The Suttanipāta, or “Group of Discourses” is a collection of discourses ascribed to the Buddha that includes some of the most popular suttas of the Pāli Canon, among them the Loving-Kindness Sutta. The suttas are primarily in verse, though several are in mixed prose and verse. The Suttanipāta contains discourses that extol the figure of the muni, the illumined sage, who wanders homeless completely detached from the world. Other suttas, such as the Discourse on Downfall and the Discourse on Blessings, establish the foundations of Buddhist lay ethics. The last two chapters—the Aṭṭhakavagga (Chapter of Octads) and the Pārāyanavagga (The Chapter on the Way to the Beyond)—are considered to be among the most ancient parts of the Pāli Canon. The Aṭṭhakavagga advocates a critical attitude toward views and doctrines. The Pārāyanavagga is a beautiful poem in which sixteen spiritual seekers travel across India to meet the Buddha and ask him profound questions pertaining to the highest goal.
The main commentary, the Paramatthajotikā, relates the background story to each sutta and explains each verse in detail. The volume includes numerous excerpts from the Niddesa, an ancient commentary already included in the Pāli Canon, which offers detailed expositions of each verse in the Aṭṭhakavagga, the Pārāyanavagga, and the Rhinoceros Horn Sutta.
Translator Bhikkhu Bodhi provides an insightful, in-depth introduction, a guide to the individual suttas, extensive notes, a list of parallels to the discourses of the Suttanipāta, and a list of the numerical sets mentioned in the commentaries.