On Categorisation of Nikaya/Agamas

So, at some point, we had the 9 official categories (Ven. Sujato’s translation of “statements, songs, discussions, verses, inspired sayings, legends, stories of past lives, amazing stories, and analyses”), at some point, the sangha obviously moved away from this, possibly to a common ancestor of Nikaya/Agamas to a first Long / Middle / Numerical / Linked discourses (as well as Vinaya obviously).

Is it explained anywhere in commentaries or so that why such a division was preferred?

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I think these are two different things. The list of nine are categories. The Nikayas are collections that were memorized as groups by specific teams of monks. I don’t believe it’s a matter of switching systems so much as it is a matter of practically having to assign groups of people to memorize specific collections. That wasn’t happening when the Buddha was alive.

Of course there appears to be some overlap with itivuttaka and udana, but I have always been under the impression that in the list of nine they are types of teachings, not the 112 and 80 specific suttas that we now know as make up the collections.


Hopefully someone more knowledgeable than me will respond, but I’ll just point out this phrase in the account of the first council:

1.8.18 In this way he asked about the five collections.
Eteneva upāyena pañcapi nikāye pucchi.