Non-PTS sutta numbering systems?


I still struggle to understands the difference between the non-PTS sutta numbering systems.

AN10.219 SuttaCentral appears as AN 10.208 on Access to Insight:

but on his Dhamma Talks site, as AN 10:196:

Is there a simple way of understanding these differences? Thank you. :pray:


Well, one thing to note is that the first site,, shouldn’t really be called Venerable Thanissaro’s old site. It’s true that the majority of the translations are his, but the site itself was not. It was done by a very meritorious man named John Bullitt. After long years of hard work, he stopped updating the site.

So to accommodate new translations and corrections, Venerable Thanissaro put his translations on his own website, (whose name makes more sense when you know that it originally was just for his Dhammatalks.)

After some digging and chance discovery, I found this page:

Where he (John Bullitt) says that for the AN:

Depending on how the suttas are tallied, it contains either 9,557; 8,777; 2,344; or 2,308 suttas.[4] The Anguttara Nikaya is divided into 11 nipatas (books), each of which is further divided into vaggas containing 10 or more suttas. References are to nipata and sutta number, using BGS as a guide to numbering. Example: AN 3.65 is sutta 65 in the book of the Threes.

And the BGS?

The Book of the Gradual Sayings, F.L. Woodward and E.M. Hare, trans. (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1994). An English translation of the Anguttara Nikaya.

That is the old PTS translation. Ajhan Thanissaro translates from the Thai Tipitaka and the numbering is clearly different from BGS. Others would know better, but even the Thai Tipitaka probably does not use a sequential numbering system, but it would show what is considered to be a single sutta. So I’m guessing that Ajahn Thanissaro simply numbered sequentially as they are divided in that version.

And SuttaCentral uses neither the Thai system nor BGS system. Fun, eh? And to add insult to injury, this is one of those cases where apparently the Thai edition calls it one thing (Brahmavihara sutta) and others call it something completely different (Karajakāya Sutta). But to add even more insult, the Dictionary of Pali Proper Names only gives Karajakāya as the name of a section in the book of the tens. And the citation there? Yeah, it’s to the PTS volume and page number system, A.v.283-303.

See why I advocate for some help articles?


I am with you wholeheartedly on this matter. SC as it stands is very, very useful for academics and scholar monks/nuns. To fulfil the aim of making the suttas available to a wider audience we need to find ways of helping people negotiate the terrain.

I’m aware of some of the pitfalls, but unaware of most of the solutions. Thank you very much for the background you’ve provided here. Sadhu to John Bullitt. :pray: I shall edit the OP accordingly. I shall also edit the thread title, as it’s likely that the Thai system predates the PTS one.


We use the same system as bhikkhu Bodhi.


So, “the more widely accepted numbering system” is that of BB.


I think so, it’s the best we can do. I haven’t studied the system Ven Thanissaro uses, so I’m not aware exactly how it diverges.


I apologise if what I said implied criticism of SC. I was far from wanting to do that. :pray:

I’m wondering tho - in order to assist newcomers - if I could suggest a small edit to the link that you supplied yesterday, SuttaCentral

Here are the general principles we follow.

  • Prefer the more widely accepted numbering system (ie that of Bikkhu Bodhi).
  • Prefer semantic numbering based on …

or somesuch.

Bhante, this arose because I had two reference numbers for a sutta quote, one not specified (Google took me to Thanissaro) and one to BB. I assumed incorrectly that since I don’t have BB’s Wisdom editions on the shelf the latter was of no use to me! I’d like others to be saved the same confusion.

As always, I think that the best SC can do is magnificent. :slight_smile: