The middle-length discourses of the Buddha
This book contains an integral translation of the first part of the Majjhima-Nikaya (MN). The Majjhima-Nikaya is traditionally seen as the second set (nikaya) in the Sutta-Pitaka, after the Digha-NIkaya. The Sutta-Pitaka is the ‘basket’ of discourses (sutta’s) atributed to the historical Buddha and his main disciples.
The Sutta-Pitaka is part of the Pali-Canon together with the Vinaya-Pitaka (the ‘basket’ of the monastic rules) and the Abhidhamma-Pitaka (the ‘basket’ with detailed scholastic presentations of doctrinal material). Together they form the body of sacred texts of Theravada Buddhism. The Pali-Canon or Tipitaka (‘three baskets’) contain the oldest extant scriptures of the Buddhist tradition.
The Majjhima-Nikaya contains 152 “middle-length discourses” of the Buddha and is primarily aimed at the community of Buddhists and particularly introduces new converts to the fundamentals of the Teaching and Buddhist practice. This part (Mulapannasa) contains the first fifty discourses (suttas 1-50), which are divided into five chapters (vaggas) of ten. Various topics are covered. A number of teachings is biographical and provides information about the life-course of the Buddha, some of which can befound nowhere else in the Canon. For instance the Ariyapariyesana-Sutta (MN 26): this sutta tells of the Buddha’s quest for enlightenment and of the conversion of the first five disciples after his awakening. We are also introduced to his first two teachers, Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, whom he left, unsatisfied by their teachings.
The translation is preceded by a general introduction to early Buddhism, which familiarizes the reader with the life-story of the Buddha and the main elements of his Teaching, including the traditional forms of meditation.