The new SuttaCentral is live

I have some wonderful news today: our new SuttaCentral is finally live!

You can see it here at: http://suttacentral.net/

We have been working very hard on this for some time now, and are very happy with the results so far. I will be writing on various aspects of this project in the coming weeks, so for now let me just introduce a few of our main features.

  • A complete new design from top to bottom. The whole site, in fact has been rewritten from the ground up.
  • Much faster more powerful navigation.
  • Instant search!
  • Many added new references and improved structure
  • Many texts are now hosted on site, including the main Suttas of the Pali, the Vietnamese translations, and some English and Korean translations.
  • Brand new translations from the Saṁykuta Āgama (both the main and shorter version), and the Upāyika. Together with the older translations of the Ekottara and Dīrgha Āgamas, SuttaCentral now has the most comprehensive collection of Āgama translations available anywhere.
  • We also have newly available online versions of Bhikkhu Bodhi’s classic translations from the Dīgha Nikāya
  • The Pali and Chinese texts have a very cool instant word lookup function. (We only have one Chinese text online for now, more coming soon.)
  • A very powerful, intuitive pretty URL structure: you can go anywhere on the site directly from the address bar if you know the abbreviated uid for the text.
  • A Feedback forum: tell us what we can do to make it better! (BTW, while feedback anywhere is good, generally it will be better to leave specific suggestions for the site on that forum rather than here.

Regular readers of this blog will recall that some time ago I complained about how there was no ready good source of Early Buddhist Texts online. Today, we begin to change that.

There are many areas where we want to expand and improve the site, but I hope that it is already something of help for anyone who wants to learn what the Buddha taught.

I have been absent from this blog for some time, as I have wanted to commit myself fully to getting SuttaCentral ready. Now that it is up, I hope to spend some more time back here.

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26 thoughts on “The new SuttaCentral is live

  1. Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

    It really looks beautiful, and the addition of Āgama translations is fantastic.

    There goes the rest of my day…

  2. I’m sure I’ll get used to the new look. It certainly is a useful resource. I appreciate the effort.

    A quick note however re Kaccānagotta Sutta SN 12.15 – there is a complete Sanskrit version of this text. It is contained in a fragment of Samyuktāgama but is itself complete. The reference is

    Tripāṭhī, Chandra. (Ed.) (1962). ‘Fünfundzwanzig Sūtras Des Nidānasaṃyukta’ in Sanskrittexte aus den Turfanfunden (Vol. VIII). Edited by Ernst Waldschmidt. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1962. [Includes translation into German]: 167-170.

    I’ll post an English translation asap.

    • Hi Fatima,

      We are working towards much better support for various languages, including Spanish. I am in contact with Bosque Theravada, and we plan to integrate their translations on the site as soon as we can. Bear with us, there are many things on our to do list!

    • I am incredibly happy, did not know that page. I thank you!!!!!!
      Latin América needs more buddhism

    • Sadhu!

      Valued Teck Suan Low, you are totally right and it’s a incredible wheel and everybody tends to ignore the simple precepts and basic right view “there are gifts and scarifies” and walks the way “You can” (take what ever you like).
      Not finally sure if such will really make a change or will be a further affirmation of the materialistic and nihilistic view of today or another misdirecting into the modern occupy and robin hood views.

      How ever, its always up the right intention of the single doer and if his motivation is in direction of nibbana or the world.

      It will be support skillful ideas for those with less dust in the eyes but even but more dust on the eyes on those who have already much in your eyes.

      May those who are able to gain right view out of it be able to meet with that what they need and may this another possibility.

      _()_
      metta & mudita
      Johann

  3. Venerable Sujato,

    Do you know where I could find a Dhammapada atthakatha other than the Pali tradition (if possible in English). The stories seems clearly different between the early school and the stories on the pali version sound strange.

    On Wikipedia :

    “Gāndhārī Dharmapada” – a version possibly of Dharmaguptaka or Kāśyapīya origin in Gāndhārī written in Kharosthi script

    “Patna Dharmapada” – a version in Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit,most likely Sammatiya

    “Udānavarga” – a seemingly related Mula-Sarvastivada or Sarvastivada text in 3 Sanskrit versions a Tibetan translation, which is popular in traditional Tibetan
    Buddhism

    “Mahāvastu” – a Lokottaravada text with parallels to verses in the Pāli Dhammapada’s Sahassa Vagga and Bhikkhu Vagga.

    “Fajiu jing” – 4 Chinese works; one of these appears to be an expanded translation of the Pali version; this has not traditionally been very popular

    But I don’t know if all of these traditons have made atthakatha on their Dhammapada version.

    Thank you for your assistance in this matter Bhante :)

    With Metta,

    Romain.

    • Hi Romain,

      This is an interesting and quite extensive field, which I will try to summarize here.

      There are, as you list above, many Dhammapada traditions. It seems likely that pretty much all the early schools had related texts. In terms of the early list of 9 angas, what we call Dhammapada would have fit under Udana. If you look at the modern Udana in Pali, you will see that most of it is Dhammapada-like verses, encased in a simple narrative framework.

      The actual Dhammapada is different in that the verses are, in their canonical form, without any story. The stories are supplied by the commentary. And that is how they are conventionally presented in Theravada teachings. In this way, the relation between the verses and narrative is similar to that of the Jatakas, or indeed the canonical Udana, except that in the Udana the narratives were fixed earlier and became part of the canon.

      Now, you have mentioned most of the other Dhammapada-type literature above. Some of these are, like the Pali Dhammapada, presented as simple verses, without narrative framework. Examples of this include the Patna and Gandhari Dhammapadas.

      In other cases the verses are presented together with the narrative framework, like the Pali Udana. Examples of this include at least some of the texts in the Chinese canon, and probably the Mahavastu (in fact, this probably includes examples of both cases.)

      I am not aware of any semi-independent commentary on the verses, such as we find in the Pali tradition. As far as I know, in those cases where we have the stories, they are included with the verses as one Udana-like text.

      At least one set of the verses & stories from a Chinese Dhammapada has been published by the Numata foundation. It’s an excellent volume, and both the verses and stories are valuable. As with all the Dhammapadas, the style and content of the verses is comparable to the Pali, but the exact verses do not always correspond. With the stories, we find some similarities, but many differences. For example, there is an elaborate backstory for Alavaka the yakkha, which is perhaps the most brilliant Avadana-type story that I’ve read, yet is not found at all in the Pali tradition, so far as I know.

      As always, we should not conflate the differences between the various strata of the text. With the verses, many or most of them are word for word identical, and have been passed down in a fixed form since pre-sectarian times. With the stories, we find similar themes and episodes told in widely different forms: the thread of the story is shared, but the literary form is different.

      Here are the details of the translated version of the Chinese Dhammapada from Numata. It can be purchased from here. If anyone knows of any other translations from Dhammapada-style texts outside of the Pali, I’d love to hear about them.

      Taisho Number: 211
      Title: The Scriptural Text: Verses of the Doctrine, with Parables
      Translator: Charles Willemen
      Description:
      4 fascicles Translated by Fa-chü (Jap.: Hōko) and Fa-li (Jap.: Hōryū) Taishō No. 211 This sūtra is based upon the Chinese translation of the Dhammapada, of which approximately two thirds of the verses have been selected for commentary. At the start of each chapter a number of verses are quoted, followed by tales relating the events surrounding the origin of each verse. The Pāli version of the Dhammapada contains in all 423 verses, and there are in addition a number of commentaries (aṭṭhakathā) recording the tales and fables surrounding each verse. In the case of the Chinese version, 250 verses have been added to the original 500 verses, making a total of 750 verses, two thirds of which are dealt with in the present work.

    • Thanks Bhante Sujato for your lengthy and documented answer. It is really appreciated. Probably, I’ll try to purchase “The Scriptural Text: Verses of the Doctrine, with Parables” even if I’m not a big fan of commentary, sub commentary, Abhidharma etc..It give me headache.

      However, some stories in the chinese version seems really deep in meaning. Sometimes, I’m a little bit dissapointed because the stories on the pali version are often “litteraly” in meaning.

      For instance, the verses and story (202) in the sukkha vagga (pali) :

      There is no fire like passion
      there is no evil like hatred
      there is no dukkha like (the burden of) khandhas
      there is no bliss that surpasses the Perfect Peace

      [...] by his supernormal power, the Buddha willed that the bride would not be visible to the bridegroom. When the young man could no longer see the young woman, he could pay full attention to the Buddha, and his love and respect for the Buddha grew stronger in him. Then the Buddha said to the young man, “O young man, there is no fire like the fire of passion; there is no evil like anger and hatred; there is no ill like the burden of the five aggregates of existence (khandhas); there is no bliss like the Perfect Peace of Nibbana.”

      In the chinese version translated by Samuel Beal (however the translation is clearly weak) the story is concerning four monks who dispute themselves “What is the greatest dukkha to bear in the world”

      The first monk say : it is lust
      The second : it is anger
      The third : it is hunger and thirst
      and the last monk say : it is fear

      Then the Buddha explain to them : “All, you miss the point, the greatest dukkha to bear in the world are the 5 aggregates (emphase to the body in this story) because they are the really cause of these suffering, their cessation without remainder are peace”

      This is consistent with the concept of arahant “who are laid down the burden (5 agregates)”

      But even worst, some stories seems to contradict the Buddha in the early sutta.

      The verses 204 (in the sukkha vagga ) :

      Arogya parama labha
      Health (free from disease) is the highest gain,

      Nibbanam Paranam sukham
      Nibbana is the highest bliss

      “One day, King Pasenadi of Kosala went to the Jetavana monastery after having his full morning meal. It was said that the king had eaten one quarter basket (about half a bushel) of rice with meat curry on that day; so while listening to the Buddha’s discourse he felt very sleepy and was nodding most of the time. Seeing him nodding, the Buddha advised him to take a little less rice everyday and to decrease the amount on a sliding scale to the minimum of one-sixteenth part of the original amount he was taking. The king did as he was told and found that by eating less he became thin, but he felt very much lighter and enjoyed much better health. When he told the Buddha about this, the Buddha said to him, “O king! Health is a great gain; contentment is a great wealth; a close and trusted friend is the best relative; Nibbana is the greatest bliss.”

      The story seems to explain “health or free from disease” in a bodily sens. But the Buddha himself explain in the famous Magandiya sutta that health is not to be understood in a bodily sens like Magandiya first thought :

      “In the same way, Magandiya, the wanderers of other sects are blind & eyeless. Without knowing Health or freedom from disease, without seeing Nibbana, they still speak this verse:

      Health or Freedom from disease: the foremost good fortune.
      Nibbana: the foremost ease.

      This verse was stated by earlier worthy ones, fully self-awakened. But now it has gradually become a verse of run-of-the-mill people.

      “This body, Magandiya, is a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction. And yet you say, with reference to this body, which is a disease, a cancer, an arrow, painful, an affliction: ‘This is that Health or freedom from disease, master Gotama. This is that Nibbana,’ for you don’t have the noble vision with which you would know freedom from disease and see Nibbana.”

      We can see here the extrait on the body who are a disease etc.. is in the same line that the story 203 in the dhammapada chinese version.

      Do we know who made the commentary on the Dhammapada pali version ? Buddhaghosa ?.

      Some stories in the pali are great too. Ouf :)

    • I agree, many of the stories in the Dhammapada commentaries and elsewhere take such a literal view of the text they are almost comical. I don’t know whether the Chinese or other alternatives are, on the whole, different in this respect. A good subject for further research!

    • Romain,

      Thanks for asking this question. I wasn’t aware that there were so many versions of the Dhammapada and elaborations on Dhammapada-like literature.

      Bhante,

      Thank you for providing such a lengthy response. It would be interesting to read the verse sections of the Udana on there own without the prose narrative sections. I hadn’t thought of them as Dhammapada-like verses before.

    • Yes, it would be an interesting exercise, wouldn’t it? It raises a bigger question: what difference it make to view the suttas through so many later lenses? Commentaries, footnotes, talks, introductions…

    • An interesting exercise, though, perhaps not at all be a necessary exercise for spiritual development. The process of purification would over time remove bit by bit everything that is unnecessary in the Dhamma, until eventually all of it is let go. As a vehicle for spiritual growth, I try to use everything in the suttas to expand and develop the mind.

      The problem with later lenses isn’t the lenses, but the way in which one does or does not hold on to concepts and ideas dogmatically well beyond their usefulness. But that’s true of the entire Pali Canon, every single word of it, it’s it? If used correctly, commentaries, footnotes, talks, and introductions are most useful, too.

    • Yes, they can be useful, even essential sometimes. I have benefited tremendously from Ven Bodhi’s notes, as I’m sure most of us have. I’d like to write more fully on this topic soon.

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