Identifying Visuddhimagga (ed BPS2011) Sn reference scheme

I am going through Visuddhimagga (the BPS2011 edition, which is a re-edition of the previous print). It uses for the PTS volume/page scheme for most pāli references (the 1st PTS edition, as I found out by checking referenced contents).

For Saṃyukta Nikāya, however, it is using a different scheme, e.g. Sn 558 (PDF page 250 / book page 192):

What must be directly known is directly known,
What has to be developed has been developed,
What has to be abandoned has been abandoned;
And that, brahman, is why I am enlightened (Sn 558).

I was grepping Biliara JSON data for those numbers, checking their canonical location (e.g. csp2ed13.558sn4.7:1.1), but they verses quoted are not there.

The references to Sn are: 391 392 1119 558 1076 226 766 541 885 884 576 767 342 810; the same scheme might be used also for the few references to Theragāthā: 563 548.

I have not no experience with the Pali corpus, thus I am reaching out for help from the experts here: how to translate the older Sn * reference to contemporary sn X.Y?


It’s in the Sutta Nipata, verse 558: Snp3.7
In the PTS schemes Samyutta Nikaya is S, Sutta Nipata is snp.

Here’s the reference on Sutta Central with the PTS numbering turned on:

I have known what should be known,
Abhiññeyyaṁ abhiññātaṁ,
and developed what should be developed,
Bhāvetabbañca bhāvitaṁ;
and given up what should be given up:
Pahātabbaṁ pahīnaṁ me,
and so, brahmin, I am a Buddha.
Tasmā buddhosmi brāhmaṇa.

I’m not sure if it’s easy to search for verse numbers on SC…

You can use BuddhaNexus for this.

Go to the Visuddhimagga:

And set a filter to show just the SN (click on settings to set the filter)

It will show matches with SN in color. Clicking on those will tell you where in the SN those are using the SuttaCentral numbering.

Hope this helps.


Per Mike’s response, the basic issue is that many older sources used SN for the Samyutta, and Sn for the Suttanipata. This is a bad practice, but is found quite widely.

Indeed it is not, we should have a better story for this, I will make an issue.

I see that Buddhanexus uses Sn rather than SN. One of the reasons for using SN is to avoid this confusion.

I tried setting the collection to Snp, but I wasn’t really clear what the result was showing me.

Thank you Bhante. This is a good point and entirely due to my laziness (just capitalize the first letter at the frontend). @Aminah can you make a note of this that it’s done correctly in the new BN?

It’s a bit difficult for me to gauche what the unclarity is for you. There is an informal tutorial on YouTube. At the moment I don’t have a computer and cannot share screenshots but will do so at the next opportunity I have, maybe in two weeks time.

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Yes. I believe I brought up the issue with Bhante Bodhi when the AN was being published and if I remember correctly he said that the Wisdom Pubs standard was to use Sn and SN so he felt he had to go with that. Sadly.

Hi, yeah, I also noticed that a little while ago.

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Thanks to everybody in the thread for insightful comments and help. I contributed verse numbers to the PTS converter backend (also parse VNP (whcih I assume = Verse Number Pali) tags in SC sources (!2) · Merge requests · Sebastian K / pts-data · GitLab) which I use for (approximate) programmatic conversion between PTS → SC locations.

I select the Suttanipata, but I can’t see if there are any changes in the text, and I can’t see in the text what it is that I’m looking for. In this case, I was trying to see if there were snp verses quoted in Vsm, but it wasn’t clear to me. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m looking at the wrong thing, or the UI is unclear, or maybe the page didn’t refresh properly?

Anyway, some screen shots would be nice! In fact, it’d be great to have some screenshotted tutorials of “solving problems with Buddhanexus”. More useful (for me anyway) than a YT, I don’t have the patience for that. But I know a lot of people do.

You can use this if you like:

Maurice Walshe was probably the one who introduced the Sn/SN convention, and there have been plenty of changes since then.

Walshe Bodhi SC
D, M, S, A DN, MN, SN, AN DN, MN, SN, AN
DA (etc.) DN-a (etc.) DN-a (etc.)
Thag Th Thag
Thig Thī Thig
VM Vism (Vsm)
Pts Paṭis Ps

IIRC when Rupert Gethin was president of the PTS, he was asked about the PTS standards for abbreviations, and he replied “I wasn’t aware we had one.”

Yes, and VNS = “verse number Suttacentral”. Mostly the verse counts are the same but in some cases they differ.

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You can see at the top of the settings menu if there are any matches. I suspect in your case it was 0. If it’s not zero, some of the text in the file on the left will be in color. You can also play around with the sliding filters and set the first two to minimum and the third one to max to see the most results. Note however that the Visuddhimagga consists of many files and not just this one and you’re asking the system to just compare this one file. Of course you can do it the other way around and open a Snp text and set the filter to only show the Anya collections but again you’d have the same problem in that there are many files in the Snp.

Anyway, I’ll post some screenshots when I can.

For what you’re trying to accomplish, it might be easier to use the visual charts. That might give a better overview of the number of matches between the collections. Again, I’ll post screenshots.


Thank you for the tips on abbreviations!

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To come back to this, I promised to upload some screenshots. There are a number of ways to go about this problem. First of all I want to point out that both the Visuddhimagga and the Suttanipata are texts with multiple files.

If you use text-view mode (or table or number view) you only get all the matches of that one file with the other collection. So I can either use one file of the Vishuddhimagga and compare that with the entire Suttanipata and then go to the next file, etc. Or I can do it the other way around: find a specific file in the Suttanipata (filenames and numbering are the same as on SC and linked to SC) and compare that with the entire Anya collection or specifically the Visuddhimagga files in that collection.

Another way for a general overview is using the Visual Charts mode (see top menu) and click on Pali. I will show this route here but you can also scroll down and see how to do things in text-view mode (or table-view mode/graph-mode).

Note however that we are revamping the site and will make changes to the database we use for these charts. Now we are using Google Charts but there are better ones available so this might also affect the functionality of it.

Then select the Anya collection as inquiry collection and ‘Suttas Early 2’ as hit collection. I like the gradient layout but you might like something else - that’s just the colors it uses.

I like to enter the full-screen mode at this point (click the little screen-icon at the left).

So you now see the Suttanipata at the right together with the other collections. And the Anya at the left. Click on the Anya collection to open it up (this unfortunately only works at the left side).

Now you get 16 pages as indicated at the top. The first two pages are all the Visuddhimagga chapters and their matches with the collections with a.o. SuttaNipata. Click on SuttaNipata on the right and it lights up those paths where there are a match.

You can again click on one of the Visuddhimagga files on the left to open it up and get a better view of that one specifically.

Clicking on the filename at the left again will open up a new tab with that one in text-view mode. Of course you can also go to text-view mode directly via the main menu (Database → Pali).

So here you see this specific chapter in the Visuddhimagga: Anya E0103n7: Anya Visuddhimagga / Chaanussatiniddesavaṇṇanā opened in text-view mode and some parts are colored, meaning there are some matches with other texts. I’ve opened it again in full-screen mode.

Now I first want to look at the filters so I open up the settings-menu at the top right:

It tells me there are 5101 matches in this file with other files that match current filters. The sliding filters are pre-set but you can also adjust those. if for instance I set the Similarity Score to 0 and Min. Match Length to 30, we all of a sudden have 7537 matches.

I can also exclude certain files or collections from the results. But here I’m more interested in showing just the Suttanipata so I will just limit my results to this collection:

You can see that now there are only 6 matches and the text at the left side has become all black. Closing the settings with the x at the top right and scrolling down I again see some color.

Clicking on this it opens up a new section on the left that shows the match with this section, which is Snp5.19, SC number 12.1-13.4. You can click on the little icon behind that to open this up in SuttaCentral.

Note that matches are calculated per character. This means that every character can have different matches. Right now there is only one match (indicated by light blue) and this happens to be the same match for the entire highlighted section, but it is possible that in other places there are multiple matches and clicking on the colored text in another part can give you different matches. Colors show how many matches a character has:


Clicking on the Snp match text, it opens up this Snp file on the right. (the middle dividers can be slided to the left or right to make more space) It shows in green any matches there may be between the two texts.

So you can do the same thing the other way around. You can open up a specific file of the SuttaNipata and see what matches with any texts there.

Another way of studying the texts is via the other view-modes. For this I have to go out of the full-screen mode by clicking the screen-icon in the top right. Then click on ‘Table’ at the top left under ‘Choose View’:

This will give you all the 6 matches between this Visuddhimagga file and the Suttanipata in table format, which might be more useful in the case at hand (note that filters have remained the same when switching view mode).

Numbers view just shows an overview of the matching numbers and links that open up the full texts that match those numbers. Numbers view also uses the same filters.

And just because it is pretty pictures, here is also the charts of the graph-view mode:

There is also a histogram chart but when I make a screenshot it does not show what happens if I hover over it so just try that out.

At the moment we cannot click on the graphs to open up texts but with the new graphics database we are using we hope this will be possible in the next upgrade.

(Note that English view no longer works as it has been moved to Linguae Dharmae, which will be launched at some point too).

Bhante @Sujato, I hope this helps a bit!


A bit! This is awesome, just a great explainer. Thanks so much, Buddhanexus is such an underappreciated resource.

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