What is the basis of sutta numbering?

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SarathW
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What is the basis of sutta numbering?

Post by SarathW » Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:54 am

What is the basis (who gave these numbers?) of sutta numbering?
Are all English translations carry the same Sutta numbers?
Why the English Sutta number different to say Sinhalese translation?
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DNS
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Re: What is the basis of sutta numbering?

Post by DNS » Wed Jun 19, 2019 2:44 pm

Good question, I've noticed different numbering systems too. In the early to mid-20th century Buddhists mostly used the PTS version of Pali Text Society volume number and page number. But that is not a good system (imo), since updated versions could have different page numbers.

For example, Kalama Sutta = AN I 188 (referring to volume one, page 188)
Modern rendition = AN 3.65

I like the modern system of Sutta number, paragraph number, but wonder who decided those numbers? I suppose it was somewhat based on the order of the original Pali and later PTS translations, but not sure.

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Volo
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Re: What is the basis of sutta numbering?

Post by Volo » Wed Jun 19, 2019 3:19 pm

Occasionally editions might arrange suttas differently, e.g. one edition might consider text to be one long sutta, whereas another counts it as two short ones, this happens quite often in SN.

Another possible reason for different numbering is that chapter might have different number of suttas in different editions. Usually chapter in AN, SN have around 50 suttas. But since the number of suttas in Canon is not multiple to 50, one edition might count say sutta 51 as belonging to the next chapter (XXX.2.1), whereas another would put it in the previous one (XXX.1.51).

Also if there is a long list of similar suttas, where only one item changes, some editions might miss some of them.

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mikenz66
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Re: What is the basis of sutta numbering?

Post by mikenz66 » Wed Jun 19, 2019 7:23 pm

SarathW wrote:
Wed Jun 19, 2019 9:54 am
What is the basis (who gave these numbers?) of sutta numbering?
As Volo says, the sutta numbers are based on dividing the texts up into suttas. This is straightforward for the DN and MN, so MN 10 will always mean the Satipatthana Sutta, for example. But in the SN and AN it is not so clear how to group the suttas, so different editions have different systems, you'll sometimes find differences between the numbering used at, for example, https://suttacentral.net/ and https://www.dhammatalks.org/.

The PTS volume and page number references (such as D iii 20) can be useful in resolving these differences, and can also be useful for finding passages in long suttas.
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