Philosophy of language in the Five Nikayas

by K.T.S. Sarao | 2013 | 141,449 words

This page relates ‘Digha Nikaya (The Long Discourses of the Buddha)’ of the study of the Philosophy of language in the Five Nikayas, from the perspective of linguistics. The Five Nikayas, in Theravada Buddhism, refers to the five books of the Sutta Pitaka (“Basket of Sutra”), which itself is the second division of the Pali Tipitaka of the Buddhist Canon (literature).

2.5(b). Dīgha Nikāya (The Long Discourses of the Buddha)

The Dīgha Nikāya which is the first Collection of the Buddha’s discourses found in the Sutta Pitaka of the Pāli Canon consists of thirty-four long discourses of the Buddha and is divided into three divisions as in:

(i) Sīlakkhandha Vagga ‘Division Concerning Morality’;
(ii) Mahā Vagga ‘the Large Division’; and and
(iii) Pāthika Vagga ‘the Division beginning with the discourse on Pāthika, the Naked Ascetic’.

1. Sīlakkhandha Vagga ‘Division Concerning Morality’

This ‘Division Concerning Morality’ contains thirteen Suttas which deal with various types of morality, namely, Minor Morality that is basically applicable to all; Middle Morality; and Major Morality.

The thirteen Suttas in the Sīlakkhandha Vagga are listed as below:

1. Brahmajāla Sutta ‘The Supreme Net’
2. Sāmaññaphala Sutta ‘The Fruits of the Homeless’
3. Ambaṭṭha Sutta ‘About Ambaṭṭha’
4. Soṇadaṇda Sutta ‘About Soṇadaṇda’
5. Kūṭadanta Sutta ‘About Kūtadanta
6. Mahāli Sutta ‘About Mahāli
7. Jāliya Sutta ‘About Jāliya
8. Mahāsīhanāda Sutta ‘The Great Lion’s Roar’
9. Poṭṭhapāda Sutta ‘About Potthapada
10. Subha Sutta ‘About Subha
11. Kevaddha Sutta ‘About Kevaddha
12. Lohicca Sutta ‘About Lohicca
13. Tevijja Sutta ‘The Threefold Knowledge’

2. Mahā Vagga ‘The Great Division’

This division contains ten Suttas which are considered to be some of the most important ones of the Tipiṭaka, dealing with historical, and biography aspects as well as the doctrinal aspects of Buddhism.

The ten Suttas in this Mahā Vagga are listed continuously (started from (14)) as below.

14. Mahāpadāna Sutta ‘The Great Discourse on the Lineage’
15. Mahānidāna Sutta ‘The Great Discourse on Origination’
16. Mahāparinibbāna Sutta ‘The Great Passing’
17. Mahāsudassana Sutta ‘The Great Splendour’
18. Janavasabha Sutta ‘About Janavasabha
19. Mahāgovinda Sutta ‘The Great Steward’
20. Mahāsamaya Sutta ‘The Mighty Gathering
21. Sakkapañha SuttaSakka’s Questions’
22. Mahāsatipaṭṭhāna Sutta ‘The Greater Discourse on the Foundations of Mindfulness’
23. Pāyāsi Sutta ‘About Pāyāsi’
24. Pāṭika Sutta ‘About Pāṭikaputta’

3. Pāthika Vagga ‘The Division of Pathika’

This division contains eleven shorter discourses of a miscellaneous nature. These Suttas deal with the Buddha’s rejection of wrong and severe asceticism practiced by the followers of many sects; further they also deal with periodical evolution and dissolution of the universe, he accounts of Universal Monarch and the thirty-two physiognomic characteristics of great man.

The eleven Suttas in this division are listed continuously starting from (25) as below.

25. Udumbarika-Sīhanāda Sutta ‘The Great Lion’s Roar to the Udumbarikans’
26. Cakkavatti-Sīhanāda Sutta ‘The Lion’s Roar on the Turning of the Wheel
27. Aggañña Sutta ‘On Knowledge of Beginnings’
28. Sampasādanīya Sutta ‘Serene Faith’
29. Pāsādika Sutta ‘The Delightful Discourse’
30. Lakkhaṇa Sutta ‘The Marks of a Great Man’
31. Sigālaka Sutta ‘To Sigālaka’
32. Āṭānāṭiya Sutta ‘The Āṭānātā Protective’
33. Sangīti Sutta ‘The Chanting Together’
34. Dasuttara Sutta ‘Expanding Decades’

Some scholars such as Sayagyi (1991) have however proclaimed that the last two Suttas, Sangīti and Dasuttara, are discourses given by the Thera Sāriputa and they contain lists of doctrinal terms classified according to the subject matter and numerical units. The style of their composition is different from the other nine Suttas of the division.

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