Here we will compare two parallel suttas that show how a sutta might have gone from a sort of Jataka sutta to the one in Pali.
I will just quote the major differences. Which makes me wonder if we have a mixed transmission.
First up is from the Chinese agama
8. The Discourse on Seven Suns
never experienced, seen, or known the world’s [cyclic] creation and destruction, on seeing that great fire will all be terrified, with their hair standing on end, and will think: “The fire will not reach up to here, will it? The fire will not reach up to here, will it?” Those who were born as gods at an earlier time and have experienced, seen, and known the world’s [cyclic] creation and destruction will, on seeing that great fire, calm the distress of those gods, telling them, “Don’t be afraid!
Typical funny scenario not in Pali
Later, I developed and cultivated loving-kindness and, having developed and cultivated loving-kindness, at the end of life attained rebirth among the gods of radiance. The practice of the path by me and my disciples was not in vain; we obtained great reward.
In here Buddha is retelling a story of a former life.
Now let’s go over to the Pali version
Then Sunetta developed love for seven years. Having done so he did not return to this world for seven eons of cosmic expansion and contraction. As the cosmos contracted he went to the realm of streaming radiance. As it expanded he was reborn in an empty mansion of Brahmā. There he was Brahmā, the Great Brahmā, the undefeated, the champion, the universal seer, the wielder of power. He was Sakka, lord of gods, thirty-six times. Many hundreds of times he was a king, a wheel-turning monarch, a just and principled king. His dominion extended to all four sides, he achieved stability in the country, and he possessed the seven treasures. He had over a thousand sons who were valiant and heroic, crushing the armies of his enemies. After conquering this land girt by sea, he reigned by principle, without rod or sword.
But in Pali version it’s not mentioned as Buddha past life. In Pali sunneta becomes a Great Brahmā. Makes it sound great. Buddha also is said to have become many of the major gods in Pali. Which for me those thing are mentioned because it’s Brahmin/Buddhist transmission from Ashoka time ?
But why I ask this question is because I have noticed some places in the nikayas, even in Sutta Nipata which is more strange one , where Buddha is questioned as he is Brahmā. But one thing people are discussing a lot on internet is that he taught to union with Brahmā. But for example in the above sutta of agama is used that Buddha when he was Sunneta taught the way to the Brahmā world. But same as in Pali scriptures the 4 Brahmaviharas is the way.
Did maybe Ashoka unifying Sangha with Brahmins and then that is the kind of mixed transmission we got?