How to navigate the Digha Nikaya


I have the translation of the Digha Nikaya by Maurice Walshe. The numbering is very different from the numbering here on SuttaCentral.
Is there a way I can read a passage in the English Digha Nikaya translations here on SuttaCentral and easily find it back in Walshe’s translation, despite the fact that the numbering is different?

Thank you very much in advance.


To the best of my knowledge: yes and no. It depends which sutta.

You’ll have to double check, but I believe Walshe follows the Pali Text Society (PTS) numbering so the passage references for suttas translated by TW Rhys Davids should sync up. Many but not all of the Digha Nikaya suttas currently hosted by Sutta Central are Rhys Davids’

You can turn on the text info in the top left and the “PTS cs” references should correspond.

Unfortunately, I kinda doubt there’s a way to easily cross-reference with more recent translations, but I’d love to be shown otherwise.


Thanks Aminah. The section numbers in DN translations ultimately derive from the PTS edition, which includes the section numbers already. this is usually followed by later editions. I haven’t checked all the translations in detail, but I think they should all follow this.

The Majjhima Nikaya, unfortunately, lacks such numbers, and they were introduced by Ven Nyanamoli. Thus it has less standardization.


Excellent, yes this is so for Bhikkhu Bodhi’s and Kelly et al’s translations! Is this also to say that the SC sectioning for your new translations will also follow the PTS sections?

I still can’t see how to easily navigate Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s or Ānandajoti Bhikkhu’s translations though, as they don’t have any numbering. At least the navigation panel should help.

By the way Leon, in case it helps, adding a # to the URL is quick way to jump to exactly the section you want (eg., …/dn2#bps67, …/dn3#pts-cs2.22, or …/dn31#kel21).


Yes. Our new system will essentially add granularity to the section numbering of the PTS system for DN and the Nyanamoli/Bodhi system for MN. That is, for example, we will have DN 1#1 just as the PTS system. But we will divide it to DN 1#1.1, DN 1#1.2, and so on. So the old references will work fine, but more more specific and detailed references will be possible (at last!). This new system will be built in automatically to the Pali text and all subsequent translations in all languages made on our platform.


Awesome! :smiley:


Dear Aminah, dear bhante Sujato,

Thank you very much for your replies.

What happened was the following:
I was looking for the meaning of pilgrimage in Buddhism and found a quote from the Mahāparinibbānasutta DN16. Then I found a translation of this sutta at accestoinsight:

"Four Places of Pilgrimage

  1. "There are four places, Ananda, that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.[42] What are the four?

  2. "‘Here the Tathagata was born!’[43] This, Ananda, is a place that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.

  3. "‘Here the Tathagata became fully enlightened in unsurpassed, supreme Enlightenment!’[44] This, Ananda, is a place that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.

  4. "‘Here the Tathagata set rolling the unexcelled Wheel of the Dhamma!’[45] This, Ananda, is a place that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.

  5. “‘Here the Tathagata passed away into the state of Nibbana in which no element of clinging remains!’ This, Ananda, is a place that a pious person should visit and look upon with feelings of reverence.”

( google-cache, at the moment of writing this message, I can acces the site: )

I don’t know where this numbering system was taken from.

The translation “should visit” did not please me: I know the difference between should and must in English, but yet this “should” comes across quite compulsory (for me).

So, I wanted to check the translation by Maurice Walshe, but had a hard time finding the passage because Walshe’s numbering was completely different. Of course, also the fact that I have Walshe’s translation in the paper version did not help much; with an epub/pfd, the search function would have done the trick.
Then I came here, to sutta central, and found yet another numbering system… but of course, here I could use the search function.
(The translation is by Anandajoti Bhikkhu, not Rhys Davids):

“There are these four places that can be seen, that produce enthusiasm, Ānanda, for a faithful man of good family.

Which four?


  1. Thinking: ‘Here the Realised One was born’, Ānanda, that is a place to be seen that produces enthusiasm for a faithful man of good family.

2) Thinking: ‘Here the Realised One awoke to the unsurpassed and Perfect Awakening’, Ānanda, that is a place to be seen that produces enthusiasm for a faithful man of good family.

3) Thinking: ‘Here the Realised One set rolling the Wheel of the Teaching’, Ānanda, that is a place to be seen that produces enthusiasm for a faithful man of good family.

4) Thinking: ‘Here the Realised One was completely Emancipated in the Emancipation-element which has no basis for attachment remaining’, Ānanda, that is a place to be seen that produces enthusiasm for a faithful man of good family.

That translation presents pilgrimage less compulsory and is more in line with Walshe’s translation.


What fun! :slight_smile: I think the page you’re looking for in Walshe’s translation is 263, but I could only arrive at it by a highly convoluted trial an error process.

One way that is terribly imprecise is to go to the navigation panel in the SC version , note that the section you were after falls in the fifth chapter (for recitation) and flick through to the 5.x section of the sutta in Walshe.

It’s also possible to use the Pali version of the sutta on SC (which conveniently has slightly different subheadings to the English) to find the PTS page number if you’re willing to guess that Catu­saṃve­janī­ya­ṭhāna probably has something to do with 4 given the start of the word and is in about the right location in the sutta. There you will find in the reference column that the section starts on PTS.2.140. In Walshe you’ll note that at the top of each page a PTS vol & page number span is give, and also the numbers in square brackets within the text correspond to the exact page start.


Hi Aminah,

It is indeed page 263 in Walshe’s translation and I found it by trial and error too :slight_smile:
I just looked at the surrounding text of the passage and tried to find it that way, needless to say that as the sutta is quite long, it took me a lot of time.

Your methods are clearly more intelligent :slight_smile:
Thank you very much!

It is a shame that there is not a uniform numbering system like Christians have for the bible (though even for the Bible their are slight variations in numbering as I understood).

I’m especially interested in this as I am building a new (Dutch) theravada website and I want to explain the numbering of the suttas and its verses and sections.


Yep! And, Yep! If only it could all be more straightforward… still keeps things interesting ;-). Further, I have a curious kind of love for system builders and a great sympathy for the constraints upon them. If I spend a little time reflecting on the work done from generation to generation (that in a way is necessarily ad hoc) and their working circumstances all I’m left with is reverent admiration and gratitude.

To my mind it would be lovely if there was an account of sutta numbering (taking in its historical layers to facilitate understanding), but I do wonder if Access to Insight’s John Bullitt covers everything in need of covering with his simple explanation that:

Over the years, Pali and Buddhist scholars have used a bewildering array of numbering schemes to refer to suttas and other passages in the Tipitaka.

I for one am keenly hopeful that the good folks of SC have/are establishing an eminently logical and sensitive standard that can be adopted by all.

In case it is at all helpful to you (it wouldn’t be at all useful in the above case), here is a rough-&-ready tool I fashioned for myself for quick PTS reference conversion by the mighty power of crtl+f (it includes the 4 nikayas, the Snp, vinaya books 1-4 and possibly a few errors/ formatting funkinesses, and gives SC ready URL extensions for quick cut & paste). (34.3 KB)

Unorthodox renderings of anatta
Issues when searching for texts by reference number

I second that!
Thank you for the tool, Aminah!