The Group of Discourses
It is widely accepted that the Sutta Nipata contains ‘the earliest recorded version’ of the Buddha’s teaching. It is an anthology of poetry and prose – seventy titled suttas of varied instruction and temperament arranged in five chapters. At the start are two of its most famous suttas, The Snake, in which the actions of the practising bhikkhu approaching liberation is likened to a snake that ‘leaves its old worn-out skin’; and The Rhinoceros Horn that expounds the virtue of solitude for those with serious spiritual intent. But this anthology is full of character and characters: the Buddha condemns caste (which still blights Indian society); he engages with a varied host of questioners – from householders and brahmins to spiritual seekers – clarifying their confusions and exhorting them to pursue a path of wisdom and compassion. Uncompromising and ancient in tone, it offers a flavour of the very early days of the Buddha’s teaching, and the India of his time.
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K.R. Norman’s authoritative translation ensures clarity and immediacy of comprehension.
Jinananda is a Buddhist teacher, writer and and a member of the Triratna Buddhist Order.
Kenneth Roy Norman (born 1925) is a leading scholar of Middle Indo-Aryan or Prakrit, particularly of Pali. He saw military service in India and Malaya and studied classics at Cambridge University, and spent most of his career teaching Prakrit at Cambridge University. He was a visiting professor at SOAS and Berkeley, and President of the Pali Text Society from 1981 to 1994. He is a Fellow of the British Academy. His principal publications are translations of Theragāthā and Therigāthā, Sutta Nipāta and Dhammapada, all published by Pāli Text Society. He is the author of A Philological Approach to Buddhism, SOAS, London; reprinted by Pali Text Society – an interesting and challenging look at translations of Pāli.
Pali Text Society
The Pāli Text Society is a text publication society founded in 1881 by Thomas William Rhys Davids “to foster and promote the study of Pāli texts”. Pāli is the language in which the texts of the Theravada school of Buddhism is preserved. The Pāli texts are the oldest collection of Buddhist scriptures preserved in the language in which they were written down. The society first compiled, edited, and published Latin-script versions of a large corpus of Pāli literature, including the Pāli Canon, as well as commentarial, exegetical texts, and histories. It publishes translations of many Pāli texts. It also publishes ancillary works including dictionaries, concordances, books for students of Pāli and a journal.