Guide to Tipitaka
Majjhima Nikæya

(a) Mþlapa¼¼æsa Pæ¹i

I. Mþlapariyæya Vagga

(1) Mþlapariyæya Sutta

The Buddha explained the basis of all phenomena, specifying twenty-four categories such as the four elements (earth, water, fire, wind); sentient beings, devas; the seen, the heard, the thought of, the known; the oneness, the multiplicity, the whole; and the reality of Nibbæna. The uninstructed worldling cannot perceive the true nature of these phenomena; only the enlightened ones can see them in true perspective.

(2) Sabbæsava Sutta

In this discourse, mental intoxicants that beset the uninstructed worldling are defined, and seven practices for eradicating them are explained.

(3) Dhammadæyæda Sutta

This sutta contains two separate discourses, the first one given by the Buddha, the second by the Venerable Særiputta. The Buddha urged the bhikkhus to receive as their legacy from him the Bodhipakkhiya Dhamma only, and not material things like the four requisites. The Venerable Særiputta advised the bhikkhus to lead a solitary life for attainment of jhæna and to strive for the attainment of Nibbæna by abandoning greed, ill will, and delusion.

(4) Bhayabherava Sutta

This discourse describes how a bhikkhu leading a solitary life in a secluded forest invites harm and danger to himself by his impure thoughts, words and deeds, and how the Buddha had lived a peaceful forest life harmlessly by cultivating pure thoughts, words and deeds which finally led him to enlightenment.

(5) Ana³ga¼a Sutta

In this discourse given on the request of the Venerable Mahæ Moggallæna, the Venerable Særiputta explained four types of individuals:

(i) an impure person who knows he is impure;
(ii) an impure person who does not know he is impure;
(iii) a pure person who knows his own purity;
(iv) a pure person who does not know his own purity.

(6) Æka³kheyya Sutta

This sutta describes how a bhikkhu should develop søla, samædhi and paññæ, instead of hankering after gain and fame; how he should restrain his faculties, seeing danger in the slightest fault.

(7) Vattha Sutta

In this discourse the Buddha explained the difference between an impure mind and a pure mind by giving the example of dirty cloth and clean cloth. Only the clean cloth will absorb dye; so also only the pure mind will retain the dhamma.

(8) Sallekha Sutta

In this discourse the Buddha explained to Mahæ Cunda how wrong views about atta and loka can be removed only by vipassanæ insight. Jhænic practice is not the austerity practice that removes moral defilements; jhænic practice only leads to a blissful existence.

Only refraining from forty-four kinds of bad deeds constitutes austerity practice for removing moral defilements. The volition alone to do a good deed is enough to produce a good result; when it is accompanied by the actual deed, the beneficial result accruing is immeasurable. One immersed in the mire of sensuous impurities cannot rescue others immersed likewise in the mire.

(9) Sammædi¥¥hi Sutta

This discourse is an exposition on the right view delivered by the Venerable Særiputta at Sævatthi. When physical, verbal and mental actions are motivated by greed, hatred and delusion, they are deemed to be bad. When they arise through non-greed, non-hatred and non-delusion, the actions are deemed to be good. Right View is understanding what a good deed is and what a bad deed is; it is the full comprehension of the Four Noble Truths and not holding on to eternity views concerning atta.

(10) Mahæsatipa¥¥hæna Sutta

This discourse given at Kammæsadhamma market town is the most important sutta which gives practical guidance for cultivation of mindfulness. It describes the Four Methods of Steadfast Mindfulness, namely, contemplating the body, contemplating sensation, contemplating the mind, and contemplating the dhamma as the one and only way for the purification of beings, for the overcoming of sorrow and lamentation, for the complete destruction of pain and distress, for the attainment of the Noble Magga, and for the realization of Nibbæna,

This sutta appears in identical form in the Døgha Nikæya.

II. Søhanæda Vagga

(1) Cþ¹asøhanæda Sutta

In this discourse, given at Sævatthi, the Buddha made the bold statement that the four Categories of Ariyas, namely, the Stream-winner, the Once-returner, the Non-returner and the Arahat exist only in his Teaching and not in any other.

(2) Mæhasøhanæda Sutta

In this discourse, given at Vesælø, the Venerable Særiputta reported to the Buddha about the disparagement of the Buddha’s virtues made by Sunakkhatta who had left the Teaching. The Buddha said that Sunakkhatta was not intellectually equipped to have the faintest glimpse of the Buddha’s virtues such as the Ten Strengths, the four kinds of supreme Self-Confidence, the Non-decline of Sabbaññuta Ñæ¼a till the time of parinibbæna. He then described the five destinations and the actions which lead to them as well as the wrong beliefs and practices of the naked ascetics to whose camp Sunakkhatta now belonged.

(3) Mahædukkhakkhandha Sutta

This discourse was given at Sævatthi to refute the naked ascetics when they tried to make out that they followed the same path and taught the same dhamma as the Buddha. The Buddha also explained to the bhikkhus what the pleasures of the senses were, what their faults and dangers were, and the way of escape from them. The Buddha explained further that outside of his Teaching, these dhammas were not known and no one but the Buddha and his disciples could teach such dhammas.

(4) Cþ¹adukkhakkhandha Sutta

This discourse, given by the Buddha, at Kapilavatthu to the Sakyan Prince Mahænæma to explain to him on his request, how greed, ill will and ignorance caused moral defilements and suffering.

(5) Anumæna Sutta

This discourse was given by the Venerable Mahæ Moggallæna to many bhikkhus at Susumæragira in the country of Bhagga. They were urged to see if they had purged themselves of sixteen kinds of stubbornness such as inordinate desire, humiliating others while praising oneself, wrathfulness, etc. If these sixteen kinds of unwholesome dhammas were detected in oneself, a determined effort should be made to get rid of them.

(6) Cetokhila Sutta

This discourse, given by the Buddha at Sævatthi, mentions the five kinds of mental thorns: doubt about the Buddha, doubt about the Dhamma, doubt about the Saµgha, doubt about the efficacy of the practice in søla, samædhi and paññæ, ill will and animosity towards fellow bhikkhus. It also mentions the five fetters: attachment to sensual desires, attachment to oneself, attachment to material objects; immoderation in eating and sleeping, and adopting the holy life with the limited objective of attaining to blissful existences only. These mental thorns and fetters are obstacles to liberation from dukkha. They should be removed and eradicated for realization of Nibbæna.

(7) Vanapattha Sutta

This discourse, given at Sævatthi, is concerned with the choice of a suitable place for a bhikkhu. A bhikkhu has to depend on a forest glade or a village, or a town or an individual for his residence and support. If he finds out any particular place is not satisfactory for his spiritual development or for material support, he should abandon that place at once.

If he finds it satisfactory with respect to material support, but not beneficial for spiritual development, he should abandon that place, too. But when it proves beneficial for spiritual development, even if the material support is meagre, the bhikkhu should stay on in that place. When conditions are satisfactory both for spiritual development and material support, he should live for the whole of his life in such a place.

(8) Madhupi¼ðika Sutta

A Sakyan Prince, named Da¼ðapæni, once asked the Buddha at Kapilavatthu what doctrine he taught. The Buddha replied that his doctrine was one which could not be grasped by any brahmin nor by the Mæra. It is this: not living in discord with any one in the world; not obsessed by sense impressions (saññæ); not troubled by doubts; and not craving for any form of existence.

(9) Dvedævitakka Sutta

This discourse was given by the Buddha at Sævatthi to explain two kinds of thinking: wholesome and unwholesome. Bhikkhus should practice to see the advantages of engaging in wholesome thoughts and the dangers of unwholesome thoughts.

(10) Vitakkasa¼¥hæna Sutta

This discourse was given by the Buddha at Sævatthi on how to combat the arising of unwholesome thoughts with wholesome thoughts. For example, greed and sensuous thoughts should be banished by contemplating on unpleasantness and impermanency of the object of desire; ill will and hatred must be countered by thoughts of loving-kindness; and ignorance may be overcome by seeking illumination and guidance from the teacher.


III. Opamma Vagga

(1) Kakacþpama Sutta

This discourse was given by the Buddha at Sævatthi in connection with Bhikkhu Mo¹iyaphagguna who was friendly with bhikkhunøs. When others censured him for being too friendly with bhikkhunøs, he lost his temper and broke into quarrel with bhikkhus who criticized him.

When the Buddha admonished and advised him to keep away from bhikkhunøs and to control his temper, he remained recalcitrant. The Buddha showed the harmfulness of ill temper and advised other bhikkhus to keep a tight check on their temper, not losing it even when some one was sawing away their limbs into bits.

(2) Alagaddþpama Sutta

This discourse was given by the Buddha at Sævatthi. Bhikkhu Ari¥¥ha misunderstood the Buddha’s Teaching and maintained that the Buddha showed how to enjoy sensuous pleasure without jeopardising one’s progress in the Path. When the Buddha remonstrated with him for his wrong views he remained unrepentant.

The Buddha then spoke to the bhikkhus on the wrong way and the right way of learning the dhamma, giving the simile of a snake catcher, and the simile of the raft.

(3) Vammika Sutta

This discourse was given by the Buddha at Sævatthi. Venerable Kumærakassapa was asked by a deva a set of fifteen questions which he brought to the Buddha for elucidation. The Buddha explained to him the meaning of the questions and assisted him in their solution.

(4) Rathavinøta Sutta

This sutta recounts the dialogue between the Venerable Særiputta and the Venerable Pu¼¼a at Sævatthi on the seven stages of purity, such as purity of søla, purity of mind, purity of view etc., that must be passed before attainment to Nibbæna.

(5) Nivæpa Sutta

This discourse was given by the Buddha at Sævatthi on the snares that waylay bhikkhus on their path, making use of the simile of the hunter, the hunter’s followers, the green pasture and four different herds of deer. The hunter was likened to Mæra, the hunter’s crowd to Mæra’s followers, the green pasture he had set up to the sensuous pleasures, and four different herds of deer to four different types of recluses who left home life.

(6) Pæsaræsi Sutta

This sutta given by the Buddha at Sævatthi is also known by the name of Ariyapariyesana Sutta. The Buddha recounted his life from the time he was born in the human world as the son of King Suddhodana till the moment of the great discourse on the Turning of the Wheel of Dhamma, giving details of his renunciation, initial wrong practices of severe asceticism and final discovery of the Noble Path of Eight Constituents. In particular, stress was laid on two different types of quests, the Noble and the Ignoble. He explained that it was extremely unwise to go after sensual pleasures which subject one to ageing, disease and death. The most noble quest was to seek out that which will liberate one from ageing, disease and death.

(7) Cþ¹ahatthipadopama Sutta

This sutta was given by the Buddha at Sævatthi. The Brahmin Jæ¼usso¼i asked the wandering ascetic Pilotika, who had just come back from the Buddha, whether he knew all the virtues and accomplishments of the Buddha. The wandering ascetic replied that only a Buddha who could match another Buddha in attainments could know all the virtues of the other. As for him, he could only exercise his imagination in this respect just as a hunter would judge the measurements of an elephant from the size of its footprints.

Later when the Brahmin Jæ¼usso¼i went to see the Buddha, and recounted his conversation with the wandering ascetic the Buddha told him that the size of an elephant’s footprint might still be misleading. Only when one followed the footprints, and the animal was seen grazing in the open, its true measurements could be accurately judged. So also the virtues of the Buddha and his Teaching could be fully appreciated and understood only when one followed his Teaching and practised as taught by him until the final goal of Arahatship was reached.

(8) Mahæhatthipadopama Sutta

This discourse was given by the Venerable Særiputta to the bhikkhus at Sævatthi using the simile of the elephant’s footprint. He explained that just as the footprint of all animals could be contained within the footprint of an elephant, all wholesome dhammas were comprised in the Four Noble Truths.

(9) Mahæsæropama Sutta

This discourse was given by the Buddha at Ræjagaha in connection with Devadatta who remained contented with gain and fame because of his attainment of supernormal powers and left the Teaching to cause schism in the Order. The Buddha said that this Teaching was not for the purpose of gain and fame which were like the external shoots and branches of a tree; nor just for the accomplishment in søla which may be likened to the outer crust of a tree; nor for mere establishing of concentration to achieve supernormal powers which were like the bark of a tree. The Dhamma was taught for the attainment of Arahatship, the noble liberation which alone resembled the inner pith of a tree.

(10) Cþ¹asæropama Sutta

This discourse was given by the Buddha at Sævatthi in connection with the Brahmin Pi³galakoccha who asked the Buddha whether all the six teachers claiming to be Buddhas were really enlightened. The Buddha explained that the Brahmacariya practice taught by a Buddha led to Arahatship, not just to the achievement of gain and fame, or supernormal powers.


IV. Mahæyamaka Vagga

(1) Cþ¹agosi³ga Sutta

The Venerable Anuruddha, the Venerable Nandiya and the Venerable Kimila were staying in the Gosi³ga Sal tree woodland. The Buddha visited them and praised them on their way of living, practising the holy life with perfect harmony and concord amongst themselves, thus forming an adornment to the lovely woodland park.

(2) Mahægosi³ga Sutta

Once while the Buddha was residing in the Gosi³ga Sal tree woodland, the Venerable Særiputta asked the Buddha: ‘Who would most adorn this woodland park and enhance its beauty?’ The discourse records the different answers provided by the Venerables Revata, Anuruddha, Mahæ Kassapa, Mahæ Moggallæna, Særiputta and by the Buddha himself.

(3) Mahægopælaka Sutta

This discourse, given by the Buddha at Sævatthi, explains the conditions under which the Teaching would grow and prosper and the conditions under which it would decline and decay. The example of a cowherd is given. When a cowherd is equipped with eleven skills of managing and tending his cattle, there is progress and growth in his work. So also when the bhikkhu is skilled and accomplished in eleven factors such as knowledge of truth about the khandhas, practice of søla, samædhi and paññæ etc., the Teaching will grow and prosper.

(4) Cþ¹agopælaka Sutta

This discourse deals with eleven factors, the failure to fulfil which would contribute to the downfall and ruin of the Teaching. Just as the cattle under the care of an unwise and unskilful cowherd crossed the river from a wrong quay on the bank and met with destruction instead of reaching the other shore, so also the followers of the teachers who were not accomplished in the knowledge of truth, khandhas, etc., would end up only in disaster.

(5) Cþ¹asaccaka Sutta

This discourse, given at Vesælø, gives an account of the debate between the Buddha and Saccaka the wandering ascetic on the subject of atta. Saccaka maintained that rþpa, vedanæ, saññæ, sa³khæra and viññæ¼a were one’s atta. It was atta which enjoyed the fruits of good deeds and suffered the consequences of bad deeds. The Buddha refuted his theory, pointing out that none of the khandhas was atta, each being subjected to the laws of anicca, dukkha, and anatta, and not amenable to anyone’s control. Saccaka had to admit his defeat in the presence of his followers.

(6) Mahæsaccaka Sutta

The same Saccaka, the wandering ascetic, came again to the Buddha the next day and asked about the cultivation of mind and body. He knew only the wrong methods of developing concentration. The Buddha explained to Saccaka the various practices he himself had followed and mistakes he had made until he found the middle Path that finally led him to the realization of Nibbæna.

(7) Cþ¹ata¼hæsa³khaya Sutta

On enquiry by the king of devas how a disciple of the Buddha trained himself to realize Nibbæna, the Buddha gave him a short description of how a householder, after leaving his home, put himself on a course of training that gradually purified his mind of all moral defilements and led him to the final goal.

(8) Mahata¼hæsa³khaya Sutta

A disciple of the Buddha, Sæti by name, held the view that the Buddha taught: 'The same consciousness transmigrates and wanders about.' Other disciples tried to rid him of this wrong view but to no avail. The Buddha told him that he never taught such wrong views. He only taught 'Consciousness arises out of conditions; there is no arising of Consciousness without conditions.'

(9) Mahæ-assapura Sutta

The people of Assapura, a market town of A³ga country, were ardently devoted to the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Saµgha, helping and assisting the members of the Order by offering them the bhikkhu requisites. Out of gratitude for such support, the Buddha urged the bhikkhus to make strenuous efforts in their training and practice of Dhamma, gradually going up stage by stage: starting from avoiding evil deeds by restraint of physical and vocal actions, to proceed to mental restraint through meditation, then progressing towards attainment of four stages of jhæna, and finally to the stage where all moral defilements were eliminated and Nibbæna was attained.

(10) Cþ¹a-assapura Sutta

Out of gratitude for the support given by the lay devotees of Assapura, a market town in the country of A³ga, the Buddha urged the bhikkhus to be worthy of the name of sama¼a and bræhma¼a. Sama¼a means one who has stilled his passions; bræhma¼a one who has rid himself of defilements. A bhikkhu should therefore subject himself to the course of discipline and practice as laid down by the Buddha until he had eliminated the twelve defilements such as envy, ill will, deceit, wrong views, etc.


V. Cþ¹ayamaka Vagga

(1) Sæ¹eyyaka Sutta

This exposition was given to villagers of Sælæ on ten demeritorious deeds that would lead to states of misery and woe and ten meritorious deeds that would give rise to rebirth in happy realms.

(2) Verañjaka Sutta

This discourse was given to the householders of Verañjæ dealing with identical subjects as in the Sæleyyaka Sutta.

(3) Mahævedalla Sutta

The Venerable Mahæko¥¥hika asked many questions to the Venerable Særiputta at Sævatthi regarding an uninstructed person with no paññæ, and instructed persons with paññæ; many questions on viññæ¼a and vedana, on the difference between paññæ and viññæ¼a, and many other things. The Venerable Særiputta obliged him with detailed answers.

(4) Cþ¹avedalla Sutta

Therø Dhammadinnæ was asked many questions by the householder Visækha about personality, Sakkæya, the origin of Sakkæya, the cessation of Sakkæya and the way leading to cessation of Sakkæya. All the questions were satisfactorily answered by the Therø.

(5) Cþ¹adhammasamædæna Sutta

This sutta describes four practices involving: (i) happy living now, followed by dire consequences in the future; (ii) unhappy living now, followed by dire consequences in the future; (iii) unhappy living now, followed by a happy life in the future; (iv) happy living now, followed by a happy life in the future.

(6) Mahædhammasamædæna Sutta

In this discourse, the four practices as described in Cþ¹adhammasamædæna Sutta are explained with more details giving similes of poisoned fruit juice, delicious cordial and medicinal preparation of cow’s urine.

(7) Vømaµsaka Sutta

Any claim to Buddhahood may be put to acid tests as provided in this sutta. A detailed procedure to scrutinize such claim is laid down here.

(8) Kosambiya Sutta

This discourse on how loving-kindness should be the basis of their relations was given by the Buddha to the bhikkhus of Kosambø who were living in discord because of disagreement over trifling matters.

(9) Brahmanimantanika Sutta

The Brahmæ Baka held the wrong view of eternity, believing in permanence, stability, and endurance. The Buddha showed him how wrong his belief was.

(10) Mæratajjanøya Sutta

This is an account given by the Venerable Mahæ Mogallæna of how Mara once troubled him by causing pains and aches in the stomach. He had to coax him to stop annoying him by telling him that he had been Mæra’s uncle at the time of Kakusandha Buddha.

© Buddha Dharma Education Association > home > back