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Almost all suttas in the Pali Canon open with the words Evam me sutam ("Thus [was] heard by me"), usually rendered "Thus have I heard". These words are invariably followed by Ekam samayam ("at one time" or "on one occasion"), after which comes either Bhagava ("the Lord") or the name of a leading disciple, and a statement of where he stayed or what he did. In fact these words "Thus have I heard" are so well known as an introduction to Pali suttas that Wisdom Publications gave this title to my translation of the Digha Nikaya which they brought out in 1987.
Now, in the new translation of the Udana by Peter Masefield, we find for each sutta the curious opening locution "So was there heard by me on one occasion when the Lord (was staying, etc.)".
One of these, which is not perhaps quite decisive, is that in the Itivuttaka the solitary Pali sutta text which does not have this formula, is replaced by a more elaborate formulation. Here, each small sutta opens with the words Vuttam hetam bhagavata vuttam-arahata ti me sutam, which Woodward renders: "This was said by the Exalted One, said by the Arahant; so have I heard". This formula is followed by the direct words of the Buddha with no mention of "on one occasion".
Dukkhanirodha wrote:well thank you,
but still the question remains...
Dukkhanirodha wrote:Can anyone help explaining why these words are found at the beginning of some suttas and not others?
Bankei wrote:Does any one know, are there any later works, ie non-canonical, that begin with these words, evam me suttam....?
According to the commentarial tradition, the suttas or discourses of the Itivuttaka were collected by the woman lay-disciple Khujjuttara from sermons given by the Buddha while he was staying at Kosambi. Khujjuttara was a servant of Samavati, the consort of King Udena. She had become a stream-enterer after meeting the Buddha and subsequently converted the women of the palace headed by Samavati to the teaching. She used to go regularly to listen to the Buddha and then later repeated what she had heard to the other women. The collection of these sayings became the Itivuttaka. It is said that the emphatic statements at the beginning and end of each of the suttas, reproduced here only in the first and last, were made by Khujjuttara to stress that they were the Buddha's words and not her own.
Whether or not this story is true, the Itivuttaka is the only book in the Pali Canon that introduces and concludes its suttas in this fashion, and it is from the opening statement that the title is derived: "This was said (vuttam) by the Lord ... so (iti) I heard" -- hence Itivuttaka, "The So-was-said" or "Sayings."
http://www.vipassana.com/canon/khuddaka ... .php#intro
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