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Philosophy of Arahanta Ideal as Depicted in Mahāniddesa

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Sumitta Thero, Nivitigala




Doctor of Philosophy in Religious Studies


Shakya, Miroj
Lewis Lancaster
Gabriel, Victor


The Mahāniddesa presents new ideas that go beyond the main Nikāyas. It can be viewed as a transition stage between the Nikāyas and the Aṭṭhakathās. Although it is a rather dry linguistic commentary on the Aṭṭhakavagga of Suttanipāta, it contains rich information and insight into early canonical concepts, notably the ideal of the Arahanta. With few exceptions, the text has not yet been translated in any Western or European language. Western scholars have edited the Pāli text and preserved some ancient manuscripts in several museums. Secondary scholarship on the text, however, is rare to find among both eastern and western scholars.

The present research is an attempt to investigate the philosophy of the Arahanta ideal, and to bring to light what the Mahāniddesa adds to this philosophy. The Mahāniddesa’s detailed analysis of the philosophy of the Arahanta ideal has not had the scholarly exposure that is warranted based on its careful explication of such a profound concept.

The distinguishing features of the Arahanta ideal in general will be discussed, on the basis of the Sutta Piṭaka as background to this study. The relationship between the Aṭṭhakavagga of Suttanipāta and the Mahāniddesa will also be elucidated with an emphasis on the philosophy of the Arahanta ideal. This comprehensive study on the philosophy of the Arahanta ideal will eventually illuminate the unique contribution of the Mahāniddesa.

An original contribution of this researcher will be a translation of some portions of the text related to the research topic into English. This will be done through, a global Pāli Tipiṭaka Translation project, for which this researcher has been serving as a primary resource person. The corresponding annotated English translation will be produced with a critical analysis using the text’s primary commentary in Pāli-Paramatthajotikā, and two Sinhalese translations – the Buddha Jayanti version and Dr. A.P. De Soyza version. The Chaṭṭhasaṅgāyanā Tipiṭaka edition will also elucidate philosophical themes within the translated material. The outcome of this research will be to expand interest in and investigation of the Mahāniddesa, as well as to further the impact of its profound soteriological value.

Degree Granter

University of the West



Library Holding

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