Talk:Pāli Canon

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Other views on the origins of the Pali Canon[edit]

This is to suggest that the excellent section on attribution due to scholars should mention two other views, at the far extremes of the debate.

First, if I understand it right Carol Anderson in her book Pain and its Ending argues that even the four noble truths were introduced at a later date, and were not in the original sutras (in this I'm going by Lance Cousin's summary of her book as I don't have access to the complete book myself).

Her book is reviewed by Lance Cousins here: Lance Cousins critical review of Carol Anderson's book, in particular he says that she misunderstood some of the scholars she cited such as Norman, who according to Cousins just says that the four noble truths were expressed in a simpler form originally.

At the other extreme Prayudh Payutto - argues that the Pali Canon represents the teachings of the Buddha essentially unchanged apart from minor modifications - while also incorporating teachings that precede the Buddha, and that the later teachings were memorized by the Buddha's followers while he was still alive. His thesis is based on study of the processes of the first great council, and the methods for memorization used by the monks, which started during the Buddha's lifetime - and the capability of a few monks, to this day, to memorize the entire canon. For the details see The Pali Canon - What a Buddhist must know.

Perhaps other editors here might like to review these sources and include a sentence or two about their views in this section?

Also I wonder if it should also mention Stephen Batchelor's views, which are somewhat intermediate - he attributes teachings on the four noble truths to the Buddha, but not the teachings on karma if I understand it right, but I am not sure about the details there. Robert Walker (talk) 12:42, 13 January 2015 (UTC)[reply]

Other citations that could be added: "The Authenticity of the Early Buddhist Texts" by Bhikkhu Sujato and Bhikkhu Brahmali,a supplement to Volume 5 of the Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies. And The Oral Transmission of Early Buddhist Literature - Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies (Volume 27. No. 1 2004) by Alex Wynne Robert Walker (talk) 11:16, 22 January 2015 (UTC)[reply]
Have just edited my original comment slightly. Robert Walker (talk) 10:48, 14 May 2016 (UTC)[reply]

Carole Anderson[edit]

I have removed the following text;

"Carol Anderson in her book"Pain and its Ending"[1] argues that only the earliest of the textual layers in the canon date back to the time of the Buddha, and that nearly all of it including most of the central teachings, are a later development. This position was is criticized by Lance Cousins who says that she misunderstood some of the scholars she quoted.[2]"


  1. ^ Anderson, Carol. Pain and its Ending.
  2. ^ Cousins, Lance. "Critical review of Carol Anderson's book" (PDF).

This is not what Cousins says. He writes about Anderson interpretation of a comment by Norman:

"Much use is made here of an important article of K. R. Norman, in which he analyzes the exact linguistic form of passages referring to the four truths, especially in the Dhammacakkapavattana-sutta, traditionally the first sermon of the Buddha. Here and elsewhere, Anderson attributes to Norman the view that "the four truths were probably added after the earliest version of this sutta" (p. 68; cf. p. 20 and p. 149). I do not think this is what he says" (p.2)

This is what Cousins further writes (I'll leave out the elaborate argumentation):

"Norman's arguments do accord with the view (of many scholars) that this discourse was identified as the first sermon of the Buddha only at a later date. That, of course, is possible. It needs to be noted, however, that Norman's arguments are not in fact quite conclusive." (p.3)
"Despite this long digression I do not think that this misunderstanding of Norman's position critically affects Anderson's thesis. Even if these arguments do not prove that the four truths are definitely a later insertion in the Dhammacakkapavattana-sutta, it is certainly possible to take the position that the sutta itself is relatively late." P.3)

Nothing about the statement in the first sentence that I removed. The criticism of Cousins is about Anderson's interpretation of Norman's argumentation about the four truths as a later interpolation into the Dhammacakkapavattana-sutta. And even if Cousins is correct here, he still states "I do not think that this misunderstanding of Norman's position critically affects Anderson's thesis." And, remarkably, Cousins also states that the whole Dhammacakkapavattana-sutta could be from a later date. This far removed from the second sentence that I removed. Joshua Jonathan -Let's talk! 11:00, 29 April 2017 (UTC)[reply]

The section "use of Brahmanical devices" must be removed from this article.[edit]

In the section, it claims that Buddha 'praised' agnihotra. That is completely false. This article refutes such claims : Bodhiupasaka (talk) 13:05, 22 April 2020 (UTC)[reply]

The section wasn't doing a great job of discussing the source, but we can't really use a stack exchange answer as a source either. See WP:V. I've rewritten the section to include more material from the Shults article and provide more context. --Spasemunki (talk) 23:13, 22 April 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Ironically in Sundarika Sutta , which is mentioned in the subsection Buddha actually rejected Vedic rituals or spells:"“Food enchanted by a spell isn’t fit for me to eat. That’s not the way of those who see, brahmin. The Buddhas reject things enchanted with spells. Since nature is real, brahmin, that’s how they live." Bodhiupasaka (talk) 05:10, 23 April 2020 (UTC)[reply]
Instead of "Use of Brahmanical devices", it should be "Rejection of Brahmanical devices". Bodhiupasaka (talk) 05:11, 23 April 2020 (UTC)[reply]
The source is about the use of Brahmanic terminology in ways that redefine or critique it. Devices is a bit vague so I've changed it. ::::--Spasemunki (talk) 05:15, 23 April 2020 (UTC)[reply]

Why not rename the section as "repurposing of Brahmanical language " ? Is this section even necessary ? I believe someone with vested interests tacitly added that section, claiming that Buddha 'praised' Vedic rituals such as Agnihotra, when in fact Buddha rejected them as stated in Sundarika Sutta of Pali Canon which is the same Buddhist text that this article ironically covers. Bodhiupasaka (talk) 06:27, 26 April 2020 (UTC)[reply]

That name seems reasonable. The section is necessary because the use of Brahmanical language is a significant feature of the Pali texts that has been noted by numerous scholars. Whatever the intention was of whoever added the section, the source it cites is a legitimate one and it's a feature of early Buddhist literature that should be included in the article. --Spasemunki (talk) 06:36, 26 April 2020 (UTC)[reply]