MN 77 is a very strange Sutta

Continuing the discussion from What is your Desert Island Sutta?:

MN 77 warrant it’s own topic because I thought it is a very strange Sutta.
It basically contains all Buddha’s teaching.
My question is how anyone can understand this Sutta without a prior knowledge.

According to Ven. Analayo’s Comparative Study of Majjhima Nikaya:

In regard to the fifth inner quality of the Buddha, the Madhyama-agama presentation takes up his teaching of the recollection of past lives and of the eradication of the influxes. … The Majjhima-nikaya version differs considerably, as it instead presents a detailed exposition of various aspects of the Buddhist path …

When considering this exposition in the light of its Madhyama-agama parallel, the Buddha’s ability to teach the path to the eradication of the influxes would suffice in order to explain what really makes him worthy of respect. The long exposition given in the Mahasakuludayi-sutta appears somewhat out of proportion, as after announcing an exposition of five qualities it takes up the first four qualities only in brief but then delivers a disproportionally long exposition of the fifth quality. Due to this detailed exposition, the Mahasakuludayi-sutta has become a rather long discourse that would perhaps find a more fitting placement in the Digha-nikaya, instead of being included among discourses of “middle length”. In sum, this whole exposition in the Mahasakuludayi-sutta gives the impression of being an expansion of what originally would have only been a reference to the destruction of the influxes or to the three higher knowledges.


I love Ven. Analayo’s work translating the Chinese Agamas and Sanskrit fragments and doing comparative analyses of the suttas. It’s as an investigator would gather several witnesses to an incident in order to come to a wise conclusion of what actually happened. Entire doctrines of the Dhamma that have have been based exclusively on the Pali texts now can be corrected when suttas, like MN77, are compared to other contemporary versions and possible errors can be correctly seen. Then it’s up to people to see if they are clinging to their views.