The last post focused on a small collection of thematic material as selected, translated and annotated by Bhikku Bodhi. This week's article focuses on a much larger work of the Nikayas themselves. The Majjhima Nikaya, translated by Bhikku Bohdi and Bhikku Nanamoli as The Middle Length Discourses represents a large portion of the Tripitaka, or "Three Baskets", of teachings as presented by Buddhist practitioners through the Pali language (a precursor to Hindi). These works represent the teachings of Gautama Buddha as best remembered by his followers and constitute the earliest recordings of these teachings.
The importance of the teaching cycle can here by remarked on as influencing the overall structure of what Gautama delivered to his followers. The teachings presented in Buddhism are presented in cycles in order to assist philosophers in understanding the insight being shared. The Sutta is the chosen method throughout the volume and reveals dialogues, stories, events, locations, and other material that makes it possible to enter the conversations of the past that continues to influence the way people around the world go about their daily lives.
Bhikku Bohdi's translation is among the best translations currently available of this text. The introduction provides the reader with the essentials to begin their study, notes to help clear away confusion, and a comprehensive index for cross-referencing and exploration of key concepts. In addition, Bhikku Bohdi is well aware that many western readers find repetition to be verbose, and that the mnemonic aid of repetition does not necessarily need to form a part of every section in the translation. This editing alone prevents the book from swelling any further beyond its 1,420 pages.
The overall impression is monumental. The story, dialogues and philosophy expand over two further volumes, thus completing the Tripitaka and the Pali Canon of Buddhist Texts. Thousands of books have been published and many more will be published that explore parts and sections of these philosophical and dialogue epics. For those wanting to discover the source and drink of the waters for themselves this is the book for you.