Majjhima Nikaya

The Majjhima Nikaya (-nikāya; "Collection of Middle-length Discourses") is a Buddhist scripture, the second of the five nikayas, or collections, in the Sutta Pitaka, which is one of the "three baskets" that compose the Pali Tipitaka (lit. "Three Baskets") of Theravada Buddhism. Composed between 3rd century BCE and 2nd century CE.[1] This nikaya consists of 152 discourses attributed to the Buddha and his chief disciples.[2]

The Majjhima Nikaya corresponds to the Madhyama Āgama found in the Sutra Pitikas of various Sanskritic early Buddhist schools, fragments of which survive in Sanskrit and in Tibetan translation. A complete Chinese translation from the Sarvāstivādin recension appears in the Chinese Buddhist canon, where it is known as the Zhōng Ahánjīng (中阿含經). The Madhyama Āgama of the Sarvāstivāda school contains 222 sūtras, in contrast to the 152 suttas in the Pāli Majjhima Nikāya.[3]

Bhikkhu Bodhi in the introduction to his translation describes the collection as follows:

If the Majjhima Nikāya were to be characterised by a single phrase to distinguish it from among the other books of the Pali Canon, this might be done by describing it as the collection that combines the richest variety of contextual settings with the deepest and most comprehensive assortment of teachings.[4]

The 152 discourses come in three parts each with five divisions. All divisions save the penultimate contain 10 discourses.