Reading this question and its accepted answer prompted me to ask the following question:

Is there a difference between Suttas and Sutras? and, if so, what is the difference?

Thank you

2 Answers 2


Sutra (Skt.), Sutta (Pali) is a term for any literary composition. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutra should get you started.

The word was in use in India before Buddhism, so you can find it used in all Indic religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism) as well as in Sanskrit grammar and poetry.

As with anything from as far back as two millenia, there's dissenting opinions, for example:

  • Some scholars consider that the Buddhist use of sutra is a faulty Sanskritization of the Prakrit or Pali word sutta and that the latter actually represented Sanskrit sūkta, "well spoken, good news"

    SOURCE: K. R. Norman: A philological approach to Buddhism: the Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai Lectures 1994. (Buddhist Forum, Vol. v.) xx, 193 pp. London: School of Oriental and African Studies, 1997. p. 104

  • alpākṣaraṃ asandigdhaṃ sāravad viśvatomukham astobhaṃ anavadyaṃ ca sūtram sūtravido viduḥ.

    Of minimal syllabary, unambiguous, pithy, comprehensive, continuous, and without flaw: who knows the sutra knows it to be thus.

    SOURCE: Vayu Purana


TO start, Sutta is Pali and Sutra is Sanskrit. Just like Latin and Greek.

One of the meanings of Sutta is "acquired knowledge". That is why most if not all, Pali sutta start with Evaṃ me sutaṃ (sutta). [one time, i have heard...]

  • IMO, Sutta and Sutra are brands. When i hear sutta, i think about Buddhism, but when I hear about Sutra, i think about Hinduism, or Jainism.
    – user5056
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 19:21
  • 4
    When I hear Sutta, I think of Theravadan Buddhism, and when I hear Sutra, I think of Mahayanan Buddhism
    – Max Nanasy
    Commented Sep 15, 2015 at 19:54

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