Identifying/locating a sutta from AN via PTS references

One more question…
Is there a way I’d to know how to translate the PTS reference into the ones that make sense to me (English versions)?

Take a look, for example, at AN page on Sutta Central – you can find PTS reference to any sutta in third column.


Dear Piotr,

you are quite resourceful! I am really baffled how you could locate the proper reference to the passage (AN 1.83) so quickly. Would you mind sharing your strategy, how you proceeded to locate the reference of a passage (if it is not too much of a hassle). Or is it, that you simply know the Suttas so well by heart?
Even if I remember that I read a certain passage, I usually have problems to locate it. If it is a very famous passage, there is a chance, that I find a quick reference to it in Bhikkhu Bodhi’s “In the Buddhas Words”. Other than that I am usually at a complete loss.

Many thanks and with much mettā,

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Hi Robert,

I knew it has to be in “The Ones” of AN because the quote states “Is there any single dhamma (…)”. Then I’ve searched for “appamād-” because I assumed that “heedfulness” stands for “appamāda”. It gave me 3 or 4 possibilities to choose from. I definitely don’t know suttas by heart! :smile:

If you like to work with original Pāli I’d like to recommend Digital Pāli Reader for Firefox – it is a great tool with many helpful features.


Thanks! That makes perfect sense… I’d not considered the possibility of going ‘backwards’ from the PTS reference in order to find the one I understand, but of course that is perfectly logical that it goes both directions. Thank you again.

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Dear Piotr,

your strategy to identify the correct sutta was quite smart. I also understand that I will have to learn some basic Pāli to be successful in such a task. :wink:

In the mean time, I got a chance to download the “Digital Pali Reader for Firefox” you recommended. It is a great tool indeed! Thanks again for the recommendation.

With much mettā,

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Dear Piotr, back in 2015 you helped me know how to translate a PTS reference into ones I understand. But it seems with the new Sutta Central format I can’t do that the same way - or at least I’m not finding how to do it… Could you help me know how to find a PTS referenced sutta and then how to find what the Bhikkhu Bodhi reference would be? Thank you very much! Cittasubha

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The PTS references are still there. If you look at:

Crossing the Flood
Oghataraṇa Sutta SN 1.1 SN i 1

SN 1.1 is the sutta number SN i 1 is the PTS reference.


@Cittasubha is @mikenz66’s answer is what you were looking for?

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Thank you very much for this kind reply. Mostly it addresses it, but I do have two other related questions. Some suttas don’t seem to include a PTS number … should I assume the PTS numbers are just chronological between those with the numbers?
And I’m not understanding how to search on the site. When I enter a sutta number or a sutta name, It isn’t coming up in the search. Do you have tips on how to search for a specific sutta by name? I assume I’m just making some very evident error and I apologize for being slow in figuring this out… Thanks very much!

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Can you give an example?

If you know the sutta number, don’t use search, just write the ID in the URL bar and you will go straight to it.

As for titles, they should come up in search, but there is a lot of variation in titles so it’s hard to get them right. If you give us any examples of what you can’t find, we’ll see what we can do.

Bhante, in principle it should be possible to have a search functionality to locate the PTS page number, since that information is obviously encoded. That would be a nice option to have in the future.

In playing around looking for PTS numbers, I notice that (at least for the sutta I’m lookin at, MN2), the Sujato translation gives me the PTS page in the textual information (when turned on), but if I switch on line-by line Pali, or side-by-side Pali, those PTS numbers disappear, and I only see the SC numbers. That looks like a bug to me, as it makes it difficult to locate a passage referred to as , for example, “MN i 9”.

I also note that I can’t search for “PTS” to locate the page. I have to scroll through the sutta.

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In principle, yes. But I hate PTS numbers, so there’s that. It’s a personal flaw, I know, I’m working on it!

No, we did that deliberately. If you put too much information on the page, it gets messy real quick.

You can simply ctrl + F and search for the number of the vol/page or section. It won’t pick up the prefix, but that shouldn’t matter; they’re complicated and unnecessary for such a task.

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Thank you so much Ajahn Sujato. I’m beginning to understand how to search and cross reference to PTS numbers. You asked for an example. I’m not remembering the example that prompted me originally, but here is another somewhat similar. Perhaps it is that the non-PTS numbering breaks up the suttas into smaller chunks?

Good Friend
Kalyāṇamitta Sutta SN 45.63 SN v 32

SN 45.64–68

Yonisomanasikārasampadā Sutta
SN 45.69 SN v 33

So my question is why doesn’t the Sīlasampadādisuttapañcaka have a PTS number and is it therefore part of SN v 32 or SN v 33. Certainly I can just go to either of those and compare the content to see where the content of SN 45.69 is in the PTS versions… I guess it is just curiosity and trying to understand how the systems operate. If that is idle curiosity feel free to ignore the question and put your time to better use!

Thank you for the help on searching as well. I’m starting to get that too.

Hi Cittasubha,

Here is the link: SuttaCentral

I presume that once Bhante’s translations are uploaded for that section there will be separate listings for each sutta, each with a PTS number.

That’s certainly the case for many of the suttas in the AN and SN, where there can be several suttas per page.

Where the PTS numbers are more useful are in locating passages the long suttas in the DN and MN. Searching though the almost 100 pages of DN 16 SuttaCentral can be tedious, so having the PTS page reference can be helpful. E.g. “The Buddha’s final extinguishment is described at DN ii 156.”

This data was part of the original dataset for SC, way back in 2004, so forgive me if I’m a little fuzzy on the details! But it seems to me that what the data is recording is the beginning of the page. So a given page would only be marked once, and the subsequent suttas are on the same page, until the next page is recorded. might be helpful. You can look up pts numbers there and get a link to the sutta at SC.


That’s brilliant. Super useful for reading articles and books!


Can anyone tell me if there is a simple way by now to look up PTS references (like M II.145) on SC? It’s annoying to still have to deal with this outdated system, but many scholars still use it…

Leigh Brasington’s site helps, but I wonder if there is a feature on SC as well.

There’s nothing explicitly on SC, I’m afraid, although it is certainly on our 2-do list.

The site linked above does this, though, it is great!

Normally, to be honest, I just scan down the collection page, it usually doesn’t take too long.