Professor Ko Lay
distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma
Of the five Nikayas, Khuddaka
Nikaya contains the largest number of treatises (as listed below)
and the most numerous categories of dhamma. Although the word
"Khuddaka" literally means "minor" or
"small", the actual content of this collection can by
no means be regarded as minor, including as it does the two major
divisions of the Pitaka, namely, the Vinaya Pitaka and the
Abhidhamma Pitaka according to one system of classification. The
miscellaneous nature of this collection, containing not only the
discourses by the Buddha but compilations of brief doctrinal
notes mostly in verse, accounts of personal struggles and
achievements by theras and theris also in verse, the birth
stories, the history of the Buddha etc., may account for its
The following is the list of
treatises as approved by the Sixth International Buddhist Synod.
(a) Vinaya Pitaka
(b) Abhidhamma Pitaka
(c) Suttas not included in the
first four Nikayas
(1) Khuddaka Patha
(11) Niddesa (Maha, Cula)
(12) Patisambhida Magga
(13 ) Apadana
(15) Cariya Pitaka
(18) Milinda panha
First of the treatises in this
Nikaya, Khuddakapatha contains readings of mirror passages"
most of which are also found in other parts of Tipitaka. it is a
collection of nine short formulae and suttas used as a manual for
novices under training, namely, (a) the three refuges (b) the Ten
Precepts (c) the thirty two parts of the body (d) single Dhammas
for novices in the form of a catechism (e) Mangala Sutta (f)
Ratana Sutta (g) Tirokutta Sutta (h) Nidhikanda Sutta and (i)
Taking refuge in the Three Gems,
the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Samgha, by reciting the formula,
"I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dhamma, I
take refuge in the Samgha," is a conscious act of expression
of complete faith in the Three Gems, not mere profession of
superficial belief nor a rite of traditional piety. It implies
(i) one's humility; (ii)acceptance of the Triple Gems as one's
guiding principles and ideals; (iii) acceptance of discipleship
and (iv) homage.
In the section on 'Kumara panha,
questions for young boys, the dhamma is tailored to suit the
young intellect of novices:
What is the One? -- The
Nutriment which sustains the life of beings.
What are the Two? -- Nama and
What are the Three? --
Pleasant, Unpleasant, Neutral Vedanas.
What are the Four? -- The Four
What are the Five? -- The five
groups of grasping.
What are the Six? -- The six
bases of senses.
What are the Seven? -- The
seven factors of enlightenment.
What are the Eight? -- The
Noble Path of Eight Constituents.
What are the Nine? -- The nine
abodes or types of beings.
What are the Ten? -- The ten
demeritorious courses of action.
Maha Mingala Sutta, the
discourse on the great blessings, is a famous sutta cherished
highly in all Buddhist countries. It is a comprehensive summary
of Buddhist ethics for the individual as well as for society,
composed in elegant verses. The thirty eight blessings enumerated
in the sutta as unfailing guides throughout one's life start with
advice on avoidance of bad company and provide ideals and
practices basic to all moral and spiritual progress, for the
welfare and happiness of the individual, the family and the
community. The final blessing is on the development of the mind
which is unruffled by vagaries of fortune, unaffected by sorrow,
cleansed of defilements and which thus gains liberation - the
mind of an Arahat.
The Ratana Sutta was
delivered by the Buddha when Vesali was plagued by famine,
disease etc. He had been requested by the Licchavi Princes to
come from Rajagaha to Vesali. The sutta was delivered for the
purpose of countering the plagues, by invocation of the truth of
the special qualities of the Three Gems, the Buddha, the Dhamma
and the Samgha.
The Metta Sutta was taught
to a group of bhikkhus who were troubled by non-human beings
while sitting in meditation at the foot of secluded forest trees.
The Buddha showed them how to develop loving-kindness to wards
all beings, the practice which will not only protect them from
harm but also will serve as a basis for insight through
attainment of jhana.
The Khuddakapatha which is a
collection of these nine formulae and suttas appears to be
arranged in such a way as to form a continuous theme
demonstrating the practice of the holy life: how a person accepts
the Buddha's Teaching by taking refuge in the Three Gems; then
how he observes the Ten Precepts for moral purification. Next he
takes up a meditation subject, the contemplation of thirty two
constituents of the body, to develop non-attachment. He is shown
next the virtues and merits of giving and how one handicaps
oneself by not performing acts of merit. In the meanwhile he
safeguards himself by reciting the mingala Sutta and provides
protection to others by reciting the Ratana Sutta. Finally, he
develops loving-kindness towards all beings, thereby keeping
himself safe from harm; at the same time he achieves jhanic
concentration which will eventually lead him to reach the goal of
spiritual life, Nibbana, by means of knowledge of Insight and the
It is a book of the Tipitaka which
is popular and well-known not only in Buddhist countries but also
elsewhere. The Dhammapada is a collection of the Buddha's words
or basic and essential principles of the Buddha's Teaching. It
consists of 423 verses arranged according to topics in twenty six
vaggas or chapters.
Verse 183 gives the teachings of
the Buddha in a nutshell: Abstain from all evil; Promote
(develop) what is good and purify your mind. Each stanza is
packed with the essence of Truth which illumines the path of a
wayfarer. Many are the Dhammapada verses which find their way
into the writings and everyday speech of the Buddhists. One can
get much sustenance and encouragement from the Dhammapada not
only for spiritual development but also for everyday living.
The Dhammapada describes the path
which a wayfarer should follow. It states (in verses 277,278 and
279) that all conditioned things are transitory and impermanent;
that all conditioned things are subject to suffering; and that
all things (dhammas) are insubstantial, incapable of being called
one's own. When one sees the real nature of things with
(Vipassana) insight, one becomes disillusioned with the charms
and attractions of the Five Aggregates. Such disillusionment
constitutes the path of purity (Nibbana).
Verse 243 defines the highest form
of impurity as ignorance (avijja) and states that the suffering
in the world can be brought to an end only by the destruction of
craving or hankering after sensual pleasures. Greed, ill will and
ignorance are described as dangerous as fire and unless they are
held under restraint, a happy life is impossible both now and
Avoiding the two extremes, namely,
indulgence in a life of sensuous pleasures and, the practice of
self-mortification, one must follow the Middle Path, the Noble
Path of Eight Constituents to attain perfect Peace, Nibbana.
Attainment to the lowest stage (Sotapatti Magga) on this Path
shown by the Buddha is to be preferred even to the possession of
the whole world (v. 178). The Dhammapada emphasizes that one
makes or mars oneself, and no one else can help one to rid
oneself of impurity. Even the Buddhas cannot render help; they
can only show the way and guide; a man must strive for himself.
The Dhammapada recommends a life
of peace and non-violence and points out the eternal law that
hatred does not cease by hatred, enmity is never overcome by
enmity but only by kindness and love (V. 5). It advised to
conquer anger by loving-kindness, evil by good, miserliness by
generosity, and falsehood by truth.
The Dhammapada contains gems of
literary excellence, replete with appropriate similes and
universal truths and is thus found appealing and edifying by
readers all the world over. It serves as a digest of the
essential principles and features of the Buddha Dhamma as well as
of the wisdom of all the ages.
(3) Udana Pali
An udana is an utterance mostly in
matrical form inspired by a particularly intense emotion. This
treatise is a ccllection of eighty joyful utterances made by the
Buddha on unique occasions of sheer bliss; each udana in verse is
accompanied by an account in prose of the circumstances that led
to their being uttered.
For example, in the first
Bodhivagga Sutta are recorded the first words spoken aloud by the
newly Enlightened Buddha in three stanzas beginning with the
famous opening lines: "Yada have
patubhavanti dhamma, Atapino jhayato brahmanassa."
For seven days after his
Enlightenment, the Buddha sat at the foot of the Bodhi tree
feeling the bliss of liberation. At the end of seven days, he
emerged from this (Phala Sampatti) sustained absorption in
Fruition-mind, to deliberate upon the principle of Dependent
Origination: When this is, that is (Imasmin sati, idam hoti);
this having arisen, that arises (Imassuppada, idam uppajjati);
when this is not, that is not (Imasmim asati, idam na hoti); this
having ceased, that ceases (Imassa nirodha, idam nirujjhati).
In the first watch of the night,
when the principle of the origin of the whole mass of suffering
was thoroughly grasped in a detailed manner in the order of
arising, the Buddha uttered the first stanza of joy.
"When the real nature of
things becomes clear to the ardently meditating recluse, then all
his doubts vanish, because he understands what that nature is as
well as its cause."
In the second watch of the night,
his mind was occupied with the principle of Dependent Origination
in the order of ceasing. When the manner of cessation of
suffering was thoroughly understood, the Buddha was moved again
to utter the second stanza of jubilation:
"When the reel nature of
things becomes clear to the ardently meditating recluse, then all
his doubts vanish, because he perceives the cessation of
In the third watch of the night,
the Buddha went over the detailed formula of the principle of
Dependent Origination, Paticca Samuppada, in both the orders of
arising and ceasing. Then having mastered the doctrine of
Dependent Origination very thoroughly, the Buddha uttered the
third stanza of solemn utterance:
"When the real nature of
things becomes clear to the ardently rneditating recluse, then
like the sun that illumines the sky, he stands repelling the dark
hosts of Mara."
The Fourth treatise contains 112
suttas divided into four nipatas with verses and prose mixed, one
supplementing the other. Although the collection contains the
inspired sayings of the Buddha as in Udana, each passage is
preceded by the phrase 'Iti vuttam Bhagavata', 'thus was said by
the Buddha,' and reads like a personal note book in which are
recorded short pithy sayings of the Buddha.
The division into nipatas instead
of vaggas denotes that the collection is classified in ascending
numerical order of the categories of the dhammas in the nipatas
of the Anguttara. Thus in Ekaka Nipata are passages dealing with
single items of the dhamma:
"Bhikkhus, abandon craving; I
guarantee attainment to the stage of an Anagami. if you abandon
craving." In Duka Nipata, each passage deals with units of
two items of the dhamma: There are two forms of Nibbana dhatu,
namely, Sa-upadisesa Nibbana dhatu, with the five khandhas still
remaining, and Anupadisesa Nibbana dhatu, without any khandha
As well-known as Dhammapada, Sutta
Nipata is also a work in verse with occasional introductions in
prose. It is divided into five vaggas: (i) Uraga vagga of 12
suttas; (ii) Cula Vagga of 14 suttas; (iii) Maha Vagga of 12
suttas; (iv) Atthaka Vagga of 16 suttas and (v) Parayana Vagga of
In the twelve suttas of the Uraga
Vagga are found some important teachings of the Buddha which rnay
be practised in the course of one's daily life:
"True friends are rare to
come by these days; a show of friendship very often hides
some private ends. Man's mind is defiled by self-interest.
So, becoming disillusioned, roam alone like a
"Not by birth does one
become an outcast, not by birth does one become a Brahmana;"
"By one's action one
becomes an outcast, by one's action one becomes a brahmana."
"As a mother even with
her life protects her only child, so let one cultivate
immeasurable loving-kindness towards all living beings."
Parayana Vagga deals with sixteen
questions asked by sixteen Brahmin youths while the Buddha is
staying at Pasanaka Shrine in the country of Magadha. The Buddha
gives his answers to each of the questions asked by the youths.
Knowing the meaning of each question and of the answers given by
the Buddha, if one practises the Dhamma as instructed in this
sutta, one can surely reach the Other Shore, which is free from
ageing and death.
The Dhamma in this sutta is known
as Parayana because it leads to the Other Shore, Nibbana.
Vimana means mansion. Here it
refers to celestial mansions gained by beings who have done acts
of merit. In this text are eighty five verses grouped in seven
vaggas; in the first four vaggas, celestial females give an
account of what acts of merit they have done in previous
existences as human being and how they are reborn in deva realm
where magnificent mansions await their appearance. In the last
three vaggas, the celestial males tell their stories.
The Venerable Maha Moggallana who
can visit the deva realm brings back these stories as told him by
the deva concerned and recounts them to the Buddha who confirms
the stories by supplying more background details to them. These
discourses are given with a view to bring out the fact that the
human world offers plenty of opportunities for performing
meritorious acts. The other objective for such discourses is to
refute the wrong views of those who believe that nothing exists
after this life (the annihilationists) and those who maintain
that there is no resultant effect to any action.
Of the eighty five stories
described, five stories concern those who have been reborn in
deva world having developed themselves to the stage of Sotapanna
in their previous existences; two stories on those who have made
obeisance to the Buddha with clasped hands; one on those who had
expressed words of jubilation at the ceremony of building a
monastery for the Samgha; two stories on those who had observed
the moral precepts; two stories on those who had observed the
precepts and given alms; and the rest deal with those who have
been reborn in the deva world as the wholesome result of giving
The vivid accounts of the lives of
the devas in various deva abodes serve to show clearly that the
higher beings are not immortals, nor creators, but are also
evolved, conditioned by the results of their previous meritorious
deeds; that they too are subject to the laws of anicca, dukkha
and anatta and have to strive themselves to achieve the deathless
state of Nibbana.
(7) Peta Vatthu
"The stories of "petas"
are graphic accounts of the miserable states of beings who have
been reborn in unhappy existences as a consequence of their evil
deeds. There are fifty one stories, divided into four vaggas,
describing the life of misery of' the evil doers, in direct
contrast to the magnificent life of the devas.
Emphasis is again laid on the
beneficial effects of giving; whereas envy, jealousy,
miserliness, greed and wrong views are shown to be the causes for
appearance in the unhappy state of petas. The chief suffering in
this state is dire lack of food, clothing and dwelling for the
condemned being. A certain and immediate release from such
miseries can be given to the unfortunate being if his former
relatives perform meritorious deeds and share the merit with him.
In Tirokutapeta Vatthu, a detailed account is given on how King
Bimbisara brings relief to his former relatives who are
unfortunately suffering as petas by making generous offer of
food, clothing and dwelling places to the Buddha and his company
of bhikkhus and sharing the merit, thus accrued, to the petas who
have been his kith and kin in previous lives.
(8) The Thera
Gatha Pali and (9) The Theri Gatha Pali
These two treatises form a
compilation of delightful verses uttered by some two hundred and
sixty four theras and seventy three theris through sheer
exultation and joy that arise out of their religious devotion and
inspiration. These inspiring verses gush forth from the hearts of
bhikkhus and bhikkhunis after their attainment of Arahatship as
an announcement of their achievement and also as statement of
their effort which has led to their final enlightenment.
It may be learnt from these
jubilant verses how a trifling incident in life, a trivial
circumstance can become the starting point of spiritual effort
which culminates in supreme liberation. But for some of the
theras, the call has come early to them to forsake the homelife
and take to the life of a homeless recluse. Their struggle has
been hard because of the inner fight between the forces of good
and evil. They have had a good fight and they have won by dint of
resolution and ardent determination. The crippling bonds of
greed, hatred and ignorance have been broken asunder and they are
freed. In sheer exultation, they utter forth these inspiring
verses, proclaiming their freedom and victory. Some of these
theras reach the sublime height of poetic beauty when they
recount their solitary life in the quiet glades and groves of
forest, the beauteous nature that form their surrounding, and the
peace and calm that have facilitated their meditation.
Although the verses in the Theri
Gatha lack the poetic excellence and impassioned expression of
love of solitude that characterise the verses in the Thera Gatha,
they nevertheless reflect the great piety and unflinching
resolution with which the theris have struggled to reach the
goal. One distinguishing feature of the struggle of the theris is
that many of them receive the final impetus to seek solace in
holy life through emotional imbalance they have been subject to,
for example, loss of the dear ones, as in the case of Patacari,
or through intense personal suffering over the death of a beloved
son as suffered by Kisa Gotami.
Both the Thera Gatha and the Theri
Gatha provide us with shining, inspiring models of excellence, so
consoling and so uplifting, so human and true to life, leading us
on to the path of the holy life, stimulating us when our spirit
drops, our mind flags, and guiding us through internal conflicts
These gathas may be enjoyed simply
as beautiful poems with exquisite imagery and pleasing words or
they may be contemplated on as inspiring messages with deep
meaning to uplift the mind to the highest levels of spiritual
"Rain gods! my abode has a
roofing now for my comfortable living; it will shield me from the
onset of wind and storm. Rain god! Pour down to thy heart's
content; my mind is calm and unshakable, free from fetters. I
dwell striving strenuously with untiring zeal. Rain god! Pour
down to thy heart's content." (Verse 325)
The bhikkhu has now his
"abode" of the five khandhas well protected by 'the
roofing and walls' of sense restraints and panna. He lives thus
comfortably, well shielded from the rain and storm of lust,
craving and attachments. Undisturbed by the pouring rain, and
whirling wind of conceit, ignorance, hatred, he remains calm and
composed, unpolluted. Although he lived thus in security and
comfort of liberation and calm, he keeps alert and mindful, ever
ready to cope with any emergency that may arise through lack of
Birth-stories of the
These are stories of the previous
existences of Gotama Buddha, while he was as yet but a
Bodhisatta. The Jataka is an extensive work in verses
containing five hundred and forty seven stories or previous
existences as recounted by the Buddha, (usually referred to in
Burma as 550 stories). The treatise is divided into nipatas
according to the number of verses concerning each story; the one
verse stories are classified as Ekaka Nipata, the two verse
stories come under Duka Nipata etc. It is the commentary to the
verses which gives the complete birth-stories.
In these birth-stories are
embedded moral principles and practices which the Bodhisatta had
observed for self-development and perfection to attain Buddhahood.
This division of Khuddaka Nikaya
consists of two parts: Maha Niddesa, the major exposition which
is the commentary on the fourth vagga (Atthaka) of the Sutta
Nipata and Cula Niddesa, the minor exposition which is the
commentary on the fifth vagga (Parayana) and on the Khaggavisana
Sutta in the first vagga. Attributed to the Venerable Sariputta,
these exegetical works contain much material on the Abhidhamma
and constitute the earliest forms of commentaries, providing
evidence of commentarial tradition many centuries before the
Venerable Buddhaghosa appeared on the scene.
Patisambhida Magga Pali
This treatise, entitled the Path
of Analysis, is attributed to the Venerable Sariputta. Dealing
with salient teachings of the Buddha analytically in the style of
the Abhidhamma, it is divided into three main vaggas, namely,
Maha Vagga, Yuganaddha Vagga and Panna Vagga. Each vagga consists
of ten sub-groups, named kathas, such as Nana Kathas, Ditthi
The treatment of each subject
matter is very detailed and provides theoretical foundation for
the practice of the Path.
It is a biographical work
containing the life stories (past and present) of the Buddha and
his Arahat disciples. It is divided into two divisions: the
Therapadana giving the life stories of the Buddha, of forty one
Paccekabuddhas and of five hundred and fifty nine Arahats from
the Venerable Sariputta to the Venerable Ratthapala and
Theripadana with the life stories of forty theri Arahats from
Sumedha Theri to Pesala Theri.
Apadana here means a biography or
a life story of a particularly accomplished person, who has made
a firm resolution to strive for the goal he desires, and who has
ultimately achieved his goal, namely, Buddhahood for an
Enlightened One, Arahatship for his disciples. Whereas the Thera
Gatha and the Theri Gatha depict generally the triumphant moment
of achievements of the theras and theris, the Apadana describes
the up-hill work they have to undertake to reach the summit of
their ambition. The Gathas and the Apadanas supplement one
another to unfold the inspiring tales of hard struggles and final
History of the Buddhas
Buddhavamsa Pali gives a short
historical account of Gotama Buddha and of the twenty four
previous Buddhas who had prophesied his attainment of Buddhahood.
It consists of twenty nine sections in verse.
The first section gives an account
of how the Venerable Sariputta asks the Buddha when it was that
he first resolved to work for attainment of the Buddhahood and
what paramis (virtues towards perfection) he had fulfilled to
achieve his goal of Perfect Enlightenment. In the second section,
the Buddha describes how as Sumedha, the hermit, being inspired
by Dipankara Buddha, he makes the resolution for the attainment
of Buddhahood, and how the Buddha Dipankara gives the hermit
Sumedha his blessing, prophesying that Sumedha would become a
Buddha by the name of Gotama after a lapse of four asankheyya and
a hundred thousand kappas (world cycles).
From then onwards, the Bodhisatta
Sumedha keeps on practising the ten paramis namely, almas-giving,
morality, renunciation, wisdom, perseverance, forbearance,
truthfulness, determination, loving-kindness and equanimity. The
Buddha relates how he fulfils these paramis, existence after
existence, and how each of the twenty four Buddhas, who appeared
after Dipankara Buddha at different intervals of world cycles,
renewed the prophesy that he would become a Buddha by the name of Gotama.
In sections three to twenty-seven
are accounts of the twenty five Buddhas including Gotama Buddha,
giving details about each of them with regard to birth, status,
names of their parents, names of their wives and children, their
life-span, their way of renunciation, duration of their efforts
to attain Buddhahood, their teaching of the Dhammacakka Sutta in
the Migadayavana, the names of their Chief Disciples and their
chief lay disciples. Each section is closed with an account of
where the Buddhas pass away and how their relics are distributed.
In the twenty eighth section is
given the names of three Buddhas, namely, Tanhankara, Medhankara
and Saranankara who lived before Dipankara Buddha at different
intervals of the same world cycle. The names of other Buddhas (to
Gotama Buddha) are also enumerated together with the name of the
kappas in which they have appeared. Finally there is the prophesy
by the Buddha that Metteyya Buddha would arise after him in this
The last section gives an account
of how the Buddha's relics are distributed and where they are
This treatise contains thirty five
stories of the Buddha's previous lives retold at the request of
the Venerable Sariputta . Whereas the Jataka is concerned with
the Buddha's previous existences from the time of Sumedha, the
hermit, till he becomes Gotama Buddha, Cariya Pitaka deals only
with thirty five of the existences of the Bodhisattas in this
last world cycle. The Venerable Sariputta, a object in making the
request is to bring out into bold relief the indomitable will,
the supreme effort, the peerless sacrifice with which the
Bodhisatta conducts himself in fulfilment of the ten paramis
(virtues towards Perfection).
The Bodhisatta has, throughout
innumerable ages, fulfilled the ten paramis for countless number
of times. Cariya Pitakas records such performances in thirty-five
existences, selecting seven out of the ten paramis. and recounts
how each parami is accomplished in each of these existences. Ten
stories in the first vagga are concerned with accumulation of
virtues in alms-giving, the second vagga has ten stories on the
practice of morality and the last vagga mentions fifteen stories,
five of them dealing with renunciation, one with firm
determination, six with truthfulness, two with loving-kindness
and one with equanimity.
Netti and (17) Petakopadesa
The two small works, Netti, made
up of seven chapters, and Petakopadesa, made up of eight
chapters, are different from the other books of the Tipitaka
because they are exegetical and methodological in nature.
Milindapanha Pali is the last of
the books which constitute Khuddaka Nikaya. It records the
questions asked by King Milinda and the answers given by the
Venerable Nagasena some five hundred years after the Parinibbana
of the Buddha. King Milinda was Yonaka (Graeco-Bactrian) ruler of
Sagala. He was very learned and highly skilled in the art of
debating. The Venerable Nagasena, a fully accomplished Arahat,
was on a visit to Sagala at the request of the Samgha.
King Milinda, who wanted to have
some points on the Dhamma clarified, asked the Venerable Nagasena
abstruse questions concerning the nature of men, his survival
after death, and other doctrinal aspects of the Dhamma. The
Venerable Nagasena gave him satisfactory replies on each question
asked. These erudite questions and answers on the Teaching of the
Buddha are compiled into the book known as the Milindapanha Pali.