Twelve Nidanas

The twelve nidanas are defined elsewhere. And the fact that they are defined elsewhere is quite interesting. The Buddha never said “twelve nidanas”. The Buddha did talk about dependent origination in SN12.1

In fact, the term dvādasanidānāni, which is the suggested Pali translation of “twelve nidanas”, does not show up in SuttaCentral search. How wonderfully interesting!

In the blurb for SN12.1, Bhante Sujato kindly and clearly introduces the twelve without using nidana and plainly states without obfuscation:

The famous twelve links of dependent origination are spelled out

Furthermore, when one compares SN12.1 with the stock 12 nidanas, they are a bit different. Scholars have noted that

According to Schumann, the twelvefold chain is a later composition by monks, consisting of three shorter lists. These lists may have encompassed nidana 1-4, 5-8, and 8-12. The progress of this composition can be traced in various steps in the canon.[90]

In other words “twelve nidanas” is a bit…“woke”.

On a separate note, @Aminah, I’ve added a new feature proposal to v1.0 that would provide a link to Google for SCV searches without search results. I think this could be a solution for many searches that are abhidhammic in nature, i.e., for Buddhist terms never uttered by the Buddha. I also think your own suggestion of hashtags in search (i.e., #bodhisattva) is an excellent way to build bridges of understanding. The hashtag solution may not apply well to phrases such as “twelve nidanas”, unless one would allow #twelveNidanas? I am not a tweeter, so I can’t speak to the efficacy of multi-word tweets.


Sounds good!

Yeah, sorry I didn’t get back to you about that, my suggestion was actually a little different, and I’m not 100% sure would work as used above; or rather it would only work for those who already know that there are two variant spellings (and in this case, pretty much two variant meanings).

Sounds reasonable to me!

Nor I, but I take that as a positive sign :wink:


I have braved the stormy waters of Twitterland (never say I will not go to my fullest limits in service of the Dhamma!) and see it is a very widely used convention (in both camel case and pascal case).



And when we turn towards implementing #twelveNidanas or #bodhisattva, what should happen? This is actually a bit complicated. :frowning:

For example, with #twelveNidanas, we could use that as a synonym for dependent origination and rocket folks to a list headed by SN12.1 Dependent Origination, where Bhante’s blurb hints with “twelve links” without resorting to any fancy nidana talk. Or we could simply send them to Google for the larger wandering around. :thinking:

The case for variant spelling is a bit simpler and #bodhisattva and #bodhisatta could both be synonyms for bodhisatta|bodhisattva which is the current geeky way of including both in search results.


In the cases for search results not found, we could show something like the following:

Search term “twelve nidanas” was not found. Suggestions:
Search on Google


Yes, ee can have a chin stroke about all that.

Really? I would do bodhisatt(v)?a, in any case, yes it is very simple from that point of view, but I was more thinking of someone who enters bodhisattva the most widely known term not even realising there is such a things as bodhisatta which does appear in the suttas.


Actually, I don’t quite know what I added the brackets. But either way, I would expect that to find me both… just checked and it doesn’t… have my regex powers suffered some fatal incident without my realising?


That’s odd. It doesn’t work the same as “bodhisattva|bodhisatta”. That might be a grep pattern issue.
The alternate form “bodhisattv?a” also does not work. Apparently there are different grep lingoes at work here.

(but that’s a side issue. although I can look into it per Release-Plan if you wish)

What do you think of the proposal to give several “not found” options to the user:


I often use Perl enhanced grep (-P), but I’m pretty sure that if I ran a regular grep search via the commandline I’d get back bodhisatta results.


oi. We could make that an SCV option as well for all the rabid greppers of various persuations.


I checked, I was wrong about this; it does require the -P.


I usually refer to SN12.2, which is the second text in the Nidana Vaggasamyutta - this provides the standard nidana “definitions”. I regard SN12 as the main treatment of dependent origination in the EBTs.