Earliness of the Sutta Nipata

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

Earliness of the Sutta Nipata

Postby Mkoll » Sat Aug 02, 2014 10:12 pm

Hi all,

I've read that the Sutta Nipata is one of the earliest collections of suttas and that two of its chapters, the Atthaka Vagga and one other (Parayana Vagga I think), are the oldest. The Wikipedia page has this:

Some scholars[2] believe that it describes the oldest of all Buddhist practices.

2. Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, Japan, 1980; reprinted by Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1987, 1989, pp. 45-6.


I don't have this book and I'm wondering why Nakamura thinks this is the case and what evidence he has. I'd also be interested in other scholars who make similar claims and their reasons for it.

:thanks:

EDIT: Corrected spelling and grammar.
Last edited by Mkoll on Sun Aug 03, 2014 7:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Earlyness of the Sutta NIpata

Postby ancientbuddhism » Sat Aug 02, 2014 11:25 pm

Mkoll wrote:Hi all,

I've read that the Sutta Nipata is one of the earliest collections of suttas and that two of its chapters, the Atthaka Vagga and one other (Parayana Vagga I think), are the oldest. The Wikipedia page has this:

Some scholars[2] believe that it describes the oldest of all Buddhist practices.

2. Nakamura, Indian Buddhism, Japan, 1980; reprinted by Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1987, 1989, pp. 45-6.


I don't have this book and I'm wondering why Nakamura thinks this is the case and what evidence he has. I'd also be interested in other scholars who make similar claims and their reasons for it.


Here is a start.

History of Indian Buddhism, Étienne Lamotte beginning at p. 156 for a general overview. See index for other references on Sn. throughout the book.

A History of Pali Literature, B.C. Law p. 35

Pāli Literature: Including the Canonical Literature in Prakrit and Sanskrit of All the Hīnayāna Schools of Buddhism, K.R. Norman p. 63: 3.5.5. Suttanipāta

A Philological Approach to Buddhism, The Bukkyō Dendō Kyōkai Lectures 1994, by K.R. Norman
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: Earlyness of the Sutta NIpata

Postby Zom » Sat Aug 02, 2014 11:56 pm

Yes, there are several suttas in Nikayas which themselves cite and explain passages from Suttanipata. This is why it is very old.
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Re: Earlyness of the Sutta NIpata

Postby chownah » Sun Aug 03, 2014 3:53 am

http://books.google.co.th/books?id=w0A7 ... &q&f=false
A preview of the book......contains the info you are looking for I think and references other books which directly confront the issue of earliness of suttas.....go to page 26 and 27.
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Re: Earlyness of the Sutta NIpata

Postby Mkoll » Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:07 am

Thanks for the info everyone.
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Re: Earlyness of the Sutta NIpata

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:37 am

See also the discussions on the Sutta Study Forum, starting with SNP 5.1: http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.ph ... 78&start=0

As Thanissaro Bhikkhu notes, rearding the fifth chapter: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... vagga.html
There is evidence that these sixteen dialogues were highly regarded right from the very early centuries of the Buddhist tradition. As concise statements of profound teachings particular to Buddhism, they sparked an attitude of devotion coupled with the desire to understand their more cryptic passages. Most of the Cula Niddesa, a late addition to the Pali canon, is devoted to explaining them in detail. Five discourses — one in the Samyutta Nikaya, four in the Anguttara — discuss specific verses in the set, and a sixth discourse tells of a lay woman who made a practice of rising before dawn to chant the full set of sixteen dialogues.


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Re: Earlyness of the Sutta NIpata

Postby ancientbuddhism » Sun Aug 03, 2014 2:44 pm

A Critical Analysis of the Sutta Nipāta, N. A Jayawickrama @ Pali Buddhist Review (Vol. 1. No. 2 1976)
Fingers walk the darkness down
Mind is on the midnight
Gather up the gold you've found
You fool, it's only moonlight.
If you try to take it home
Your hands will turn to butter
You better leave this dream alone
Try to find another. – Townes Van Zandt ‘Lungs’

Secure your own mask before assisting others. – NORTHWEST AIRLINES (Pre-Flight Instruction)

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Re: Earliness of the Sutta NIpata

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Sun Aug 03, 2014 4:44 pm

Are there any Suttas earlier than the Dhammacakka Sutta (in the Saṃyutta)? The next one was the Hemavata Sutta (in the Suttanipāta), then the Anattalakkhaṇa Sutta (also in the Samyuttanikāya), followed later by the Ādittaya Sutta (also in the Samyuttanikāya).

Edited: SN = Samyuttanikāya, Sn = Suttanipāta.
Last edited by Bhikkhu Pesala on Sun Aug 03, 2014 9:09 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Earlyness of the Sutta NIpata

Postby mikenz66 » Sun Aug 03, 2014 7:25 pm

Hi Bhante,

Thank you for the interesting time line.
It's interesting that translationg the Hemavata Sutta is rather difficult to find on line. It is noteably absent from Access to Insight. There is a translation here:
http://www.metta.lk/tipitaka/2Sutta-Pit ... gga-e.html

The Anattalakkha Sutta is actually in the Samyutta Nikaya:
http://suttacentral.net/search?query=+A ... E1%B9%87a+


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Re: Earliness of the Sutta Nipata

Postby Alex123 » Mon Aug 04, 2014 4:36 pm

Mkoll wrote:I don't have this book and I'm wondering why Nakamura thinks this is the case and what evidence he has. I'd also be interested in other scholars who make similar claims and their reasons for it.


Why I believe that in general sutta nipata may be one of the earliest books (especially last two chapters) are these:

1) The language

2) Talks a lot about solitary wondering monks which happened before Buddhism became popular among the laity who could support the monks by building monasteries. I can see how this teaching would be tough for laity.

3) Less scholastic teachings because there were no (or very few) monasteries built and not that many people have joined the order yet. If the philosophical doctrine was slowly built over time, I believe that this is a good hint about earliness of Snp. Also, Snp seems to suggest that one shouldn't cling to any views, and that views need to be let go of. This is hard to reconcile with very elaborate technical teachings found in later suttas.
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