See also: Glossary of Pali & Buddhist Terms and the Index by Subject
The following abbreviations appear frequently throughout the pages of Access to Insight:
AN ..... Anguttara Nikaya
Throughout most of the pages at Access to Insight, references to DN, MN, Khp, and Iti are to discourse (sutta). References to Dhp are to verse. The references to Mv are to chapter, section, and sub-section. References to other texts are to section (either samyutta, nipata, or vagga) and discourse. Although authors of a few books in the Theravada Text Archives use slightly different abbreviations and sutta numbering conventions,[*] the system described above is the preferred one at Access to Insight.
Cv ..... Cullavagga
Dhp ..... Dhammapada
DhpA ..... Dhammapadatthakatha (commentary to the Dhammapada)
DN ..... Digha Nikaya
Iti ..... Itivuttaka
KN ..... Khuddaka Nikaya
Khp ..... Khuddakapatha
KhpA ..... Khuddakapathatthakatha (commentary to the Khuddakapatha)
Mv ..... Mahavagga
MN ..... Majjhima Nikaya
Nd ..... Niddesa
Sn ..... Sutta Nipata
SN ..... Samyutta Nikaya
Thag ..... Theragatha
Thig ..... Therigatha
Ud ..... Udana
BPS ..... Buddhist Publication Society (Sri Lanka)
Comm ..... Commentaries
Comy ..... Commentaries
PTS ..... Pali Text Society (UK)
Skt ..... Sanskrit
» ..... Indicates a hypertext link to another website
Because Pali has many ways of expressing the conjunction "and," Thanissaro Bhikkhu has chosen to make frequent use in his sutta translations of the ampersand (&) to join lists of words and short phrases, while using the word "and" to join long phrases and clauses.
Over the years students and scholars from around the world have used a bewildering variety of numbering schemes when referring to suttas and passages from the Pali Canon. This is particularly problematic in the Samyutta and Anguttara Nikayas. For example, one author may refer to "S.i.100", another to "S III:iii.5", another to "S 3:25", and yet another to "SN III.25", leaving the reader to wonder if these authors are, in fact, referring to the same sutta (they are: the Pabbatopama Sutta -- The Simile of the Mountains).
To help you decipher the many naming and numbering schemes you may encounter in your studies, here are some general rules of thumb:
The particular choice of punctuation is not important, as long as it is used consistently. For example, "SN III:25", "SN III,25", and "SN III.25" all refer to the same sutta.
- Interpreting the abbreviations is usually straightforward. Some authors and publishers use one letter for the Nikayas ("D", "M", etc.), while some use two ("DN", "MN", etc.). Confusion sometimes arises over the Samyutta Nikaya ("S" or "SN") and the Sutta Nipata ("Sn" or "Snp"). In general, if the "n" is lower-case, the author means "Sutta Nipata."
- A small roman numeral followed by an arabic number usually means the volume and page number, respectively, of the PTS romanized Pali edition. For example, "S.i.100" means "Samyutta Nikaya, first volume, page 100 of the PTS romanized Pali edition." This is a standard scheme used widely by Pali scholars who, even today, rely on the PTS edition of the Canon as their common reference point.
- When three numbers are present, they refer to the section (vagga), subsection (samyutta), and sutta number, respectively. For example, "S III:iii.5" means "Samyutta Nikaya, vagga three (III), samyutta three (iii), sutta number five." This scheme still appears in some books printed in Asia, but seems to be of diminishing popularity in the West.
- Two numbers -- a large roman numeral followed by an arabic numeral -- refer to the subsection (i.e., the samyutta) and sutta number, respectively. Thus "SN III.25" means "Samyutta Nikaya, samyutta number three, sutta number 25." This scheme -- like the preceding one -- is useful since it is independent of any particular print edition of the Canon, and is the method generally used at Access to Insight. Some authors avoid the use of roman numerals altogether, in which case this sutta might be cited as "S 3:25".
- A single number (always arabic) refers to the sutta number within the particular Nikaya or book. For example, "MN 36" refers to sutta number 36 within the Majjhima Nikaya. This method is used for the Digha and Majjhima Nikayas.
For a complete treatment of the abbreviations used in the Pali Canon, see the Pali Text Society's website.
Revised: 10 November 1999