How to compile a list of all Early Buddhist Texts?

The Yogacara-bhumi for the relevant portion of the Chinese Samyukta Agama is called the sūtra-mātṛkā (sūtra matrix) in pp. 772c-868b, T30, no.1579 (i.e. “the Vastu-saṃgrahaṇī of the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra”).

The corresponding Tibetan text is in the Peking edition of Tibetan Tripiṭaka, vol. 111, text no. 5540 (see p. 57, note 7 in Choong Mun-keat 2010: “Problems and Prospects of the Chinese Samyuktāgama: Its structure and content”, Translating Buddhist Chinese: Problems and Prospects (= Series: East Asia Intercultural Studies - Interkulturelle Ostasienstudien 3), edited by Konrad Meisig, pp. 53-64, Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.)

Does anyone know which version (Chinese or Tibetan) of the texts (the sūtra-mātṛkā) is earlier?

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Xuanzang’s translation was in the middle of the 7th century; it looks like the Tibetan translation is from the early 9th century (according to this paper pg. 507).


Getting back to the topic of EBTs, I would say the Chinese Itivrttaka should be included in the list, as its somewhat different in content from the Pali.

The Chinese also has two Dharmapada collections, one early and one later. Both have Avadana style commentaries as separate texts that match them. And there are several Jataka collections in Chinese. Those would be the definite EBTs in Chinese I can think of right away besides the four Agamas.


Thank you very much indeed for the source.

For my grad school thesis, I need to compile, examine, and evaluate all the early textual sources of Buddhism.

Not surveying all available potentially early source material would weaken the conclusions that I can draw from my research work.

So any helpful suggestions and recommendations would be very much appreciated.


What is the time allocated to this study? My initial reaction is that evaluating all of the sources would take a lifetime, but perhaps I’m overestimating what you mean by “evaluating”.


Is it a PhD? Do you have a title or abstract?

This will help to target exactly what you are after, that is not already included in the above answers :slight_smile:

Perhaps my interest for this thesis is better described as surveying all of the early sources.

I think so.
I think a cursory, superficial evaluation for this particular thesis would suffice - the primary aim being to survey the scope of the early sources (as far as is known at this time).
Spending the rest of my life doing more in-depth evaluation of the full scope of the early sources (only) doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend the rest of my life lol
By evaluation, I mean evaluation of “authenticity,” initially just in terms of “internal consistency” between the various the various early sources - in other words, identifying obvious and subtle outliers in the texts.

No, MPhil, 40,000-60,000 word thesis.
But I do wish to build on this “survey of early textual sources” Master’s research in a PhD program, where I wish to spend time on more in-depth evaluations.

Maximum: ~1.5 years

The title has been evolving to the point where I am not sure how useful it would be to share it.
The primary thesis that I wish to defend is that “Buddhism” is “most accurately represented” by the “early Buddhist textual sources.”
So it is an attempt to make both a claim about “what Buddhism is (and isn’t)” (How would you define "Buddhism"?) and “what exactly the early sources are” (How to compile a list of all Early Buddhist Texts?) and perhaps the relationship between the two.

Thank you for asking these questions to help me clarify.
Please feel free to ask further questions, because as you rightly said, it can help more directly hone in and target exactly what I’m after.


This is awesome, we’d love for you to keep giving us feedback as we go. We’re pretty confident we have most of the early texts on SC, but of course there will be more. Since the definition of an EBT is somewhat loose, it will never be 100%, but we want to get as close as we can.

For the purpose of actually hosting texts, we find a diminishing return in texts that are very marginal or specialized, such as fragmentary Sanskritic texts, or quotes or passages buried deep in a commentary or late sutra. But still, there’s no reason they can’t be noted in our parallels.