Sutta Pitaka: The Scriptures of Theravada Buddhism

Everything we teach comes from the ancient sermons taught by Gautama Buddha and his enlightened disciples that lived with him. They have been preserved in the Sutta Pitaka by the Theravada Buddhist tradition. Below you can see an outline of the books that make up the Sutta Pitaka as well as titles of translations into simple English. Many of these books are available from our free lending library as well as from our bookshop.

Want to learn more? Check out our Introduction to Buddhism Class.

Dīgha Nikāya, Long Discourses (D or DN): Contains 34 suttas that range in length from 5 to 47 pages.

  • The Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Dīgha Nikāya by Maurice Walsh, Wisdom Publications.

Majjhima Nikāya, Middle Length Discourses(M or MN): Contains 152 suttas, most from 5 to 10 pages.

  • The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: a Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya, translated by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli, edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi, Wisdom Publications.

Saṁyutta Nikaya, Connected Discourses(S or SN): Contains thousands of short suttas grouped by topic.

Aṅguttara Nikāya, Numerical Discourses(A or AN): Contains thousands of suttas mostly one or two pages long.

  • The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Aṅguttara Nikāya, by Bhikkhu Bodhi, Wisdom Publications.

Khudhaka Nikāya, Short Books: This nikāya is a group of smaller autonomous books, explained individually below.

Khuddakapāṭha (Khp): This is a collection of 10 suttas.

Dhammapada (Dhp): This is a collection of 423 short verses, grouped into 26 chapters. This is an excellent text for newcomers and experienced practitioners alike. It takes about 4 minutes to read one chapter so it is well suited to someone with a short amount of time available. Even just reading a single verse each day will instill your life with the Blessed One’s wisdom.

  • Dhammapada, translated by Venerable Acharya Buddharakkhita.

Udana (Ud): This collection contains 80 suttas composed of (usually) a story in prose form followed by an inspired verse.

  • The Udāna and the Itivuttaka, Two Classics from the Pali Canon, translated by John D. Ireland, Buddhist Publication Society (BPS) Complete text.

Itivuttaka (Itv): This collection contains 112 suttas of prose followed by verse. Most suttas are two pages or less.

  • The Udāna and the Itivuttaka, Two Classics from the Pali Canon, translated by John D. Ireland, Buddhist Publication Society (BPS) Complete text.

Sutta Nipāta (Sn or Snp,): Seventy one sets of verses, sometimes preceded by a prose story.

Vimānavatthu (Vv) and Petavatthu (Pv): Teachings in verse about the results of good and bad action

Theragāthā (Thag) and Therīgāthā (Thīg): Verses of Arahant Bhikkhus and Bhikkhuṇis. Two excellent collections for practice. The ultimate source for inspiration and reminder of the goal of the practice.

Jataka (J): The canonical part of this collection are only verses. What are commonly known as the Jataka stories are actually the commentary stories behind them.

  • Jataka Tales of the Buddha: An Anthology, Volume 1-3, by Ken Kawasaki and Visakha Kawasaki. This is a selection of the stories.
 
 

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