Suttas praised by the Theras of the first council?

@sujato @Sumanatissa @Dhammanando

Dear ajahns! :anjal::anjal::anjal:

Reading ajahn Thanissaro’s translation of sallekha sutta i came across the following.

[The concluding verse added by the 'Theras of the First Council:]

Deep like the ocean is this Suttanta on Effacement,
Dealing with forty-four items,
showing them in five sections.

Are there any more such suttas praised by the Theras of the first council?

Thank you!


There are a number of texts that are said (in the commentaries) to have been added in the First Council, or even the Second. I am not sure if there’s a full list anywhere. But a little research shows the following:

  • The “chorus” sections of the Bakkula Sutta (2nd Council)
  • The concluding verses of the Mahaparinibbana Sutta
  • Some of the Thera/Theri gathas.
  • The opening verses of the Theragatha.
  • The final verse of the Mara’s Daughters discourse (SN 4.25)
  • The final verse of SN 6.3
  • The name of “Abusive” Bharadvaja was given to him by the reciters (SN 7.2), though actually he was just called “Bharadvaja”.
  • Materials in the origin stories and so on are said to have been added at the Councils (see commentary to Udana 1.1, Itivuttaka 1.1, and elsewhere.)
  • Introductory verses for the Parayanavagga (added by Ananda).

And so on. The outstanding feature of all these cases is that they are, in fact, clearly late additions. Even without the commentary it would be possible, in the vast majority of cases, to identify these. This is one of the basic principles we use to identify late additions: it is not just one thing or the other, but a multitude of indications, none decisive by themselves, but which all point in the same direction.

The conclusion must be that the commentaries were quite accurate and honest, so far as they go, in acknowledging later additions. No doubt there are late additions not mentioned by the commentaries; they do not pretend to identify every late passage. But when they do identify a passage as late, it is usually, probably always, correct.

Meanwhile, however, I can’t find the source for the sections translated by Thanissaro above. It is not in the texts, and doesn’t seem to be in the commentaries, so far as I have seen. Perhaps it is in a Thai edition somewhere?


@sujato :anjal:

Thank you ajahn! for replying. Its so great that you make time to answer questions.



My pleasure. I always learn something from good questions!


Theruwan Saranayi,
Now you have recieved an elaborate reply from our erudite Bhante. He has generously given out whatever anybody can give you about your nice query.

My Vandanā to Bhante (@sujato) for that​:pray::pray::pray:

However, I would like to add just one point.

The pāli verses, translated by Bhante Tanissaro is available with

  1. SuttaCentral Sallekha Sutta MN 8MN i 40 (Mahāsaṅgīti)
  2. Chaṭṭha Saṅgāyanā MN
  3. Sri Lanka Buddha Jayanti Tipitaka MN (With a little modification*)

as follows :
“Catuttālīsapadā vuttā, (Catuttārīsapadā )
sandhayo pañca desitā;
Sallekho nāma suttanto, (Suttanto Sallekho
gambhīro sāgarūpamoti.” (Nāma gambhīro sāgarūpaṃo*)

With a lot of Mettā


You are quite right, my apologies. On closer inspection, it tuns out that I didn’t translate these lines, so they weren’t in the segmented version of the text. Also, they are missing from the PTS edition, nor did Ven Bodhi translate them.

The situation in the PTS edition is a little odd. The text omits them, while they are acknowledged as variant readings in the appendix. However it notes there that “AM” include the “index verse”. But A and M—the Sinhalese and Burmese sources—are the only manuscripts used in this edition. So Trenckner omitted the verses despite the fact that they were in all his sources. As noted by @Sumanatissa, the modern Burmese and Sinhalese edtions also include them, so there is really little grounds to leave them out, even if they are a later addition. I will add them to my translation.

The only remaining mystery is where Thanissaro got the information that the verses were added at the Council. I don’t doubt that this is so, but neither commentary nor subcommentary say anything.


@Sumanatissa :anjal::anjal::anjal:

Sādhu Bhante,
Yes, your observations are quite right.
This translation job is not easy and not everyone can do it. Even when it is possible for some, out of them, only a few come forward to do it.
So, what you have done is not ‘really great’ but outstanding.
My humble vandanā to you with great respect.