Majjhima Nikaya

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The Majjhima Nikaya (-nikāya; "Collection of Middle-length Discourses") is a Buddhist scripture, the second of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that compose the Pali Tipitaka of Theravada Buddhism. Composed between 3rd century BCE - 2nd century CE.[1] This nikaya consists of 152 discourses attributed to the Buddha and his chief disciples.[2]

The Majjhima Nikaya corresponds to the Madhyama Āgama found in the Sutra Pitikas of various Sanskritic early Buddhist schools, fragments of which survive in Sanskrit and in Tibetan translation. A complete Chinese translation from the Sarvāstivādin recension appears in the Chinese Buddhist canon, where it is known as the Zhōng Ahánjīng (中阿含經). The Madhyama Āgama of the Sarvāstivāda school contains 222 sūtras, in contrast to the 152 suttas in the Pāli Majjhima Nikāya.[3]


  • Bhikkhu Nanamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi (trans.), The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya, 1995, Somerville: Wisdom Publications ISBN 0-86171-072-X.
  • Mahapandit Rahul Sankrityayan had translated Majjhima Nikaya from Prakrit to Hindi.[4]
  • Lord Chalmers, trans. (1898-1926), Further Dialogues of the Buddha, 1926–7, vol.1, vol. 2, London: Pali Text Society. Reprint: Ann Arbor: Books on Demand, University of Michigan.
  • I.B. Horner (trans.), The Book of Middle Length Sayings, 1954–9, 3 volumes, Bristol: Pali Text Society.
  • David W. Evans (trans.), Discourses of Gotama Buddha: Middle Collection, 1991, Janus Pubns. "Translation in an abridged form ... just about one third the size of Horner's translation, but with well over 90% of the significant content"

In a review of this most recent translation, L. S. Cousins (before getting down to details) makes various general criticisms:

  • the translation does not make clear what Pali text it is translating
  • being largely the work of Nanamoli, who died in 1960, it does not take much account of recent scholarship
  • in order to fit in one volume it cuts a lot of repetitions, thus altering the emphases of the text
  • it tends to follow traditional commentarial interpretations too uncritically
  • Bodhi has undone improvements Nanamoli was trying to make before he died, to restore "standard" translations of terminology. Cousins says that these translations (or some) are "quite unacceptable" and "promulgate widespread misunderstandings", and that Nanamoli understood this. Cousins says that "what is needed is much more creativity and variety" in translation to try better to convey early Buddhist concepts

Nevertheless, Cousins judges the translation a valuable contribution.


  • A Treasury of the Buddha's Words, tr Nanamoli, revised Khantipalo, Bangkok; later revised & expanded to give MLDB above
  • Twenty-Five Suttas from Mula-Pannasa, Burma Pitaka Association, Rangoon, 1986?; reprinted Sri Satguru, Delhi
  • Twenty-Five Suttas from Majjhima-Pannasa, Myanmar Pitaka Association, Rangoon, 1987; reprinted Sri Satguru, DElhi
  • Twenty-Five Suttas from Upari-Pannasa, Myanmar Pitaka Association, Rangoon, 1988?; reprinted Sri Satguru, Delhi

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Upinder Singh. A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century. Pearson. p. 25. 
  2. ^ A version of the Pali original is available in Gotama, Buddha (2012). Majjhima Nikaya: The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. ISBN 978-1478369622.  ISBN 1478369620
  3. ^ A Dictionary of Buddhism, by Damien Keown, Oxford University Press: 2004
  4. ^ Sharma, R.S. (2009). Rethinking India's Past. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-569787-2. 

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