Author: Translated from the Pali by John D. Ireland
Product Type: Softcover Book
Inspired Utterances of the Buddha & The Buddha’s Sayings
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Two short classics of the Pali Canon in one volume.
The Udāna, or “Inspired Utterances of the Buddha,” belongs to the Sutta Piṭaka of the Pali Canon. It is the third book of the Minor Collection (Khuddaka Nikāya), found between the Dhammapada and the Itivuttaka. The Minor (or Lesser) Collection, although it is actually quite bulky, is given this name because it is an assortment of miscellaneous texts most of which were not included in what are regarded as the four main collections (nikāya).
The Udāna consists of eighty discourses, mostly short, divided into eight sections or chapters (vagga). The title “Udāna” refers to the pronouncement, usually in verse, made at the end of each discourse and prefaced by the words: “Then, on realizing its significance, the Lord uttered on that occasion this inspired utterance”. Thus udāna means an inspired or solemn utterance spontaneously evoked, literally “breathed forth” (udānesi), by the understanding or realization (viditvā) of the significance of the situation or event that occasioned it. Here it is the Buddha who pronounces these utterances although others are sometimes so inspired (e.g., in 2.10 and 3.7).
The Itivuttaka is a collection of 112 short discourses of the Buddha in both prose and verse. The text belongs to the Pali Canon of the Theravāda school, being placed between the Udāna and the Sutta Nipāta. It was previously translated by F.L. Woodward and published together with his translation of the Udāna in Minor Anthologies of the Pali Canon, Vol. II (London, 1935).
According to the commentarial tradition, the suttas or discourses of the Itivuttaka were collected by the woman lay-disciple Khujjuttarā from sermons given by the Buddha while he was staying at Kosambī. Khujjuttarā was a servant of Sāmāvatī, the consort of King Udena. She had become a stream-enterer after meeting the Buddha and subsequently converted the women of the palace headed by Sámávatì to the teaching. She used to go regularly to listen to the Buddha and then later repeated what she had heard to the other women. The collection of these sayings became the Itivuttaka. It is said that the emphatic statements at the beginning and end of each of the suttas, reproduced here only in the first and last, were made by Khujjuttarā to stress that they were the Buddha’s words and not her own.
Whether or not this story is true, the Itivuttaka is the only book in the Pali Canon that introduces and concludes its suttas in this fashion, and it is from the opening statement that the title is derived: “This was said (vuttaí) by the Lord … so (iti) I heard”—hence Itivuttaka, “The So-was-said” or “Sayings.”