Cover image for The middle length discourses of the Buddha : a new translation of the Majjhima Nik⁻aya
The middle length discourses of the Buddha : a new translation of the Majjhima Nik⁻aya
Ñāṇamoli, Bhikkhu, -1960.
Uniform Title:
Tipiṭaka. Suttapiṭaka. Majjhimanikāya. English.
Publication Information:
Boston : Wisdom Publications in association with the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, 1995.
Physical Description:
1412 pages ; 23 cm.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
BQ1312.E5 N36 1995 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This book offers a complete translation of the Majjhima Nikaya, or Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha , one of the major collections of texts in the Pali Canon, the authorized scriptures of Theravada Buddhism. This collection--among the oldest records of the historical Buddha's original teachings--consists of 152 suttas or discourses of middle length, distinguished as such from the longer and shorter suttas of the other collections. The Majjhima Nikaya might be concisely described as the Buddhist scripture that combines the richest variety of contextual settings with the deepest and most comprehensive assortment of teachings. These teachings, which range from basic ethics to instructions in meditation and liberating insight, unfold in a fascinating procession of scenarios that show the Buddha in living dialogue with people from many different strata of ancient Indian society: with kings and princes, priests and ascetics, simple villagers and erudite philosophers. Replete with drama, reasoned argument, and illuminating parable and simile, these discourses exhibit the Buddha in the full glory of his resplendent wisdom, majestic sublimity, and compassionate humanity.

The translation is based on an original draft translation left by the English scholar-monk Bhikkhu Nanamoli, which has been edited and revised by the American monk Bhikkhu Bodhi, who provides a long introduction and helpful explanatory notes. Combining lucidity of expression with accuracy, this translation enables the Buddha to speak across twenty-five centuries in language that addresses the most pressing concerns of the contemporary reader seeking clarification of the timeless issues of truth, value, and the proper conduct of life.

Winner of the 1995 Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Book Award, and the Tricycle Prize for Excellence in Buddhist Publishing for Dharma Discourse.

Author Notes

Venerable Nanamoli (1905-60) was born in England and became a monk in Sri Lanka in 1949. During the eleven years he spent as a monk, he translated from Pali into lucid English some of the most difficult texts of Theravada Buddhism, including Buddhaghosa's Path of Purification .

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi is an American Buddhist monk from New York City, born in 1944. He obtained a BA in philosophy from Brooklyn College and a PhD in philosophy from Claremont Graduate School. After completing his university studies he traveled to Sri Lanka, where he received novice ordination in 1972 and full ordination in 1973, both under the leading Sri Lankan scholar-monk, Ven. Balangoda Ananda Maitreya (1896-1998). From 1984 to 2002 he was the editor for the Buddhist Publication Society in Kandy, where he lived for ten years with the senior German monk, Ven. Nyanaponika Thera (1901-1994), at the Forest Hermitage. He returned to the U.S. in 2002. He currently lives and teaches at Chuang Yen Monastery in Carmel, New York. Ven. Bodhi has many important publications to his credit, either as author, translator, or editor. These include The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha ( Majjhima Nikaya , 1995), The Connected Discourses of the Buddha ( Samyutta Nikaya , 2000), and The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha ( Anguttara Nikaya , 2012). In 2008, together with several of his students, Ven. Bodhi founded Buddhist Global Relief, a nonprofit supporting hunger relief, sustainable agriculture, and education in countries suffering from chronic poverty and malnutrition.

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

This new translation of the Majjhima Nikaya, part of the Pali Canon touching on the nature of Nirvana and the Four Noble Truths, is considered by scholars to be the most reliable source for the original teachings of the historical Buddha. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

This new translation of the Majjhima Nik=aya from the Pali, produced in association with the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, joins the preeminent older translation done by I.B. Horner for the Pali Text Society in 1954, 1957, and 1959. Much of the work for the new translation was done by Bhikkhu ~N=anamoli before his untimely death, and then extensively revised by Bhikkhu Bodhi. The "Middle Length Discourses" of the Pali canon are some of the oldest texts of Therav=ada Buddhism; thus they are part of an invaluable record of early Buddhist thought and culture. Included in this collection are suttas dealing with central aspects of the Buddhist Dhammma (e.g., on dukkha "suffering" and on su~n~nata "voidness"), suttas outlining important aspects of Buddhist practice (e.g., the Satipatth=ana Sutta on foundations of mindfulness), and suttas delivered to various groups of renunciants and householders, including "advice" given to major donor/supporters of the Sa:ngha, such as An=athapindika. The text of the translation is eminently readable, often more so than in Horner's version, and is correlated by page number to the Pali Text Society's roman-script edition of the Majjhima Nik=aya. The volume includes a good introduction with helpful discussions of a number of key terms, a brief summary of each of the 152 suttas, and explanatory notes at the end. An indispensable addition to any collection on Buddhist studies. Upper-division undergraduate; graduate; faculty. E. Findly; Trinity College (CT)