DN is the earliest Nikaya

I have been asked by some to defend and explain my assessment that the Digha Nikaya is the “oldest” of the 5 collections as opposed to the currently fashionable view that the Samyutta may be the oldest. I have put off attempting this because I have felt that to do this thesis justice would require research to present the previous scholarship on the matter, cross referencing to show where and how the EBT material bears out or contradicts my thesis and analysis and comparison to other current arguments for the primacy or priority of other collections. This task in these terms is something that I am simply not able to complete as I do not have the time or resources necessary to complete it. Therefore after much hesitation I have decided to simply attempt to explain my arguments in a straightforward way in the hope that others find it useful and beneficial, the footnotes will just have to wait for another time.

So first off I want to state some of the background assumptions I make: 1. It seems clear to me that the suttas as we have them now are the product of many years of evolution and development, and where composed by and large after the death of the Buddha. So I take it to be the case that while there may have been a speech by the Buddha “At the royal rest-house at Ambalaṭṭhikā, between Rājagaha and Nāḷanda” about Brahma’s Net, what we have in the Suttas is a literary description of that event and the contents of that speech, not a transcript of that speech. It seems to me that there is a fairly important and unequivocal line in the sand at this point; if you disagree with the previous statement, that is if you think that the suttas are transcripts of the actual speeches of the historical buddha then this essay is simply not for you, and I advise you to pass over the whole thing in noble silence. For those that can see that the suttas are literature, and that they are manifestly not transcripts or reportage, then by all means read on. 2.It seems clear that there was a diverse and “living” oral literature of buddhist doctrine and experience that the Nikayas drew from. Much of this literature would now be lost. If we take it that the more archaic form of Pali that we see in the Atthaka Vagga and other early poems is prior to the Pali of the first 4 Nikayas then is seems clear that the language of these collections is from some time later than the milieu of the Buddhas death. So it seems clear to me at least that there was a period, lengthy enough for noticable evolution in the language, prior to the formation of the first 4 nikayas. Which brings me to 3. All of the first 4 Nikayas almost certainly drew from equally old or even “original” material, and as Rhys Davids has pointed out, the material that is almost certainly the oldest strata is precisely “The simple statements of Buddhist doctrine now found, in identical words, in paragraphs or verses recurring in all the books.” We now have, thanks in part to SuttaCentral itself, a very good idea of what these are now not just in terms of formulae occuring in all the Nikayas, but also their parallels in the Agamas as well. To summarize; Before the first 4 Nikayas where collated and collected there was a prior literature that constituted the buddhas teachings, described in the Nikayas themselves as the nine anga, starting with sutta, geyya, vyākaraṇa and so on, from this material the canon was formed.

So I have outlined the background to my thinking, and take it to be the case that Rhys Davids is quite right when he points to the formulae we see in all 4 collections are probably the earliest material yet I still claim that DN is probably the “earliest” of the 4, why? Well, here are my arguments:

  1. The Sekha Paṭipadā predates the Pātimokkha.

  2. The Sekha Paṭipadā predates the Noble eightfold path.

  3. DN has the earliest version of DO.

  4. DN does not know the aggregates formula except as a late addition.

  5. DN focuses on Jhana as an improvement on BrahmaVihara rather than Sati.

  6. DN exhibits a tripartate structure recapitulating the later canon.

  7. DN is mentioned in the Cullavagga.

  8. DN is short.

  9. DN is “complete”

  10. Other Nikayas exhibit “abhidharmic” tendencies.

I will now take each of these arguments in turn and elaborate on them.

  1. The Sekha Paṭipadā predates the Pātimokkha.

The first third of the Digha Nikaya takes as it’s fundamental formula something called the Sekha Paṭipadā or “Gradual Training”. It is stated in full in DN2, then repeated in every sutta to DN13. A fundamental part of this formula is a sub-formula called the Ariya Sīlakkhandha, which is given in DN1 by itself, then repeated in the more complete Sekha Paṭipadā subsequently. This Ariya Sīlakkhandha gives the first division of the Digha its name.

The Ariya Sīlakkhandha is given in three parts, the short, middle and long parts, each one longer than the other. I take it to be fairly likely that the short section was the earliest and that the middle and long parts developed somewhat later, here is the short section in Sujato’s translation:

“‘The ascetic Gotama has given up killing living creatures. He has renounced the rod and the sword. He’s scrupulous and kind, living full of compassion for all living beings.’ Such is an ordinary person’s praise of the Realized One.
‘The ascetic Gotama has given up stealing. He takes only what’s given, and expects only what’s given. He keeps himself clean by not thieving.’ Such is an ordinary person’s praise of the Realized One.
‘The ascetic Gotama has given up unchastity. He is celibate, set apart, avoiding the common practice of sex.’ Such is an ordinary person’s praise of the Realized One.
‘The ascetic Gotama has given up lying. He speaks the truth and sticks to the truth. He’s honest and trustworthy, and doesn’t trick the world with his words.’ Such is an ordinary person’s praise of the Realized One.
‘The ascetic Gotama has given up divisive speech. He doesn’t repeat in one place what he heard in another so as to divide people against each other. Instead, he reconciles those who are divided, supporting unity, delighting in harmony, loving harmony, speaking words that promote harmony.’ Such is an ordinary person’s praise of the Realized One.
‘The ascetic Gotama has given up harsh speech. He speaks in a way that’s mellow, pleasing to the ear, lovely, going to the heart, polite, likable and agreeable to the people.’ Such is an ordinary person’s praise of the Realized One.
‘The ascetic Gotama has given up talking nonsense. His words are timely, true, and meaningful, in line with the teaching and training. He says things at the right time which are valuable, reasonable, succinct, and beneficial.’ Such is an ordinary person’s praise of the Realized One.
‘The ascetic Gotama refrains from injuring plants and seeds.’
‘He eats in one part of the day, abstaining from eating at night and food at the wrong time.’
‘He refrains from dancing, singing, music, and seeing shows.’
‘He refrains from beautifying and adorning himself with garlands, perfumes, and makeup.’
‘He refrains from high and luxurious beds.’
‘He refrains from receiving gold and money, raw grains, raw meat, women and girls, male and female bondservants, goats and sheep, chickens and pigs, elephants, cows, horses, and mares, and fields and land.’
‘He refrains from running errands and messages; buying and selling; falsifying weights, metals, or measures; bribery, fraud, cheating, and duplicity; mutilation, murder, abduction, banditry, plunder, and violence.’ Such is an ordinary person’s praise of the Realized One.”

Later in DN and also in MN and AN this formula is replaced with another, called Sīlasampatti, that instead of listing the rather long list of rules, simply refers the reader to the patimokkha. FOr example at MN107:

“‘Come, mendicant, be ethical and restrained in the monastic code, conducting yourself well and seeking alms in suitable places. Seeing danger in the slightest fault, keep the rules you’ve undertaken.’”

This evolution from a short section on ethics to a short plus middle length to a short plus middle length plus long to a please refer to this other document shows a clear development and indicates the Sekha Paṭipadā and consequently DN to be very “early”.

  1. The Sekha Paṭipadā predates the Noble eightfold path.

The Sekha Paṭipadā gives a lengthy description of a person hearing the dhamma, shaving their head, following rules of conduct, restraining their senses, practicing jhana, developing psychic powers, and realizing the destruction of suffering and the ending of the asavas and knowing “it is freed” At no point in this formula is a “Noble eightfold path” or “Four noble truths” mentioned. Once again, this seems to be a more archaic, less technical formulation and to represent a very early strata of material.

  1. DN has the earliest version of DO.

The dependant origination formula most often given in DN is only 10 links long - it describes the body and consciousness as mutually dependant like the two sides of an A frame. This formulation is almost certainly earlier than the 12 link version as it is open to criticism along annihilationist grounds and so seems very unlikely to have been “developed” from the 12 link version.

  1. DN does not know the aggregates formula except as a late addition.

The 5 aggregates are barely mentioned in DN, found only in 4 places to my knowledge, the Mahasatipathanna, the chanting together, the increasing by ones and the harvest of deeds, all these seem to be clearly composite or late and all merely mention the term without discussing it. It seems likely that the bulk of DN was finalized at a point before the 5 aggregates rose to prominence as a teaching.

  1. DN focuses on Jhana as an improvement on BrahmaVihara rather than Sati.

It also appears that DN was mostly fixed before satipathanna rose to prominence, there is a clear sense in the Sekha Paṭipadā that mindfulness is simply paying attention to what your doing when you move about or go on almsround, and meditation is clearly described using the jhana formula. Structurally Jhana is most often contrasted to the brahmaviharas which are also repeatedly described especially in the context of brahminical interlocutors of the Buddha and satipathanna is mostly found in the mahasatipathanna which is more or less imported wholesale from MN.

  1. DN exhibits a tripartite structure recapitulating the later canon.

DN is divided into three sections, the first focusing on the Sekha Paṭipadā and it’s Ariya Sīlakkhandha subformlua, the second focusing on the Devas and the Parinibanna and the third section includes a variety of poetic material as well as suttas that collect doctrinal terms into sequences as in the “chanting together” and the “one by one”. Some of the material in this last section has verse forms that are amongst the latest in the canon. One would think that this is an argument against the “earliness” of DN, but I think it is suggestive of quite the opposite, the late material at the end of the DN is indicative that the collection was considered a “complete” work by it’s reciters, and the late material being at the end of the work makes sense if it was considered to be complete in itself. The final two suttas containing lists of doctrines by number, many not mentioned in DN itself recapitulate a kind of proto-abbhidharma that shows an anxiousness to preserve the teachings not found in DN itself.

  1. DN is mentioned in the Cullavagga.

The Cullavagga, in the Vinaya refers to the first two suttas in the DN as being the first 2 suttas in the canon:

“Venerable Mahākassapa informed the Sangha:

“Please, I ask the Sangha to listen. If it seems appropriate to the Sangha, I will ask Ānanda about the Teaching.”

Venerable Ānanda informed the Sangha:

“Please, Venerables, I ask the Sangha to listen. If it seems appropriate to the Sangha, I will reply when asked by Venerable Mahākassapa about the Teaching.”

And Mahākassapa asked Ānanda, “Where was the Prime Net spoken?”

“At the royal rest-house at Ambalaṭṭhikā, between Rājagaha and Nāḷanda.”

“Who is it about?”

“The wanderer Suppiya and the young brahmin Brahmadatta.”

And Mahākassapa asked Ānanda about the origin story of the Prime Net and about the person.

“Where was the Fruits of the Monastic Life spoken?”

“In Jīvaka’s mango grove at Rājagaha.”

“Who is it with?”

“Ajātasattu of Videha.”

And Mahākassapa asked Ānanda about the origin story of the Fruits of the Monastic Life and about the person.

In this way he asked about the five collections. And Ānanda was able to reply to every question.”

While this is in no way decisive, it is nevertheless indicative that at least the first division of DN was recalled as the first part of the canon as early as the formation of the Vinaya.

  1. DN is short.

Again this may seem somewhat facetious, but I think that it is plausible to think that the shortest of the 4N is the earliest and that the longer the nikaya, generally speaking, the later it is likely to be.

  1. DN is “complete”

This is more or less the same argument as 6. The threefold structure more or less divides along the lines of 1. morality 2. concentration 3. wisdom with and advice to the laity and indexes of doctrine at the end is suggestive of a complete tradition, coupled with the archaic features of the initial and middle portions of the text it seems plausible that it started independently of the other nikayas and saw itself as a complete canon unto itself.

  1. Other Nikayas exhibit “abhidharmic” tendencies.

It seems to me that MN preserves features that are also “early” in that there is a variety of narrative styles and content and a richness of storytelling and motif that is strikingly absent from the non verse parts of the Samyutta and Anguttra, my reasons for thinking that MN is probably later than DN is the move form jhana to sati, from the 10 link DO to the 12, and the prevalence of the aggregates. The reason I think that SN and AN are later is because they relentlessly take formulas from elsewhere in the canon and combine them in seemingly mechanical and sometimes somewhat nonsensical ways, endlessly. This mechanical production of suttas by the application of a formula to a term, as exemplified in SN 53 the Jhānasaṁyutta, is not to be found in DN, except perhaps in the harvest of deeds, which as i said above i take to be late.

So there without too much by way of references or even drafting are my main reasons for thinking that DN is th “earliest of the Nikayas.

I will now make some concluding remarks:

DN and MN take formulas and verses that existed at the time of the buddhas death and embed them in rich narratives that present an amazing window into the time of the buddha, DN appears to preserve perhaps an earlier basic picture of the buddhist path than MN or the other Nikayas. SN and AN show a drift towards a kind of systematic recombination of formula that eventually gives rise to the abbhdamma. While all 4 of the first 4 Nikayas preserve early formulas I think that for the reasons given above it is plausible to think that DN, at least the core of it, represents the earliest “Canonical” buddhism, that is that it is plausible that DN is the first collection made from the prior literature of the sutta, geyya, vyākaraṇa that existed at the time of the buddhas death.

So there you have it, my argument for te priority of DN.

I hope that at some later time I can return to this and provide a literature review, some discussion of other theories, some links to examples of my ideas in the canon and so forth, also I suppose to correct all the spelling errors etc :slight_smile:

In the meantime I would love to hear from others their thoughts, perhaps counterexamples, but even better, more arguments for the earliness of DN.

Metta.

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Thank you for sharing! An aspect I miss in your essay is of the purpose of the DN/DA. Maybe the khandhas are mentioned less because the audience is different for the DN/DA? For example this is what Bhikkhu Analayo writes about the DN/DA:

“In other words, the collection of long discourses would have a particular appeal for disciples who feel strong devotion towards the Buddha as their teacher, as well as for disciples who are engaged in winning converts to the tradition and disciples who have to defend Buddhist doctrine against other philosophies and beliefs.”
https://www.buddhismuskunde.uni-hamburg.de/pdf/5-personen/analayo/dastudies.pdf

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Thanks for your reply @Danny ! I think that the idea of the Nikayas each having a different purpose in the community is very unlikely as an explanation of their creation. It is perhaps more plausible as a story of how they came to be used. The picture implied, of all the material being available and then “sorted” into categories just doesn’t explain the doctrinal evolution that I argue is clearly evident across the sutta material, as for example in the 10 link DO to 12 link DO or the move from emphasis on jhana to emphasis on sati and so on.

I think many of the monastic scholars like Analayo and Bodhi have an unconscious bias towards seeing the sutta material as very early and therefore look for explanations that explain the differences and divergences in the material that avoids the to my mind more obvious theory that the material shows evolution over time and is the product of literary development well past the lifetime of the Buddha.

You could make the essay much more readable if you used markdown to set the quotations. You can use > at the beginning of the paragraphs that are quotations. In Discourse here you can also wrap text in [quote] [/quote]

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Thanks @Snowbird I am on my phone at the moment but when I have access to my computer I will do as you suggest.

I think your phone has the > character. (I just produced one on my phone.) One at the beginning of each quoted paragraph is all it takes. :grinning:

Did you have a chance to look into the DA? It contains 47 suttas, out of which only 24 have paralells in the DN. Would they confirm your conclusions based on the DN?

The problem with overall assessments about the DN is that the texts are so long and thus can easily contain earlier and later snippets next to each other. DN 16 for example mentions dhammadharas which are transmitters before the bhanakas, but most probably post-Buddha. This alone doesn’t disqualify DN 16 as late but shows that probably the individual segments have to be looked at.

DN 14 contains ‘Brahma’s intervention’ which (based on Analayo’s research) is probably a later addition.

In SN 22.4 Mahākaccāna comments on DN 21, which is therefore certainly older than the SN sutta. But then again the Mahākaccāna material has to be regarded as proto-commentarial anyhow.

DN 18 contains the oddest transmission provenance, which makes it quite late.

DN 3 and DN 13 refer to the likely historical figure Pokkharasāti.

The purohita priest mentioned in DN 5, DN 14, DN 19, and DN 21 are most likely late additions (along with other doubtful details).

Generally, the DN features quite many Brahmin terms, some older, some later. Which gives more basis to the hypothesis that the DN was used in conversion contexts.

DN 17 presents post-Buddha mythology.

I guess what I’m saying with this is that the DN might be a patch-work more than belonging to a certain period.

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If we accept the traditional narrative that a large body of remembered discourses were later categorized and compiled in to various nikayas based on size and theme, why would one nikaya be older than another?

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I think attempting to place individual Nikaya/Agama collections in an order of development is difficult. They may not have been created at the same time, but there may not have been much delay between them, either. The trouble stems from not knowing when exactly sutras were added or removed from a given collection. The conversion of heretic sutras in DN/DA or very long texts like the Parinibbana Sutta may have been later additions to an earlier collection that changed its overall character. The Chinese DA has an even larger cosmological text added to the end of it that’s twice the size of the Parinibbana Sutta (and DA’s version of the Parinibbana Sutta is itself somewhat larger).

Yinshun’s argument that SN and SA descend from the earliest collection makes sense logically because they look like the “leftovers” after larger sutras were moved into separate collections as the canon grew in size. He assumes that there was a single collection at the start, and then new collections were created as it grew and became unwieldy in size. This makes sense, but the history of how things happen is often quite surprising and complex when it’s recorded, and we’ve been left in the dark about the events in early Buddhism. So, we are stuck rationalizing what has come down to us.

It seems more meaningful and profitable to study the contents of all four collections and attempt to discern early and late strata of texts and material inside them. It’s still fairly speculative, though. It’s easy to read a few sutras, form a theory on anecdotal evidence, and then realize that a wider reading of material doesn’t support it. I’ve lost count of how many times this has happened to me over the past couple years.

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Thank you for your insights, Charles.

I can’t imagine how we would ever be able to arrive a determination about an urtext or Q source in early buddhist texts. And how would that information inform our practice?

But perhaps with machine learning and data analysis something close to it is possible.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts, @josephzizys! It’s always great to hear different opinions. Like you alluded to, it does seem like the persuasiveness of your thesis depends on what assumptions you make. There is a lot I’ll have to intellectually digest. One thing that comes to mind right now:

Interestingly, the same is true with the Anguttara Nikaya….very little about the five aggregates there, even in the book of 5s.

IMHO the lack of aggregates in the DN/AN is consistent with the “each Nikaya had a different audience” thesis. In this thesis, the AN is more geared to beginner/lay practice, while the DN is geared towards Brahmins. If the aggregates were a more advanced monastic practice, that would explain their relative absence in the DN/AN.

Are there other reasons for thinking the 5 aggregates were an “advanced monastic” teaching? I think so. For example, the second cardinal discourse, which introduced the 5 aggregate formulation, allegedly took the five monks (who had already achieved stream entry) to Arahantship. Likewise, in MN 143, Anāthapiṇḍika laments that the teaching that Sariputta just gave him are rarely taught to lay people. Part of Sariputta’s teaching in that sutta involves the aggregates.

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Nikayas as in later tradition where Buddha wasn’t there to approve. While earliest part of suttanipata has commentary which was oral probably which was ignored and replaced by the Nikayas. If nikayas was oral tradition why it wasn’t in the early Oral commentary Of the earliest parts of suttanipata?

Wikipedia has info on the earliest part of suttanipata

I think that ordering suttas and recognizable pericopes by doctrinal elements used or presupposed is the way to go. Archaic language factors in as well. Larger collections may have been developed over long periods of time so some suttas may be earlier and others later. It may be that one collection was started first, but finished last.

I use the absence of the five aggregates in both the Chapter of Eights and MN119 to argue that they are both early texts and from there draw some conclusions about the jhanas in my discussion. I think that we have to be careful when we prooftext to only do it between suttas and perocopes that use and presuppose the same doctrinal elements.

Ordering may take several iterations. Ordering the doctrinal elements based upon simplicity and dependence on others may have to be revised based on whether or not they are consistent with what is found in the suttas. In other words, there may be some chicken and egg issues to work out.

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@Gabriel i agree with what your saying, and I think that DN has some
Of the most ornate and therefore probably latest verse forms in the canon, but as I allude to in the essay I think the roots of the material are generally the oldest, even if the text wasn’t closed until later - jhana is older than sati, gradual path is older than 8fold path, 10 DO is older than 12 DO, narrative settings are older than mechanical formula combinations etc.

I’m not sure this is a strong point here. The language in verse tends to preserve more archaic forms. We do know that suttas which quote the atthakavagga of course come afterwards, and the tutthaba metre is an older one, but a lot of suttas have that metre or siloka which is also older. Check out KR Norman’s essay here on the atthakavagga: https://scdd.sfo2.cdn.digitaloceanspaces.com/uploads/original/2X/2/265995a8b2d9b994fea6a9b85ad51dc83467afd5.pdf

To make this claim larger I’d like to see more suttas from each of the developmental steps you are claiming. For example can you find a large number of suttas with just the short section, a large number with just the short plus middle, etc. How do we also determine the temporal progression here between the patimokkha and the short section in DN? Maybe the patimokkha came first, and then the rules in the ‘short section’ are borrowed from it.

Why does a less technical formulation mean an earlier strata? What if the Buddha was very technical? In some sense the list of the 8fold path is simpler than the gradual training. The gradual training could also be viewed as a way of ‘fleshing out the details’ of the 8fold path suggesting the 8fold path comes first. It’s too easy for me to just flip the argument in this way.

This needs to be explained in more detail. Right now I have no clue why the 10 link version is more easily criticized by annihilationism.

As suggested by others, the missingness of the 5 aggregates could be attributed to other aspects of DN as a collection.

I’m not sure what you mean by recapitulating the later canon here.

Thanks for putting this together, it’s interesting to see a different nikaya besides the samyutta being suggested as the earliest.

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@stephen I don’t accept the traditional narrative that the 4 Nikayas as we have them now where recited immediately after the death of the Buddha by Amanda, I think there is internal evidence that they developed over time, drawing from a pre existing literature, and that evolution of form and doctrine is evident in the texts, with simpler forms like 10 DO more often found in DN.

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@cdpatton I totally agree that my theory is speculative! I also have to say I was extremely hesitant to post anything because as I say in the OP I really haven’t got time to do my arguments justice - I’m working full time, have 3 school age children, I barely manage to fit in my daily meditation! As I was marshalling these ideas I came to the conclusion that at the very least I should read DN MN and SN again, and probably a whole bunch of secondary literature - my understanding of verse forms is woefully naive and second hand, and as you point out I have made no effort to engage with the Agama material! Nevertheless! I still felt I. The end it was worth sharing my thoughts and getting the feedback of the wonderful people on this forum, and I regret nothing!

I think speculative theories are fine if we don’t become too attached to them, and can even act as something of a protection against too easily swallowing and becoming attached to the traditional narrative.

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@TheSynergist thanks for your reply, and that is a fascinating observation about AN, which is the N of the first 4N I am by far the least familiar with having only recently acquired Bodhi’s translation. In terms of 5A, my speculative feeling is that it is a later development than DO, sort of a modified version of DO that came to be used more in an effort to combat personalists, I actually think that today it almost suffers from its own success and that people end up thinking something like “well “I” may not really exist but at least the 5 aggregates exist!”.

I should probably say that on my reading all the Nikayas material presents a totally consistent philosophy and approach to awakening, and I see no contradiction between 10DO and 12DO and the 5A or between the jhana formula and the Satipatthana formula and so on, I think it tends to be essentializing and reifiying readings of the suttas that leads to worries about consistency, I also feel like it’s quite plausible that the Buddha themselves taught different groups using different metaphors or formulas based on the local intellectual mileu with some groups like Brahmins responding better to one focus and others to others.

Finally with regard to the Ur texts, my take is that it is far more likely that in the pre-Nikayas period there was a whole world of sutta and geyya, that is the short formulas and the short verses, remembered by a wide variety of followers, and that all 4N drew from this “background” of literature rather than starting as SN and then branching out. Of course all these ideas are necessarily speculative.

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The first chapter entitled “THE GIST: THE HIDDEN STRUCTURE OF THE DHAMMA” of Venerable Sujato’s History of Mindfulness book basically comes to the conclusion that the Samyutta Nikaya/Samyutka Agama is the earliest “collection”.

I finished reading it a couple of days ago. It’s a very dense and detailed read but in the end I was able to absorb much useful information even though English is not my primary language.

There’s another book called “The Authenticity of Early Buddhist Texts” but I haven’t found time to read that one.

Just posting this here I case you haven’t read it otherwise just ignore.

With Metta. :grin:

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@SilaSamadhi8 I did read @sujato s wonderful book! But I guess I did not find his argument that SN is the earliest collection very convincing- having said that I would love to hear from others what those arguments, including Yinshuns arguments for the priority of SN are in simple terms - I gave my list of 10 for DN, an equivalent list for SN might facilitate discussion.

My own impression is that SN probably does have some of the earliest short suttas and formulaes, but that it formed as a collection somewhat later than DN and MN, perhaps partly out of an urgency to preserve the early material that DN and MN had overlooked - my reasoning is basically my impression that the collection itself has significantly more “mechanical” features that create doctrinal sophistication by combining formulas into more complex versions of ideas that are not evident in DN, this is suggestive to me that as a whole SN had later roots than DN, but as I say that doesn’t mean that SN doesn’t preserve sutta and formula that are every bit as early as DN.

Once again I just want to reiterate that my theory is a speculative one, that I am not a monastic or an academic and so I earnestly mean to enjoy and provoke robust discussion but in no way mean offence to my elders.

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