Gotama the Buddha, who lived the life of a wandering ascetic in northern India during the fifth century B.C.E., is looked to as the founder of one of the world’s major religions. One of the main sources for knowledge of his teachings is the four Nikayas or collections of his sayings.
Written in Pali, an ancient Indian language closely related to Sanskrit, the Nikayas are among the oldest Buddhist texts and consist of more than one and a half million words.
This new translation offers a selection of the Buddha’s most important sayings reflecting the full variety of material contained in the Nikayas: the central themes of the Buddha’s teaching (his biography, philosophical discourse, instruction on morality, meditation, and the spiritual life) and the range of literary style (myth, dialogue, narrative, short sayings, verse).
Click on the links below to hear Rupert Gethin of the Centre for Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol, who edited and translated this new collection, introduce and read from The Sayings of the Buddha
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Introducing The Sayings of the Buddha
- Unlike the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim traditions, there’s no single cannon of Buddhist scriptures, so where and when did the ancient Pali texts which make up The Sayings of the Buddha originate?
Rupert Gethin discusses their origins [4:07]
- What is the relationship between these ancient Pali texts and the Indian ascetic who lived in the fifth century BCE and who came to be known as the Buddha?
Learn more about the historical Buddha [3:05]
- The texts present the Buddhist understanding of what it means to follow the spiritual path.
The teachings of the Buddha [1:31]
Reading the Sayings