The Collection of Long Discourses of the Buddha

The Digha Nikaya is the first division of the Sutta Pitaka in the Buddhist Pali Canon. The name literally means the Long or Longer Collection, based on the fact that all of the suttas contained in the Digha are typically longer than their counterparts in the other sections of the Sutta Pitaka.

The Digha Nikaya includes a number of prominent and well-known teachings, as well as a significant amount of biographical information about the Buddha. Among the most well known works are the Maha-parinibbana Sutta, an account of the final days and death of the Buddha, Samannaphala Sutta, which describes the benefits of practicing meditation and the monastic life, and two suttas on two different methods of meditation, the Maha-satipatthana Sutta, which concerns vipassna, and the Potthapada Sutta, which deals with jnana style meditation.

The Digha has been translated several times, by both the Pali Text Society and other scholars. Many of the scriptures contained in the Digha seem to relate to the early days of the Sangha, and seem to be close together chronologically. Like most of the suttas of the tipitaka, the Digha bears the signs of having once been an oral literature. Repetition is found throughout the division, with some suttas being little more than a repitition of a previous sutta from the collection, delivered with introductory remarks about where the sutta was repeated. Other times, large sections of other works are used as 'stock formulas' to analyize or describe a particular phenomena. Modern translations tend to remove these repetitions, or resolve them through a cross-reference to earlier material

Like most of the Nikayas, the Digha is broken into a number of sub-sections. Suttas one through thirteen are collected as the division on the Moralities (Silakkhandha-vagga). Suttas fourteen through twenty-three are called the Great Division(Maha-vagga). Suttas twenty-four to thirty-four are called the 'Patika' (Paa.tika-vagga) Division


Description of the Divisions (vagga) and Their Contents


NB: The Pali titles of these texts are written usng the Velthius scheme of transliteration. This provides information about diacriticals and pronunciation without mucking things up with non-ascii and font-dependent behaviours.
    The Division on Morality (Silakkhandha-vagga): This division deals, as the title would imply, with sila, or morality. Many of the scriptures involve dialogues between the Buddha and prominent Brahmin sages or teachers. The Buddha convinces these men to change their practices by redefining traditional Vedic teachings in terms of his own teachings. This is particularl evident in suttas 4 and 5, which deal with the idea of who is a 'true Brahmin' (compare Paul's idea of the 'son of the flesh' vs. the 'son of the law' in the New Testament), and with the issue of sacrifice.
  1. Brahmajaala Sutta: The Supreme Net (What the Teaching is Not)
  2. Saama~n~naphala Sutta: The Fruits of the Homeless Life
  3. Amba.t.tha Sutta: About Amba.t.tha: Pride Humbled
  4. Sonada.n.da Sutta: About So.nada.n.da: The Qualities of a True Brahmin
  5. Kuu.tadanta Sutta: About Kuu.tadanta: A Bloodless Sacrifice
  6. Mahaali Sutta: About Mahaali: Heavenly Sights, Soul and Body
  7. Jaaliya Sutta: About Jaaliya
  8. Mahaasiihanaada Sutta: The Great Lion's Roar
  9. Po.t.thapaada Sutta: About Po.t.thapaada: States of Consciousness
  10. Subha Sutta: About Subbha: Morality, Concentration, Wisdom
  11. Kevaddha Sutta: About Kevaddha Sutta: What Brahma Didn't Know
  12. Lohicca Sutta: About Lohicca: Good and Bad Teachers
  13. Tevijja Sutta: The Threefold Knowledge, the Way to Brahma

  14. The Great Division (Maha-vagga): The suttas in this division are a mixed bag, but it is possible that it is given the name the Great Division because of the epic nature of much of what is described. Within the Maha-vagga is found the death of the Buddha (16), a linneage of the Buddhas who have come before Buddha Gotama (14), the renunciation of a king (17), a number of encounters between the Buddha and various deities (18, 20, 21), and a debate with a non-Buddhist sceptic. All but three of these suttas contain the Pali word for great, 'maha' (mahaa), in the title.
  15. Mahaapadaana Sutta: The Great Discourse on the Linneage
  16. Mahaanidaana Sutta: The Great Discourse on Origination
  17. Mahaaparinibbaana Sutta: The Great Passing; The Buddha's Last Days
  18. Mahaasudassana Sutta: The Great Splendour; a King's Renunciation
  19. Janavasabha Sutta: About Janavasabha; Brahma Addresses the Gods
  20. Mahaagovinda Sutta: The Great Steward; a Past Life of Gotama
  21. Mahaasamaya Sutta: The Mighty Gathering; Devas Come to see the Buddha
  22. Sakkapa~nha Sutta: Sakka's Question: A God Consults the Buddha
  23. Mahaasatipa.t.thaana Sutta: The Greater Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness
  24. Paayaasi Sutta: About Paayaasi; Debate with a Sceptic

  25. The Patika Division (Paa.tika-vagga): This division is named after the main character of the first sutta it contains, Paa.tikaputta. He is a charlatan who challanges the Buddha and is defeated. Many of the suttas in this section deal with similar events, where the Buddha defeats in debate a group of believers of another school of thought. Additionally, this division includes information about the future Buddha Metteyya (Sanskrit: Maitreya) (26), a verse of protection (pirit) (32), and one of relatively few Buddhist teachings addressed directly to lay followers (31).
  26. Paatika Sutta: About Paa.tikaputta; the Charlatan
  27. Udumbarika-Siihanaada Sutta: The Lion's Roar to the Udumbarikans
  28. Cakkavatti-Siihanaada Sutta: The Lion's Roar on the Turning of the Wheel
  29. Agga~n~na Sutta: On Knowledge of Beginnings
  30. Sampasaadaniiya Sutta: Serene Faith
  31. Paasaadika Sutta: The Delightful Discourse
  32. Lakkha.na Sutta: The Marks of a Great Man
  33. Sigaalika Sutta: To Sigaalika; Advice to Lay People
  34. Aa.taanaa.tiya Sutta: The Aa.taanaa.taa Protective Verse
  35. Sangiiti Sutta: The Chanting Together
  36. Dasuttara Sutta: Expanding Decades

Sources of Information: Access to Insight, as always, as well as The Long Discourses of the Buddha, translated by Maurice Walshe, and published by Wisdom Publications. The translations of the titles of these suttas are taken from that work.

There are a number of suttas here deserving of longer explanations, or possibly even full-text reproduction (Freely redistributable translations are available). If you would like to node a synopsis, or the text of one of these suttas, please msg me, and I will add a hard link I chose not to pre-emptively hardlink all the titles as it would make the damn thing near unreadable. Scriptures requireing less explication I'll eventually attempt to annotate here in short form.

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