Dharma Pearls

Translating Classical Buddhism to Modern English

The Long Discourses

(Skt. Dīrgha Āgama; Ch. 長阿含經)

The Chinese translation of The Long Discourses is a collection of important early Buddhist sutras that’s roughly equivalent to the Pali canon’s Dīgha Nikāya. Scholars believe from internal and other evidence that it represents a translation from the Indian Dharmaguptaka canon, which is closely related to the Pali canon in scriptural lineage. It would explain, among other things, the large amount of overlap that we see between the two collections.

Below is a list of the English translations currently available with brief synopses of their contents. Pali equivalents are listed in () and the sourcetext is indicated in [].

DĀ 11 Increasing One by One [T 1.57b25]

This mātṛkā sutra is an abbreviated version of the Going Up to Ten Sutra (Skt. Daśottara, P. Dasuttara), listing five sets of items (instead of ten) that number from one to ten items each.

DĀ 12 Three Categories [T 1.59b14]

This is another mātṛkā sutra that lists three sets of items that ascend from one to ten items each. The three categories are things that lead to bad destinies, things that lead to good destinies, and things that lead to Nirvāṇa.

DĀ 21 Brahmā’s Shaking (∥ DN 1) [T 1.88b13]

A pair of ascetics disagree in their assessment of the Buddha, one praising him while the other criticizes him. When the Buddha overhears the monks discussing this, he joins them and gives them a teaching on why they shouldn’t react to criticism or praise. In the process, he outlines 62 wrong views that non-Buddhists create when they speculate about the past and future.

DĀ 22 Śroṇatāṇḍya (∥ DN 4) [T 1.94a18]

When the people of Campā hear that the Buddha and his disciples have arrived, they all decide to go and pay their respects to him. The local lord, a priest named Śroṇatāṇḍya decided to go with them. After a debate with a group of priests over the wisdom of doing this, Śroṇatāṇḍya talks with the Buddha, who questions him about which qualities are essential to being a priest. They agree that precepts and wisdom are essential to being a priest or a monk.

DĀ 27 The Fruits of the Ascetics (∥ DN 2) [T 1.107a20]

King Ajātaśatru decides to visit the Buddha on an auspicious full moon night with his brother Jīvaka. He asks the Buddha what the fruits of the ascetic life are in the present and relates the various responses he received from the six heretical teachers.

DĀ 29 Lohitya (∥ DN 12) [T 1.112c20]

A priestly lord named Lohitya hears that the famous mendicant teacher Gautama has stopped nearby. He decides to meet the Buddha, so he invites him to share a meal at his residence. When the Buddha gives him an unrequested Dharma teaching, however, Lothitya is offended and forms a wrong view that religious teachers shouldn’t teach others for their own gain.