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Vol. 1 - OUT OF PRINT.
The Minor Anthologies Vol 1 is a translation of the Dhammapada and the Khuddakapatha done by Mrs Rhys Davids. The PTS Council has decided to stop publishing the translation as it was full of errors. The alternative translations of the Dhammapada (Word of the Doctrine) and the Khuddakapatha (Minor Readings & the Illustrator of the Ultimate Meaning) are newer, better translations, but they are not part of the Minor Anthologies Set. You can order volumes separately: The Word of the Doctrine (Dhammapada) and Minor Readings and the Illustrator of the ultimate meaning
Pali text included with the English.
The Dhammapda is a collection of the Buddha's words considered basic and essential principles of the Buddha's teaching. It consists of 423 verses arranged according to the topics in twenty-six vaggas or chapters. The Dhammapada describes the path which a wayfarer should follow. It states that all conditioned things are transitory and impermanent; that all conditioned things are subject to suffering; and that all things (dhammas) are insubstantial, incapable of being called one's own. When one sees the nature of things with Vipassana insight, one becomes disillusioned with the charms and attractions of the five aggregates. Such disillusionment constitutes the path of purity (nibbana).
The Khuddakapatha is a collection of nine formulae and suttas which are arranged in such a way as to form a continuous theme, demonstrating the practice of the holy life. It includes how a person accepts the Buddha's teaching by taking refuge in the Three Gems and then how he observes the ten precepts for moral purification. Next he meditates on the 32 constituents of the body, to develop non-attachment. He is shown next the virtues and merits of giving and how one handicaps oneself by not performing acts of merit. In the meanwhile he safeguards himself by reciting the Mangala Sutta and provides protection to others by reciting the Ratana sutta. Finally, he develops loving-kindness towards all beings, thereby keeping himself safe from harm. At the same time he achieves jhana concentration which will eventually lead him to reach the goal of spiritual life, nibbana, by means of knowledge of insight and the path.
Vol. 2 - Pali Text Society translation, by F.L. Woodward, of Udana and Itivuttaka, with an introduction by Mrs. Rhys Davids.
An udana is an utterance mostly in verse form, inspired by a particularly intense emotion. This treatise is a collection of eighty joyful utterances made by the Buddha on unique occasions of sheer bliss; each udana in verse is accompanied by an account in prose of the circumstances that led to its being uttered.
In the first watch of the night, when the principle of the origin of the whole mass of suffering was thoroughly grasped in a detailed manner in the order of arising, the Buddha uttered this first stanza of joy:
"When the real nature of things becomes clear to the ardently meditating recluse, then all his doubts vanish, because he understands what that nature is as well as its cause."
-Excerpt from U Ko Lay's Essence of Tipitaka.
The fourth treatise of the Khuddaka Nikaya, the Itivuttaka, contains 112 suttas divided into four nipatas with verses and prose mixed, one supplementing the other. Although the collections contain the inspired sayings of the Buddha as in Udana, each passage is preceded by the phrase, "iti vuttam bhagavata" ("thus was said by the Buddha"), and reads like a personal notebook in which are recorded short pithy sayings of the Buddha.
The division into nipatas instead of vaggas denotes that the collection is classified in ascending numerical order of the categories of the Dhamma as in the nipatas of the Anguttara.
From "The Twos, Itivuttaka" (p135):
"A mortal having these two things,Habit that's good and view that's good,When body breaks up, strong in wisdom,Doth rise up in the heaven world."
Vol. 3 - Buddhavamsa gives a short historical account of Gotama Buddha and of the twenty-four 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 Sariputta asks the Buddha when it was that he first resolved to work for the attainment of buddhahood and what paramis (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 to become a buddha, 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 asankheyyas and a hundred thousand kappas (world cycles).
From then onwards, the bodhisatta Sumedha keeps on practising the ten paramis namely: alms-giving, morality, renunciation, wisdom, perserverance, tolerance, truthfulness, determination, loving-kindess and equanimity. Buddha relates how he fulfills these paramis, 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 lifespan, their way of renunciation, duration of their efforts to Buddhahood, their teaching of the Dhammacakka Sutta in the Migadayayana, the names of their chief disciples and their chief lay disciples. Each section closes with an account of where the Buddhas pass away and how their relics are distributed.
In the twenty-eighth section is given the names of three Buddhas who lived before Dipankara 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 a prophesy by the Buddha that Metteyya Buddha would arise after him in this world.
The last section gives an account of how the Buddha's relics are distributed and where they are preserved.
Cariyapitaka contains thirty-five stories of the Buddha's previous lives retold at the request of the Venerable Sariputta. Whereas the Jataka is concerned with Buddha's previous existences from the time of Sumedha, the hermit, till he became Gotama Buddha, Cariyapitaka deals only with thirty-five of the existences of the bodhisatta in this last world cycle. The Venerable Sariputta's object in making the request is to highlight the indomitable will, the supreme effort, the peerless sacrifice with which the bodhisatta conducts himself in fulfillment of the ten paramis (virtues towards perfection).
The bodhisatta has, throughout innumerable ages, fulfilled the ten paramis for a countless number of times. Cariyapitaka records such performances in thirty-five existences, selecting seven out of the ten paramis, and recounts how each parami is accomplished in each of these existences. Ten stories in the first vagga are concerned with the accumulation of virtues in alms-giving, the second vagga has ten stories on the practice of morality and the last 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.
PTS Pali Buddhavamsa and Cariyapitaka
Vol. 4 - is the Pali Text Society English translation by I.B. Horner, with commentarial excerpts, of Vimanavatthu (Stories of the Mansions); & translation by H.S. Gehman of Petavatthu (Stories of the Departed). These books are found in the Khuddaka-nikaya.
Vimana means mansion. Here it refers to celestial mansions gained by beings who have done acts of merit. In this text are eighty-five verses grouped in seven vaggas. In the first four vaggas, celestial females give an account of the acts of merit they have performed in previous existences as human beings and of their rebirth in deva realms where magnificent mansions await their appearance. In the last three vaggas the celestial males tell their stories.
The Venerable Maha Mogallana, who could visit the deva realm, brought back stories as told to him by the devas concerned and recounted them to the Buddha who confirmed the stories by supplying more background details to them. These discourses were given to bring out the fact that the human world offers plenty of opportunities for performing meritorious acts. The objective for such discourses was to refute the wrong view of those who believe that nothing exists after this life (the annihilationists) and those who maintain that there is no resultant effect to any action.
The vivid accounts of the lives of the devas in various deva abodes serve to show clearly that the higher beings are not immortals, nor creators, but are also evolved conditioned by the result of their previous meritorious deeds. They too are subject to the laws of annica, dukka and anatta and have to strive themselves to achieve the deathless state of nibbana.
The stories of petas are graphic accounts of the miserable beings who have been reborn in unhappy extistences as a consequence of their evil deeds. There are fifty-one stories divided into four vaggas, describing the life of misery of the evil-doers, in direct contrast to the magnificent life of the devas.
Emphasis is again laid on the beneficial effects of giving; whereas envy, jealousy, miserliness, greed and wrong views are shown to be the causes of one's appearance in the unhappy world of the petas. The chief suffering in this state is shown as the severe lack of food, clothing and dwelling places for the condemned being. A certain and immediate release from such miseries can be given to the unfortunate being if his former relatives perform meritorious deeds and share their merits with him. In Tirokuttapeta Vatthu, a detailed account is given on how King Bimbisara brings relief to his former relatives who are unfortunately suffering as petas. King Bimbisara does this by making generous offerings of food, clothing and dwelling places to the Buddha and his company of bhikkhus and sharing the merit thus accrued with the petas who have been his kin in previous lives.
—Excerpted from U Ko Lay's Essence of Tipitaka