Progressive instructions? ānupubbikathā

Hello Dhamma friends,

I have a question. Within eight suttas describing ānupubbikathā (AN.iv.213, AN.iv.186, AN.iii.184, MN.ii.145, MN.i.379, DN.i.149, DN.i.149, DN.i.110) are stated six topics that the Buddha gradual speaks to householders upon which are giving, virtue, heaven, sensual pleasures, renunciation, and then the four noble truths. All eight of these tellings are concise and topic points, meaning that the sutta just states the topic but does not elaborate upon what was actually said. So my question is, where are these six topics, fully elaborated in a progressive manner, spoken to householders within the sutras? Is the concept ‘anupubbikatha’ only a conceptual framework or do the suttas actually spell the six topics out in the order that they are given?


Hi neo,

Access to Insight has a section on that. If you scroll down the page, you’ll find an outline of the topics. You can click on each topic and find corresponding discourses.


Hi Neonative,

Just as a tip, if you quote suttas here, it really helps if you use the standard SuttaCentral IDs, rather than the volume/page references as you have done. Then our system will automatically create links to and from the texts.

As to the answer for your question, it is a curious matter, because it seems there is nowhere that this summarized teaching is really spelled out. Not just in the Pali, but anywhere. Of course, the individual teachings are found in many places, but there is no single place that expands the full ānupubbikathā as you would expect. I have no theories as to why!


because the buddha encourged us to use sati sampajanya…infer, know for oneself etc, I personally have never seen heavan so I cant talk like the blessed one, the dana sila bhavana template is more effective as a paradigm I think, what about tge gradual training in

I think it might be because all the suttas we have now seems to be about a particular clear topic of Dhamma. An anupubbiyakata would be messy covering very many seemingly disconnected topics (and without even a clear Q&A thread running through it). I think the redactors ‘data mined’ or Dhamma mined it to get the distinct topics out, but left descriptions of the method in commentaries like the Mahaparinibbana sutta.

But then we do have the ‘gradual training’ clearly recorded in many suttas… it is indeed surprising (at least to me) that the ‘progressive instructions’ is referred to in brief but not recorded in details while the ‘gradual training’ is recorded in details but not referred to in brief.

A shame the two are not just… well, just one and the same!

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Thank you for your response Bhante. Next time I will use the SC IDs :slight_smile: We have no theories, well it seems we need to make one.

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They are not one and the same because the gradual talk is a particular ‘intervention’ (of almost psychic nature) that guides the mind of his listeners to Nibbana (stream entry). Maybe he didn’t give this particular bit of Dhamma for memorization as that would not be helpful, as it is likely to be dynamic interaction/rapport between the listeners and the Buddha.

with metta