Khuddaka Nikāya | The Short Collection

  • Khuddakapāṭha This, the first book in the Khuddaka Nikāya (Collection of Short Discourses), appears to have been designed as a primer for novice monks and nuns. In nine short passages it covers the basic topics that one would need to know when beginning Buddhist monastic life; many of the passages also serve as useful introductions to Buddhist practice in general.
  • Dhammapada The Dhammapada, an anthology of verses attributed to the Buddha, has long been recognized as one of the masterpieces of early Buddhist literature.
  • Udāna As a genre of text, udāna means a style of narrative that developed in an effort to commit to memory the Buddha’s inspired exclamations, along with brief accounts of the events that inspired them.
  • Itivuttaka A collection of 112 short discourses, it takes its name from the statement at the beginning of each of its discourses: this (iti) was said (vuttaṁ) by the Blessed One. The collection as a whole is attributed to a laywoman named Khujjuttarā, who worked in the palace of King Udena of Kosambī as a servant to one of his queens, Sāmāvati. Because the Queen could not leave the palace to hear the Buddha’s discourses, Khujjuttarā went in her place, memorized what the Buddha said, and then returned to the palace to teach the Queen and her 500 ladies-in-waiting. For her efforts, the Buddha cited Khujjuttarā as the foremost of his laywomen disciples in terms of her learning. She was also an effective teacher: when the inner apartments of the palace later burned down, killing the Queen and her entourage, the Buddha commented (in Udāna 7:10) that all of the women had reached at least the first stage of awakening.
  • Sutta Nipāta The collection includes some of the most famous poems in the Pali Canon. It also contains two sets of poems that were apparently well-known in the Buddha’s time as deep expressions of advanced points of doctrine: the Aṭṭhaka Vagga, a set of sixteen poems on the theme of non-clinging, and the Pārāyana Vagga, a set of sixteen dialogues, with a prologue and epilogue, in which the Buddha provides succinct answers to questions posed to him by brahmans who appear to have been adept in concentration practice. In addition to these more well-known poems, the collection also contains many useful instructions of a highly practical nature, covering everything from the most basic standards of conduct to the most subtle issues of discernment.
  • Theragāthā This is an anthology consisting of 88 poems from the Theragāthā (Poems of the Elder Monks). It is the eighth text in the Khuddaka Nikāya. The Theragāthā contains a total of 264 poems, all attributed to early members of the monastic Saṅgha. Some of the poems are attributed to monks well-known from other parts of the Canon—such as Ānanda and Mahā Kassapa—whereas the majority are attributed to monks otherwise unknown. It is a landmark in the history of world literature. The Theragāthā contains the earliest extant descriptions extolling the beauties, not of domesticated nature, but of nature where it’s wild.
  • Therīgāthā This is an anthology consisting of 32 poems from the Therīgāthā (Poems of the Elder Nuns). It is the ninth text in the Khuddaka Nikāya. The Therīgāthā contains a total of 73 poems, all attributed to early members of the monastic Saṅgha. Some of the poems are attributed to nuns well-known from other parts of the Canon—such as Mahāpajāpatī Gotamī and Uppalavaṇṇā—whereas the majority are attributed to nuns otherwise unknown. It is a landmark in the history of world literature. The Therīgāthā is the earliest extant text depicting women’s spiritual experiences.