The following are the main collections of Suttas from the Pali Canon and followed by the Theravada tradition. The Agama Section (Volumes 1-2) of the Chinese Canon contains 151 texts that correspond to the Pali Canon, but were translated from the Sanskrit of the Sarvastivada tradition. Agama means “those handed down by tradition.” Selected translations, often in a condensed form, are found on this website and may be accessed by clicking their titles on the left. English translations of most of the following collections of these suttas may be purchased from the Xuanfa Book Store.
- Digha Nikaya (The 34 Long Discourses of the Buddha}
- Majjhima Nikaya (The 154 Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha)
- Samyutta Nikaya (The 56 Connected or Thematically linked Discourses of the Buddha)
- Anguttara Nikaya (the Gradual Collection or Numerical Discourses)
- Khuddaka Nikaya (the Minor Collection of 15 texts)
The following list represent a few of the most famous and useful suttas, most of which are included on this website:
Abhaya Sutta (To Prince Abhaya): Discourse to a prince on right speech
Acintita Sutta or The Unconjecturable: The four questions that will cause vexation and madness if conjectured about.
Adittapariyana Sutta or The Fire Sermon: Considered comparable in importance to Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount.
Agganna Sutta: Describes the creation story of how mankind and the universe evolves at the beginning of a kalpa.
Aggi Vacchagotta Sutta or To Vacchogotta on Fire: The Buddha answers certain questions on views.
Akkosa Sutta (On Insults): Gives the correct response to one who insults you.
Alagagaddujupama Sutta or The Simile of the Snake:The Buddha gives the simile of how to hold a snake and the use of a raft after one reaches the other shore.
Anapanasati (Ananda) Sutta or Mindfulness of Breathing: Hinayana meditation manual.
Anathapindikovada Sutta or Instructions to Anathapindika: Sariputta delivers discourse to dying layman Sudatta on pain.
Anatta-lakkhana Sutta or The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic: The self is not the five skandhas. The second discourse taught the first five monk disciples at Deer Park.
Angulimala Sutta about a notorious mass murderer who becomes a disciple of the Buddha.
Ani Sutta or The Peg: Be careful: there are many popular teachings nowadays that may sound elegant and pleasing to the ear, but they’re not necessarily the Buddha’s teachings. If this was so 2500 years ago how much more must it be the case today?
Atthalokkadhamma Sutta: The Buddha comments on the “Eight Winds or Worldly Concerns” or the Vicissitudes of Life
Ayacana Sutta or The Request: Immediately after his Awakening, the Buddha receives a visit from Brahma Sahampati, the great king of the Brahma Heavens, who pleads with the Buddha to teach the Dhamma, for the sake of those “with little dust in their eyes.”
Bahiya Sutta or About Bahiya: One who did not pester Buddha, but practiced dharma quickly and became liberated.
Bhaddekaratta Sutta or An Auspicious Day: What makes an auspicious day.
Bhaya-bherava Sutta or Fear & Terror: How to live in solitude in the wilderness, completely free of fear.
Bhikkhunupassaya Sutta or Directed and Undirected Meditation: Discourse on Mindfulness given to nuns.
Cakkavatti Sutta or The Wheel-turning Emperor (excerpt): How skillful action can result in the best kind of long life, the best kind of beauty, the best kind of happiness, and the best kind of strength.
Chiggala Sutta or The Hole: The Buddha’s famous simile of the blind sea-turtle, illustrating the precious rarity of this human birth.
Cula Malunkya Sutta: The Buddha explains why he will not answer a monk’s questions (Poisoned arrow).
Cula-sunnata Sutta or The Lesser Discourse on Emptiness.
Culakammavibhanga Sutta (The Shorter Exposition of Kamma): The Buddha explains the Law of Cause and Effect.
Cuuladhammasamaadaana Sutta or The Shorter Discourse on Observances: Discourse on four types of experience and their results.
Devadaha Sutta: At Devadaha, Ven. Sariputta explains how to introduce the Buddha’s teachings to inquisitive, intelligent people.
Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta or Setting the Wheel of Dhamma in Motion at Deer Park: In the hinayana tradition this is considered the First Sermon of the Buddha after His enlightenment, taught to the five ascetics.
Dhammapada: collection of 423 short verses in the PaliTripitaka (hinayana) taken from various teachings of the Buddha. There is also a Tibetan and Chinese version.
Donapaka Sutta or King Pasenadi Goes on a Diet: Advice on sliming down.
Drumsong, King of the Serpentines: Verses given by the Buddha on repaying kindness.
Fire Sermon: See Adittapariyana Sutta.
Ghatva Sutta or Having Killed: Anger–one thing that deserves to be killed.
Janussonin Sutta on Offerings to the Dead: Explains that offerings to the dead can only be made for those in the ghost (hungry shades) realm, but that keeping the Ten Good Characteristics and making gifts to priests and contemplatives do have rewards of either good births within the realms of the animals, humans, or devas.
Jhana Sutta: Mental Absorption: discourse on four types of individuals & levels in Realm of Form.
Jivaka Sutta: Discourse to Doctor Jivaka on vegetarianism.
Kaccayana Gotta Sutta: Discourse on Right View.
Kakacupama Sutta or The Parable of the Saw (excerpt): How to avoid anger and hatred.
Kalama Sutta: Instructions given to the Kalamas on how to evaluate religious teachings.
Kamma Sutta or Action: Nature of karma.
Kasi Bharadvaja Sutta: Discourse to Bharadvaja, the farmer, on how the Buddha also plows and sows.
Kevatta (Kevaddha) Sutta: This discourse explores the role of miracles as a possible basis for faith and belief and gives the reasons why the Buddha did not teach certain supernormal powers to his monks. Very clever story about the origin of the four great elements Also has description of the various virtues and sections on worldly addictions and right livelihood.
Kindada Sutta or A Giver of What: The true value of various kinds of gifts explained to a deva.
Lohicca Sutta: A sweeping summary of the entire path of practice given to a non-Buddhist.
Lokayatika Sutta or The Cosmologist: The Oneness of all being is sometimes taught as a basic Buddhist principle, but this discourse shows that the Buddha himself rejected the idea in this discourse given to a Bhramin cosmologist. Instead the Buddha explains Dependent Origination
Maha-Cattarisaka Sutta or Sutra on the Great Forty: Sutra on how to achieve right concentration.
Maha-Nidana Sutta or The Great Causes Discourse, on the Links of Dependent Co-arising (Origination), with sections on the seven stations of consciousness and eight emancipations.
Maha-Parinibbana Sutta or Last Days of the Buddha: Lessor Vehicle tradition.
Maha-samaya Sutta or The Great Meeting: List of those from the heavenly realms who came to pay tribute to the Buddha.
Maha-Satipatthana Sutta or the Great Frames of Reference. The Greater Discourse on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, it is the fundamental sutra on meditation.
Mata Sutta or Mother Sutta: It’s hard to meet someone who has not been, at some time in the distant past, your mother, father, son, daughter, sister, or brother.
Metta Sutta or Loving Kindness: The difference between an ordinary person and a follower of the Buddha when in the heavenly realms.
Moggallana Sutta (Gopakamoggallana Sutta) or Sutta with Moggallana: The Buddha takes no position on the ten speculative views because he does not identify any of the six senses as “self.”
Mulapariyaya Sutta or The Root Sequence: One of the most profound and difficult sutras in the Tripitaka.
Nava Sutta or The Ship: Progress comes from development, not wishing.
Parileyyaka Sutta or Sutta at Parileyyaka: Another teaching on dependent origination
Piyajatika Sutta (From One Who Is Dear): Discourse on how that which we love brings us suffering.
Punnovada Sutta: Advice to Venerable Punna.
Sabbasava Sutta or Getting Rid of All Cares and Troubles or Fermentations. (All the taints)
Sadhammapatirupaka Sutta or A Counterfeit of the True Dhamma Sutta: A society that fails to show respect for the Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, training, and concentration contributes to the eventual decline and disappearance of the Dhamma.
Sakka-pañha Sutta or Sakka’s Questions: The deva-king, Sakka, asks the Buddha about the sources of conflict, and about the path of practice that can bring it to an end.
Saleyyaka Sutta: The Brahmans of Sala: On the fruits of karma and the Ten Good Characteristics
Sallekha Sutta or The Discourse on Effacement: How the unskillful qualities in the heart can be eradicated through meditation.
Samadhi Sutta or Concentration Sutta: Concentration practice as a way to develop discernment of the inconstancy of the six sense doors.
Samagama Sutta: Discourse of the six causes of disputes and how to settle and dispel them.
Samaññaphala Sutta or The Fruits of the Contemplative Life (Bhikkhu’s Practice): Discourse for King Ajatasattu that teaches the steps on the path from the hinayana perspective.
Satipatthana Sutta: See Maha-Satipatthana Sutta.
Sedaka Sutta or The Acrobat: By watching out for others you watch out for yourself and vice versa.
Sigalovada (or Sigalaka) Sutta or The Discourse to Sigala — The Layperson’s Code of Discipline.
Silavant Sutta or Virtuous: How a meditator contemplates the five aggregates.
Talaputa Sutta or Talaputa the Actor: Comedians and actors take heed: making others laugh may not always be a particularly commendable occupation.
Upajjhatthana Sutta or Subjects for Contemplation: Pondering impermanence and karma.
Upanisa Sutta or Discourse on Supporting Conditions:Explains dependent origination.
Vatthupama Sutta or The Parable of the Piece of Cloth.
Vitakkasanthana Sutta or The Relaxation of Thoughts: The five themes to attend to.