Some inauthentic passages in the Early Buddhist Texts

Thank you Brahmali

Is not the most important ground based on The Four Great References?

Since many knew Pali, I doubt language alone can be the criteria.

Obviously, we do not agree, here. As I posted, to me, AN 4.197 seems certainly about the here & now because it does not use the terms 'kāyassa bhedā paraṃ maraṇā’. It states:

Here, Mallikā, a certain woman, is angry, often irritable. Even over a trivial remark, she is cross, shaken, vexed, stubborn, and shows her temper, anger and sulkiness. She is not a giver of food, drinks, cloth, vehicles, garlands, scents, ointments, beddings, dwelling or lightings, to recluses or brahmins. Furthermore, she is jealous in her heart; jealous of others‟ receiving gains, honour, respect, esteem, homage and worship; she is vengeful and holds grudges. If she falls away (cutā) & returns (āgacchati) to such a state, wherever she is reborn (paccājāyati), she is ugly, deformed, of very mean appearance, and she is poor, having few things, of little wealth and little influence.

The term ‘āgacchati’ is found in many suttas where it does not mean physical rebirth.

Also, the term ‘jāyati’ also does not always refer to physical rebirth. For example, AN 4.200 states:

Cattārimāni, bhikkhave, pemāni jāyanti. Katamāni cattāri? Pemā pemaṃ jāyati, pemā doso jāyati, dosā pemaṃ jāyati, dosā doso jāyati.

Monks, these four things are born. Which four? Affection is born of affection. Aversion is born of affection. Affection is born of aversion. Aversion is born of aversion.

AN 4.200

SN 35.97 states:

Pamuditassa pīti jāyati: is born; arises. (jan + ya) When one is gladdened, rapture is born. When the mind is uplifted by rapture, the body becomes tranquil.

SN 35.97

Therefore, AN 4.197 seems to say each time a lady is angry, she is ugly in appearance, unattractive, unwanted & shunned.

This seems to be a perfectly reasonable interpretation based on reality because I personally know a few women who are like this.


OK. MN 135 uses both the words ‘upapajjati’ (which is very common) & ‘paccājāyati’ (which is rare). Using SC search function, ‘paccājāyati’ is only found in MN 135, MN 129 & AN 4.197.

I have already given my personal opinion about AN 4.197, where it appears paccājāyati does not refer to post-mortem rebirth.

As for MN 129, the terminology is the same as MN 135:

Khippataraṃ kho so, bhikkhave, kāṇo kacchapo amusmiṃ ekacchiggale yuge gīvaṃ paveseyya, ato dul­labha­tarāhaṃdullabha, bhikkhave, manussattaṃ vadāmi sakiṃ vinipātagatena bālena. Taṃ kissa hetu? Na hettha, bhikkhave, atthi dhammacariyā samacariyā kusalakiriyā puññakiriyā. Añña­mañña­khā­dikā ettha, bhikkhave, vattati dubbalakhādikā.

Sa kho so, bhikkhave, bālo sace kadāci karahaci dīghassa addhuno accayena manussattaṃ āgacchati, yāni tāni nīcakulāni—caṇḍālakulaṃ vā nesādakulaṃ vā venakulaṃ vā rathakārakulaṃ vā pukkusakulaṃ vā. Tathārūpe kule paccājāyati dalidde appanna­pāna­bhojane kasiravuttike, yattha kasirena ghāsacchādo labbhati. So ca hoti dubbaṇṇo duddasiko okoṭimako bavhābādho kāṇo vā kuṇī vā khujjo vā pakkhahato vā na lābhī annassa pānassa vatthassa yānassa mālā­gandha­vi­lepa­nassa sey­yāvasa­tha­padī­peyyassa. So kāyena duccaritaṃ carati vācāya duccaritaṃ carati manasā duccaritaṃ carati. So kāyena duccaritaṃ caritvā vācāya duccaritaṃ caritvā manasā duccaritaṃ caritvā kāyassa bhedā paraṃ maraṇā apāyaṃ duggatiṃ vinipātaṃ nirayaṃ upapajjati.

Translated as:

Bhikkhus, it is more likely that the blind turtle would put his neck in the plough share and yoke the eye to the hole to see light rather than the fool once fallen to hell would gain (dul­labha­tarāhaṃ ??? :confused: ) humanity. What is the reason? Here, there is no righteous living, good conduct, merit or a pleasant mind. Here they eat each other, the weaker one is eaten up.

Bhikkhus, even if the fool regains (āgacchati) humanity after a very long time he is born (paccājāyati) in a low clan such as with the out castes, the hunters, with the bamboo weavers, chariot builders, rubbish collectors or in such other low family. Born into a poor family without eatables, drinks and clothing, gains them with difficulty. He too is not with pleasant appearance has a deformed body and is with many ailments, either blind, deformed, lame or paralysed, or does not gain eatables, drinks, clothes, conveyances, flowers, scents, ointments, beds, dwellings and illuminations. He misbehaves by body, speech and mind and after death goes to decrease and is born (upapajjati) in hell.

Therefore, based on my search, this appears to be only two suttas, namely, MN 129 & MN 135, using the same terminology & the same karmic determinism of social class & physical appearance.

I disagree here because it is a very large departure from kammic efficacy leading to future heaven (sukha) & hell (dukkha) to a past life regression determining current social status & physical appearance.

I think we need to be careful supporting Hinduistic teachings that institutionalized evil & injustice.

The majority kammic teachings accord with suffering & the end of suffering, the Buddha’s stated sole purpose, as stated in MN 22; where MN 135 does not. MN 135, when read materialistically, seems only about worldly conditions rather than about dukkha & sukha.

Respectfully, fortunately, I am fortunate enough to have the freedom to ignore this determinism & deem it as both dangerous & false. :slightly_smiling_face:

Plus it has been disproven so many times. Many people are born into poverty & become wealthy and many people are born into wealth & end up in poverty.

It doesn’t. Sorry. The Buddha taught feelings arise due to sense contact and arise independently of social class & physical appearance.

[quote=“brahmali, post:63, topic:5795”]
My understanding of MN 135 is that it is not the violence that leads to rebirth among humans, but rather some other kamma. The violence leads to the shortness of life.[/quote]

This is obviously false. There is no proven correlation between past life kamma & length of life. A very wealthy man recently passed away at 101 years old. His whole family were considered by many to have an alleged interest in evil. He himself was reported to have sponsored many evil schemes in his life, such as the Kinsey Institute, which promoted sexual liberalism based on research conducted by pedophiles. It makes no sense in a past life this man had good tendencies (anusaya) and chose to be reborn into a family who were also reputed to have evil tendencies & behaviour.

Yes. It appears materialistic because the Brahman student asked the questions. But, in reality, I think the Buddha’s alleged reply (regardless of its heedlessness) was spiritual. I think it is impossible to correlate the various worldly status in MN 135 with past spiritual qualities. The Buddha must have said if a human performs an act of violence his spiritual life will be shortened, such as when squatting a mosquito results in broken samadhi (concentration).

Generally, in life, evil people live a long life and good people (such as who foolishly yet selflessly volunteer for war) live a short life. This is why Jesus said: “No greater love has one who gives up his life for a friend”. Even DN 31 states a true friend will give up his life for a friend.

I mentioned this is illogical to me or cannot conform with Dhamma-Niyama because it is past life tendencies (anusaya) which supposedly determine the quality of the next life (as Ajahn Brahm explained with the mangoes).

Also, there is no corrrelation between goodness & evil and making money. While most very wealthy people in history have engaged in evil to acquire wealth, good people have also acquired it virtuously.

I mentioned I disagree with MN 135 vs AN 4.197, unless MN 135 is interpreted as spiritual wealth, health, beauty, long-life, etc, as actually found in many suttas.

In conclusion, based on your personal criteria, linguistically, MN 135 appears rare to me. Based on my criteria, I think its principles are a departure from the Buddha’s core message, where said he only teaches about suffering & its cessation (MN 22), which accommodates most kammic teachings about sukha & dukha but not MN 135 which, when read materialistically, is only about worldly status; but when read spiritually, is about sukha & dukkha.

Regards :seedling:


They are both common, but it’s the plural form, paccājāyanti, that you need to look for.


Thank you Dhammanando. I aware of ‘paccājāyanti’ because it is in SN 56.102 to 131, which has the same usage in all relevant suttas. This genre of suttas appear to be about how various beings in different realms, such as the animal realm, can be re-born human by realising the Four Noble Truths. I mentioned this in my original reply to Ajahn Brahmali.

… Evameva kho, bhikkhave, appakā te sattā ye tiracchā­na­yoniyā cutā manussesu paccājāyanti; atha kho eteva bahutarā sattā ye tiracchā­na­yoniyā cutā niraye paccājāyanti … pe … tiracchā­na­yoniyā paccājāyanti … pe … pettivisaye paccājāyanti … pe …

Beings are few who, when they pass away from the animal realm are reborn among humans… those beings are more numerous are reborn in hell…. For what reason? They have not realised the Four Noble Truths. SN 56.120

In other words, while the language may be the same, these support my case based on dhammic principles, where virtuous & even noble behaviour is the cause for gaining gain human birth.

Where as MN 135 states violence & unwholesome kamma can cause human rebirth.

Regards :seedling:

Bhikkhus, a god, a human or any other good state would not be evident from actions born of greed, hate and delusion. Yet, bhikkhus, from actions born of greed, hate and delusion a hellish being, an animal birth a ghostly birth or some other bad state would be evident. AN 6.39

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Does this apply to my post about the four attainments that nobody commented?

It probably does. I am not aware of any comparative or linguistic criteria that would allow us to classify these attainments as late additions. They are found across the EBTs and the language used to describe them does not have any late characteristics. I also think it is going to be hard to properly substantiate a thesis of doctrinal development.

In any case, the eightfold path has the four jhānas as its last factor; the four immaterial attainments are never mentioned as part of this. This is plenty enough to conclude that the immaterial attainments are not needed for awakening. But just because they are not needed does not mean they cannot be part of the path. They may have been included in the EBTs so as to describe all important states of samādhi. If this information was missing, it would probably be more difficult to navigate progress on the path. You can see how difficult this navigation is with all the discussion on the nature of the jhānas.


Thank you dear Ajahn. That’s what I needed for my practice. The 8FP are more than sufficient so no need to waste time in “achievements” that will not help eliminate greed, hatred and delusion.

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Bhante, what to say about the concept of a definitive liberation (nippariyāyenā nibbānaṃ) lying beyond the threshold of attainment and transcending of the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception (neva­saññā­nā­sañ­ñāyata­naṃ), as found in AN9.47 and other suttas of AN’s 9th chapter?

Is it there just to support the model of Buddha’s parinibbana found in the DN16?


I would say this is just one particular way of looking at the process of liberation, that is, by focusing on samatha. None of these attainments is actually required, apart from the ending of the corruptions (the āsavās) at the very end. Yet going though the immaterial attainments seems to be a valid way of reaching the end of the path. Somewhere along the way you are likely to become a stream-enterer, but the particular point at which this happens will depend on the nature of your spiritual qualities. The combination of stream-entry and taking samatha to its peak will then enable you to attain the end of perception and feeling (saññā-vedayita-nirodha) and also the end of the āsavas.

It is interesting that the end of perception and feeling almost invariably is paired with the end of the āsavas in the suttas. You get the impression that seeing everything cease is a very powerful foundation for insight, as one would expect. Yet despite this strong correlation between the two, it does not seem to be absolute. There is at least one sutta (AN 5.166) where the end of perception of feeling does not immediately lead to the end of the āsavas, but instead you go on to another rebirth. But this sutta is really just minor variation. Overall it is clear that the end of perception and feeling is a very profound attainment that will normally result in the deepest possible insight.

So no, I don’t think it is there just to support the description of the Buddha’s final passing away in DN 16.


Thank you for you detailed and insightful reply Bhante. :anjal:

Indeed, we better not assume absolute causation when we find textual correlation.

Nevertheless, would it be right to say that there are more textual occurrences in which he end of perception and feeling correlates with the end of the āsavas than any other attainment?

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Bhante, Is the realm that they’re born into a non-returner brahma realm? In other words, if one is able to enter and emerge from SVN (perceptions feelings cessation), the possibilities are:

  1. they immediately become an arahant
  2. they immediately become a non-returner, and may attain arahantship in the rest of their human life
  3. neither case 1 or 2, they are reborn in a brahma realm where they are not a non-returner or ariya

Is case 3 possible?
I’m seen plenty of passages where after emerging from SVN, asavas are destroyed (arahantship). There are plenty of passages where nothing is stated about what happens after emerging from SVN.

I think from Bodhi’s footnotes, the only possibilites are arahantship or non-returner. Is this true according to EBT, or is that based on commentaries?

AN 5.166

Then the Blessed One addressed the bhikkhus: “Here, bhikkhus, a bhikkhu accomplished in virtuous behavior, concentration, and wisdom might enter and emerge from the cessation of perception and feeling. If he does not reach final knowledge in this very life, then, having been reborn among a certain group of mind-made [deities] that transcend the company of devas that subsist on edible food, he might [again] enter and emerge from the cessation of perception and feeling. There is this possibility.” This is what the Blessed One said. Having said this, the Fortunate One got up from his seat and entered his dwelling. [195]

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For @brahmali, I’m translating DN 21 and would like to add this:

###DN 21 Sakkapañha

The sutta is an unusual combination of elaborate fantasy and basic doctrine. It was evidently popular, as shown by the significant number of parallels. Nevertheless, the background narrative is probably late, and the doctrinal material is largely adopted from elsewhere.

  • Intertextual borrowing: Much of the doctrinal passage is shared with MN 114. Normally Sakka addresses the Buddha with mārisa. During this passage, however, he shifts with no apparent cause to bhante and then back to mārisa. This is a copy-paste error: text was lifted directly from MN 114, where bhante is used throughout.
  • Narrative plausibility: While the conceit of using a love song to get the Buddha’s attention is a charming one, the fact that Sakka felt he had to resort to this because Buddha’s are hard to approach does not agree with the rest of the suttas, where gods including Sakka approach the Buddha easily.
  • Belabored form: Evidently striving for prestige, the text uses unusual and heavy-handed formulas for straightforward exposition, such as the repeated interludes stating Sakka’s response to the Buddha’s questions.
  • Unnecessary magic: When the gods appear, not only does their light shed over the whole region, they magically cause the cave to become smooth and spacious. (This is, of course, an etiological myth to explain the appearance of the sacred cave.)
  • Immediate rebirth: The text claims that when two gods gained mindfulness they were immediately reborn in a higher realm. No other text supports this possibility.
  • Gendered rebirth: While the story of Gopaka stops short of explicitly saying that male rebirth is better than female, this is clearly implied. Such a notion, however, is found nowhere else in the EBTs.

I would suggest, “This is a copy-paste anomaly” instead. “Error” makes it sound as if they did a mistake, but such anomalies are frequent and it seems the editors were not concerned about making things look authentic.


While this is true, it has hard to imagine the whole thing has just been made up. This narrative is verging on a Buddhist equivalent of blasphemy. I would suggest it harks back to a distorted memory of a real event, possibly a conflation of two different occasions. It is a kind of narrative version of the principle of lectio difficilior.

And it gives the impression that mindfulness is sufficient for rebirth in the Brahmā world.


Are they? I mean, it’s all relative, but normally the texts are pretty well edited.

I very much doubt it! The whole thing appears very much like a literary conceit, and likely draws on literary antecedents, not real life ones.

Yes. But I didn’t mention this because I am not so convinced this is an obvious doctrinal contradiction. First, in such a loose narrative, “mindfulness” could just be a shorthand for “meditation”. But also, there are a few cases where even merit seems to be enough to get you reborn in the Brahma realm. Sure, I think these are also likely confused in some way, but I wanted to avoid unclear points.


I haven’t actually counted the occurrences, but so it seems. I think we should be aware, however, of a general tendency in the suttas to normalise the content. In other words, things often get padded out, so that similar passages often become identical over time. An example of this is the enumeration of all three _tevijjā_s in all versions of the gradual training in the Pali canon. In the Āgamas translated into Chinese, the gradual training sometimes only has the last of the _tevijjā_s , which of course is sufficient for awakening.


Well, there are the obvious cases of the narrative bhadante vs. the usual bhante, and bhikkhave vs. bhikkhavo. I do believe there are more such cases, but I would have to get back to you on this.

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But that’s different; they are merely alternative forms found in different strata, and used in a fairly consistent way. The situation with the vocatives in DN 21, where the shift happens for no other reason than copy-paste, is, I think, unusual. There are probably some other cases, but I can’t think of any.

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Sakkha panha sutta (DN21) is quite flowery reminds me somewhat of the Atanatiya sutta with its somewhat elaborate cosmology. I don’t think it adds anything unique, though I maybe wrong. It does detract as it is more supernatural that the reader then has to switch gears and take on faith or treat at myth or a later composition. :anjal:

with metta

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Well, it depends on what the editing principles were. What I mean is that it is quite possible that they have been both well edited and that such inconsistencies have been left unchanged. In fact, such inconsistencies are precisely one of the criteria for deciding whether a text is a composite. MN 111 is an obvious example: the text duplicates some of the jhāna factors. This must have been fairly obvious, yet they decided not to edit it out.

But to be a bit more specific, we find an inconsistency similar to the one at DN 21 at MN 47. Here the Buddha is first referred to as “the Tathāgata”, then as “this Venerable.” Apparently the version in Chinese has “this Venerable” throughout. It is hard to imagine that this obvious inconsistency is simply an oversight. I would suggest editorial policy is the most likely explanation.

But don’t you think they would have needed an excuse to include this in the sutta? Drawing on “literary antecedents” is what you would expect in the Jātakas, but not in the EBTs. It seems to me that the EBTs are generally limited to real events, or what was perceived as real events. Perhaps this is an exception, but how can we be sure?

Well, the sutta itself says nothing about anāgāmīs (non-returners), but rebirth in the brahmāloka (the brahmā world) seems implied by the word “mind-made”: “having been reborn among a certain group of mind-made [deities] that transcend the company of devas that subsist on edible food.” Moreover, the description “accomplished in … wisdom” normally refers to stream-enterers. (In fact I am not aware that it can refer to anything else.) And any ariyan who gets reborn in the brahmā world is at the very least a jhānānāgāmī. (These are non-returners because of jhāna attainment, not the usual kind of non-returners who have eliminated the five lower fetters.) So it looks like case 3 is possible.

It seems to be commentarial. Yet if the suttas limit case 3 to the jhānānāgāmīs, then this very close to the commentarial position.


Similar, but not really identical. At MN 47, the shift accompanies a change in phrasing for that section. And the text makes it clear that it is not incidental: as well as using “venerable”, it also uses bhikkhu, so it is clearly deliberately phrased as applying to any mendicant rather than just the Buddha. In this way, regardless of whether it is original or not, it is a meaningful difference and thus it is reasonable to assume it was deliberate.

Now, this may have been a feature of the original text; not every quirk is a sign of lateness. So far as I know, the different passage doesn’t correspond to any specific other text. So I don’t have any particular opinion in this case; it could have been a simple shift in phrasing, or it could be a sign of a patchwork text.

In DN 23 we have the specific case that the difference is meaningless: Sakka just shifts from one vocative to the other and then back again. Sometimes such a shift might happen as someone, say, gains greater faith in the Buddha. But if that was the case, they wouldn’t revert. In addition to being obviously arbitrary, it also corresponds with an exact parallel in another sutta.

Taken together, I still maintain that this is simply an editing error, and that such errors are quite unusual.

We can be sure because of this case. It’s obviously a literary conceit, and thus proof that these are found in the EBTs. The lateness of the text is not in doubt; in addition to the factors I mentioned, there’s bunches of other stuff, I couldn’t put in every detail. But the legendary suttas of the Digha clearly constitute a later strata, which is where outright fantasy begins to take flight.


I am not going to insist on a particular take, but I am still not entirely happy with this. There are some really odd quirks in the Pali of MN 47. Here is the passage I was referring to, with Ven. Bodhi’s translation:

Yato naṃ samannesamāno evaṃ jānāti: ‘ye vodātā cak­khu­sota­viññeyyā dhammā, saṃvijjanti te tathāgatassā’ti, tato naṃ uttariṃ samannesati: ‘dīgharattaṃ samāpanno ayamāyasmā imaṃ kusalaṃ dhammaṃ, udāhu ittara­samā­panno’ti? Tamenaṃ samannesamāno evaṃ jānāti: ‘dīgharattaṃ samāpanno ayamāyasmā imaṃ kusalaṃ dhammaṃ, nāyamāyasmā ittara­samā­panno’ti.

When he comes to know this, he investigates him further thus: ‘Has this venerable one attained this wholesome state over a long time or did he attain it recently?’ When he investigates him, he comes to know: ‘This venerable one has attained this wholesome state over a long time; he did not attain it only recently.’

You will no doubt have noticed the inconsistencies here: “investigates him further” clearly refers back to the Tathāgata of the previous paragraph, yet the text then says “this venerable one.” Bhikkhu is only mentioned in the next paragraph, but here too we find the expression “investigates him further.” This still looks like an editing issue to me. But whatever the case, I think we agree that DN 21 is late, and that is what matters.

For now I don’t have any answer to this, and so I am happy to go with your opinion.