About the EA

The Ekottara Agama (EA) is one of the major collections of early Buddhist discourses. Although it was originally written in an Indian language, today this collection only survives in a Chinese translation made by Gautama Sanghadeva between 397 and 398 and called 增壹阿含經 (zeng-yi ah-han jing, T 125).

The Ekottara Agama is so-called because it is organized on the principle of numerical teachings. Thus it starts with discourses featuring the number one, then two, and so on up to eleven.

It is therefore organized in the same way as the Pali Anguttara Nikaya, and may be regarded as a parallel collection. But the content is quite different, with less than half the suttas having a direct correspondence in the Pali Anguttara. However, many EA suttas are found elsewhere in the Pali. For example, EA 17.1 has a parallel in the Pali Majjhima Nikaya 62 Maha-Rahulovada Sutta. Where possible, we provide links to the corresponding discourses in Pali, including the English translations. More detailed information on correspondences between suttas in Pali, Chinese, Sanskrit, and Tibetan may be found at suttacentral.net.

There are many references to an Ekottara Agama in the Buddhist literature, so we may be reasonably sure that similar collections were found in the scriptures of many if not all the early Buddhist schools. It is not known which school produced the existing EA, although most scholars look to the Mahasanghika or one of their sub-schools.

The EA is a difficult text, with many unusual readings and inconsistencies. It contains variants on even such standard teachings as the 8-fold path, etc. Certain features, such as the emphasis on Maitreya Bodhisattva (seen here, for example) are usually taken to indicate it is slightly later than the rest of the Nikayas/Agamas. I include a short essay indicating a few representative textual difficulties with one stock passage here.

The translations found here were made by Bhikkhu Pasadika, Thich Huyen-Vi, and Sara Boin-Webb for the Buddhist Studies Review. We make them them available on the web by kind permission of the translators. No changes have been made to these pioneering translations, but very occasional editorial footnotes are added, as indicated by [square brackets]. I have added titles, which it should be noted are not found in the Chinese.

The references to the suttas are by section number (not juan number) and sutta of the Taisho edition. Thus EA 17.1 means 'The first sutta in section 17 of Taisho, volume 2, sutra 125'. The original publication details for each sutta translation are included as a footnote.

At the top of each page we include a link to the Chinese text from the CBETA Tripitaka. We also add a link that will open this text inside the POPjisyo Chinese reading browser. To find the exact location of the sutta on the CBETA page, scroll down to the line number that is next to these links.

The Ekottara reminds us that the Buddha said: 'a monk should know that i always admire and praise someone who knows how to be grateful. So i express my tremendous gratitude to the translators for making this work available, and to all those who have assisted in typing and other ways, especially: Julie, Denise, Marianna, Teresa, Sooi, Nilushi, and Bhikkhuni Samacitta.

Bhikkhu Sujato

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