Differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.

Differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas

Postby Unrul3r » Thu Jul 03, 2014 3:07 pm

Hello Dhamma Wheelers,

I posted a question on Stack Exchange regarding the differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas. I was hoping to get a comprehensive answer, so I thought I would also post it here since people around here can probably answer it.
Buddhism.SE Question wrote:What are the salient differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas?

I'm looking specifically for a list of discourses that are unique in the Āgama collection. A list of the main doctrinal differences is also acceptable but it would need to have references to back it up.

Thank you.

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Re: Differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas

Postby Qianxi » Thu Jul 03, 2014 6:41 pm

When talking about similarities and differences, I don't think it's very helpful to put all the Chinese agama texts together because all of the main Agama collections come from different schools. You have to take the Chinese agama collections separately.

You can get an approximate idea of the various Agama collections' relationship to the Pali canon by browsing http://suttacentral.net
For example if you look at the Sarvastivada Madhyama Agama (MA) preserved in Chinese http://suttacentral.net/ma parallel texts ending in N (DN,MN,SN,AN) are in the Pali canon. You can find what the site means by 'parallel' by clicking on the 'methodology' tab on the front page.

Obviously this is only an approximate idea. The details can't really be summarised. To get a more detailed idea I'd suggest reading some of the work of Analayo, perhaps starting with his review of the different versions of the Dhammacakkappavattana-sutta part 1 part 2

There's lots more of interest available here: http://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg. ... ations.htm
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Re: Differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas

Postby Unrul3r » Thu Jul 03, 2014 6:45 pm

Qianxi wrote:When talking about similarities and differences, I don't think it's very helpful to put all the Chinese agama texts together because all of the main Agama collections come from different schools. You have to take the Chinese agama collections separately.

You can get an approximate idea of the various Agama collections' relationship to the Pali canon by browsing http://suttacentral.net
For example if you look at the Sarvastivada Madhyama Agama (MA) preserved in Chinese http://suttacentral.net/ma parallel texts ending in N (DN,MN,SN,AN) are in the Pali canon. You can find what the site means by 'parallel' by clicking on the 'methodology' tab on the front page.

Obviously this is only an approximate idea. The details can't really be summarised. To get a more detailed idea I'd suggest reading some of the work of Analayo, perhaps starting with his review of the different versions of the Dhammacakkappavattana-sutta part 1 part 2

There's lots more of interest available here: http://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg. ... ations.htm


Thank you for the reply Qianxi, I'm aware of those resources and I've already read most of Analayo's publications.

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Re: Differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas

Postby daverupa » Thu Jul 03, 2014 7:35 pm

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas

Postby Unrul3r » Thu Jul 03, 2014 7:40 pm

daverupa wrote:Are you aware of Akanuma's Comparative Catalogue of Chinese Agamas and Pali Nikayas?


Yes, I'm aware of it, thank you for mentioning. It's also available for free at Marcus Bingenheimer's website.

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Re: Differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas

Postby daverupa » Thu Jul 03, 2014 8:10 pm

In that case, other than Pande's Studies in the origins of Buddhism and the Early Buddhism resources on the site here, I think everything I'm aware of has been mentioned.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas

Postby Unrul3r » Thu Jul 03, 2014 8:36 pm

daverupa wrote:In that case, other than Pande's Studies in the origins of Buddhism and the Early Buddhism resources on the site here, I think everything I'm aware of has been mentioned.


I've read only it's third part, didn't read part one & two. Maybe I've missed something there. Do you think it can answer the OP's question?

Thank you for your effort, daverupa.

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Re: Differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas

Postby daverupa » Thu Jul 03, 2014 11:13 pm

I had expected that trawling the Catalogue would have done that; how is it deficient?

Pande really only mentions it across pages 3-6 or so, but the rest of the book offers an interesting set of thoughts.

But, a specific list is perhaps not yet extant? Maybe that's where you come in...
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas

Postby Unrul3r » Fri Jul 04, 2014 7:46 am

daverupa wrote:I had expected that trawling the Catalogue would have done that; how is it deficient?

Pande really only mentions it across pages 3-6 or so, but the rest of the book offers an interesting set of thoughts.

But, a specific list is perhaps not yet extant? Maybe that's where you come in...


Who said it is deficient? It is just not readable nor practical to answer the question, not deficient. I was looking for the main points of divergence but I guess I'll have to wait.

Thank you for the considerate replies.

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Re: Differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas

Postby Qianxi » Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:09 am

This thread ( Kalama Sutta: Why in Anguttara Nikaya Chapter three? ) reminded me of an interesting difference.

There is a parallel to the Anguttara Nikaya Kalama Sutta (AN 3.65) in the Sarvāstivāda Madhyama Āgama preserved in Chinese (MA 16).

They are basically the same: the Kalamas come to the Buddha with doubts, the Buddha tells them that the three roots of evil are desire hatred and ignorance, that one can free oneself from these by developing the four divine abodes and that this will result in the four assurances.

The main difference is that in the Anguttara Nikaya the Buddha's initial response to the Kalamas' doubts is the following famous passage:
“It is fitting for you to be perplexed, Kālāmas, fitting for you to be in doubt. Doubt has arisen in you about a perplexing matter. Come, Kālāmas, do not go by oral tradition, by lineage of teaching, by hearsay, by a collection of scriptures, by logical reasoning, by inferential reasoning, by reasoned cogitation, by the acceptance of a view after pondering it, by the seeming competence of a speaker, or because you think: ‘The ascetic is our guru.’ But when, Kālāmas, you know for yourselves: ‘These things are unwholesome; these things are blameworthy; these things are censured by the wise; these things, if accepted and undertaken, lead to harm and suffering,’ then you should abandon them.


However in the Sarvāstivāda Madhyama Āgama the above passage does not appear, and instead the Buddha says:
“Kalamas, do not doubt! Why? When there is doubt, hesitation arises.
Kalamas, you yourselves do not have clear knowledge about whether there is a next life or whether there is no next life. Kalamas, you yourselves also do not have clear knowledge about what action is an offence and what action is not an offence.


There is a discussion of this in Analayo's lecture series on the Madhyama Agama available as mp3 here (end of lecture 9, beginning of lecture 10)
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Re: Differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas

Postby Mkoll » Fri Jul 11, 2014 9:12 am

Nice find Qianxi. Thanks for pointing that out.

:thanks:

It's always interesting to hear what different recensions have to say, especially about such famous suttas as the Kalama Sutta.
Peace,
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Re: Differences between the Pāḷi Nikāyas & Chinese Āgamas

Postby Unrul3r » Sat Jul 12, 2014 2:22 pm

Qianxi wrote:...


Interesting, Qianxi. Thank you for the note. They are most welcome.

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