Translations of commentaries

I am on the lookout for commentary texts. Reading commentaries in Pali is not really an option for me. On the website of the Pali Text Society I find not much that has been translated into English or any other European language. The only one out of the four Nikayas seems to be Buddhagosa’s commentary on the Mahaparinibbanasutta; then still a few Khuddaka commentaries and a few more Abhidhamma commentaries.

Is anybody aware of any other sources for translations of commentaries?

Bhante @sujato has already kindly pointed to the following:

  • Nyanamoli’s translation of the Visuddhimagga. Formally (although in actuality just a literary conceit) this is a commentary of a verse in SN.
  • Bodhi’s translations of several commentaries: DN 1, DN 2, MN1, Snp.

And others, including DN15. Some of those MN and DN commentaries are freely available, such as DN1:

There’s a translation of the Satipatthana Sutta Commentary, available as a book, and here: The Way of Mindfulness: The Satipatthana Sutta and Its Commentary


It may not be what you are looking for, but part of the Dhammapada commentary has been translated

This is a direct (not a summary) translation of the background stories. It does not include the word definitions or actual comments on the verses (other than what is in the stories.)

Regarding the Visuddhimaga, I believe that the commentaries will often just say something along the lines of “see such and such section in the Visuddhimagga.” So thinking of it as a commentary to a single SN verse isn’t really accurate.


A good starting point to find literature may be ch III of:
Nakamura, Hajime; Indian Buddhism: a survey with bibliograph. notes; Osaka 1980 (KUFS), Delhi 1987 (Motilal Bandarsidass); ISBN 81-208-0272-1

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Thank you all for your replies. I will look into them all. :bouquet:

I thought the structure was based on MN24: SuttaCentral

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I don’t have my copy any more, so I can’t just go to the cupboard, take the volume and look it up. But to my memory the whole work departs from one little verse; and maybe the structure of MN24 also plays a role, but right now I can’t tell exactly how this is all linked together.

I’m not sure why this is a controversial claim, Buddhaghosa explicitly states what he is doing from the start.

“When a wise man, established well in virtue,
Develops consciousness and understanding,
Then as a bhikkhu ardent and sagacious
He succeeds in disentangling this tangle.”

My task is now to set out the true sense,
Divided into virtue and the rest,
Of this same verse composed by the Great Sage

The fact that other texts refer to it, or that (as mikenz66 points out) it uses the framework from MN 24, are secondary. The basic purpose of the text is to comment on this verse. Of course the verse is chosen because it mentions sila, samadhi, pañña, and thus relates to all kinds of other texts. The text uses this literary conceit to bring in the whole of the Dhamma within one verse.


Ah, thanks for that, Bhante. It’s perhaps slightly off topic, but perhaps the fact that Bhikkhu Ñāṇananda also uses this sutta SuttaCentral near the start of his Nibbana Sermons, is a subtle reference to the VM…


Sorry, I wasn’t contradicting this or trying to say anything controversial. But I do think that framing the role of the Visudhimagga as simply the commentary to a single verse doesn’t represent it’s role in commentarial thought. That’s all.