Yinshun's Reconstruction of the Chinese Saṃyukta Āgama (Taisho 99)

Yes. Strictly speaking, the Sagatha Vagga has only 11 samyuttas, with SN 1-2 = SA 25. But, then, when we examine SN 21, we see it’s full of geya sutras, but it seems that it must have been moved sometime early on in SN and accumulated other sutras.

Yes, I think the eight assembles (aṭṭha parisā) are matched very well in the SA section accompanied by the SN Sagatha Vagga (if including SN 21. Bhikkhu):

  1. An assembly of nobles (khattiya): SA 20. Kṣatriya = SN 3. Kosala

  2. An assembly of Brahmins (brāhmaṇa): SA 21. Brāhmaṇa = SN 7. Brāhmaṇa

  3. An assembly of householders (gahapati): SA 24. Vaṇgīsa = SN 8. Vaṇgīsa

  4. An assembly of recluses (samaṇa): SA 17. Bhikṣu = SN 21. Bhikkhu; SA 23. Bhikṣuṇī = SN 5. Bhikkhuṇī

  5. An assembly of gods of the heaven of the Four Great Kings (Cātummahārājika): SA 25. Devatā = SN 1. Devatā, SN 2. Devaputta; SA 26. Yakṣa = SN 10. Yakkha; SA 27. Vāna = SN 9. Vana

  6. An assembly of gods of the heaven of the Thirty-three (Tāvatiṁsa): SA 19. Śakra = SN 11. Sakka

  7. An assembly of Mara’s retinue (Māra): SA 18. Māra = SN 4. Māra

  8. An assembly of Brahmas (Brahma): SA 22. Brahma = SN 6. Brahma

The first four assembles are humans; the other four are non-humans.

Dear Dhamma friends,

I have noticed that Analayo in the same volume presents a section (pp. 983-997) in response to Choong Mun-keat’s “Ācāriya Buddhaghosa and Master Yinshun 印順 on the Three-aṅga Structure of Early Buddhist Texts” in Research on the Saṃyukta-āgama (pp. 883-932).

The section by Analayo is the last part of a paper, written by Stefania Travagnin, entitled “Assessing the Field of Āgama Studies in Twentieth-century China: With a Focus on Master Yinshun’s 印順 Three-aṅga Theory” (pp. 933-997).

Have you read it? I would appreciate hearing from your thoughts, viewpoints.

My remarks on that particular last part of the paper (also responded and posted on Dhammawheel site: Which Theravada school is the closest to early Buddhism? - Page 3 - Dhamma Wheel Buddhist Forum) are:

“The response to Choong Mun-keat by Analayo in the paper is just like a restatement of similar style or opinion of him. It is in fact just to present another evidence to support what Choong’s criticism has provided: “obviously ignores the relevant findings of Master Yinshun and the Ceylonese/Burmese version’s reading in MN 122” (see note 24, p. 903).

I think it is possible Analayo cannot read the Chinese writings by Yinshun. Secondly, it is just his face-saving response, which Analayo does not realise his response in fact provides another evidence to support what Choong has presented in his paper. ”

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I haven’t, and I’m not terribly interested in getting involved in criticizing this or that scholar on public forums. That said, it is a little disappointing that Analayo doesn’t take up much of what Yinshun wrote. It may well be the language barrier between the two wings of Buddhist studies.

Thanks for your response.

I think a review of relevant criticism on Yinshun’s reconstruction and/or three-anga structure of SA/SN can be useful for the study of EBTs.

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I’m beginning to think I should study Chinese again at some point. I learned modern Manadrin Chinese during the several years I lived in China and Taiwan, but never learned ancient/classical Chinese. I also never learned all the specialized Buddhist terminology. However, I think that already being somewhat familiar with modern Chinese would help with learning ancient/classical Chinese. It would at least flatten the learning curve a wee bit.


It certainly helps! There’s a learning curve, but if your familiar with the writing system, can access dictionaries and commentaries, etc, then it’s not nearly so overwhelming. It takes time some time, like learning a new dialect.

Classical Chinese as one would learn at school (based mostly on the style Sima Qian wrote in the Han dynasty and later taken up by Song Dynasty literati) is also quite different from Buddhist Chinese texts - which is a bit of a mix of elegant literary style prevalent in Tang and prior centuries, plus a lot of colloquial-style lecture notes or daily conversations.

I wonder if there are resources for formally learning classical Chinese as used in Buddhist Chinese texts - those may be more directly useful for your purpose.

I don’t now about books (I’m not yet considering this seriously enough to begin looking), but if one was able and seriously motivated, I think going to study at Dharma Drum in Taiwan would be a good choice.

Well! I’m glad you asked!



Yinshun’s reconstruction of SA is also based on the sūtra-mātṛkā (sūtra matrix), essentially a commentary on a portion of SA, in the Vastusaṃgrahaṇī of the Yogācārabhūmi (T30, no.1579).

The SA text in its early stage is called 相應教, not Saṃyukya Āgama, according to the sūtra-mātṛkā. That is, before the four Āgamas/Nikāyas were being established, only the term 相應教 was being used in its early stage.

The Skt. term for this Chinese term 相應教 in the sūtra-mātṛkā (T 30, no. 1579, 772c23) is identified as saṃyukta-kathā (= P. saṃyutta-kathā) by Choong Mun-keat (see pp. 899-900, note 21 in his recent 2020 paper). Pages 899-900 from Choong MK.pdf (274.6 KB)

This is mainly based on the corresponding Tibetan term, ldan-pa’i gtam, in its Tibetan version sūtra-mātṛkā (Peking (Ōtani) edition of Tibetan Tripiṭaka, vol. 111, text no. 5540).

So, for identifying particular Skt. term of the Chinese Buddhist words, it seems English translation of the Tibetan text, sūtra-mātṛkā, is also essential for the study of the Chinese SA.

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Why this portion of text is considered as an early source for validating ancestor of SĀ (and it’s parallel in SN) as the first Buddhist text compiled in the First Council by Yin Shun? Is there any specific reason for this? Thank you :anjal:

I think this is mainly based on the Sarvastivada and Yogacara traditions. See the above-mentioned paper pp. 883-931, and also pp. 7-11 in the Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism.

By forum member @gralock:


Ah yes, that’s why Analayo dismissed Yin Shun findings. He questioned why Sarvastivada and Yogacara account of compilation of Āgamas (with SĀ as the first) should be treated as the most valid one than other schools account?

I think it will be very good if Analayo responds directly to the relevant findings of Yinshun critically. But I really think Analayo possibly is unable to read the Chinese writings by Yinshun. :thaibuddha: :dharmawheel:

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Hmmm perhaps you can retell the Yin Shun writing. I am really curious about this :thinking:

You may just check it yourself.

I can’t read Chinese :sweat_smile:

Oh no you wonderful helpful people. There is no way I have time to continue my Tibetan and Thai studies and add Classical Chinese, Sanskrit and Pali to the mix. But how wonderful that would be… I am tempted to dive in though…