As far as I'm aware, most forms of Vajrayana Buddhism (which is really only Tibetan and Shingon I think) are based on the Mahayana (Chinese?) canon and accept their sutras generally.

Is there any form of Vajrayana which is based on the Pali canon?

  • In this question you wrote, "AFAIK Mahayana does not acknowledge the Pali Cannon and therefore the Dhammapada". That would be news to me: instead I thought that the canon was translated in Chinese, where it's called the Āgama and is accepted.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 21 at 3:15
  • 1
    @ChrisW I'll read into it. I'm a total beginner, so I'm not quite sure what's what yet. Thanks for letting me know.
    – setszu
    Commented Apr 21 at 4:52
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    Yes I don't know either. But I got the impression from an answer like this one that the Agamas, such as they are, are a close translation (or in other words, the same). Yes there may be parts of the Pali canon that aren't part of the Chinese canon -- missing suttas, and differences in the Vinaya, I'd guess the Abhidhamma too; and Chinese sutras and commentary that aren't part of (and maybe that are later than) the Pali -- but still, "not acknowledge" or "not accept" might be misleading.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 21 at 7:41
  • yes, @ChrisW is correct here
    – user25078
    Commented Apr 21 at 7:48
  • It isn't only Chinese. Nagarjuna is Indian. Wikipedia says his main work is, "detailed and careful analysis of most of the important discourses included in the Nikayas and the Agamas". And I don't even know what the original language of the Prajnaparamita was but that's a Sanskrit (not Chinese) name.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 21 at 7:55

1 Answer 1


The Chinese Buddhist canon refers to a specific collection of Chinese language Buddhist literature that is deemed canonical in Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Vietnamese Buddhism.12 The traditional term for the canon is "Great Storage of Scriptures" (traditional Chinese: 大藏經; simplified Chinese: 大藏经; pinyin: Dàzàngjīng; Japanese: 大蔵経; rōmaji: Daizōkyō; Korean: 대장경; romaja: Daejanggyeong; Vietnamese: Đại tạng kinh)

You can read the contents for one version of the Japanese canon, the Taisho Shinshu, and one version of the Chinese canon, the Xuzangjing, here

The Chinese Buddhist Electronic Text Association (www.CBETA.org) has produced an electronic edition of the Taisho and the Zen portion of the Zokuzokyo [Xuzangjing] (with plans to finish the Zokuzokyo in 2007)

So the above lists the

The Xuzangjing version, which is a supplement of another version of the canon, is often used as a supplement for Buddhist texts not collected in the Taishō Tripiṭaka.

My point being that

Volumes 1-2: 阿含部類 Agama Section: T0001 – T0151

includes the Agamas, and sutras of e.g. the Mahasamghika and Sarvastavada school are included. You can see that in the Taisho canon there is a

T0210-T0213 法句經 (Dharmapada Sutras) (Buddharakkhita, Cleary, Thanisaro and others (from Pali) Eng.tr)

in volumes 3-4 section, but this, the Chinese version of the dharmapada, differs importanly from the original Pali version.

Interestingly (to me anyway) The path of purification -- "the 'great treatise' on Buddhist practice and Theravāda Abhidhamma" -- whose author wikipedia said compiled the Pali canon -- is not in the Taisho, even-though similar texts that also have a Pali origin are.

tl;dr here is the Taisho contents

An exhuastive list of what is missing from both would be nice.

  • Ah so what youre saying is that the Mahayana canon is based on the Pali texts, so technically all of Vajrayana is based on the Pali canon in a way? Then, I should specify in my desc that what I was thinking of was a form of Vajrayana which rejects the Chinese canon & Mahayana scriptures, and only affirms the Theravada Pali canon while still being Vajrayana Buddhism and affirming certain Vajrayana texts. I will still mark your answer as correct because technically its a mistake due to my ignorance of how Buddhist canons work, but if you could please help me with this, I'd really appreciate it.
    – setszu
    Commented Apr 21 at 9:53
  • well, i know nothing about it whatsoever, but you can google esoteric theravada buddhism @setszu i wouldn't necessarily say the mahayana canon is based on pali texts, but they do incorporate it
    – user25078
    Commented Apr 21 at 10:21
  • Thanks for the correction, that's what I meant! I'll look into esoteric theravada buddhism!
    – setszu
    Commented Apr 21 at 10:27

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