certain similar features? There are no black and white answers to such questions. Rather, making these identifications draws on the accumulated learning and experience of a succession of scholars. Inevitably there will be disagreements in detail; yet in the main, there is a broad consensus as to what constitutes a parallel. Ultimately, the important point is that these identifications help the student to study and learn from related texts in diverse collections.