Buddha's Teachings contains a metrical English rendering of an important Buddhist work in Pall 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 its fellows by reason of its purposeful unity. Whle 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'.
Robert Chalmers, 1st Baron Chalmers, GCB, PC (Ire) (18 August 1858-17 November 1938) was a British civil servant, and a Pali and Buddhist scholar. In later life, he served as the Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge. Chalmers was born in Stoke Newington, Middlesex, the son of John Chalmers and his wife Julia (née Mackay). He was educated at the City of London School and Oriel College, Oxford with a BA in 1881. He eventually went on to become the Master of Peterhouse, Cambridge, one of the most traditional and conservative Cambridge colleges. From the beginning of his schooling at the City of London School from 1870 to 1877, he was very interested in ancient languages, especially Greek, Latin. He was also interested in Sanskrit and philology. He completed his studies at Oriel College, Oxford, where he obtained the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in 1881. In 1882, when he began his career as a civil servant in Her Majesty's Treasury, he did not abandon his classical studies, as he wanted to perfect his knowledge of ancient languages. Thus he attended the pall classes of Thomas William Rhys Davids, whose enthusiasm won him over, and became a member of the Pali Text Society. From 1891 he published numerous articles in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (JRAS), translations into English from the pall of texts mainly from the Majjhima Nikaya.
SOME time ago, when reading the Sutta-Nipäta, 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 Fausböll's editio princeps 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 parampard 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 restora- tion, 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 others' renderings. I have therefore confined myself to an examination (in the Introduction) into the literary evolution of the Sutta-Nipäta, so far as it can be traced to-day, and will let the ver- sion speak for itself as a commentary no less than as a rendering.
THE PAli Canon, as it has come down to us, is divided into three Pitakas (or 'baskets'), viz.:
I. Vinaya-p, -containing the detailed Rule with which (in a simpler form) Gotama's bhikkhus (or 'Almsmen') began their corporate life.
II. II. Sutta-p,-containing (subsequent) discourses and dialogues, embody- ing doctrinal Buddhism. III. Abhidhamma-p,-containing (still later) scholastic expositions the Sutta-pitaka. Of The Sutta-Nipata, which is here translated, contains an ancient, probably the most ancient, part of the Sutta-pitaka. It belongs to that portion of the Sutta-pitaka which is named the 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-Nipäta, the fifth stands out from its 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', an exposition which collectively is styled a homily (dhamma-pariyaya) in the prose preface to verse 1124 (cf. v. 1130) and is classified as simply a 'suttanta' (not a Vagga, or 'book' of many suttas) at Paramatthajotika, II. 163.
Uncertainty still attaches to the sense in which the word 'Sutta' was used in primitive Buddhism. Originally meaning 'a thread', the word has come to denote prose narratives or dialogues concerning the dhamma, such as those which, in (e.g.) the Digha and Majjhima Nikäyan, characterize the great Sutta-Pitaka,-in contradistinction to the contents of the Vinaya and Abhi- dhamma Pitakas. But this was not the case from the outset. Thus, (a) in the Vinaya (II. 95), we find 'Sutta' specifically applied to the canonical Pati- mokkha-Ubhayani asaa Pätimokkhäni vitthärena svagatäni honti... suttato anuvyañjanaso' ('to him have been handed down accurately and in full both Pätimokkhas, Sutta by Sutta and in extenso'). (b) At the end of the canonical Sutta Vibhanga's exposition of the Pätimokkha (Vin. IV. 351), there occur the words: 'Ettakam tassa Bhagavato mutta-gatam rutta-pariyäpannaṁh anvad- dhamisam uddesam agacchati" ("thus much of the Lord's words, as handed down in Suttas and as embodied in Suttas, comes in course of recitation once a fortnight'). And (c) at Vinaya, II. 96-7 there is a condemnation of any dhamma-kathika', or professed reciter of the Dhamma (not of the Vinaya alone, it will incidentally be noted), who has failed to master not only the Pātimokkha Suttas but also the Sutta-Vibhanga commentary thereon ('tassa Suttaṁ āgatam, no Sutta-vibhango', or-a fortiori-'tassa n' eva Suttam agatam no Sutta-vibhango").
While the foregoing quotations prove the use of the term 'Sutta' to include the disciplinary regulations of the young Community, I am not aware of the term being applied in the Canon to isolated apophthegms, which formed the kernel of Gotama's doctrinal teachings. It may well be, I suggest, that the title of 'Sutta' (primarily meaning 'thread' or 'string', cf. Sumangala Vilasini, I. 18) was reserved from the outset for any consecutive thread of argument or narration (whether of Rule or of Doctrine) continuously strung together and coherent.
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