chapter
The Sutta Nipāta
Pages 9

Whereas in the macrocosmic Pali Canon the student learns to differentiate between the books of which it is composed, when we come to the microcosmic Sutta Nipata we have to differentiate between the individual discourses and dialogues that comprise the collection. This is not so difficult a task as it might seem; on the one hand the Sutta Nipata contains a portion, Upanishadic in style, whose suttas by their character and contents give us the buddha Gotama's dhamma in a truly pristine setting; on the other hand the collection contains suttas of a very different character which, in spite of their ethical content, came to be used as the popular mantras of the religionists who followed the Teacher by two centuries or more-suttas that are still used in Theravadin countries of South Asia as ward runes in paritta chanting, an animistic rite in which spirits (deyas) are charmed, and one which to some Western students may seem foreign to, and unworthy of, the brave and lofty ideal of independent endeavour held by Sakyamuni and his fellow munis.