- Table of Contents
- The Home Page
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- Tibetan Texts
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- Other Collections
- Pali and Chinese lookups
Our texts are divided into three groups: “Sutta”, “Vinaya”, and “Abhidhamma”. These are the three main categories of canonical texts in early Buddhism. The entire navigation structure is available from the header menu.
Within these three main grouping, the texts are organized according to the language of the original texts. There are five lists headed “Pali”, “Chinese”, “Tibetan”, “Sanskrit”, and “Other”. The first four lists refer to the four largest and most often consulted collections of sutta/sūtra material. The fifth one, “Other”, names four small collections, again defined by language: Prākrit, Gāndhārī, Khotanese, Uighur. (The grouping of these four under one heading is adopted here purely for convenience of presentation.)
For each of the four large collections the list shows its recognized “divisions”. For example, the divisions of the Pali collection are the familiar four main nikāyas—Dīgha, Majjhima, Saṃyutta, Aṅguttara, plus the Khuddaka Nikāya, listed in the traditional sequence. Clicking one of these division titles takes you to tables that provide extensive information about the contents of that division. The following description is based initially on the Pali collection. Details specific to the other collections are described in later sections
The tables for the Pali Khuddaka Nikāya are still under construction. Those for the four main nikāyas are essentially complete. The procedure for using them is simplest in the case of the Dīgha and Majjhima Nikāyas because of the relatively small number of suttas involved. Within the Pali collection table, clicking either of these two nikāya titles takes you directly to an Overview of that entire nikāya. For example, clicking “Dīgha Nikāya” brings up a table with this caption:
“Collection: Pāli Suttas — Division: Dīgha Nikāya (DN).”
This table has five columns, of which the first, headed “Identifier”, lists the DN suttas: DN 1 to DN 34. The remaining four columns are headed “Title”, “Vol/Page”, “Parallels”, and “Translations”.
It is the same with the Majjhima-Nikāya. Clicking this title takes you to a similar Overview table, in which the first of the five columns lists the component suttas by their identifiers, from MN 1 to MN 152.
For the remaining two nikāyas there is an intermediate step. Clicking the title “Saṃyutta-Nikāya” brings up a table with just two columns, headed “Identifier” and “Subdivision”. In the Subdivision column appear the titles of the 56 saṃyuttas of SN, from Devatā Saṃyutta to Sacca Saṃyutta. Clicking any one of these saṃyutta titles takes you to the corresponding Overview table. For example, in the case of the first saṃyutta the Overview table has this caption:
Collection: Pāli Suttas — Division: Saṃyutta Nikāya (SN) — Subdivision: Devatā Saṃyutta.
This table is identical in format with the Overview tables for DN and MN. The first of its five columns lists the suttas of the Devatā Saṃyutta, from SN 1.1 to SN 1.81. Comparable tables exist for the other 55 saṃyuttas.
In the case of the Aṅguttara Nikāya the intermediate table of subdivisions lists the eleven nipātas, Ekaka Nipāta to Ekādasaka Nipāta. Clicking the required nipāta title takes you to the corresponding five-column Overview table. There are eleven such tables for AN. The total number of Overview tables for the four main Pali nikāyas is 69 (1+1+56+11).
NOTE: Alternative sutta numbers and alternative page numbers appear in parentheses in certain sections of SN and AN; e.g. “SN 2.1 [SN 82]” and “SN i 46 <SN i 104>”. For guidance on this go to “SUTTA NUMBERING” at the bottom of the screen.
The Overview Tables
To learn about the Overview tables, let’s look at the one for Dīgha Nikāya (accessed by clicking that title on the Home page or in the Pali drop-down menu in the title bar). Of the table’s five columns, the first three are Identifier, Title, and Vol/Page. These relate to the Pali sutta itself. For example, the second sutta in the DN division, known by the identifier “DN 2”, is shown as having the title Sāmaññaphala and as beginning at DN i 47 (i.e., on page 47 of the 1st volume of the PTS edition of the Pali Dīgha Nikāya).
Under the fourth heading, “Parallels”, are listed other suttas/sūtras that have been identified by researchers as parallels or counterparts of DN 2. (On the notion of parallels see under “METHODOLOGY” at the bottom of the screen.) For DN 2 the table lists twelve parallels found in Chinese, Tibetan, and Sanskrit sources. Four of them are marked with an asterisk (*), signifying that they are partial parallels. The remainder, with no asterisk, are deemed to be full parallels.
The fifth column lists available translations in modern languages. For example, for DN 2 there are two translations in English (en) and one each in French (fr), German (de), and Vietnamese (vn). Hovering the cursor on the two-letter language code brings up information on the source of the translation. Clicking the code brings up the translation itself.
To the bottom right of the list of parallels for each sutta entry is a green triangle. Clicking this takes you from the “Overview” table (covering an entire division/subdivision) to a “Parallels in Detail” table (covering just the selected sutta). Let’s take a look at it.
Parallels in Detail
The caption for this table contains the identifier and other information for the sutta you have selected, copied from the Overview table; for example:
Details for DN 2 Sāmaññaphala
The table itself, again with five columns, provides detailed information on the sutta, which is highlighted as the first row, and the parallels, for which the Overview table gave just a bare list of their identifiers. Those identifiers reappear here, one below the other, in the second column. Each is followed, in the 3rd to 5th columns, by the parallel text’s title, volume-and-page reference, and available translations. The first column names the language of the parallel text.
The sequence of the languages listed is Pali, Chinese, Tibetan, Sanskrit, and so on, just as on the Home page. Under each language, full parallels (without asterisk) precede partial parallels (with asterisk); and within each of those categories the sequence is based on the identifier. Chinese identifiers are sequenced according to the Taishō number (the number immediately following “T”, which in some cases is within square brackets). Tibetan and Sanskrit identifiers follow the sequence of the Divisions as listed on the Home page
In the Vol/Page column any reference to a published work is followed by a yellow triangle. Hovering the cursor over this displays the full bibliographic details. (For the complete list of all such sources, as well as other relevant publications, go to “BIBLIOGRAPHY”.) Occasionally there may also be a red triangle, indicating a footnote.
If the identifier of a discourse in any collection shows as a link (indicated by bold blue font), then clicking it will take you to the actual text. For Pali suttas the source of these texts is the Mahāsaṅgīti Tipiṭaka Buddhavasse 2500: World Tipiṭaka Edition in Roman Script, which is based on the Chaṭṭha Saṅgāyana edition. The World Tipiṭaka is generally in close agreement with the PTS editions, but does differ in one significant respect: for MN 10, instead of the Satipaṭṭhāna Sutta it has the text of the Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta, thus duplicating DN 22.
The pages of the displayed Pali text have a consistent format. Located in the right margin are several aids to navigating and reading the text:
- In the case of a large sutta (from DN), there is a list of the sections recognized in the sutta. Clicking any one of these takes you to the section in question. In the case of a decade (vagga) of small suttas (from SN or AN), there is instead a list of the component suttas. You need to click the one you originally selected.
- “Textual Information”. Clicking this causes certain words in the text to appear in purple (currently only for DN). Hovering the cursor over such a word reveals its variant readings. These are readings found in other modern printed editions of the Pali Tipitaka, identified by the abbreviations (e.g., “syā.” for “Siamese edition”). In this respect they differ from the variant readings shown in PTS editions, which refer to source manuscripts.
- “Pali → English Dictionary”. When this is enabled, hovering the cursor over a word brings up a box showing the word’s basic meaning(s). Proper names are treated as if they were common nouns and analysed accordingly. Often a word’s grammatical form or function is also explained; for example, “ahosi: existed; was. (aor. of hoti)”.
- Script selection. Here you can choose the script in which the text will display. Currently available are Roman (the default script), Sinhala, Thai, Burmese, and Devanāgarī.
- Clicking “[k-ā]” displays the romanized text in a manner that is helpful for achieving accurate Pali pronunciation. The syllables are separated, and underlining distinguishes long (garu) syllables from short (lahu).
To search within the displayed sutta, type “control + F”, which will bring up a “Find” box. Type or paste the required word or phrase in the box, then click “Next” or “Highlight all”. In order to capture all occurrences of a word, regardless of its grammatical forms, you may wish to do a truncated search. For example, typing antevās will find antevāsī, antevāsinā, etc. To remove highlighting, delete the content of the “Find” box. To disable “Find”, click the X at the left.
Finally, any selected portion of the text can easily be transferred to a Word document by a simple copy-and-paste procedure. In addition, you can print any page on SuttaCentral using ctrl + p. On modern browsers you can create a pdf file directly from here by choosing "Print to file".
NOTE: An alternative sutta identifier, if one exists, never shows as a link. While you may refer to the alternative identifier (enclosed in square brackets) when locating the text you want, the main identifier (without square brackets) is the one to click. This makes no difference to the outcome, even with the suttas of the Sagātha-vagga of the Saṃyutta Nikāya. In that case the main identifier refers to the Feer edition of 1884 and the alternative identifier to the Somaratne edition of 1998. The text that you get to view is neither of these.
Divisions and subdivisions
For the Chinese collection the Home page lists nine divisions. The eighth division has four subdivisions, as displayed in the following summary:
|Dīrghāgama||DA = T 1|
|Madhyamāgama||MA = T 26|
|Saṃyuktāgama||SA = T 99|
|2nd Saṃyuktāgama||SA2 = T 100|
|3rd Saṃyuktāgama||SA3 = T 101|
|Ekottarikāgama||EA = T 125|
|2nd Ekottarikāgama||EA2 = T 150A|
|Other Āgama Sūtras:|
|Other Dīrgha Sūtras||T 2 to 25|
|Other Madhyama Sūtras||T 27 to 98|
|Other Saṃyukta Sūtras||T 102 to 124|
|Other Ekottarika Sūtras||T 126 to 149, 150B, 151|
|Other Taishō Texts||T 152 to end of Taishō ed.|
Four of the divisions are for the āgamas: Dīrgha (DA = T 1), Madhyama (MA = T 26), Saṃyukta (SA = T 99), and Ekottarika (EA = T 125). Then there are three divisions for the three partial āgamas (SA2 = T 100, SA3 = T 101, and EA2 = T 150A). A further division, “Other Āgama Sūtras”, covers the individual sūtra translations associated with the āgamas—hence its four subdivisions. The remaining division, “Other Taishō Texts” covers any material outside of the Āgama category.
The first eight divisions represent the contents of volumes i and ii of the multi-volume Taishō edition, which together bear the label 阿含部 Ahan Bu, “Āgama Section”. The ninth division represents the contents of volumes iii onwards.
As with the Pali collection, clicking a division title on the Home page takes you to the corresponding Overview table, either directly or by way of an intermediate subdivision table. Here there are subdivision tables not only for “Saṃyuktāgama” and “Ekottarikāgama” but also for “Other Āgama Sūtras”.
Because there are (with few exceptions) no explicit headings in the texts marking the saṃyuktas of SA or the nipātas of EA, a mechanical mode of subdividing these two āgamas is adopted here. For SA the 1362 sūtras are arbitrarily grouped into centuries: SA 1 to 100, SA 101 to 200, and so on down to SA 1301 to 1362. For EA the sūtras are grouped according to the 52 decades (品 pin “vaggas”) recognized in the text headings, with the sūtras of each decade numbered as in the text. For example, EA 12.1 is the first sūtra in the 12th decade (not in the 12th scroll, juan).
For “Other Āgama Sūtras” the subdivisions correspond to the āgamas with which the sūtras in question are associated. Thus, “Other Dīrgha Sūtras” comprises the 24 sūtras (T 2 to T 25) that are located after the Dīrghāgama (T 1 = DA), each of which is an alternative Chinese translation of a sūtra already represented in that āgama. For example, T 2, T 3, and T 4 are all parallels to the first sūtra in the Dīrghāgama (DA 1 = T 1.1).
The Chinese tables for Overview and Parallels in Detail have the same format as their Pali counterparts. Regrettably, the Translations column is often empty; few Western translations of the Chinese āgama materials exist, and even fewer are accessible from SuttaCentral. Some can, however, be found among the publications of Bhikkhu Anālayo, many of which are downloadable. For the list, go to READINGS.
Viewing the texts
For a discourse in Chinese, clicking the blue identifier takes you to the relevant page at CBETA. In most cases the beginning of the required discourse will show in red font at the top of the screen. However, in some cases (most notably the sūtras of EA2) you may need to scroll down to find it. To do this, make use of the page/register/line numbers at the left and, if you wish, the Find function as well. Scrolling will also be necessary if you are looking for a specific vol/page reference.
If the discourse extends over more than one scroll (or fascicle, 卷 juan), the remainder of it can be viewed by clicking the “下一卷” button at the right below the last visible line of text. This is the case with two Dirghāgama sūtras, and fourteen “other Āgama” sūtras, namely: DA 2, DA 30, T 3, T 5-8, T 10-13, T 23-25, T 45, T 81. To return to the beginning of the sūtra, click “上一卷”. The same two buttons enable you to move from scroll to scroll within any of the four āgamas and the second Saṃyuktāgama. (Only in these five divisions are such large amounts of sūtra text contained in a single document.)
Within the displayed scroll (juan) you can search for a character or phrase by using the “Find” box at the bottom left. (To activate it, type “control + F”). If you don’t have the means to type in Chinese, you may be able to copy-and-paste an instance of the required character from the text itself. Failing that, you could do the same from an on-line Chinese dictionary. A handy source for this purpose is the Digital Dictionary of Buddhism at http://buddhism-dict.net/ddb/ (Just below the DDB Search box, click either “Radical” or “Total strokes”; then locate and copy the needed character.) “Find” will remember your request if you then move on to the next scroll. For more comprehensive searches (e.g., a search of the entire Āgama section (T vols. i and ii), go to the CBETA home page at http://tripitaka.cbeta.org/T. There you will also find tools for other purposes, such as quoting a segment of the Chinese text (together with its citation data) in your own document.
The three divisions provisionally recognized here for Tibetan texts are based on purely pragmatic considerations. A limited number of parallels to the Pali and Chinese sūtras are scattered through the Tibetan canon, mainly in the Vinaya ('dul ba) and Sutta (Mdo) sections of the Kanjur. These are covered by the first of the three divisions, “Derge / Peking editions”.
Numerous quotations from sūtras, some complete but most of them incomplete, are found in the Upāyikā, Śāntideva’s supplement to the Abhidharmakośa, titled Abhidharmakośaṭīkopāyikā in Sanskrit and Chos mngon pa'i mdzod kyi 'grel bshad nye bar mkho ba in the Tibetan translation of the now lost source text. This is preserved as a single large text (D 4094 or Q 5595) in the Abhidharma (mngon pa) section of the Tanjur, which is therefore treated here as a division, called “Upāyikā”. Only a small number of such quotations are currently listed in SuttaCentral, but many will soon be added.
Finally, the small corpus of published critical editions of Tibetan sūtras is treated as a third division, “Critical Editions”. For most users these will be the most convenient and instructive source of Tibetan sūtra texts.
Viewing the texts
Direct access to the Tibetan texts is not currently available via SuttaCentral. To view them you need to visit one of the relevant websites. A good choice is the ACIP site at http://www.asianclassics.org/etext.php, where you can view the Derge edition. The following instructions are specific to that site.
You will need to register as a user on your first visit and sign in on subsequent visits. Under the “Online Etext” tab, select “Kangyur” for most Sūtra and Vinaya texts, or “Tengyur” for the Upāyikā.
Let’s suppose you wish to view the quotation from the Brahmajāla-sutta (DN 1) that the tables tell us is located in the Upāyikā (D 4094) at mngon: ju 141b4. To begin your search, select “Tengyur”. From the list of 16 headings click “mngon pa” (the 7th one down). This brings up a list of volume numbers. The Upāyikā is in volumes ju and nyu (the 8th and 9th ones down); ju is the volume required in this instance. Clicking on ju brings up the Upāyikā’s Tibetan title (Chos mngon pa’i mdzod …) together with “Toh. 4094.01” (= D 4094, part 1 of 2). To view the text, click “etext” at the right. Then scroll down to find the relevant folio number (141), side (B) and line number (4).
If you click “etext || scan” rather than “etext”, you get to view a scan of the actual manuscript folio, together with a parallel letter-by-letter analysis. For guidance on how to use the search function, click the “Online Etext” tab.
If the SuttaCentral tables list a critical edition of a Tibetan text, you can consult the book or article in question. For its full bibliographic details, hover over the yellow triangle next to the publication reference. All such referenced publications are listed in the BIBLIOGRAPHY.
The word “Sanskrit” is used here in a broad sense, so as to include all varieties of “Buddhist Sanskrit” or “Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit”.
Much of the sūtra or sūtra-related material in Sanskrit is in the form of fragmentary manuscripts of widely varying size. Published edited texts that are complete and/or of substantial size are reckoned here as divisions, referred to by the text titles; there are five of these. Fragmentary texts published in the SHT series constitute another division; and fragmentary texts dealt with in other diverse publications are assigned to the last division, “Other Fragments”.
For Sanskrit materials whose identifier shows as a link (Avs, Divy, Lal, Mvu, Sanghabh, or Skt frgm), clicking that link takes you to the GRETIL website. To get to the section you require, scroll down to the location cited in the “In Detail” table.
- For “Avs”, “Divy”, or “Lal” the location is the cited page number in the Vaidya edition.
- For “Sanghabh” the location is the volume and page number in Gnoli 1977 (vol. I) or 1978 (vol. II); e.g., for Gnoli 1977: 128-136, go to I 128.
- For “Mvu”, the location is the volume and page number in Senart 1882 (vol. 1), 1890 (vol. 2), or 1897 (vol. 3); e.g., for Senart 1890: 118, go to 2.118.
- For “Skt frgm” the location is the paragraph number (cited in round brackets after the page number) in Tripāṭhi 1995 or Waldschmidt 1950–1951; e.g., for Tripāṭhi 1995: 197 (28.8), go to 28.8.
NOTE: In these GRETIL texts italics, bolding, or parentheses identify restored sections (i.e. sections of text that are not actually preserved in the manuscript but have been inferred by various means by the editor).
If a Sanskrit identifier shows no link, you may need to go to the listed book or journal article. For its full bibliographic details, click the yellow triangle next to the publication reference. All such referenced publications are listed in the BIBLIOGRAPHY.
Under this heading are grouped, for ease of presentation, four different collections/divisions: Prākrit, Gāndhārī, Khotanese, and Uighur. Each of these is represented in SuttaCentral by a very small amount of data relating to fragmentary remains. This amount will certainly grow as we continue updating our database, particularly in the case of Gāndhārī. In any case users of SuttaCentral should need little guidance in working with this section of the website.
The set of three lists accessed via the title bar on every page is one of the two gateways to the suttas of Early Buddhism. The other is the “Search” box, located right beside it in the title bar.
The “Search” box enables you to locate a desired text quickly, provided that you know at least one of its three distinguishing features: its identifier, its title, or its vol/page reference. This method of locating a text is appropriate if you are not sure where that text fits within the structure of the collection it belongs to—or if you do know where it fits but would like to reach it more quickly.
The “Search” box is distinct from the “Find” box which is a part of your web browser, often opened by pressing “Ctrl + F” and which enables you to find a word within whichever text is currently displayed on the screen. SuttaCentral’s “Search”, which is always visible at the top right, enables you to locate that text in the first place.
Searching by identifier
The simplest kind of search is one in which you know the sutta’s identifier. Suppose it is MN 115. Click inside the search box and type “mn 115” or “mn115”.
This will return a number of results, typically the top results will contain:
- The parallels and details for MN 115
- The root pali text for MN 115
- Translations of MN 115
Searching for translations in your language
At present the search is language neutral, meaning all matching results will be returned with no effort made to guess the user's language. However as SuttaCentral's user base is predominately english-speaking, there is a slight bias towards english translations. So when words are common across langauges, such as pali terms and proper names, english results will be higher in the list.
Note that you may include a language code or name in your query,
en ananda or
english ananda are both equivilant, and you can also use the more advanced system
lang:en ananda which would exclude matching the word ‘en’ specifying you only want texts with the language ‘en’. You may use any language code on SuttaCentral.
When searching for non-english texts, the search will respect diacriticals if you use them, but they are not required. A search for
ananda will match ‘ānanda’.
Advanced search featuresSuttaCentral uses an advanced search engine which supports making extremely precise queries, this can be done with prefixes and other control characters. Natural language queries will normally work well, but there is also an advanced syntax for a higher degree of control over results. A non-exhaustive list of possibilities include:
- To perform a phrase search enclose the phrase in double quotes, for example
"one thing". Only texts containing exactly that phrase will be returned.
- You can also perform a phrase search where the terms simply need to be in close proximity by using a ~num, for example
"kassapa buddha"~2will return results containing kassapa and buddha seperated by not more than 2 words, such as “in the days when Kassapa was Supreme Buddha”.
- You can use an asterisk to stand in for zero or more characters, or a ? to stand in for exactly one character. This can be useful when searching for compound words in pali.
You can restrict the search to results with a field of a particular value by using field:value. For example
lang:piwould only return results with the pali language.
root_lang:pi lang:enwould only return english translations of pali suttas.
define:satiwould only return dictionary definitions of sati.
content:Buddhawould return only texts which content contains the exact word 'Buddha' (in the normal search there is a little fuzziness, and variantions such as ‘Buddhas’ or ‘Buddhā’ would be considered an acceptable match).
- You can use AND, OR and NOT to perform boolean operations in which case they must be capitalized. AND/OR are almost never useful as the relevancy calculation tends to put the most relevant AND results at the top and less relevant OR reslts lower down. NOT is ocasionally useful, and you can also use a hyphen to exclude a term. For example
Sariputta NOT Moggallanaor
Sariputta -Moggallanawould return texts which feature only Sariputta with not mention of Moggallana. You can even use brackets to change the order in which AND, OR and NOT are applied, a feature which will almost certainly never be useful.
Things you can't search for
Due to the advanced query syntax, and due to other constraints with search engines there are some things which as a rule you cannot search for, which includes:
- Any form of punctuation.
- Specific capitalization of words. Search is normally capitalization neutral.
- The specific words AND, OR and NOT but only when captitalized.
Note that as an exception to the rule you may be able to search for punctuation when it occurs in indentifiers.
Vinaya texts in SuttaCentral are organized in a manner similar to the Sutta texts. However, the Vinaya texts have a much greater degree of parallelism: we include some 45 versions of the bhikkhu pātimokkha, for example. For this reason the manner of handling the texts is somewhat different.
Let’s assume you want to check the parallels for a certain Vinaya rule, say the Pali bhikkhu pācittiya 1, about lying. Start on the home page with the Theravāda Bhikkhu Vibhaṅga or Bhikkhu Pātimokkha. Scroll down to the first pācittiya. As with the suttas, you can access the original text in the left column, the translation, if any, at the right, and the Volume/Page information for the PTS edition is given. Unlike the Suttas, we don't give the brief list of parallels in the Parallels column, as there are simply too many. So we just note that there are 41 parallels in this case and you can click the triangle to see the full list of details.
On the Details page each text is given , with Vol/Page information where we have it. Texts present on SuttaCentral are, of course, linked. We also inform you where a rule is absent because of a gap in the manuscript. At the bottom of the table our handy citation tool is ready.
To help read the Pali and Chinese texts we provide a sophisticated lookup tool. This will parse the text and obtain the most relevant entry or entries from a brief dictionary, which appears instantly when you hover over the word. If you click on the head word of the popup, it will take you to the full dictionary entry: for the Pali to the Pali Text Society’s Pali-English Dictionary, and for the Chinese to Charles Muller’s Digital Dictionary of Buddhism.
The Pali lookup works by parsing the Pali word, dropping off the endings, and identifying the root. If it is a compound, it will be broken up, with each element identified, including the sandhi. Obviously it is not possible to do this programmatically with 100% accuracy; we estimate we’re currently about 85%.
For the Chinese we don’t have the problem of parsing the morphology of the word, but we have a range of other problems. The Buddhist Chinese texts frequently use Chinese characters to phonetically represent Indic words, especially names, and in addition have a variety of unusual idiomatic usages. So we identify the longest string found in the dictionary, and show you all the possible break-downs of the given phrase, from the longest to the shortest. This makes it possible for a non-Chinese speaker to easily read many passages.