An Example of EBT Expansion: Comparing Four Versions of the Saṅgīti Sutta (DN 33)

This week, I’ve moved on to editing a new translation of DĀ 9 The Gathered Sangha (Saṅgīti). This sutra is remarkable in comparison to its Pali parallel mainly in that it shows much less expansion, both in the opening narrative telling us how Śāriputra came to recite the mātṛka of teachings and in the mātṛka recitation itself.

Noticing this, I decided that it would make a good example to illustrate historical evidence of Buddhist texts expanding over time, since the expansion is exaggerated compared to most EBTs. While I don’t have access to a Sanskrit edition of the Saṅgīti Sutta that might exist hidden away somewhere in the academic literature, I can draw on two other editions in Chinese.

The four editions I’ll use for this essay series are:

  1. Dharmaguptaka (ca. 412 CE): DĀ 9 - Buddhayaśas & Chu Fonian’s translation
  2. Sarvâstivāda (ca. 660 CE): T 1536 - Xuanzang’s translation of the Saṅgītiparyāya
  3. ?? (ca. 10t-11h c. CE): T 12 - Dānapāla’s translation from an unknown tradition
  4. Theravada (ca. ?): DN 33 - Pali original

I’ve placed these editions in historical order, assuming that the most expanded edition of the sutta (DN 33) is likely the latest version, though we have no historical evidence of when it reached its present state (to my knowledge).

We should note, however, that historical age doesn’t in itself tell us how expanded a given edition is. The latest Chinese translation by Dānapāla has the smallest mātṛka list of the four, being just a little smaller than DĀ 9’s list. Simpler versions of this sutta still existed as late as the Song dynasty in China.

To start the comparison, we can get a basic idea of just how much difference there is between these editions by counting the number of items found in the mātṛkas they recite:

Section DĀ 9 T1536 T 12 DN 33
Ones 2 2 1 2
Twos 12 27 1 33
Threes 37 50 34 60
Fours 36 49 39 50
Fives 15 24 14 26
Sixes 14 24 15 22
Sevens 7 12 6 14
Eights 4 10 4 11
Nines 1 2 1 6
Tens 1 2 1 6
Total 129 202 116 230

Thus, the Sarvâstivāda and Theravada editions are both quite large compared to the Dharmaguptaka and the Song translation. Especially notable is that the Theravada edition is the largest of the group, making it difficult to imagine that it represents an early version of the text. Rather, like the Chinese Sarvâstivāda version that can be extracted from its Abhidharma commentary, DN 33 represents a fully developed edition likely dating from the late Abhidharma period of Buddhism.

Why would there be so much difference in these editions of an oral tradition text? Most likely, the issue arises because the Saṅgīti Sutta lacked a controlling structure that prevents material from being inserted. As long as new lists contain the right number of items, each section of its mātṛka could grow or be trimmed down without much ado (as long as the tradition in question doesn’t compare its version to that of others).

By comparison, the Dasuttara Sutta uses a structure that makes adding more material difficult. Each section of its mātṛka has ten questions to which each list is an answer. If someone were to add an additional list to a question, it would be incongruent to the rest of the sutta. Similarly, if someone were to add an eleventh question to one of the mātṛka sections, it would be an obvious corruption. So, the differences we see in the parallels of the Dasuttara Sutta are matters of list replacements or additional elaboration in the lists themselves. On the whole, the parallels match each other quite closely and serve as a testament to the value of repetitive structures. Not only did they aid in memorization, they also preserved the texts by making changes easier to detect.

That said, there is a sutra among the Dasuttara Sutta’s parallels that represents a significant change. DĀ 11 cuts the Dasuttara Sutta in half by truncating each section of the mātṛka to the first four and last question. Besides this reduction of the material, DĀ 11 matches the Dasuttara Sutta quite closely, making it fairly clear that either DĀ 11 is an abbreviation or that the Dasuttara Sutta is an expansion of a smaller sutta. The abbreviation theory seems more reasonable because DĀ 11 is the only extant evidence of a “Dasuttara By Half” Sutta.

Before looking at the contents of the mātṛkas that we find in the Saṅgīti Sutta’s parallels, though, I’d like to first take a look at the narratives that introduce them. The stories themselves differ in size and elaborateness and offer evidence of a conscious expansion of the sutta by the sectarian traditions.

After a comparative analysis of these stories, I’ll then lay out the sections of the parallel mātṛkas in more detail.

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Which Chinese term in DA 9 is for mātṛka? The corresponding Pali term mātikā is also not found in DN 33. Why the compendium of numerical dhammas in DA 9 and DN 33 is regarded as mātṛka?

Because the numerical lists formed the basis for the creation of early Abhidharma texts. They revolve around lists of doctrines. I personally regard these sutras and Abhidharma as arising either at the same time or very close to each other. Essentially, the mātṛka sutras (as I call them, it’s not a term in the sutras themselves) are the canonical basis for Abhidharma texts.

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The sutras are in fact not the canonical basis for Abhidharma texts.

The core teachings of SA/SN are the canonical basis for Abhidharma texts. See:
Pages 252-3 from The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism Choong Mun-keat 2000.pdf (108.7 KB)

Some years ago I attempted a similar project (albeit much smaller) by comparing DN 33 and DA 9. Just saying that your project is a very big task, and it’s worth publishing in a paper I think.

Choong doesn’t even present such a strong hypothesis. He briefly mentions:

It is therefore possible that that source text [of Vibhanga and a few others] was based on the Sutraanga portion of the early SN/SA, having been intended as a systematic annotated summary of the teachings it contained.

Arguing for a general connection of Matikas and the Abhidhamma see

Gethin, R. M. L. (1992). The Mātikās: Memorization, Mindfulness and the List. In Gyatso, J. (Ed.), In the Mirror of Memory: Reflections on Mindfulness and Remembrance in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism (pp. 149–172). Albany: State University of New York Press.

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I think I should say: The Sutra-anga portion of SA/SN is the canonical basis for the core teachings of early Abhidharma books and early Buddhism. See p. 900:
Pages 897-900 from Choong MK 2020.pdf (301.4 KB)

The author, Gethin, does not notice the close connection between the sutra-matrka of the Vastusangrahani of the Yogacarabhumi and the sutra-anga of SA/SN. See p. 898 in the above paper.

I generally follow that argument, but it would be good to have additional criteria, for example the narrative context as you mentioned. Another reason for different versions of roughly the same time could be for example that the different traditions utilized mātikādharās (AN 4.180) with more or less memory power or doctrinal inclination.

Do you have other hypotheses that would substantiate different ages other than length and maybe narrative?

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One suspicion that has been developing in my mind is that different texts received different levels of attention in one tradition or the other. During the oral tradition period, that would probably mean that a given sutta was recited more often and therefore was in everyone’s mind, while other suttas were only recited occasionally and not as “popular.” Popular suttas would naturally collect more material in order for them to serve a general role of transmitting the Dharma.

This is what I’ve begun to think would explain why one sutta in the Theravada tradition can look less developed than in the Dirgha Agama (the Wheel-Turning King Sutra is an example), and another looks much “later” or fully developed. It may be a matter of how much use that sutta was getting at different points in history in each tradition.

For the Sangiti Sutta, I can see why the Sarvâstivāda version would be well developed, given that they had an Abhidharma text that is essentially it’s commentary. It would be natural that it would accumulate more numerical lists in an attempt to be comprehensive over the centuries. Perhaps the Theravada version took on the same role as the comprehensive sutta of numerical lists, so it grew as well.

On the other hand, the Dharmaguptakas may have not considered it particularly important, so it remained in a less expanded state.

If that’s true, then it’s not simply the passage of time that’s involved, but also the role of the sutta to a given Buddhist tradition. A text that falls into relative obscurity would be put into “suspended animation,” so to speak.

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I have no idea what you mean by this. Abhidharma texts and later writers consciously limited to what was in the sutras. The Sarvâstivāda had one Abhidharma text that’s an exegesis on their version of the Sangiti Sutta. The early Abhidharma texts revolve around a group of numerical lists intended to summarize the Buddha’s teaching. So, it’s a natural conclusion that suttas like the Sangiti and Dasuttara were meant to canonize this approach. I would assume they predated the Abhidharma texts as the initial attempts to bring all the important numerical lists together in a single sutta.

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A Comparison of Saṅgīti Sutta Stories

To make this a less time-consuming task, I’ll compare the stories that begin each of the four versions of the Saṅgīti Sutta using a synopsis that outlines the main points of each story. Overall, they share a set of events, indicating that there was an initial story that has been expanded.

There are at least three interesting things that we see in the summaries below.

First, the later the story is in historical terms, the more elaborate the style of the narrative with additional details, repetitions, and miraculous events. Thus, the Dānapāla version is the most “overwrought” of the four in this regard. This likely reflects the changing expectations of prose among Buddhists in later eras, and we see this type of development in Mahayana sutras, too.

A second point of interest is that the Dharmaguptaka story is the simplest, lacking the episode of the Mallas offering a brand new meeting hall for the Buddha to have this meeting in which Śāriputra will recite a compilation of his teachings. Instead, we’re simply told that people had come from all directions and gathered into a large congregation surrounding him.

Finally, there’s the point of the Buddha’s backache, which became a curiosity among Buddhists. Why did the Buddha, a perfected being, have a backache? Did he really have a backache? Thus, it’s interesting that the Dānapāla version appears to have removed this detail from the story. The Buddha simply decides to lie down. If we know of a Buddhist sect that rejected the Buddha’s backache, then it’s likely to be tradition this version belongs to.

The Dharmaguptaka Story

  1. The Buddha traveled among the Mallas and arrived Pava with an assembly of 1,250 monks and stays at Cunda’s Mango Park.
  2. During a full moon, a large congregation gathers from the four directions, and the Buddha teaches them well into the night.
  3. The Buddha develops a backache and asks Śāriputra to continue teaching while he lies down.
  4. Śāriputra tells the monks about the discord among the Jains, who split into two factions after their teacher’s death, arguing over doctrinal disputes.
  5. The laity are sick of their fighting, which is evidence that their teaching is false and not the teaching of a completely awakened one.
  6. Śāriputra concludes that the sangha ought to compile the Buddha’s teachings to safeguard it against similar problems and preserve it for a long time.

The Theravada Story

  1. The Buddha travels among the Mallas and arrives Pava with an assembly of 500 monks and stays at Cunda’s Mango Park.
  2. The Mallas at the time had recently built a meeting hall called Ubbhataka which hadn’t be used by any ascetic or priest yet.
  3. Hearing that the Buddha was staying nearby, they went to visit him to invite him to make use of their new hall. The Buddha accepts their invitation.
  4. The Mallas return to Pava and prepare the meeting hall for the Buddha and the sangha.
  5. When the Buddha arrives at the hall, the monks all seat themselves along the western wall, the Mallas seat themselves among the eastern wall, and the Buddha sits at the central pillar between them.
  6. The Buddha teaches the Mallas Dhamma far into the night. He then dismisses them from the hall, and they depart.
  7. Seeing that the monks who remained weren’t sleepy yet, the Buddha asks Sariputta to teach them, saying that he has a backache and lies down.
  8. At the time, the teacher of the Jains had recently passed away and his disciples had split into two factions arguing over doctrinal disputes.
  9. The laity in Pava were sick of the fighting and took it to mean their teaching was not that of a completely awakened one.
  10. Sariputta tells the monks that they should all recite the Buddha’s teaching together to avoid the problems among the Jains and preserve the practice for the benefit of world.

Dānapāla Version’s Story

  1. The Buddha traveled among the Mallas and arrived at one of their cities with assembly of monks, and they gather for a meeting.
  2. At the time, there was a layman named *Malla who had recently built a residence and decorated it, and it hadn’t been used by any ascetic or priest yet.
  3. When the laymen heard the Buddha was staying nearby, he goes to the Buddha to invite him to make use of this new residence. The Buddha accepts the invitation.
  4. The layman returns to the new residence and prepares it for the Buddha and sangha. (The description is more elaborate than the Theravada version.)
  5. When the Buddha and the assembly arrive, the Buddha looks around the residence and seats himself, and the monks do the same, sitting in front of him. The layman enters the building last and sits to one side.
  6. The Buddha gives the layman a discourse that lasts into the night, and then dismisses him.
  7. The Buddha tells Śāriputra that the monks aren’t sleepy yet, and they’re a pure assembly. If they were given a teaching, many of them would benefit by it, so we shouldn’t stop. Śāriputra agrees with him, and the Buddha lies down.
  8. At the time, the teacher of the Jains had recently passed away and his disciples had split into two factions arguing over doctrinal disputes. (More elaborate than the Theravada or Dharmaguptaka version.)
  9. Śāriputra tells the monks that the Buddha has laid down, so they shouldn’t speak to him.
  10. Śāriputra tells the monks that they should all recite the Buddha’s teaching together to avoid the problems among the Jains and preserve the practice for the benefit of world. (Much more elaborate than the Theravada version, repeating 8. verbatim and listing nine sutra angas.)

The Sarvâstivāda Story

  1. The Buddha was traveling among the Mallas and arrived at a grove (not sure of the name) near Pava.
  2. A raised building had recently been built there which hadn’t yet been used by any ascetic, priest, or the Mallas yet.
  3. Hearing that the Buddha was leading an assembly of monks and staying at a nearby grove, the Mallas decide to invite the Buddha to use their new building, and the Buddha accepts their invitation. (Much more elaborate that previous versions.)
  4. The Buddha and the sangha travel to the new building, and there he teaches the Mallas until the first watch of the night. They depart.
  5. The Buddha tells Śāriputra that he has a backache and asks him to continue teaching the monks. Śāriputra agrees and the Buddha lies down. (The details of the Buddha lying down are more elaborate than previous versions.)
  6. Śāriputra tells the monks about the Jains splitting into factions after their teacher’s death and having fallen into constant doctrinal disputes. The sangha should compile the Dharma and Vinaya to avoid similar problems after the Tathāgata’s Parinirvāṇa to preserve the practice and benefit the world. (Different and less verbose than previous versions.)
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There is a Gandhari commentary on this sutta. And supposedly this commentary belongs to the Dharmaguptaka school. That such a Gandhari fragment has been found might mean that it was an important sutta as well within their school.

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Interesting! If I’ve learned anything in the past couple years of comparing parallels is that the situation is too complex for simple explanations and theories, and I feel like there’s too large of “hole” of missing textual history to really come to satisfying conclusions.

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Yes, T 1536, one of the Sarvâstivāda Abhidharma texts, is an exegesis on their version of the Sangiti Sutta (DN 33 = DA 9 and T 12).

But, it does not mean the suttas (DN 33 = DA 9, T 12; DN 34 = DA 10, T 13) are the mātṛka of the early Abhidharma texts (such as Vibhaga, Dharmaskandha). A group of numerical lists is first presented and collected in SA/SN, such as Skandha, Ayatana, Nidana, and the Path, according to Yinshun. See also the above-mentioned pp. 252-3 in Choong Mun-keat 2000.

Also, a group of numerical lists in SA/SN has close connection with the edition of EA/AN. See pp. 774-786 (particularly pp. 785-6) in Yinshun’s The Formation of Early Buddhist Texts. CBETA 線上閱讀

It’s an early Abhidharma text. It references the Dharmaskandha, so scholars tend to place it after it, but it’s still in the early strata of texts.

The Vibhanga and Dharmaskandha use a thematic approach rather than a numerical one to present the Buddha’s teaching, so it makes sense that their chapters would match many of SA/SN’s saṃyuttas. I’m not sure what pp. 252-3 in Choong’s book is supposed to prove beyond that.

In any case, the numerical lists in suttas like DN 33 are drawn from all over the Buddhist canon. They collected them together into one place to make it easier to learn them, I would think, and Abhidharma compilers were doing to same thing. I’m not sure what else to say about it.

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I just started reading this. It’s slow going, but should be quite interesting.

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The Provenance of T 12 大集法門經

Before I present the comparisons of the four Saṅgīti sutras’ recitations, I want to discuss the alternate Chinese translation, T 12. I’ve tentatively identified it as belonging to one of the Mahāsāṃghika sects. I have four reasons that make me come to that conclusion.

The first point is that this version omits the Buddha suffering a backache from its opening narrative. In its version of the story, the Buddha simply decides to stop teaching and lie down, leaving Śāriputra to awkwardly tell the monks to not bother him because he’s lying down. The Mahāsāṃghika were well known for their docetic theories of the Buddha, and this omission would be expected if a sect didn’t believe the Buddha could suffer from old age. Or, if he did, it would be a demonstration of skillful means.

The second point is that T 12 has a few unique lists the hint at Mahāsāṃghika doctrines. It has a list of three Buddhas (of the past, future, and present) and a list of four delusions (mistaking the impermanent, painful, selfless, and impure for their opposites). The latter is a list that appears in the Mahayana Parinirvāṇa Sutra (T 376, Ch. 12), which was a text brought back to China from India by Faxian along with the Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya.

A third point is that T 12 includes a list of nine sutra angas, which we also find in the Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya.

Lastly, the fact that T 12 was translated during the 11th c. CE in China yet is the smallest version of the four also fits the Mahāsāṃghika pattern of not expanding its scriptures. Just as their Vinaya appears to be more faithful to the early days of Buddhism, so does this Saṅgīti sutra.

With that said, lets move on to some comparison tables.

How Much Agreement Exists Between These Four Saṅgīti Sutras?

The big picture, broken down by the divisions of the recitation, looks like this:

Division All Agree 3 Agree 2 Agree Unique Dharmas Total
Ones 1 1 0 0 2
Twos 1 5 20 13 39
Threes 23 12 17 20 72
Fours 23 10 17 18 68
Fives 7 9 10 4 30
Sixes 11 6 6 1 24
Sevens 3 5 5 3 16
Eights 3 2 5 1 11
Nines 1 0 0 6 7
Tens 1 0 1 4 6
Total 74 50 81 70 275

A little number crunching reveals that these four versions of the Sangiti sutta have about 26% complete agreement. If we add the lists that the majority agree on, we end up with 45% agreement. If these were the only four Saṅgīti Sutras that ever existed, and no list was ever lost, expanded, combined, or divided (and there’s evidence of those changes in a few cases), then we could say that there was an Ur Saṅgīti Sutra that consisted of 74 lists. Much smaller than the Theravada version.

However, there’s a more interesting pattern that arises when we look at the amount of overlap these four versions have with each other. One thing that stands out is the non-sectarian nature of the Theravada Saṅgīti Sutta, which appears to have the most overlap with the other three sutras. It shares the most material with the Sarvâstivāda Saṅgīti sutra, but it also includes over 80% of the other two versions.

Version vs. Mahāsāṃghika Dharmaguptaka Sarvâstivāda Theravada
Mahāsāṃghika (118) - 77 (65%) 100 (85%) 101 (86%)
Dharmaguptaka (128) 77 (60%) - 103 (80%) 106 (83%)
Sarvâstivāda (203) 100 (53%) 103 (55%) - 188 (93%)
Theravada (230) 101 (44%) 106 (46%) 188 (82%) -

There’s also a general pattern of the two smaller sutras being the most dissimilar to each other, the Sarvâstivāda appearing to combine their lists and add more, and the Theravada combining lists from all three. The Theravada Saṅgīti Sutta edges out the Sarvâstivāda sutra in sheer size by adding apparently new lists.

The basic conclusion that I come to is that the Theravada Saṅgīti sutta is the most developed version and compiles lists from multiples sources into a large, non-sectarian compendium.

For those who are interested in the specifics, I’ve compiled detailed tables below that match up the individual lists of all four versions. Please note that there may be a few errors yet to be discovered, but these tables have been checked over twice. When lists don’t quite match but appear related, I add a (-) mark. Enjoy!

The Ones

Mahāsāṃghika? (T 12) Dharmaguptaka (DĀ 9) Sarvâstivāda (T 1536) Theravada (DN 33)
01-01 Beings rely on food 01-01 Beings look to food for subsistence 01-01 Beings are sustained by food 01-01 Beings are sustained by food
01-02 Beings are reborn/abide based on conditions 01-02 Beings are sustained by conditions 01-02 Beings are sustained by conditions

The Twos

Mahāsāṃghika? (T 12) Dharmaguptaka (DĀ 9) Sarvâstivāda (T 1536) Theravada (DN 33)
02-01 Name and form 02-01 Name and form 02-01 Name and form 02-01 Name and form
02-02 Delusion and craving 02-02 Ignorance and craving for existence 02-02 Ignorance and craving for existence
02-03 Views of existence and non-existence 02-03 Views of existence and non-existence 02-03 Views favoring existence and favoring ending it
02-04 Lack of conscience and modesty 02-04 Lack of conscience and modesty 02-04 Lack of conscience and prudence
02-05 Having conscience and modesty 02-05 Conscience and modesty 02-05 Conscience and prudence
02-06 Bad speech and bad friends 02-06 Being hard to admonish and having bad friends
02-07 Good speech and good friends 02-07 Being easy to admonish and having good friends
02-08 Being good at committing offenses and at leaving offenses aside 02-08 Skill in offenses and skill in rehabilitation from offenses
02-09 Being good at entering samādhi and at emerging from samādhi 02-09 Skill in meditative attainments and skill in emerging from those attainments
02-10 Being good at elements and attention 02-10 Skill in elements and skill in attention
02-11 Skill in sense fields and skill in dependent origination
02-12 Skill in what’s possible and what’s impossible
02-11 Honesty and gentleness 02-13 Integrity and scrupulousness
02-12 Patience and pleasantness 02-14 Patience and gentleness
02-13 Agreeableness and support 02-15 Friendliness and hospitality
02-16 Harmlessness and purity
02-17 Lack of mindfulness and lack of situational awareness
02-14 Endowed with mindfulness and correct awareness 02-18 Mindfulness and situational awareness
02-16 Not guarding the senses and not knowing what’s enough food 02-19 Not guarding the sense doors and eating too much
02-17 Guarding the senses and knowing what’s enough food 02-20 Guarding the sense doors and moderation in eating
02-15 The powers of selective reflection and cultivation 02-21 The power of reflection and the power of development
02-22 The power of mindfulness and the power of immersion
02-25 śamatha and vipaśyanā 02-23 Serenity and discernment
02-24 The foundation of serenity and the foundation of exertion
02-25 Exertion and not being distracted
02-18 Deficiencies in precepts and views 02-26 Failure in ethics and failure in view
02-20 Perfected precepts and views 02-27 Accomplishment in ethics and accomplishment in view
02-21 Purified precepts and views 02-28 Purification of ethics and purification of view
02-22 View and reasonable overcoming (yoniso pradhana) 02-29 Purification of view and making an effort in line with that view
02-23 Disillusionment and reasonable overcoming 02-30 Inspiration, and making a suitable effort when inspired by inspiring places
02-24 Not being satisfied with what’s skillful and not stopping abandonment [of the unskillful] 02-31 To never be content with skillful qualities, and to never stop trying
02-26 Insight (vidya) and liberation 02-32 Knowledge and freedom
02-06 Knowledges of ending and no [more] birth 02-27 Knowledges of ending and no [more] birth 02-33 Knowledge of ending and knowledge of non-arising
02-19 Breaking precepts and views
02-07 Two causes and conditions for craving desires
02-08 Two causes and conditions for anger
02-09 Two causes and conditions for wrong view
02-10 Two causes and conditions for right view
02-11 Two causes and conditions (learning and no more learning about liberation)
02-12 Two causes and conditions (conditioned and unconditioned elements)

The Threes

Mahāsāṃghika? (T 12) Dharmaguptaka (DĀ 9) Sarvâstivāda (T 1536) Theravada (DN 33)
03-06 Three unskillful roots 03-01 Three unskillful roots 03-01 Three unskillful roots 03-01 Three unskillful roots
03-07 Three skillful roots 03-02 Three skillful roots 03-02 Three skillful roots 03-02 Three skillful roots
03-03 Three unskillful actions 03-03 Three unskillful actions 03-05 Three bad actions 03-03 Three ways of performing bad conduct
03-02 Three skillful actions 03-06 Three good actions 03-06 Three wonderful actions 03-04 Three ways of performing good conduct
03-04 Three unskillful thinking 03-03 Three unskillful thoughts (vitarka) 03-05 Three unskillful thoughts
03-05 Three skillful thinking 03-04 Three skillful thoughts (vitarka) 03-06 Three skillful thoughts
03-09 Three unskillful intentions 03-07 Three unskillful intentions
03-10 Three skillful intentions 03-08 Three skillful intentions
03-07 Three unskillful perceptions 03-09 Three unskillful perceptions
03-08 Three skillful perceptions 03-10 Three skillful perceptions
03-12 Three unskillful elements 03-18 Three elements 03-07 Three elements of desire, anger, and harmfulness 03-11 Three unskillful elements (sensuality, malice, cruelty)
03-13 Three skillful elements 03-19 Three elements 03-08 Three elements of escape, not being angry, and not being harmful 03-12 Three skillful elements (renunciation, good will, and harmlessness)
03-11 Three elements (desire, form, and formless) 03-09 Three elements of desire, form, and formlessness 03-13 Another three elements (sensuality, form, and formlessness)
03-20 Three elements 03-10 Three elements of form, formlessness, and cessation 03-14 Another three elements (form, formlessness, and cessation)
03-15 Another three elements (lower, middle, and higher)
03-13 Three cravings 03-32 Three cravings 03-16 Three cravings (sensual pleasures, to continue existence, and to end existence)
03-10 Three cravings (desire, form, and formless) 03-21 Three cravings 03-17 Another three cravings (sensuality, form, and formlessness)
03-18 Another three cravings (form, formlessness, and cessation)
03-19 Three fetters (identity view, doubt, and misapprehension of precepts and observances)
03-08 Three contaminants 03-14 Three contaminations 03-23 Three contaminants 03-20 Three defilements
03-14 Three existences 03-25 Three existences 03-21 Three realms of existence
03-09 Three pursuits 03-16 Three pursuits 03-24 Three pursuits 03-22 Three searches
03-30 Three types of arrogance 03-23 Three kinds of discrimination
03-11 Three times (past, future, present) 03-24 Three periods
03-25 Three extremes
03-16 Three feelings 03-12 Three feelings 03-28 Three feelings 03-26 Three feelings
03-17 Three pains 03-29 Three pains 03-29 Three natures of suffering 03-27 Three forms of suffering
03-15 Three heaps 03-34 Three heaps 03-18 Three heaps 03-28 Three heaps
03-26 Three individuals in darkness 03-29 Three darknesses
04-33 Four things unguarded [by the Tathagata] 04-36 Four things unguarded [by the Tathagata] 03-20 Three unguarded [things] 03-30 Three things a Realized One need not hide
03-31 Three possessions
03-35 Three fires 03-15 Three fires 03-31 Three fires 03-32 Three fires (greed, hate, and delusion)
03-32 Three fires 03-33 Another three fires (a fire for those worthy of offerings dedicated to the gods, a fire for householders, and a fire for those worthy of a religious donation)
03-13 Three bases of form 03-34 A threefold classification of the physical
03-35 Three choices
03-16 Three persons (pudgalas) 03-36 Three individuals
03-36 Three ranks 03-36 Three seniorities 03-17 Three seniorities 03-37 Three seniors
03-11 Three acts of merit 03-33 Three cases of meritorious action 03-38 Three grounds for making merit
03-32 Three issuances [of rebuke] 03-19 Three cases for bringing up wrongdoing 03-39 Three grounds for accusations
03-18 Three kinds of desire birth 03-27 Three births rooted in desire 03-34 Three births of desire 03-40 Three kinds of sensual rebirth
03-19 Three kinds of pleasant birth 03-28 Three pleasant births 03-35 Three pleasant births 03-41 Three kinds of pleasant rebirth
03-37 Three wisdoms 03-42 Three kinds of wisdom (the wisdom of a trainee, the wisdom of an adept, and the wisdom of one who is neither a trainee nor an adept)
03-36 Three wisdoms 03-43 Another three kinds of wisdom (wisdom produced by thought, learning, and meditation)
03-40 Three weapons 03-44 Three weapons
03-23 Three faculties 03-30 Three faculties 03-38 Three faculties 03-45 Three faculties
03-27 Three eyes 03-37 Three eyes 03-39 Three eyes 03-46 Three eyes
03-33 Three trainings 03-41 Three trainings 03-47 Three trainings
03-42 Three cultivations (-) 03-48 Three kinds of development
03-49 Three unsurpassables 03-49 Three unsurpassable things
03-21 Three samādhis (vitarka and vicara) 03-44 Three samādhis 03-50 Three kinds of immersion (vittaka and vicara)
03-23 Three samadhis 03-51 Another three kinds of immersion
03-32 Three purities 03-46 Three purities 03-52 Three purities
03-53 Three kinds of sagacity
03-54 Three skills
03-55 Three vanities
03-24 Three kinds of increase 03-17 Three growths 03-48 Three kinds of increase 03-56 Three ways of putting something in charge
03-26 Three subjects of discussion (events in three times) 03-33 Three discussions 03-12 Three bases of discussion 03-57 Three topics of discussion
03-28 Three insights (vidyas) 03-25 Three insights 03-50 Three insights 03-58 Three knowledges
03-22 Three abidings 03-31 Three temples 03-43 Three abidings 03-59 Three meditative abidings
03-29 Three penetrations 03-26 Three transformations 03-45 Three demonstrations 03-60 Three demonstrations
03-01 Three actions taught by the Buddha 03-14 Three actions
03-20 Three ways of accomplishing wise conduct
03-25 Three Buddhas (in three times)
03-31 Three impurities (physical, verbal, mental)
03-15 Three minds (like a canker sore, lightning flash, diamond)
03-27 Three fears
03-47 Three serenities
03-04 Three unskillful actions (2)
03-05 Three bad actions
03-22 Three precepts
03-24 Three attributes
03-35 Three sorrows

The Fours

Mahāsāṃghika? (T 12) Dharmaguptaka (DĀ 9) Sarvâstivāda (T 1536) Theravada (DN 33)
04-01 The four abodes of mindful observation 04-11 Four abodes of mindfulness 04-01 Four abodes of mindfulness 04-01 Four kinds of mindfulness meditation
04-02 Four right abandonments 04-12 Four mental abandonments 04-02 Four right abandonments 04-02 Four right efforts
04-03 Four miraculous abilities 04-13 Four miraculous abilities 04-03 Four miraculous abilities 04-03 Four bases of psychic power
04-04 Four dhyānas 04-14 Four dhyānas 04-04 Four dhyānas 04-04 Four absorptions (jhānas)
04-23 Four cultivations of samādhi 04-05 Four ways of developing immersion
04-05 Four immeasurables 04-15 Four Brahma temples (viharas) 04-07 Four immeasurables 04-06 Four immeasurables
04-06 Four formless samadhis 04-16 Four formless samādhis 04-08 Four kinds of formlessness 04-07 Four formless states
04-18 Four supports 04-08 Four supports
04-18 Four noble clans 04-09 Four noble lineages 04-09 Four noble traditions
04-10 Four efforts (to restrain, to give up, to develop, and to preserve)
04-07 Four knowledges 04-26 Four knowledges 04-13 Four knowledges 04-11 Four knowledges
04-14 Another four knowledges 04-12 Another four knowledges
04-11 Four factors of stream entry 04-13 Four factors of stream-entry
04-18 Four groups of stream-entry 04-20 Four factors of stream-entry 04-12 Four realized purities 04-14 Four factors of a stream-enterer
04-19 Four fruits of the ascetic 04-24 Four fruits of the ascetic 04-10 Four fruits of the ascetic 04-15 Four fruits of the ascetic life
04-31 Four great elements 04-16 Four elements
04-32 Four foods 04-05 Four foods 04-32 Four foods 04-17 Four foods
04-13 Four abodes of consciousness 04-28 Four bases of consciousness subsisting 04-33 Four abodes of consciousness 04-18 Four bases for consciousness to remain
04-19 Four prejudices
04-31 Four arisings of craving 04-34 Four cravings 04-20 Four things that give rise to craving
04-17 Four paths to miraculous penetration 04-22 Four pathways 04-21 Four practices 04-21 Four ways of practice
04-16 Four headings 04-22 Another four practices 04-22 Another four ways of practice
04-14 Four Dharma foundations 04-17 Four Dharma foundations 04-19 Four Dharma tracks 04-23 Four basic principles
04-15 Four ways of the śramaṇa (?) 04-06 Four feelings 04-25 Four dharma feelings 04-24 Four ways of taking up practices
03-34 Three categories 03-21 Three heaps 04-17 Four categories (precepts, samādhi, wisdom, liberation) 04-25 Four spectrums of the teaching (ethics, immersion, wisdom, and freedom)
04-22 Four powers 04-15 Four powers 04-26 Four powers
04-25 Four abodes 04-16 Four abodes (-) 04-27 Four foundations
04-39 Four types of explanation 04-35 Four explanations 04-36 Four answers to questions 04-28 Four ways of answering questions
04-24 Four deeds 04-29 Four deeds
04-30 Four things to be realized
04-28 Four floods 04-31 Four floods
04-29 Four yokes 04-26 Four yokes 04-32 Four bonds
04-30 Four absent yokes 04-27 Four releases from being yoked 04-33 Four detachments
04-30 Four personal heaps (-) 04-08 Four fetters (-) 04-30 Four personal fetters 04-34 Four ties
04-20 Four graspings 04-07 Four acquisitions 04-29 Four graspings 04-35 Four kinds of grasping
04-11 Four births 04-10 Four births 04-39 Four births 04-36 Four kinds of reproduction
04-12 Four kinds of conception 04-37 Four kinds of conception
04-40 Four ways of being incarnated 04-38 Four kinds of reincarnation
04-10 Four ways of purifying donations 04-39 Four ways of purifying a religious donation
04-26 Four ways of inclusion 04-19 Four ways of inclusion 04-38 Four ways of inclusion 04-40 Four ways of being inclusive
04-35 Four kinds of bad speech 04-01 Four bad verbal actions 04-45 Four bad verbal actions 04-41 Four ignoble expressions (speech that’s false, divisive, harsh, or nonsensical)
04-36 Four kinds of good speech 04-02 Four good verbal actions 04-46 Four wonderful verbal actions 04-42 Four noble expressions (refraining from speech that’s false, divisive, harsh, or nonsensical)
04-37 Four ignoble conducts 04-43 Another four ignoble expressions (saying you’ve seen, heard, thought, or known something, but you haven’t)
04-47 Four noble expressions 04-44 Another four noble expressions (saying you haven’t seen, heard, thought, or known something, and you haven’t)
04-03 Four kinds of ignoble speech 04-48 Four ignoble expressions 04-45 Another four ignoble expressions (saying you haven’t seen, heard, thought, or known something, and you have)
04-38 Four noble conducts 04-04 Four kinds of noble speech 04-49 Four noble expressions 04-46 Another four noble expressions (saying you’ve seen, heard, thought, or known something, and you have)
04-44 Four persons (cause themselves suffering, etc) 04-47 Four persons (mortifying self, others, etc)
04-23 Four persons (pudgalas) 04-42 Four persons (who benefit self, others, etc) 04-48 Another four persons (benefiting self and others, etc)
04-43 Four persons (dark bound for dark, etc) 04-49 Another four persons (darkness and light)
04-41 Four persons (who follow the stream, etc)? 04-50 Another four persons (confirmed ascetic, the white lotus ascetic, the pink lotus ascetic, and the exquisite ascetic of ascetics)
04-08 Four secure abidings (all, equanimous, peace, wisdom practices)
04-09 Four noble truths 04-23 Four noble truths 04-05 Four noble truths
04-21 Four perceptions of samādhi
04-24 Four ways of aligning with the Saṅgha
04-25 Four great wheels
04-27 Four unimpeded understandings
04-28 Four afflictions
04-29 Four conditioned things
04-34 Four [mistakes of] reversal
04-34 Four considerations (little, broad, measureless, and nothingness) 04-06 Four perceptions
04-21 Four proofs 04-20 Four proofs
04-35 Four actions that shouldn’t be done
04-37 Four kinds of giving
04-09 Four thorns
04-27 Four eloquences (dharma, meaning, rebuke, response)
04-31 Four purities (cf. three purities above)
04-32 Four knowings (acceptable, practicable, enjoyable, rejectable)
04-33 Four deportments (walking, standing, sitting, lying)

The Fives

Mahāsāṃghika? (T 12) Dharmaguptaka (DĀ 9) Sarvâstivāda (T 1536) Theravada (DN 33)
05-01 Five aggregates 05-01 Five aggregates
05-01 Five grasping aggregates 05-02 Five acquired aggregates 05-02 Five grasping aggregates 05-02 Five grasping aggregates
05-02 Five desires 05-03 Five wonderful desires 05-03 Five sensual stimulations
05-12 Five destinations (of rebirth) 05-05 Five destinations 05-04 Five destinations
05-05 Five kinds of stinginess (-) 05-04 Five kinds of stinginess 05-05 Five kinds of stinginess
05-03 Five hindrances 05-03 Five hindrances 05-06 Five hindrances 05-06 Five hindrances
05-04 Five afflicting fetters 05-04 Five lower fetters 05-09 Five lower fetters 05-07 Five lower fetters
05-05 Five higher fetters 05-10 Five higher fetters 05-08 Five higher fetters
05-09 Five precepts
05-16 Five ways of being incapable 05-10 Five things that can’t be done
05-13 Five losses 05-11 Five losses
05-14 Five fulfillments 05-12 Five endowments
05-11 Five defects of the impatient 05-13 Five drawbacks
05-12 Five virtues of the patient 05-14 Five benefits of ethical accomplishment
05-09 Five (wrong) accusations 05-15 Five ways of speaking (accusations) 05-15 Five things to establish before accusing another
05-08 Five factors of extinguishment 05-17 Five factors of victory 05-16 Five factors supporting meditation
05-13 Five pure abode (heavens) 05-23 Five pure abode heavens 05-17 Five pure abodes
05-14 Five worthies entering Dharma 05-15 Five persons (non-returners) 05-22 Five non-returners 05-18 Five non-returners
05-07 Five ways of pruning the heart 05-19 Five kinds of emotional barrenness
05-08 Five bonds of heart 05-20 Five emotional shackles
05-01 Five senses 05-21 Five faculties (senses)
05-06 Five faculties of feeling 05-22 Five faculties (pleasure/pain)
05-07 Five supreme faculties 05-06 Five faculties 05-20 Five faculties 05-23 Five faculties (spiritual)
05-10 Five elements of escape 05-13 Five elements of escape 05-24 Five elements of escape 05-24 Five elements of escape
05-11 Five stations of liberation 05-14 Five joyous entries to liberation 05-19 Five possibilities of liberation 05-25 Five opportunities for freedom
05-12 Five ways of heading for liberation (-) 05-18 Five perceptions that ripen in freedom 05-26 Five perceptions that ripen in freedom
05-08 Five powers 05-07 Five powers 05-21 Five powers
05-09 Five training powers (same)
05-10 Five skillful accusations
05-11 Five hatreds (cf. prejudices?)

The Sixes

Mahāsāṃghika? (T 12) Dharmaguptaka (DĀ 9) Sarvâstivāda (T 1536) Theravada (DN 33)
06-01 Six inner sense fields 06-01 Six inner senses 06-01 Six internal sense fields 06-01 Six interior sense fields
06-02 Six outer sense fields 06-02 Six outer senses 06-02 Six external sense fields 06-02 Six exterior sense fields
06-03 Six kinds of consciousness 06-03 Six bodies of consciousness 06-03 Six bodies of consciousness 06-03 Six classes of consciousness
06-04 Six types of contact 06-04 Six bodies of contact 06-04 Six bodies of contact 06-04 Six classes of contact
06-05 Six types of feeling 06-05 Six bodies of feeling 06-05 Six bodies of feeling 06-05 Six classes of feeling
06-06 Six types of perception 06-06 Six bodies of perception 06-06 Six bodies of perception 06-06 Six classes of perception
06-07 Six bodies of intention 06-07 Six bodies of intention 06-07 Six bodies of intention
06-07 Six types of craving 06-08 Six bodies of craving 06-08 Six bodies of craving 06-08 Six classes of craving
06-09 Six things that lead to ruin 06-09 Six kinds of disrespect
06-10 Six things that don’t lead to ruin 06-10 Six kinds of respect
06-08 Six fields of delight 06-11 Six nearby conditions (upavicara) for delight 06-11 Six preoccupations with happiness
06-09 Six fields that aren’t delightful 06-12 Six nearby conditions for sadness 06-12 Six preoccupations with sadness
06-10 Six practices of equanimity 06-13 Six nearby conditions for equanimity 06-13 Six preoccupations with equanimity
06-13 Six dustless qualities 06-18 Six delightful qualities 06-14 Six warm-hearted qualities
06-14 Six roots of conflict 06-09 Six sources of argument 06-17 Six roots of argument 06-15 Six roots of arguments
06-10 Six elements 06-15 Six elements 06-16 Six elements
06-15 Six Counteractive elements of escape 06-12 Six elements of escape 06-16 Six elements of escape 06-17 Six elements of escape
06-12 Six (mental) activities 06-13 Six unsurpassables 06-22 Six unsurpassables 06-18 Six unsurpassable things
06-11 Six recollections 06-14 Six recollections 06-21 Six recollections 06-19 Six topics for recollection
06-14 Six eternal abodes 06-20 Six consistent responses
06-24 Six types of birth 06-21 Six classes of rebirth
06-20 Six perceptions conductive to clear discernment 06-22 Six perceptions that help penetration
06-19 Six penetrations (abhijna)
06-11 Six investigations 06-23 Six longings

The Sevens

Mahāsāṃghika? (T 12) Dharmaguptaka (DĀ 9) Sarvâstivāda (T 1536) Theravada (DN 33)
07-08 Another seven not wonderful qualities
07-12 Seven cases without error
07-04 Seven wealths 07-01 Seven kinds of noble wealth
07-01 Seven factors of awakening 07-07 Seven factors of awakening 07-01 Seven factors of complete awakening 07-02 Seven awakening factors
07-02 Seven conditions for samādhi 07-06 Seven requisites for samādhi 07-03 Seven requisites of samādhi 07-03 Seven prerequisites for immersion
07-01 Seven things that aren’t Dharma 07-06 Seven not wonderful qualities 07-04 Seven bad qualities
07-02 Seven correct qualities 07-07 Seven wonderful qualities 07-05 Seven good qualities
07-09 Another seven wonderful qualities 07-06 Seven aspects of the teachings of good persons
07-04 Seven diligent qualities (-) 07-07 Seven qualifications for graduation
07-03 Seven liberating perceptions (-) 07-05 Seven perceptions (-) 07-08 Seven perceptions
07-04 Seven powers 07-05 Seven powers 07-09 Seven powers
07-06 Seven abodes of consciousness 07-03 Seven abodes of consciousness 07-10 Seven abodes of consciousness 07-10 Seven planes of consciousness
07-05 Seven kinds of people (pudgalas) 07-02 Seven persons (pudgalas) 07-11 Seven worthies of donations
07-11 Seven latent tendencies 07-12 Seven underlying tendencies
07-13 Seven fetters
07-13 Seven ways to settle disputes 07-14 Seven principles for the settlement of disciplinary issues

The Eights

Mahāsāṃghika? (T 12) Dharmaguptaka (DĀ 9) Sarvâstivāda (T 1536) Theravada (DN 33)
08-01 Eight wrong ways
08-04 Right eightfold path 08-03 Noble eightfold path 08-01 Eightfold path 08-02 Eight right ways
08-04 Eight persons 08-02 Eight persons (pudgalas) 08-03 Eight worthies of donations
08-04 Eight cases of laziness 08-04 Eight grounds for laziness
08-05 Eight cases of diligence 08-05 Eight grounds for arousing energy
08-03 Eight kinds of giving 08-06 Eight reasons to give
08-06 Eight births of merit 08-07 Eight rebirths by giving
08-07 Eight assemblies 08-08 Eight assemblies
08-03 Eight ways of the world 08-01 Eight ways of the world 08-08 Eight ways of the world 08-09 Eight worldly conditions
08-02 Eight abodes of mastery 08-10 Eight abodes of mastery 08-10 Eight dimensions of mastery
08-01 Eight liberations 08-02 Eight liberations 08-09 Eight liberations 08-11 Eight liberations

The Nines

Mahāsāṃghika? (T 12) Dharmaguptaka (DĀ 9) Sarvâstivāda (T 1536) Theravada (DN 33)
09-01 Nine bonds
09-01 Nine grounds for resentment
09-02 Nine methods to get rid of resentment
09-01 Nine abodes of sentient beings 09-01 Nine abodes of sentient beings 09-02 Nine abodes of sentient beings 09-03 Nine abodes of sentient beings
09-04 Nine lost opportunities for spiritual practice
09-05 Nine progressive meditations
09-06 Nine progressive cessations

The Tens

Mahāsāṃghika? (T 12) Dharmaguptaka (DĀ 9) Sarvâstivāda (T 1536) Theravada (DN 33)
10-01 Ten qualities that serve as protector
10-01 Ten universal abodes 10-02 Ten universal dimensions of meditation
10-03 Ten ways of doing unskillful deeds
10-04 Ten ways of doing skillful deeds
10-05 Ten noble abodes
10-01 Ten perfected practices 10-01 Ten ways of no more learning 10-02 Ten ways of no more learning 10-06 Ten qualities of an adept
11 Likes

Excellent! Especially for future research into the Sangiti Sutta.

I’ve got a question for clarification:
In the overlap table, why is Mahāsāṃghika vs Dharmaguptaka 65%, but Dharmaguptaka vs. Mahāsāṃghika 60%. I don’t understand how the asymmetry comes about.

Oh, and could you please (at some point at least) provide a download version?

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This is very good research regarding the four different versions of the text. Possibly one is able to identify the original or the earliest structure of the text based on the comparative study.

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Yeah, I had a feeling that table would be confusing. Basically, I divide the number of lists each pair has in common with the total number they have to arrive at the percent that’s shared.

So, for the Mahāsāṃghika vs. Dharmaguptaka, they have 77 lists in common, but they are different sizes. So, the Dharmaguptaka contains 65% of the Mahāsāṃghika sutra’s lists (77/118 = .6525), but the Mahāsāṃghika contains 60% the Dharmaguptaka sutra’s lists (77/128 = .601). It’s their relative sizes that cause the difference.

I think I will end up creating a PDF. I may go into more detail, such as translating the individual list items and showing the original language (Chinese and Pali) for research. That’ll take a few months, so I thought I’d dump the high-level analysis in a post that shows the overall relationships between the sutras.

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I can definitely see a common core in each of the divisions of the recitation. They often have the same order before they diverge.