Were the nikayas compiled independently of each other?

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
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mettafuture
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Were the nikayas compiled independently of each other?

Post by mettafuture » Thu Jun 28, 2018 12:15 am

The suttas were undoubtedly compiled by enlightened minds, and are unparalleled in their brilliance, but I can't help but have lingering questions about their origins and assembly. For one, it doesn't appear that the Digha, Majjhima, Samyutta, Anguttara, and the collections in the Khuddaka were compiled in cooperation with each other. With the exception of a few parallel texts, it feels like separate committees with different aims assembled each nikaya, possibly drawing from agreed upon doctrinal templates.

What are your thoughts?

Where is the research currently regarding the compilation of the nikayas?

thomaslaw
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Re: Were the nikayas compiled independently of each other?

Post by thomaslaw » Fri Jun 29, 2018 2:05 am

mettafuture wrote:
Thu Jun 28, 2018 12:15 am
The suttas were undoubtedly compiled by enlightened minds, and are unparalleled in their brilliance, but I can't help but have lingering questions about their origins and assembly. For one, it doesn't appear that the Digha, Majjhima, Samyutta, Anguttara, and the collections in the Khuddaka were compiled in cooperation with each other. With the exception of a few parallel texts, it feels like separate committees with different aims assembled each nikaya, possibly drawing from agreed upon doctrinal templates.

What are your thoughts?

Where is the research currently regarding the compilation of the nikayas?
About "Where is the research currently regarding the compilation of the nikayas" (or agamas), it may essentially have to follow the findings by Yinshun:

- SN/SA was the foundation of the four nikayas/agamas in the formation of early Buddhist texts.
Yinshun suggestes 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 had its origin in the first council.

- 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). :buddha1: :buddha2:

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DooDoot
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Re: Were the nikayas compiled independently of each other?

Post by DooDoot » Fri Jun 29, 2018 6:30 am

My personal impressions.

What I have browsed here & there in the Khuddaka; particularly in the Dhp, Iti, Ud, Thera & Theri, sound pithy or heartwood. The Snp, such as the Metta Sutta and Mangala Sutta, sound like later compositions due to their structure & language; even though they are very good.

The SN sounds mostly very authentic (despite some questionable Chapters) although there is the impression some chapters have later repetitions placed into them.

The MN sounds compiled for general & complete reading with many important teachings, with auspicious openings to some mega suttas (such as MN 22; MN 38; MN 118). However, the MN is mixed in profundity but the different divisions help in avoiding those genres of sutta one might not be inclined to read.

The AN is very mixed and appears to have many teachings not only for laypeople but for the faith-follower. Many suttas about higher topics (such as jhana or levels of enlighenment) sound very contrived because, at least to me, they don't resonate with pithy suttas of the MN or SN.

The DN is so extreme to me, I question its origins greatly.

This link has a brief comment on each: https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sutta.html

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