Wikipedia article on EBTs

What does this community think of the Wikipedia article for ‘Early Buddhist Texts’:

I am a wiki editor and can edit the page if anyone has good ideas for important additions or changes that the article might need.


Minor note?
Seems odd/ confusing same article says
“In [Mahayana] Buddhism, these texts are sometimes referred to as “[Hinayana]” or “[Śrāvakayāna]” texts and are not considered Mahayana works”

and “Mahayana treatises also sometimes quote EBTs.”

Also… those labels are considered by some to be pejorative.

Thank you for volunteering.

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  1. Does “Early Buddhist” specify or estimate an actual time period historically?

  2. Is “Early Buddhist” synonymous with “Pre-sectarian Buddhist”?
    The cross-reference on Wiki looks a bit tautological.
    Pre-sectarian Buddhism - Wikipedia

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Regarding the article on EBTs, you may add the following ideas:

Only some Pali/Chinese collections are closer to the early Buddhism. This is based on the current findings by Yinshun regarding the compilation of the Pali nikayas/agamas and their Chinese counterparts:

•SN/SA was the foundation of the four nikayas/agamas in the formation of early Buddhist texts.
Yinshun suggests that SN/SA (ie. the synthesis of the first three angas: Sutra/Sutta, Geya/Geyya, and Vyakarana/Veyyakarana) came into existence first, and that subsequent expansion of it yielded the other nikayas/agamas in the sequence MN/MA, DN/DA, AN/EA.

•SN/SA (the synthesis of the first three angas) had its origin in the first council. The Sutra-anga portion of SN/SA was the earliest of the three angas.

•MN/MA, DN/DA, and AN/EA orginated at the second council. (Sutta-nipata, Udana and Dhammapada compiled in the Khuddaka-nikaya rather than being made part of the four basic nikayas/agamas).

•The extant SN/SA (and also other nikayas/agamas) are definitely sectarian texts. One can seek an understanding of early Buddhist teachings by studying them comparatively.

Yinshun’s research on the formation of early Buddhist texts is written in Chinese: 原始佛教聖典之集成 [The Formation of Early Buddhist Texts] (1971) (See Choong Mun-keat, The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism, pp. 2-11).

Kind regards


Regarding the time, one may also read the figure on The First Five Centuries of Buddhism in page 5, and also pages 2-7 on ‘Historical background’ in the book The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism by Choong Mun-keat.

Might itself be a suitable reference?


:+1: (But I’m biassed!)

Yinshun is, for those unfamiliar, one of the, if not the, great masters of Agama studies in the 20th century. Perhaps the most famous and influential monk of modern Taiwan, he was reputed to have read the Taisho canon 6 times, and was familiar with the pali from its Japanese translation. Among other things, he was one of the original creators of what we today call “engaged Buddhism”, an idea that Thich Nhat Hahn picked up from him when in Taiwan.

He is also known for shifting the focus of Chan from the Yogacara roots with which it is typically associated, arguing that the Madhyamaka teachings represented the most accurate philosophical interpretation of the original teachings, while Yogacara with its tendencies towards a “storehouse” consciousness aka “original mind” was originally intended as a skillful means, a rhetorical adaptation for dealing with Brahmanical non-dualist scholars.

Later in life he came to more and more emphasize the primacy of the EBTs, accepting that they contained the historical teachings of the Buddha. His ideas, while obviously controversial in a Mahayana context, are widely known and influential. But whereas most scholars in monastic or traditional contexts struggle to even accept the basic findings of international scholarship, Yinshun went way beyond it, pioneering multiple innovations in interpretation that have shaped modern discourse via people such as Rod Bucknell, Analayo, and myself.

In particular he developed the theory that the earliest doctrinal collection was the Samyutta. It’s a widely accepted theory in Taiwan, to the point of becoming accepted as fact, although it is less well accepted in the west. Most of Yinshun’s scholarship has never been translated, but those who know it speak of it very highly. It certainly deserves a mention in an article on the EBTs, although it should be stated as a hypothesis rather than a fact.


Thanks everyone, I will work on this when I have time. Keep the recommendations coming.


Seems odd/ confusing same article says…

Well, its not odd, because even though they quote them, its still considered a different category in Mahayana. Yes, Hinayana is considered pejorative, this is discussed in the separate wiki article for “Hinayana”.

Is all the information you posted here contained in that single book you cited? (Choong Mun-keat)

I will add it as a link, sure. Since its not technically an “academic” publication, its not ideal for the inline citations though.


Just to clarify, I think the sense of oddness I felt was implied exclusionary perspective.

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SC is mentioned at the bottom as a source, but if someone has time it would be a useful exercise to add SC references whenever suttas or agamas are referred to here and in related pages. For example, there is a Nikayas link, which leds to DN, etc. The DN page has some old SC links, but SC is not mentioned at the bottom, where the first source is listed as…



Yes, it is in the pages of the book.

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Yes, it is certainly essential to mention the relevant findings of Yinshun in an article on the EBTs. Hopefully the findings will be directly and critically reviewed in the west, although it was reviewed favourably by a Japanese scholar, Mizuno Kogen (1988) (see page 8 in the mentioned Choong Mun-keat’s book).


I recently started reading his most popular Chinese work, 《成佛之道》 (The Way to Buddhahood), and it is striking how direct and to the point his words are. He quotes a lot directly from the Samyutta, which is quite interesting as most Chinese monastics (in my experience) tend to focus on the Mahayana sutras like the Heart and Diamond sutras.