Two Different Sutta Directories/Denotations?

Why is there two different ways to denote suttas in the canon? For example I see MN 64, but I also see MN I 437, both talking about the same thing. The first way, the one used on suttacentral, seems the easiest and most reasonable, but is there a way to convert the other way into that way, so if I see someone using it like that I can actually find it? I only ask because Richard Gombrich uses that second way, so whenever I want to look up the sutta to get a better grasp of what he’s talking about, it always takes me a few minutes of searching around to figure out what sutta he’s actually referencing in the suttacentral denotation.


Check this link, it answers your question:

In short, the sutta numbering SuttaCentral uses is the correct one. The other numbering you find refers to Pali Text Society numbering, which was closely related to the volume page number in which you find the sutta in question.

To know more, check this as well:


Yes, this is a major bugbear of mine. References are often cited in the PTS vol/page system, which ties the reference to a single—outdated and not very good—paper edition. It is past time we universally adopted a semantic numbering system as per the Biblical chapter/verse system.

I strongly encourage everyone to always use the semantic system as found on SC. We only keep the vol/page references as legacy. Ideally I would to convert all references to our ID system, but it is not trivial. One day!


This link appears to have gone dead. SC search results for “numbering” only include actual suttas. Any ideas?

Is there a documented history of where this system came from accessible somewhere?

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The link should be