Buddhist texts of Indian origin outside of The Pali Canon

Aside from the Tipiṭaka, what are some notable Buddhist texts of Indian origin?

Your replies would be appreciated.

This section of SuttaCentral may be of your interest and related to the topic:



Thank you. That’s a great overview of the Pali Canon.

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Motivated by the assumption that texts outside of the Pali Canon are predominantly Mahayanan, I did some digging through the Mahayana articles on Wikipedia. According to the section on the Mahayana sutra collections, the first thirty-two volumes of the Chinese Taishō Tripiṭaka are of Indic origin. I’ll list them here for those interested.

Volume — Sanskrit — Description

  • T01–02 —Āgama — Āgamas
  • T03–04 — Jātaka — Birth Stories
  • T05–08 — Prajñapāramitā — Perfection of Wisdom
  • T09a — Saddharma Puṇḍarīka — The Lotus Sūtra
  • T09b–10 — Avataṃsaka — Flower Garland
  • T11–12a — Ratnakūṭa — Jewel Peak
  • T12b — Nirvāṇa — The Parinirvāṇa
  • T13 — Mahāsannipāta — The Great Collection
  • T14–17 — Sūtrasannipāta — Collected Sūtras
  • T18–21 — Tantra — Esoteric Teachings
  • T22–24 — Vinaya — Monastic Discipline
  • T25–26a — Sūtravyākaraṇa — Sūtra Explanations
  • T26b–29 — Abhidharma — Systematic Analyses
  • T30a —Mādhyamaka — Mādhyamaka Texts
  • T30b–31 — Yogācāra — Yogācāra Texts
  • T32 — Śāstra — Treatises

Born in South India in 150 CE, Nagarjuna was the founder of the Madhyamaka school, and an integral figure in the expansion and propagation of the philosophy of the Prajñāpāramitā sūtras. His best known work is the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā.

In response to disagreements they had with the Madhyamaka school, Brahmin-born half-brothers Asaṅga and Vasubandhu would later found the Yogachara school based on the teachings of the Sandhinirmocana Sutra.

The Pure Land sutras (Shorter Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra, Longer Sukhāvatīvyūha Sūtra, Amitayurdhyana Sutra), the Pratyutpanna Samādhi Sūtra, and the Golden Light Sutra are also of Indic origin. The Diamond Sutra and Vimalakirti Sutra were originally composed in Sanskrit, so, presumably, they originated from India as well before being translated into Chinese.

Manuscripts of the Ajitasena Sutra are said to have been found in an Indian country, but it wasn’t clear in the sources I’ve read if those texts, in fact, originated there.

Additional Resources


The first 32 volumes are “sort of” Indian. For instance, the Sinitic recension of the Buddhāvataṃsaka (Flower Garland) is more than twice the size of the Tibetic recension. So either the Chinese did a bunch of adding or the Tibetans did a bunch of pruning. Similarly, historical ancient editions of the Saddharmapuṇḍarīka are sometimes only half as long as modern editions. So who knows where these expansions happened. India? China? Central Asia? Parts of the Saddharmapuṇḍarīka are pretty much demonstrably Gāndhārī, particularly the episode about Prabhūtaratna and his jeweled stūpa that frames the ceremony in the air and the Tathāgatāyuṣpramāṇaparivarta (a principle part of what modern day Nichiren Buddhists chant). So who knows?