Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

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Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby zavk » Mon Jun 08, 2009 2:06 am

Hi all,

A quick question.

If I were to say, 'The Pali canon has some XXXXX suttas', what would be a reasonable estimate for xxxxx?

Hmmm... maybe I should be more precise. If I'm talking specifically about the Sutta Pitaka, what would be a good estimate for xxxxxx?

Or, if I were talking about the collection of all materials in the Tipitaka, what would be a good estimate for xxxxx?

Thanks.
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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:43 am

Rough estimates, I don't know the exact number off-hand:

Sutta Pitaka: Over 10,000 suttas

entire Tipitaka: 40 volumes, about 15,000 to 20,000 pages in most translations
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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby kc2dpt » Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:52 am

Have you tried google?
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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jun 08, 2009 3:58 am

Good idea. Good old google:

http://www.vipassana.com/canon/sutta.php

8,777 suttas just in the Anguttara Nikaya !
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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby zavk » Mon Jun 08, 2009 4:18 am

Thank you!

Yeah, I did Google it and got an estimate of 'over 10,000', but I thought I'd raise the question here to see if I can get a more precise estimation.
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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 08, 2009 5:53 am

I'm not sure if the number of Suttas is that useful a measure. "How much information is there in the Suttas?" might be more interesting.

Counting Suttas means little as far as information is concerned. Some are really short, and some really long. Also, many of the Suttas in the SN (and possibly the AN) just involve permutations of khandhas, sense bases, etc, so once you've read one you've read six, or 12, or 24, or ...

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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby zavk » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:15 am

Hi Mike,

For sure... I'm not using the size of the canon to measure the merits of its ideas. I was just after a number so that I can use it (as a general comment of sorts) to indicate how much work has been put in to preserve the canon--to indicate the gargantuan hermeneutical undertaking involved.

:)
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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:27 am

Hmm, yes, but then wouldn't the word count be more useful? You could probably download the Pali version of the Canon and do "wc" on it (wc being a standard unix/gnu command-line tool for counting words in a file or files). Then do the same with the bible... Hmm, this is sounding a bit geeky... :coffee: ... sorry...

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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby zavk » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:35 am

Hahahaha.... yes it's a geeky suggestion. You know, now that you've mentioned it, I would really like to find out! :)

Anyway, I think the fact that there are so many different texts--each cross-referencing the other, each expanding on the other--indicates the enormity of the hermeneutical task. I think it certainly warns against a narrow reading of any one text, like the much misinterpreted Kalama Sutta for instance, as you have pointed out elsewhere.
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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 08, 2009 6:47 am

Hmm Ven. Dhammanando is not above such geekiness:
http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index. ... t&p=702147
Dhammanando,Jun 18 2007, 01:46 PM wrote:
Temtts,Jun 17 2007, 01:00 PM wrote:Thank you everyone! Does anyone know how big the Tipitaka is? I've heard it said it is the size of about 11 or 13 Christian Bibles. True?

I think this is a bit of an exaggeration. This size ratio was first proposed by one of the pioneering British Pali scholars and it's been bandied about ever since, though never with any explanation of how the figure was arrived at.

Perhaps the fairest way of assessing their respective sizes would be to do a word count of the Tipitaka in Pali and the Bible in Latin, since these two languages are both inflectional ones in which it typically takes the same amount of words to say the same thing. I did in fact carry out such a word count some years ago, using digital editions, and found the Tipitaka to be roughly four and a half times the length of the Vulgate. The Vulgate of course includes the Apocrypha, so the results would be rather different if one used a slimmed down Protestant Bible. Even so, I doubt the Tipitaka would be as much as 11 times larger.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

I love the way Venerable assumes we know what he's talking about...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulgate

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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby Kare » Mon Jun 08, 2009 10:36 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hmm Ven. Dhammanando is not above such geekiness:
http://www.lioncity.net/buddhism/index. ... t&p=702147
Dhammanando,Jun 18 2007, 01:46 PM wrote:
Temtts,Jun 17 2007, 01:00 PM wrote:Thank you everyone! Does anyone know how big the Tipitaka is? I've heard it said it is the size of about 11 or 13 Christian Bibles. True?

I think this is a bit of an exaggeration. This size ratio was first proposed by one of the pioneering British Pali scholars and it's been bandied about ever since, though never with any explanation of how the figure was arrived at.

Perhaps the fairest way of assessing their respective sizes would be to do a word count of the Tipitaka in Pali and the Bible in Latin, since these two languages are both inflectional ones in which it typically takes the same amount of words to say the same thing. I did in fact carry out such a word count some years ago, using digital editions, and found the Tipitaka to be roughly four and a half times the length of the Vulgate. The Vulgate of course includes the Apocrypha, so the results would be rather different if one used a slimmed down Protestant Bible. Even so, I doubt the Tipitaka would be as much as 11 times larger.

Best wishes,
Dhammanando Bhikkhu

I love the way Venerable assumes we know what he's talking about...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulgate

Mike


I did a rough count some years ago, based on the Bangkok edition of the Pali Tipitaka and the Norwegian translation of the Bible. I did not do a word count, for the many composite words in Pali would then give a very misleading result. Instead I tried to find a rough estimate of text/contents per page. I do not claim to be anywhere near accuracy - but from my calculations the Tipitaka was roughly equal to 11-12 Bibles.
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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby Sindre » Mon Jun 08, 2009 1:15 pm

Maybe one way to measure this is to see how many MB of space the entire cannon uses on a computer, and see how many MB the Bible uses - and then compare?


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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jun 08, 2009 1:42 pm

Kare wrote:I did a rough count some years ago, based on the Bangkok edition of the Pali Tipitaka and the Norwegian translation of the Bible. I did not do a word count, for the many composite words in Pali would then give a very misleading result. Instead I tried to find a rough estimate of text/contents per page. I do not claim to be anywhere near accuracy - but from my calculations the Tipitaka was roughly equal to 11-12 Bibles.

I agree. I don't know, it looks pretty big to me:

Image

One set; 40 volumes above, distributed by the Thai government to select temples throughout the world.

But admittedly, there is a lot of repetition in it, since it was oral for a while. I suppose if you don't count all of the repetition, it might be about half that or less.
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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 08, 2009 8:40 pm

40 Volumes would include commentaries, wouldn't it?

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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jun 08, 2009 8:59 pm

mikenz66 wrote:40 Volumes would include commentaries, wouldn't it?

I'm not sure. Let's count (I'm doing this as I'm typing, just like talking :tongue: ):

Digha Nikaya = about 5 volumes in the original PTS
Majjhima Nikaya = about 5 volumes in the original PTS
Samyutta Nikaya = about 5 volumes in the original PTS
Anguttara Nikaya = 5 volumes in the only PTS translation
Khuddaka Nikaya = 15 books, so possibly as many as 15 volumes (though some are short)

Vinaya = 6 volumes

Abhidhamma = 7 volumes

So let's see, that adds up to 48. So no, I think the 40 volumes is just the Tipitaka, not even including the commentaries.
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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby mikenz66 » Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:14 pm

Hmm, this just shows what a flexible thing a "volume" is. The DN and MN are 3 volumes in the orginal PTS, but they are only a few hundred pages each so they could easily be one volume each (as the modern translations are).

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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby David N. Snyder » Mon Jun 08, 2009 9:24 pm

mikenz66 wrote:Hmm, this just shows what a flexible thing a "volume" is. The DN and MN are 3 volumes in the orginal PTS, but they are only a few hundred pages each so they could easily be one volume each (as the modern translations are).

:oops: I did not have my copies near me and was just going off memory. Okay, three volumes each in the DN and MN, but that would still total 44 and then combining some of the KN books could get it down to 40 volumes.

But you are right, everyone could have a different definition of what a 'volume' is and conceivably, the number could be much lower, depending upon the translation. I notice that Bhikkhu Bodhi has started removing some of the repetition in his translations, such as . . . "from this point, same as verse xx.xx above . . . "
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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby Kare » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:10 pm

mikenz66 wrote:40 Volumes would include commentaries, wouldn't it?

Mike


The Bangkok edition in Thai characters is 45 volumes. No commentaries.
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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby Kare » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:12 pm

TheDhamma wrote:
mikenz66 wrote:Hmm, this just shows what a flexible thing a "volume" is. The DN and MN are 3 volumes in the orginal PTS, but they are only a few hundred pages each so they could easily be one volume each (as the modern translations are).

:oops: I did not have my copies near me and was just going off memory. Okay, three volumes each in the DN and MN, but that would still total 44 and then combining some of the KN books could get it down to 40 volumes.

But you are right, everyone could have a different definition of what a 'volume' is and conceivably, the number could be much lower, depending upon the translation. I notice that Bhikkhu Bodhi has started removing some of the repetition in his translations, such as . . . "from this point, same as verse xx.xx above . . . "


Even the texts in Pali remove some repetitions with a "...pe...", which means "...etc...".
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Re: Quick question about the size of the Pali Canon

Postby Individual » Mon Jun 08, 2009 11:49 pm

Based on decades of research, my best estimate is - 1 widgets long, where a "widget" is a unit of measurement defined as a text of indeterminate length, or roughly 1/5th the size of Google's database.

If you were to count every grain of sand along the bank of the river Ganges, etc., etc..
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