My preference would be a Theravada based answer to the following question:
- Which texts are the most important to read in the Khuddaka Nikaya and why?
Thank you. :)
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It contains 15 - 18 texts within it.
In my opinion, the four most important texts within KN are:
The reason for this is that these texts contain the teachings of the Buddha himself, compared to other texts which only contain other things like biographies, stories, sayings of other monks and nuns, chants etc.
I listed Sutta Nipata on top as it is said to be one of the earliest texts of the Pali Canon, but the linguistic style of Sutta Nipata makes it harder to understand compared to the other three on the list. So, you're better off starting with the other three.
The Dhammapada is the easiest to read as it contains many chapters filled with short verses.
From the Dhammapada:
Better than a thousand useless words is one useful word, hearing which one attains peace.
Better than a thousand useless verses is one useful verse, hearing which one attains peace.
Better than reciting a hundred meaningless verses is the reciting of one verse of Dhamma, hearing which one attains peace.
It contains 15 - 18 texts within it.
In my opinion, the five most important texts within KN are:
The Dhammapada is hardcore and to the point.
The Itivuttaka is easy to read, heartwood and contains some important explanatory teachings that appear not found elsewhere (eg. Iti 44, Iti 49, Iti 96); even though these teachings are related to the core teachings of the suttas.
The Udana is fun but appears to contain some probably belated, miraculous yet amusing texts (such as new born children talking dhamma). It also contains lots of hardcore illuminating wisdom teachings.
The Theragata & Therigata are mature.
I listed Sutta Nipata on the bottom because, due to its nature of often being in "verse" (vs "prose"), the language is often more archaic thus vague. Also, it contains what appear to be belated texts, such as Metta & Maha-Mangala Sutta.
The other texts are best avoided, appearing to be belated texts loaded with superstition & wrong views, such as Jataka, other past lives books & Milindapanha. These texts do show however how quickly the Buddha-Dhamma degenerated. The Paṭisambhidāmagga commentary was obviously not composed by Venerable Sariputta and is often inaccurate.
Questions of King Milinda (the original ancient text only, i.e. parts 1 and 2, not the later additions) is by far my favorite text in KN. Unfortunately a good English translation of this text is hard to get by, as internet is full of abridged and approximately-translated (adapted) versions.
I like it because it provides excellent description of core Dhamma topics without using the same standard formulas that are copied word by word all over the Pali Canon.
I recommend these first:
The elder masters have taught the way for laymen and monks to get start in Buddha's teaching by taking Threefold Refuge, then they are going to teach 10 precepts which laymen and monks should practice first...
evaṃ saraṇagamanehi sāsanotāraṃ dassetvā sāsanaṃ otiṇṇena upāsakena vā pabbajitena vā yesu sikkhāpadesu paṭhamaṃ sikkhitabbaṃ, tāni dassetuṃ nikkhittassa sikkhāpadapāṭhassa idāni vaṇṇanatthaṃ ayaṃ mātikā
The Mahāvagga, Mahākhandhaka
When (97) (Sāriputta and Moggallāna), who had reached emancipation in the perfect destruction of the substrata (of existence), which is a profound subject accessible only to knowledge, came to the Veluvana, the Teacher, who saw them, foretold about [\q 150/] them: ‘These two companions who are now coming Kolita and Upatissa -- these will be a pair of (true) pupils, a most distinguished, auspicious pair.’
Aṅguttara Nikāya 1. Ekakanipāta XIII. Ekapuggalavagga A Certain person.
- Bhikkhus, I do not know of any other person who could follow up the teaching proclaimed by the Thus Gone One other than Sāriputta. Bhikkhus, Sāriputta follows up the teaching proclaimed by me.
DN 33 SangitiSutta-Reciting in Concert.
Soon after they left, the Buddha looked around the Saṅgha of monks, who were so very silent. He addressed Venerable Sāriputta, “Sāriputta, the Saṅgha of mendicants is rid of dullness and drowsiness. Give them some Dhamma talk as you feel inspired. My back is sore, I’ll stretch it.”
“Yes, sir,” Sāriputta replied.
So, most of 1st Buddhist Council leaders often go to listen his dhamma talk in MN32 Mahagosingasalasutta- The Longer Discourse at Gosiṅga.
so i have heard. At one time the Buddha was staying in the sal forest park at Gosiṅga, together with several well-known senior disciples, such as the 1. venerables Sāriputta, Mahāmoggallāna, 2.Mahākassapa, 3.Anuruddha, Revata, 4.Ānanda, and others.
Then in the late afternoon, Venerable Mahāmoggallāna came out of retreat, went to Venerable Mahākassapa, and said, “Come, Reverend Kassapa, let’s go to Venerable Sāriputta to hear the teaching.”
“Yes, reverend,” Mahākassapa replied. Then, together with Venerable Anuruddha, they went to Sāriputta to hear the teaching.
Seeing them, Venerable Ānanda went to Venerable Revata, told him what was happening, and invited him also.
In above sutta, everybody was the leader of 1st buddhist council, except ven. Sariputta. However, Sariputta's students were the leaders instead of him. This is in DighaNikaya's commentary.
As I've explained, 500 bhikkhus in first council recited 80 Bhanavara of Khandhaka (VN.Bhikkhu,Bhikkhuni,Maha,Cula) and 25 Bhanavara of Parivara together, then called it Vinaya-Pitaka. At the end of reciting, the land shook. 500 bhikkhus in first council ordered Upali "Teach VinayaPitaka to your students, Avuso".
500 bhikkhus in first council recited 64 Bhanavara in systematized language which included 34 Sutta 3 Vagga step by step (SilakkhandhaVagga, Mahavagga, Pathikavagga) together, then called it DigaNikaya and ordered Ananda "Teach DigaNikaya to your students, Avuso".
Then 500 bhikkhus in first council recited MajjhimaNikaya 80 Bhanavara together, and they ordered Sariputta's students "Keep it, Avuso".
Then 500 bhikkhus in first council recited SamyuttaNikaya 100 Bhanavara together, and they ordered Kassapa "Teach SamyuttaNikaya to your students, Bhante".
Then 500 bhikkhus in first council recited AnguttaraNikaya 120 Bhanavara together, and they ordered Anuruddha "Teach AnguttaraNikaya to your students, Avuso".
In a hurry, or afraid to waste 'precious' time?
If, good householder, wishes to get the most important first, so as it was used to traditional (by the elders, not the market and consumers preferences), actually, if investigating, careful and with broader understanding, the collection of the Tipitaka is actually sorted, 1, 2...
If generally searching for inspiration, getting the right words at the right time for release, random selection is possible the best way, if still outside. Food and preferences are very different and if wishing to get the whole for an enter required, there is the requirement of a teacher, knowing which is good at certain time.
There are also many parts in this Nikaya which aren't really avaliable and also somehow "mobbed" in western, modern world. So not easy to find them anywhere promoted.
Most importand, in regard of having actually benefit, is getting the teaching as a real gift, not even demanded, and to come to such point, most importand: Better to Give than to Consume & Respect, Confidence and Patient
Since the Tipitaka isn't really thought as a common literature, but a collection for insider, this Nikaya's first Sutta starts with the right approach:
I go to the Buddha for refuge. I go to the Dhamma for refuge. I go to the Sangha for refuge. A second time I go to the Buddha for refuge. A second time I go to the Dhamma for refuge. A second time I go to the Sangha for refuge. A third time I go to the Buddha for refuge. A third time I go to the Dhamma for refuge. A third time I go to the Sangha for refuge.
And continues with the The Ten Training Rules of a novice, someone serious with the huge gift.
[Note that this isn't given for stacks, exchange, other world-binding trades, but for an escape from this wheel]