(Last Updated on : 04/02/2011)
The Sutra Pitaka (suttapitaka or Suttanta Pitaka) is the second of the three divisions of the Tripitaka
or Pali Canon, the great Pali compilation of Buddhist writings, the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism
. The Sutra Pitaka contains more than 10,000 sutras (teachings) accredited to the Buddha or his close associates. It is also known as Discourse Basket and was recited by Ananda. Sutra Pitaka also comprises doctrines formulated by Buddha on jhana, how to attain them and how to behave as a Buddhist.
Sutra Pitaka speaks how the First Buddhist Council
, held soon after the Buddha`s death amassed together the discipline (vinaya), and the dhamma ( also popular as dharma, it implies: the teachings of the Buddha which led to enlightenment, and, the constituent elements of the experienced world) in five collections. Tradition deems that little was added to the Canon after this.
Contents of Sutra Pitaka
There are five niyakas (collections, assemblage, class or group, translated as the same in both Pali and Sanskrit) of sutras:
Digha Niyaka (dighanikaya), the "long" discourses.
Majjhima Nikaya, the "medium-length" discourses.
Samyutta Nikaya (samyutta-), the "clustered" discourses.
Anguttara Nikaya (anguttara-), the "gradual collection".
Khuddaka Nikaya, the "minor collection".
This incorporates The Greater Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness, The Fruits of the Contemplative Life, and The Buddha`s Last Days. There are 34 extensive sutras in this nikaya.
This incorporates Shorter Exposition of Kamma, Mindfulness of Breathing, and Mindfulness of the Body. There are 152 medium-length sutras in this nikaya.
There are, according to one estimation, 2889 shorter sutras bunched together by subject in this nikaya. Samyutta Nikaya is further divided into sections or vaggas. Each vagga is again divided into samyuttas or chapters. These chapters, in turn, deal with a particular topic.
There are 5 vaggas in Samyutta Nikaya:
-Here the verses are in Pali that are also to be found in other Buddhist texts such as Jatakas, Therigatha, Dhammapada, Theragatha and Suttanipata.
-These verses relate to causation.
-Here the suttas deal with the five aggregates or khanda.
-The most important sutta here is Buddha`s Fire Sermon. Besides this there are verses that pertain to the teachings on the six senses.
-This is the longest section of Samyutta Nikaya. Here one will come across almost all the important disciplines of Buddhism and teachings of the important Buddhists. Eightfold Paths, Four Right Striving, Seven Factors of Enlightenment, Jhanas, Four Bases for Spiritual Power, teachings of Anuruddha, the Truths and several other discourses are to be found in this section.
Hence Samyutta Nikaya is one of the texts through which one can easily learn the major tenets of Buddhism
These teachings are formatted numerically. It incorporates, according to the commentary`s estimation, 9557 short sutras grouped by number, from ones to elevens.
This is a heterogeneous mix of preachings, doctrines, and poetry, accredited to the Buddha and his disciples. The contents vary reasonably between editions. The Thai edition includes 1-15, the Sinhalese edition 1-17 and the Burmese edition 1-18. The list is as follows: Khuddakapatha, Dhammapada, Udana, Itivuttaka, Suttanipata, Vimanavatthu, Petavatthu, Theragatha, Therigatha, Jataka, Niddesa, Patisambhidamagga, Apadana, Buddhavamsa, Cariyapitaka, Nettipakarana or Netti, Petakopadesa, and Milindapanha.