MN sutta which contains its own commentary (MN124)

A dhamma friend told me that Analayo published a paper on an MN sutta which (accidentally?) transmitted a part of its commentary within the sutta. Unfortunately he didn’t know anymore which sutta or publication it was.

Could anyone point me to the sutta/paper of Bh. Analayo?

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Could it be from the Madhyama Agama:

  1. “The Influence of Commentarial Exegesis on the Transmission of Āgama Literature”, in Translating Buddhist Chinese, Problems and Prospects, (East Asia Intercultural Studies 3) , K. Meisig (ed.), Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2010: 1–20.
    – Chinese trsl.: 註釋書對阿含經文的影響, Satyābhisamaya , 2009, 48: 1–48. - Anālayo’s Publications

I don’t have access to this article.

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At least to his memory it was specifically a Pali MN sutta…

Abhidhamma occurs in MN twice: MN32, MN111

Maybe your friend was talking about the Bakkulasutta, MN 124.
It contains parts that were added at the Second Council, about 100 years after the Buddha’s parinibbana:

“This we remember as an incredible quality of Venerable Bakkula.”

In Bhikkhu Bodhi’s translation these paragraphs are put into square brackets to mark their lateness.

Bhante Analayo has published two papers about it. They both mention Bakkula in the title and are available at the Uni Hamburg website.


I’d wager you could find the sutta if you were willing to plow through Anālayo’s A Comparative Study of the Majjhima-nikāya Vol. 1 & 2. And I bet the article would be referenced in the footnotes.



Thanks! I assume that this would be it.

The passage is from “The Arahant Ideal in early Buddhism, The Case of Bakkula” and says “In fact, the commentary to the Bakkula-sutta explains that this discourse was included in the canonical collections only at the second council or communal recitation.”

Bodhi comments on the passages of praise in MN 124: “MA says that the passages here enclosed in brackets were added by the elders who compiled the Dhamma.”

You might also want to check out “The Influence of Commentarial Notions and Tales” beginning on page 877 from his Comparative Study.

It begins:

In my study of the Majjhima-nikāya discourses I found, besides variations in sequence, a number of cases where material appears to have been added at a later stage to a dis- course. In order to appreciate the dynamics behind such occurrences, in what follows I take a closer look at the relationship between a discourse and the explanations and com- mentaries that would have grown up in relation to a discourse during oral transmission.

The above sounds more like what your friend had in mind going off your OP whereas the Bakkula Sutta is itself entirely a later “text.”


That’s very helpful, thanks!


Well, there’s two things going on here. Yes, the Bakkula Sutta is, on the whole, probably a late text. But the interpolated sections, giving the response of the redactors, are clearly later still.

To be clear, when we refer to the “commentary” we are usually referring to the primary strata of commentarial literature primarily by Buddhaghosa and known as aṭṭhakathā. These were composed, or rather translated and edited, in the 5th & 6th century in Sri Lanka.

The interpolated choruses in the Bakkula Sutta are not from there. The commentaries refer to the interpolations, showing they must have pre-dated them. The commentary says that the interpolations happened at the Second Council, which seems reasonable.