A new translation of the Digha Nikaya, a collection of thirty-four long discourses given by the Buddha.
The Digha Nikaya consists of:
- Silakkhanda Vagga (division concerning morality)
- Maha Vagga (the large division)
- Pathika Vagga (the division beginning with the discourse on Pathika, the naked ascetic)
The Silakkhanda Vagga contains thirteen suttas which deal extensively with various types of morality, namely, minor morality, basic morality applicable to all; middle morality, and major morality which are mostly practiced by samanas and brahmanas. It also discusses the wrong views then prevalent as well as brahmin views of sacrifice and caste, and various religious practices such as extreme self-mortification.
The ten suttas in the Maha Vagga division are some of the most important of the Tipitaka, dealing with historical and biographical aspects as well as the doctrinal aspects of Buddhism. The most famous sutta is the Mahaparinibbana Sutta which gives an account of the last days and the passing away of the Buddha and the distribution of his relics. Mahapadana Sutta deals with brief accounts of the last seven buddhas and the life story of the Vipassi Buddha. Doctrinally important are the two suttas: the Mahanidana Sutta, which explains the chain of cause and effect, and the Mahasatipatthana Sutta, which deals with the four methods of steadfast mindfulness and practical aspects of Buddhist meditation.
The third division of the Digha Nikaya, the Pathika Vagga is made up of eleven shorter discourses of a miscellaneous nature. They deal with the Buddha's rejection of wrong and severe asceticism practiced by followers of many sects. They deal also with the periodical evolution and dissolution of the universe, the accounts of universal monarchs and the thirty-two physiognomic characteristics of a great man. There is one discourse, Singala Sutta, addressed to a young brahmin showing the duties to be performed by members of human society. The last two suttas, Sangiti and Dsasuttara, are discourses given by the Venerable Sariputta and they contain lists of doctrinal terms classified according to subject matter and numerical units. The style of their composition is different from the other nine suttas of the division.
These suttas reveal the gentleness, compassion, power and penetrating wisdom of the Buddha. Included are teachings on mindfulness (Mahasatipatthana sutta); on morality, concentration and wisdom (Subha sutta); on dependent origination (Mahanidrana sutta); on the roots and causes of wrong views (Brahmajala sutta); and a long description of Buddha's last days (Mahaparinibbana sutta).
"Dr Walshe's .... fluent, readable style makes these scriptures highly accessible to readers put off by the ponderous and sometimes archaic renderings of more academic translations" Bhikkhu Bodhi.