The Pali Text Society published editions of the Pali Tipitaka, starting in about 1890.

I assume it was copied (transcribed) from one or more written sources, not from memory, is that so?

From what written documents/sources did the editor[s] of the PTS edition get the text? Were they manuscripts, or printed? And I'm guessing the PTS transcribed the text to Roman script?

Where (in which countries and/or by whom) were those source materials copied? Was it from one source or several?

Would you happen to know whether the source documents still exist today?

This answer says that different editions are more or less the same in every country ...

With the Pali editions, we inherit a complex manuscript tradition. In each country there are multiple different editions, both modern printed editions and older manuscripts. The ones we have ended up using are more or less random. The problem is that despite the many variations, the reality is that it is a huge amount of work to gather and collate them, and the end result is, “Yep, apart from these few instances, it’s pretty much the same as all the others.”

... still I'm wondering specifically where the text of the PTS edition came from (and where the work was done).


The Pali PTS Tripitaka was written in Sri Lanka. How it was written is explained here. -> https://qr.ae/TW8x2e

  • That explains it was oral tradition until 76 BC, and written after that: but not exactly what the source material was for the PTS editions. They were published starting in about 1890 -- was that from memory (I'm guessing not), from manuscripts (perhaps, but from where or from whom), or from an earlier printed edition? – ChrisW Mar 25 '19 at 22:29
  • So "oral tradition" means the monks recite the Sutta daily in order to retain the Sutta in memory. The 3 baskets were looked after by groups of monks. Each group would ensure its not forgotten. – jambudipa.quora.com Mar 25 '19 at 22:43
  • Yes that's what "oral tradition" means. But i'm not asking about the first few hundred years, this question is about the late 19th century, 130 years ago -- from what source[s] did the editor[s] of the PTS edition collect the Pali text for the suttapiṭaka which they published? – ChrisW Mar 25 '19 at 22:50
  • The Tipitaka was written in Ola leaf and that is the original source. Almost 95% of the sources would be from Sri Lanka since that was where Buddha lived and his Dhamma existed and the Dhamma councils were conducted. British officers George Turner and Hugh Nevill who worked for the British civil service has taken it from Sri Lanka. its all documented and catalogued. The rest presumably from other countries. – jambudipa.quora.com Mar 25 '19 at 22:59
  • Having a good Q&A-site means to find answers which adress the questions. It is a really clear formulated question, no place for misunderstanding... (downvote) – Gottfried Helms Mar 26 '19 at 7:35

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