Suttas in English

Besides the Venerable’s Sujato and Bodhi how many well known English translations of the Suttas are there? I’m hearing some extremely modern sounding (not judging accuracy) translations on YouTube. Perhaps it just some not well known teachers own private translations accurate or not

Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s translations are the other major ones, I’d say. They are on the oldelr and his own website I’ve heard / seen a lot of people use those.


The standard has evolved since the early days of Thomas and Caroline Rhys Davids (the former founded the Pali Text Society, the latter took over after his death). Both Isaline Blew (IB) Horner, some and Kenneth Roy (KR) Norman are well-known early translators (some of their work is on the site). Maurice O’Connell Walshe as well. Then, of course, Ven. Nanamoli (Osbert Moore), who arguably ushered in the modern standard of English translations. John D. Ireland, who translated the Udana and Itivuttaka, also on StC. I’m sure I missed one or two earlier notables.

Yes, the big three nowadays are Vens Bodhi, Sujato and Thanissaro, in terms of both the sheer amount they have produced and how widely available they have become. Definitely others out there who have produced some quality work. No ill will intended in not mentioning them.

All in all, anyone who claims to be translating should, in the very least, be measured against their predecessors. No translator is perfect, but history inevitably reflects a standard that we have at our disposal if we are willing to take the time. It is always intriguing to hear about new developments, but it begs the question of how necessary it is given how much we have.


Hi, if you are fond of older-style translations, have a look at the Pali Text Society English translations. Mostly in Edwardian-style English, some hold up remarkably well.

Since we are on the subject is Bhikkhu Bodhi’s actual physical hard copy’s (book format) the most extensive?

Ven Bodhi’s published editions come with a full critical apparatus: prefaces, footnotes, discussion of variant readings, glossary, index, etc.

Is this what you mean by extensive?

Personally I’m a huge fan of IB Horner’s translations, I find them to be the most descriptive and specific. Unfortunately she only translated MN. On a positive note, Ven Verado’s pali glossary is based on IB Horner’s translation, or at least, heavily borrowed Illustrated Glossary of Pāli Terms

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I enjoy Horner’s translations as well.

She did translate the Vinaya, we used her version at Sutta and the City for the story of the Buddha’s enlightenment.

I glossed a few things with the Pali to avoid confusion.

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No. I just meant most complete

I think most of the translations mentioned above include translation of all the suttas, unless it’s an anthology.

Ven Bodhi’s “In the Buddha’s Words” is an anthology, but quite wonderful.

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Yes I have it physical and digital. Good stuff

Ven Sujato’s are the most complete Sutta translations done by a single person, as he has translated the Digha Nikaya and the poetry collections in the KN. Bhikkhu Bodhi has “only” translated the SN, AN, MN, and Snp (along with DN2 and DN15… maybe some scraps of the poetry in his other books)

Ven Thanissaro has quite a lot of the Sutta Pitaka translated but he picks and chooses

Unless you want outdated and fewer translations by Ajahn Thanissaro, there is no reason to use accesstoinsight for his work. Those haven’t been added to or corrected for years.

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Tbh I often prefer Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s older translations :joy: His diction seems to get stranger and more idiosyncratic over time…

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Same, I prefer accesstoinsight over dhammatalks, his newer site.

Sure, just look out for typos.

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