John D. Ireland

The Udana & The Itivuttaka

The Udana & The Itivuttaka

his book includes two small classics of the Pali Canon in one volume. The Udana, or Inspired Utterances of the Buddha, consists of eighty discourses, mostly short, divided into eight sections or chapters (vagga).

Udana refers to the pronouncement, usually in verse, made at the end of each discourse and prefaced by the words: “Then, on realizing its significance, the Lord uttered on that occasion this inspired utterance.”

Thus udana means an inspired or solemn utterance spontaneously evoked by the understanding or realization of the significance of the situation that occasioned it.

The Itivuttaka is a collection of 112 inspiring texts in mixed prose and verse. According to the commentarial tradition, The Itivuttaka suttas were collected by the woman lay disciple Khujjuttara. She was a servant who went regularly to listen to the Buddha and then later repeated what she had heard to the other women of the palace. She had become a stream-enterer after meeting the Buddha and subsequently converted the women of the palace to the teaching. The collection of these sayings became The Itivuttaka.

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About John D. Ireland

John D. Ireland (1932-1998) was born in North London, England. He became a Buddhist at age eighteen and soon began studying Pali.

From the 1960's onward he was a frequent contributor to the Buddhist Publication Society's Wheel and Bodhi Leaves series of booklets. But he is perhaps best known for his combined translation, The Udana & the Itivuttaka (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1997), in reference to which he wrote to a friend shortly before his death: "I feel I could die contented in the knowledge that I have done something to repay the great happiness the Buddha-Dhamma has brought me in this life."

You yourselves must strive, the Buddhas only point the way

Buddha, Dhp 276