Buddha's Teachings contains a metrical English rendering of an important Buddhist work
in Pali named 'Sutta-Nipata' with the
original text in Romanized version on the opposite page.
The Pali Canon, as it has come down to us, is divided into three Pitakas or
'baskets', viz. Vinaya-Pitaka,
Sutta-Pitaka and Abhidhamma-Pitaka.
The Sutta-Nipata, translated here, contains an ancient, probably the most
ancient, part of the Sutta-Pitaka. It
belongs to that portion of the Sutta-Pitaka which is named Khuddaka Nikaya or
'Collection of short Treatises' as distinct
from the four long Nikayas called Digha, Majjhima, Samyutta and Anguttara.
Of the five Vaggas (or 'books') of the present Sutta-Nipata the fifth stands out
from it fellows by reason of its
purposeful unity. While the Uraga, Maha, Cula and Atthaka Vaggas consist each of a
collection of independent and unconnected
poems (sometimes interspersed with prose) called Suttas, the Parayana aims at a dramatic
synthesis. Its prologue and epilogue
serve as a setting to the sixteen Questions which elicit Gotama's gradual exposition of
the saving 'Way Across'.
Some time ago, when reading the Sutta-Nipata, I was led to the conclusion that, while
all verse when translated should
receive a metrical rendering, it was particularly desirable to make the attempt here, so
as to emphasize in English the
historically significant varieties of versification found in the Pali. In 1928 Professor
Lanman suggested that, with a Pali
text on the opposite page (as in the Loeb Classics), my metrical experiment should find
a place in the Harvard Oriental
Series. This volume is the outcome of his suggestion.
My Pali text has been based on Fausboll's edition princes of 1885 and on the
'new edition' of 1913 for the Pali Text
Society (by Andersen and Helmer Smith),-as modified by the subsequent P.T.S. editions of
the Commentary on the Sutta-Nipata
(Para-matthajotika II) and of the canonical Niddesa. The conclusion borne in on me was
that, apart from minor matters and a
very few real divergences of readings, the text of the Sutta-Nipata (thanks to this
distinguished parampara of Danish
scholars) was practically now a textus receptus; and that, in a volume which is
primarily intended for English readers, it
was unnecessary to discuss various readings which Pali scholars can readily investigate
in the authorities quoted above.
Where I have differed, I have aimed at the restoration, not at the conjectural
emendation, of the text.
Nor, in the matter of interpretation of the text, have I thought it desirable to
cumber the translation with polemic
notes or with a record of other's renderings. I have therefore confined myself to an
examination (in the Introduction) into
the literary evolution of the Sutta-Nipata, so far as it can be traced to-day, and will
let the version speak for itself as a
commentary no less than as a rendering .
My conclusion is that, while its materials are by no means all of equal
antiquity, there is no older book in Buddhist
literature than the Sutta-Nipata, and no earlier corpus of primitive Buddhist doctrine
that it contains.
While the presence of the Pali on the opposite page forbids exuberance in
translation, the limitations of metre (and
I have sought to make the English follow roughly the Pali scheme of versification) make
it no easy matter-even without
rhyme-to compress terse Pali into a relatively modest compass in English. Ignoscent
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