Two Sutras in the Chinese Samyuktagama without Direct Pali Parallels — Some Remarks on how to identify ‘Later Additions’ to the Corpus


  • Marcus Bingenheimer Temple University



Saṃyuktāgama, Chinese Āgama, Nikāya, dating methods, canonicity, riddle, Jātaka, lay arhants


23 out of the 364 sutras of the Shorter Chinese Samyuktagama (BZA: Bieyi zaahan jing T.100) and many more of the Longer Chinese Samyuktagama (ZA: Zaahan jing T.99) have no known direct counterpart in Pali, Sanskrit or Tibetan. These sutras are especially suitable to introduce common problems regarding the relationship of early Indian sutras and their Chinese translation. While usually the existence of an Indian parallel helps researchers to narrow down the range of likely forms of names and words, in the absence of Indian versions our understanding of translations and transcriptions becomes all the more conjectural. Agama texts without a Pali counterpart must also be suspected to be later additions to the collection and we have to deduce from form and content of the sutra as well as its position in the collection, when, where and why the text came into being. The article introduces these problems as they appear in two BZA sutras (153 and 184), both of which are translated below.


Adikaram, Edward W. 1946. Early Buddhist History in Ceylon. [Reprinted by Dehiwala, Buddhist Cultural Center, 1994.]

Akanuma, Chizen. 1929. Kanpa shibu shiagon goshoroku — The Comparative Catalogue of Chinese Agamas and Pali Nikayas. Nagoya: Hajinkaku shobo, 1929. [Reprinted by Sankinbo Busshorin, 1958. Sri Satguru Publications, 1990 (Bibliotheca Indo-Buddhica no. 74).]

Analayo Bhikkhu. 2007. ‘Oral Dimensions of Pali Discourses: Pericopes, other Mnemonic Techniques and the Oral Performance Context’. Canadian Journal of Buddhist Studies 3: 5–33.

———. 2010. ‘The Influence of Commentarial Exegesis on the Transmission of Agama Literature’. In Translating Buddhist Chinese, Problems and Prospects, (East Asia Intercultural Studies 3), edited by K. Meisig, 1–20. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

———. 2011. A Comparative Study of the Majjhima-nikaya. Taipei: Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation. (Dharma Drum Buddhist College Research Series).

———. 2012a. ‘Teaching the Abhidharma in the Heaven of the Thirty-three, The Buddha and his Mother’. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies 2: 9–35.

———. 2012b. ‘The Historical Value of the Pali Discourses’. Indo-Iranian Journal 55: 223–253.

Anesaki, Masaharu. 1908. The Four Buddhist Agamas in Chinese — A Concordance of their Parts and of the Corresponding Counterparts in the Pali Nikayas. Yokohama: Kelly & Walsh (The Transactions of the Asiatic Society of Japan).

Bechert, Heinz. Ed. 1991, 1992, 1997. The Dating of the Historical Buddha. Die Datierung des Historischen Buddha. 3 Vols. (Symposium zur Buddhismusforschung, IV, 1–3). Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

Bodhi Bhikkhu. 2012. The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha — A Translation of the Anguttara Nikaya. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications.

Braavig, Jens and Fredrik Liland. 2010. Traces of Gandharan Buddhism – An Exhibition of Ancient Buddhist Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection. Oslo: Hermes.

Bingenheimer, Marcus. 2011. Studies in Agama Literature — With special reference to the Shorter Chinese Samyuktagama. Taipei: Xinwenfeng. (Online at: publications/bingenheimer_StudiesInAgamaLit_2011.pdf)

Choong, Mun-keat. 2000. The Fundamental Teachings of Early Buddhism: A comparative study based on the Sutranga portion of the Pali Samyutta-Nikaya and the Chinese Samyuktagama. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. (Beiträge zur Indologie 32)

Cousins, Lance S. 1996. ‘The Dating of the Historical Buddha: A Review Article’. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Third Series, 6 (1): 57–63.

Cowell, Edward Byles. Ed. 1895–1907. The Jataka or Stories of the Buddha’s Former Births. 6 Vols. Cambridge University Press. [Various Indian reprints].

Endo, Toshiichi. 2013. Studies in Pali Commentarial Literature — Sources, Controversies and Insights. Hongkong: Centre of Buddhist Studies, University of Hong Kong.

Fausbøll, Viggo. 1883 [1963]. The Jataka together with its Commentary — being Tales of the Anterior Births of Gotama Buddha. 4 Vols. London: Lusac (Pali Text Society).

Gombrich, Richard. 2000. ‘Discovering the Buddha’s date’. In Buddhism for the New Millennium, edited by Lakshman S. Perera, 9–25. London: World Buddhist Foundation.

Levi, Sylvain. 1915. ‘Sur la Recitation Primitive des Textes Bouddhiques’. Journal Asiatique, ser. 11. 5: 401–447.

Hahn, Michael. 1992. Haribhatta and Gopadatta — Two Authors in the Succession of Aryasura On the Rediscovery of Parts of their Jatakamalas. 2nd Edition Tokyo: The International Institute for Buddhist Studies. (Studia Philologica Buddhica — Occasional Paper Series 1).

Hallisay, Charles. 1990. ‘Tundilovada — An alledgedly non-canonical sutta’. Journal of the Pali Text Society 15: 155–195.

Horner, Isaline B. Trans. 1963, 1964. Milinda’s Questions. 2 vols. London: Luzac. (Pali Text Society).

Hinüber, Oskar von. 1989. Der Beginn der Schrift und frühe Schriftlichkeit in Indien. Mainz: F. Steiner (Abhandlungen der Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur. Vol. 11).

———. 1996. A Handbook of Pali Literature. Berlin: De Gruyter.

Hwang, Soonil. 2002. Metaphor and Literalism — A Study of doctrinal development of nirvana in the Pali Nikaya and subsequent tradition compared with the Chinese Agama and its traditional interpretation. PhD thesis, Oxford. [Later published as: Metaphor and Literalism in Buddhism: The Doctrinal History of Nirvana. Routledge, 2006].

Jayawickrama, N.A. 1976. ‘A Critical Analysis of the Sutta-nipata’. Pali Buddhist Review 1–3: 136–163. [Second in a series of eight articles published in the Pali Buddhist Review between 1976 and 1978.]

Lamotte, Étienne. 1988 [1958]. History of Indian Buddhism — from the Origins to the Saka Era. Translated by Sara Webb-Boin. Louvain: Institut Orientaliste Louvain-la-Neuve (Peeters Press).

Mizuno, Kogen. 1992. ‘Sutta nipata no ge ya kyo no taiohyo’. Bukkyo kenkyu 21: 1–56.

Norman, Kenneth Roy. 1980. ‘Four Etymologies from the Sabhiya-Sutta’. Orig. in: Buddhist Studies in Honour of Walpola Rahula, edited by Somaratna Balasooriya et al, 173–184. London: Gordon Fraser. = Kenneth R. Norman, Collected Papers II, Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1991, 59–70.

———. 1983. Pali Literature – including the canonical literature in Prakrit and Sanskrit of all Hinayana schools of Buddhism. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz.

———. 1992. The Group of Discourses (Sutta-Nipata). Oxford: Pali Text Society.

Ogiwara Unrai [= Wogihara, Unrai]. 1978 [1988]. Bonwa daijiten [Large Sanskrit-Japanese Dictionary]. 2 Vol. Edition 1978 [Reprint: Taipei: Xinwenfeng, 1988].

Pande, Govind Chandra. 1995 [1957]. Studies in the Origins of Buddhism. Allahabad 1957 [4. Revised Edition Delhi: Motilal, 1995].

Ruegg, David S., and Lambert Schmithausen. 1990. Earliest Buddhism and Madhyamaka. Leiden: Brill.

Schopen, Gregory. 1995 [1985]. ‘Two Problems in the History of Indian Buddhism, The Layman/Monk Distinction and the Doctrines of the Transference of Merit’. In his Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1995, 23–56 (First published in Studien zur Indologie und Iranistik 10 (1985), 9–47).

Su, Jinkun. 2010. ‘‘Za ahan jing’, ‘Bieyi za ahan jing’ yu ‘Xiangying bu nikaye’ de yitong’. Unpublished manuscript.

Tatelman, Joel. 2005. The Heavenly Exploits — Buddhist Biographies from the Divyavadana. Vol. 1. Bury St Edmunds: New York University Press.

Vetter, Tilmann. 1990. ‘Some remarks on older parts of the Suttanipata’. In Earliest Buddhism and Madhyamaka, edited by David S. Ruegg and Lambert Schmithausen, 36–56. Leiden: Brill.

Wogihara, Unrai [= Ogiwara, Unrai] (Ed.). 1930–1936. Bodhisattvabhumi. Tokyo.




How to Cite

Bingenheimer, M. (2014). Two Sutras in the Chinese Samyuktagama without Direct Pali Parallels — Some Remarks on how to identify ‘Later Additions’ to the Corpus. Buddhist Studies Review, 30(2), 201–214.