A Comparison of the Pali and Chinese Versions of the Brahma Samyutta, a Collection of Early Buddhist Discourses on Brahmas, the Exalted Gods


  • Mun-Keat Choong University of New England




Brahmā, Fantian 梵天, Saṃyukta, Saṃyutta, Xiangyings 相應, Sagātha-vagga, Bazhong Song 八眾誦, geya-aṅga, geyya-aṅga


Samyutta of the Pali Samyutta-nikaya in conjunction with two other versions preserved in Chinese translation in Taisho vol. 2, nos 99 and 100. Then it compares the main teachings contained in the three versions. This comparative study of these three different versions focuses on some shared images of Brahmas and on disagreements of some teachings presented in the three versions. It reveals similarities and significant differences in structure and doctrinal content, thus advancing the historical/critical study of early Buddhist doctrine in this area.


Akanuma, Chizen. 1967. Indo Bukkyo Koyu Meishi Jiten [A Dictionary of Buddhist Proper Namas]. Kyoto: Hozokan, repr. 1986.

Analayo. 2011. ‘Brahma’s Invitation, The Ariyapariyesana-sutta in the Light of its Madhyama-agama Parallel’. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies 1: 12–38.

Analayo. 2013. ‘A Note on the Term Theravada’. Buddhist Studies Review 30(2): 216–235.

Bailey, Greg M. 1983. The Mythology of Brahma. Oxford University Press.

Bingenheimer, Marcus. 2009. ‘More Suttas on Sakka and why the Shorter Chinese Samyukta Agama should not be attributed to the Kasyapiya school’. Buddhist Studies Review 26(2): 127–153.

Bodhi, Bhikkhu. 2000. The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications.

Bucknell, Roderick S. 2007. ‘The Structure of the Sagatha-Vagga of the Samyutta-Nikaya’. Buddhist Studies Review 24(1): 7–34. http://dx.doi.org/10.1558/bsrv.v24i1.7

Bucknell, Roderick S. 2011. ‘The Historical Relationship Between the Two Chinese Samyuktagama Translation’. Chung-Hwa Buddhist Journal 24: 35-70.

CBETA Chinese Electronic Tripitaka Version 2007. Taipei: Chinese Buddhist Electronic Text Association.

Cheng, Chuan. 2012. ‘Designations of Ancient Sri Lankan Buddhism in the Chinese Tripitaka’. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies 2: 104–123.

Choong, Mun-keat. 1999. The Notion of Emptiness in Early Buddhism. 2nd ed. (1st ed. 1995).Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.

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 (= Beiträge zur Indologie 32). Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Choong, Mun-keat.2010. ‘Problems and Prospects of the Chinese Samyuktagama: Its structure and content’. In Translating Buddhist Chinese: Problems and Prospects (= Series: East Asia Intercultural Studies - Interkulturelle Ostasienstudien 3), edited by Konrad Meisig, 53–64. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag.

Choong, Mun-keat. 2011. ‘A comparison of the Pali and Chinese versions of the Devata Samyutta and Devaputta Samyutta, collections of early Buddhist discourses on devatas“gods” and devaputras “sons of gods”’. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies 1: 60–88.

Choong, Mun-keat. 2012. ‘A comparison of the Chinese and Pali versions of the Bala Samyukta, a collection of early Buddhist discourses on “Powers” (Bala)’. Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies 2: 84–103.

Chung, Jin-il. 2008. A Survey of the Sanskrit Fragments Corresponding to the Chinese Samyuktagama. Tokyo: Sankibo Busshorin.

Cousins, Lance S. 2001. ‘On the Vibhajjavadins, the Mahimsasaka, Dhammaguttaka, Kassapiya and Tambapanniya branches of the Ancient Theriyas’. Buddhist Studies Review 18(2): 131–182.

Cousins, Lance S. 2010. ‘Tambapanniya and Tamrasatiya’ at the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies: www.ocbs.org/images/fellows/lancearticle1.pdf (15 November 2013)

Edgerton, Franklin. 1953. Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary, vol. 2. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, repr. 1985.

Enomoto, Fumio. 1994. A Comprehensive Study of the Chinese Samyuktagama: Indic Texts Corresponding to the Chinese Samyuktagama as Found in the Sarvastivada-Mulasarvastivada Literature. Kyoto: Kacho Junior College. Foguang Dacidian [Foguang Great Dictionary], 8 vols. 1988. Kao-hsiung: Foguang Publisher.

Gethin, Rupert. 1998. The Foundations of Buddhism. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Harrison, Paul. 2002. ‘Another Addition to the An Shigao Corpus? Preliminary Notes on an Early Chinese Samyuktagama Translation’. In Early Buddhism and Abhidharma Thought: In Honor of Doctor Hajime Sakurabe on His Seventy-seventh Birthday, 1–32. Kyoto: Heirakuji Shoten.

Hopkins, Thomas J. 1971. The Hindu Religious Tradition. California: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Jones, Dhivan Thomas. 2009. ‘Why Did Brahma Ask the Buddha to Teach?’. Buddhist Studies Review 26(1): 85–102. http://dx.doi.org/10.1558/bsrv.v26i1.85

McGovern, Nathan. 2011. ‘Brahma: An Early and Ultimately Doomed Attempt at a Brahmanical Synthesis’. Journal of Indian Philosophy 40(1) : 1–23. Repr. 2012.

Nakamura, Hajime. 1981. Bukkyogo Daijiten [Great Dictionary of Buddhist Terms]. Tokyo: Tokyo Shoseki. Repr. 1987.

Nakamura, Hajime. 2000. Gotama Buddha: A Biography Based on the Most Reliable Texts, vol. one. Translated by Gaynor Sekimori. Tokyo: Kosei Publishing Co.

Nichols, Michael. 2009. ‘The Two Faces of Deva: The Mara/Brahma Tandem’. Religions of South Asia 3(1): 45–60.

Nyanaponika Thera and Hecker, Hellmuth. 2003. Ed. Bhikkhu Bodhi. Great Disciples of the Buddha. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications.

Rhys Davids, C. A. F. 1971. The Book of the Kindred Sayings (S I). London: PTS.

Rhys Davids, T. W. and C. A. F. 1959. Dialogues of the Buddha (D II). 4th edition. London: PTS.

Sadakata, Akira. 1997. Buddhist Cosmology: Philosophy and Origins. Tokyo: Kosei Publishing.

Walshe, Maurice. 1987. Thus Have I Heard: The Long Discourses of the Buddha. London: Wisdom Publication.

Williams, Monier. 1899. Sanskrit-English dictionary. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass. Repr. 1981.

Woodward, F. L. 1930. The Book of the Kindred Sayings (S V). London: PTS.

Woodward, F. L. 1933. The Book of the Gradual Sayings (A II). London: PTS.

Yin Shun. 1971. Yuanshi Fojiao Shengdian zhi Jicheng [The Formation of Early Buddhist Texts]. Taipei: Zhengwen Chubanshe.




How to Cite

Choong, M.-K. (2015). A Comparison of the Pali and Chinese Versions of the Brahma Samyutta, a Collection of Early Buddhist Discourses on Brahmas, the Exalted Gods. Buddhist Studies Review, 31(2), 179–194. https://doi.org/10.1558/bsrv.v31i2.179