Khuddaka Nikāya - Books 10-18


(10) Jātaka Pāḷi - Birth-stories of the Buddha

These are stories of the previous existences of Gotama Buddha, while he was as yet but a Bodhisatta.

The Jātaka is an extensive work in verses containing five hundred and forty-seven stories or previous existences as recounted by the Buddha, (usually referred to in Burma as 550 stories).

The treatise is divided into nipātas according to the number of verses concerning each story; the one verse stories are classified as Ekaka Nipāta, the two verse stories come under Duka Nipāta etc. It is the commentary to the verses which gives the complete birth-stories.

In these birth-stories are embedded moral principles and practices which the Bodhisatta had observed for self-development and perfection to attain Buddhahood.

(11) Niddesa Pāḷi

This division of Khuddaka Nikāya consists of two parts:

Maha Niddesa, the major exposition which is the commentary on the fourth vagga (Aṭṭhaka) of the Sutta Nipāta and

Cūḷa Niddesa, the minor exposition which is the commentary on the fifth vagga (Pārāyana) and on the Khaggavisāṇa Sutta in the first vagga.

Attributed to the Venerable Sāriputta, these exegetical works contain much material on the Abhidhamma and constitute the earliest forms of commentaries, providing evidence of commentarial tradition many centuries before the Venerable Buddhaghosa appeared on the scene.

(12) Paisabhidā Magga Pāḷi

This treatise, entitled the Path of Analysis, is attributed to the Venerable Sāriputta.

Dealing with salient teachings of the Buddha analytically in the style of the Abhidhamma, it is divided into three main vaggas, namely: Mahā Vagga, Yuganaddha Vagga and Paññā Vagga. Each Vagga consists of ten sub-groups, named kathās, such as Ñāṇa Kathā, Diṭṭhi Kathā etc.

The treatment of each subject matter is very detailed and provides theoretical foundation for the practice of the Path.

(13) Apadāna Pāḷi

It is a biographical work containing the life stories (past and present) of the Buddha and his Arahat disciples.

It is divided into two divisions: the Therāpadāna giving the life stories of the Buddha, of forty- one Paccekabuddhas and of five hundred and fifty-nine Arahats from the Venerable Sāriputta to the Venerable Raṭṭhapāla; and Therīpadāna with the life stories of forty therī Arahats from Sumedha Then to Pesalā Therī.

Apadāna here means a biography or a life story of a particularly accomplished person, who has made a firm resolution to strive for the goal he desires, and who has ultimately achieved his goal, namely, Buddhahood for an Enlightened One, Arahatship for his disciples.

Whereas the Thera Gāthā and the Therī Gāthā depict generally the triumphant moment of achievements of the theras and theris, the Apadāna describes the up-hill work they have to undertake to reach the summit of their ambition.

The Gāthās and the Apadānas supplement one another to unfold the inspiring tales of hard struggles and final conquests.

(14) Buddhavasa Pāḷi - History of the Buddhas

Buddhavaṁsa Pāḷi gives a short historical account of Gotama Buddha and of the twenty-four previous Buddhas who had prophesied his attainment of Buddhahood. It consists of twenty-nine sections in verse.

The first section gives an account of how the Venerable Sāriputta asks the Buddha when it was that he first resolved to work for attainment of the Buddhahood and what pāramīs (virtues towards perfection) he had fulfilled to achieve his goal of Perfect Enlightenment.

In the second section, the Buddha describes how as Sumedha the hermit, being inspired by Dipankara Buddha, he makes the resolution for the attainment of Buddhahood

and how the Buddha Dipankara gives the hermit Sumedha his blessing prophesying that Sumedha would become a Buddha by the name of Gotama after a lapse of four asakheyya and a hundred thousand kappas (world cycles).

From then onwards, the Bodhisatta Sumedha keeps on practising the ten pāramīs, namely:

alms-giving, morality renunciation, wisdom, perseverance, forbearance, truthfulness, determination, loving-kindness and equanimity.

The Buddha relates how he fulfils these pāramīs, existence after existence, and how each of the twenty-four Buddhas, who appeared after Dipankara Buddha at different intervals of world cycles, renewed the prophesy that he would become a Buddha by the name of Gotama.

In sections three to twenty-seven are accounts of the twenty-five Buddhas including Gotama Buddha, giving details about each of them

with regard to birth, status, names of their parents, names of their wives and children, their life-span, their way of renunciation, duration of their efforts to attain Buddhahood,

their teaching of the Dhammacakka Sutta in the Migadāyavana, the names of their Chief Disciples and their chief lay disciples.

Each section is closed with an account of where the Buddhas pass away and how their relics are distributed.

In the twenty-eighth section are given the names of three Buddhas, namely: Tahakara, Medhakara and Saraakara who lived before Dīpaṅkara Buddha at different intervals of the same world cycle.

The names of other Buddhas (up to Gotama Buddha) are also enumerated together with the name of the kappas in which they have appeared.

Finally there is the prophesy by the Buddha that Metteyya Buddha (Maitreya Buddha)would arise after him in this world.

The last section gives an account of how the Buddhas relics are distributed and where they are preserved.

(15) Cariyā Piṭaka

This treatise contains thirty-five stories of the Buddha's previous lives retold at the request of the Venerable Sāriputta.

Whereas the Jātaka is concerned with the Buddha's previous existences from the time of Sumedha, the hermit, till he becomes Gotama Buddha, Cariyā Piṭaka deals only with thirty-five of the existences of the Bodhisatta in this last world cycle.

The Venerable Sāriputta’s object in making the request is to bring out into bold relief the indomitable will, the supreme effort, the peerless sacrifice with which the Bodhisatta conducts himself in fulfilment of the ten pāramīs (virtues towards Perfection).

The Bodhisatta has, throughout innumerable ages, fulfilled the ten pāramīs for countless number of times.

Cariyā Piṭaka records such performances in thirty-five existences, selecting seven out of the ten pāramīs, and recounts how each pāramī is accomplished in each of these existences.

Ten stories in the first vagga are concerned with accumulation of virtues in alms-giving, the second vagga has ten stories on the practice of morality

and thelast vagga mentions fifteen stories, five of them dealing with renunciation, one with firm determination, six with truthfulness, two with loving-kindness and one with equanimity.

(16) Netti and (17) Peakopadesa

The two small works, Netti, made up of seven chapters, and Peṭakopadesa, made up of eight chapters, are different from the other books of the Tipiṭaka because they are exegetical and methodological in nature.

(18) Milindapañha Pāḷi

Milindapañha Pāḷi is the last of the books which constitute Khuddaka Nikāya.

It records the questions asked by King Milinda and the answers given by the Venerable Nāgasena some five hundred years after the Parinibbāna of the Buddha.

King Milinda was Yonaka (Greco- Bactrian) ruler of Sāgala. He was very learned and highly skilled in the art of debating. The Venerable Nāgasena, a fully accomplished Arahat, was on a visit to Sāgala at the request of the Sangha.

King Milinda, who wanted to have some points on the Dhamma clarified, asked the Venerable Nāgasena abstruse questions concerning the nature of man, his survival after death, and other doctrinal aspects of the Dhamma.

The Venerable Nāgasena gave him satisfactory replies on each question asked. These erudite questions and answers on the Teaching of the Buddha are compiled into the book known as the Milindapañha Pāḷi.