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The Structure and Formation of the Aṅguttara Nikāya and the Ekottarika Āgama

Issue: Vol 36 No. 2 (2019)

Journal: Buddhist Studies Review

Subject Areas: Religious Studies Buddhist Studies

DOI: 10.1558/bsr.39045

Abstract:

In both the Aṅguttara Nikāya in Pali and the Ekottarika Āgama in Chinese translation, the suttas are grouped into eleven nipātas (“books”), from the Ekaka-nipāta/Eka-nipāta (Book of Ones) to the Ekādasaka-nipāta (Book of Elevens) – though in the Ekottarika Āgama the nipātas are not labelled as such. This grouping into nipātas is based on the number of doctrinal items dealt with in the component suttas. In the Ones and Twos, it is often the case that a single original sutta has been subdivided so that its component sections become a series of similarly structured derivative suttas superficially appropriate for inclusion in the Ones or Twos. Moreover, material for this process of subdividing has sometimes been provided by multiplying doctrinal sets with formulaic statements. In most of the remaining nipātas the phenomena noted in the Ones and Twos are also present, but on a much smaller scale. In view of their Chinese counterparts in the Saṃyukta Ᾱgama, some groups of suttas in the Aṅguttara Nikāya with saṃyutta-like nature were probably moved from the Saṃyutta Nikāya to the Aṅguttara Nikāya within the Pali tradition. Evidence of a comparable movement into the Ekottarika Āgama is also available. The artificial suttas created by subdivision and the original suttas shared by the Ekottarika Āgama and the Aṅguttara Nikāya largely retained their original places at the beginning of each nipāta, while the genuine suttas, probably earlier located in the Saṃyukta Ᾱgama and Madhyama Āgama, were added progressively at the end of the growing nipāta.

Author: Tse-fu Kuan, Roderick S. Bucknell

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