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Khuddaka Nikāya

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The Khuddaka Nikāya is the fifth part of the Sutta Piṭaka, the second division of the Tipiṭaka, the sacred scriptures of Buddhism. The word khuddaka means short or minor and this part contains all the Books that could not be conveniently fitted into the other four nikāyas. There are 15 Books in the Khuddaka Nikāya, the most important being the Dhammapada, the Udāna, the Itivuttaka, the Sutta Nipāta, the Theragāthā, the Therigāthā and the Jātaka. The other eight Books were written later and are of little significance for a deeper understanding of The Buddha’s original teachings.

 The Khuddaka Nikaya (The Sanskrit Kshudraka meaning small becomes Khuddaka in Pali and Nikaya is collection in either language. -nikāya; "Minor Collection") is the last of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that compose the Pali Tipitaka, the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism. This nikaya consists of fifteen (Thailand), seventeen (Sri Lanka), or eighteen books (Burma) in different editions on various topics attributed to the Buddha and his chief disciples.

Professor Hirakawa Akira has stated that the Khuddaka Nikaya represent a stage in the development of the Pali Canon / Agamas in which new material was not added any more to the rest of the Sutta Pitaka, but was added to a Khuddaka Pitaka instead. This Khuddaka Pitaka was the repository for materials that were left out of the four Agamas/Nikayas (the Digha Nikaya, Majjhima Nikaya, Samyutta Nikaya and Anguttara Nikaya) and thus included both early and late texts. Some of the schools that included a Khuddaka Pitaka in their canons were the Mahisasaka, Dharmaguptaka and Mahasanghika. The Khuddaka Nikaya of the Theravada school is the only extant example of such a Khuddaka Pitaka.

This nikaya contains some or all of the following texts:


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    Nettipakarana or Netti (included in Burmese and Sinhalese editions, but not in Thai edition)
    Petakopadesa (included in Burmese and Sinhalese editions, but not in Thai edition)
    Milindapanha (included in Burmese edition, but not in Sinhalese and Thai editions)

The introduction to the Sumangalavilasini, the commentary on the Digha Nikaya compiled in the fourth or fifth century by Buddhaghosa on the basis of earlier commentaries that no longer survive, says that the reciters of the Digha listed 2-12 in this nikaya, while the reciters of the Majjhima Nikaya listed 2-15. Later, it gives a listing of the contents of the Canon also found in the introductions to the commentaries on the Vinaya and Abhidhamma Pitakas, which gives 1-15 for this nikaya, though it also includes an alternative classification in which the Vinaya and Abhidhamma are also included in this nikaya, so that the five nikayas are a classification of the whole Canon, not just the Sutta Pitaka. Scholars conclude on the basis of these lists that 13-15 were added later, and 1 later still.

Both surviving subcommentaries on the passage about reciters explain the apparent difference between the reciters as being, not a substantive disagreement on the contents of the Canon, but merely a nominal one on its classification. Thus they say for example that the Digha reciters did regard 15 as canonical but counted it as part of 10 instead of a separate book. Similarly, the more recent subcommentary, compiled by the head of the Burmese sangha about two centuries ago, says that 16 and 17 were counted as part of 11 and/or

The full list of 18 books are included in the inscriptions approved by the Burmese Fifth Council and in the printed edition of the text recited at the Sixth Council.
Dating the books of the Khuddaka Nikaya

Oliver Abeynayake has the following to say on the dating of the various books in the Khuddaka Nikaya:

    ‘The Khuddaka Nikaya can easily be divided into two strata, one being early and the other late. The texts Sutta Nipata, Itivuttaka, Dhammapada, Therigatha (Theragatha), Udana and Jataka belong to the early stratum. The texts Khuddakapatha, Vimanavatthu, Petavatthu, Niddesa, Patisambhida, Apadana, Buddhavamsa and Cariyapitaka can be categorized in the later stratum.’


The following translations include material from at least two books of the Khuddaka Nikaya. For translations of individual books, see the separate articles.

    Psalms of the Early Buddhists, 9 & 8 tr C. A. F. Rhys Davids, Pali Text Society , Bristol; originally published separately
    Minor Anthologies of the Pali Canon, 1931–75, 4 volumes, Pali Text Society, Bristol; translations of 2, 1, 3, 4, 14, 15, 6, 7
    The Udana and the Itivuttaka, tr John D. Ireland, Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka; originally published separately

A Textual and Historical Analysis of the Khuddaka Nikaya, O. Abhayanayake,1984.