How many different discourses do we have in the suttas?


Considering the complexity of taking all of the suttas and canceling out duplicates and such, is there any rough count of how many different discourses we have in the Tipitika?


It’s really hard to say. One problem is, how much “compression” do we want to apply? It depends on what assumptions we make.

Take, for example, the first sutta of the Khandha Samyutta (SN 22.1). Here we find the familiar teachings on the khandhas, but applied in a somewhat unusual way, as advice for a sick layperson. Are these considered to be just a repetition of what is found elsewhere, or does the context make them unique?

It’s possible a neural net could be employed to investigate this, but we’d want a quite strictly defined set of parameters so that we know what it is we’re measuring.


Thank you, Bhante!

Yes, I understand the complexity and impossibility of coming up with an exact number, or perhaps even a close number. It came up in conversation that there were X number of discourses in the Pali Canon but that was a total number of suttas, way more than I think are different discourses.


Perhaps, given suttas like DN33, DN34, etc., we could definitely say,
“an uncountable handful.”