Open main menu

The Kaccānagotta Sutta is a short, but seminal Buddhist text preserved in Pāli (Saṃyutta Nikāya 12.15), Sanskrit, and Chinese (Saṃyuktāgama 301, also a partial quotation in SĀ 262). The Chinese translation was carried out by Guṇabhadra, ca. 435-443 CE as part of a Samyuktāgama (雜阿含經) translation. Guṇabhadra is thought to have had a Sanskrit text brought to China from Sri Lanka. A Sanskrit text, also part of fragmentary Saṃyuktāgama and dating from the 13th or 14th century, is preserved. The text is cited in Sanskrit in works by Nāgārjuna and his commentators. There is considerable agreement across the various versions with the Sanskrit and Chinese being more or less identical and both a little different from the Pāli. Nāgārjuna's citation suggests he had a different version from the extant Sanskrit.[1] The text is also cited in a number of other Mahāyāna Sūtras.


Themes in the TextEdit

Kaccāna asks about the meaning of the phrase 'right-view' (sammadiṭṭhi; Skt. samyagdṛṣṭi; Ch. 正見).

The main theme of the text is the avoidance of the extremes 'existence' (Pāli atthi) and 'non-existence' (Pāli natthi) with respect to the world (Pāli loka), and instead seeing the world in terms of the Middle Way which is illustrated by the twelve nidānas. The one with right-view understands this.

In Chinese the words existence and non-existence are rendered 有 yǒu and 無 wú. The Sanskrit text uses asti and nāsti. Nāgārjuna's Sanskrit citation uses the words bhava and abhava instead, though in the context these terms mean more or less the same as the roots of both atthi (Sanskrit asti) and bhava come from verbs meaning 'to be' (i.e. √as and √bhū).

The question of existence and non-existence is discussed in the context of right-view (sammādiṭṭhi) with Kaccāna initially asking the Buddha to define right view for him.

Kaccāna is a moderately prominent character in the Pāli Canon, and two canonical commentaries are attributed to him.



  • Pāli: Saṃyutta Nikāya (SN 12.15, PTS iii.16-17); also cited in toto in the Channa Sutta (SN 22.90).
  • Sanskrit: Sūtra 19 of Nidānasaṃyukta, in a Saṃyuktāgama collection found in Turfan, probably copied ca. 13th or 14th century.[2]
  • Chinese: Saṃyuktāgama 301 (T. 2.99 85a-86c),[3] probably translated from a Sanskrit original; also partially cited in Saṃyuktāgama 262 (T. 2.99 66c01-c18 = SN 22.90) with a significantly different rendering, suggesting a different translator.


The sutta is quoted in the Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra (Section LXII; p. 145). It is also cited in Sanskrit in Nāgārjuna's Mūlamadhyamakakārika (MMK 15.7) and in commentaries on this work by Candrakīrti, namely Prassanapadā and Madhyamakāvatārabhāṣya.

As the only text cited by name in MMK it is pointed to as evidence that Nāgarjuna might not have been a Mahāyānist.[4] David Kalupahana has referred to the MMK as "a commentary on the Kaccānagotta Sutta".

English TranslationsEdit

from PāliEdit

from ChineseEdit


  1. ^ Li, Shenghai (2012). Candrakīrti's Āgama: a study of the concept and uses of scripture in classical Indian Buddhism [PhD thesis]. University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  2. ^ Tripāṭhi, C (1962). Sanskrittexte as den Turfanfunden. Akademie-Verlag.
  3. ^ "CBETA". T 2.99.
  4. ^ Kalupahana, David J. (1986). Nāgārjuna: The Philosophy of the Middle Way. State University of New York Press.

External sourcesEdit

  • Kalupahana, David J. (1986). Nāgārjuna: The Philosophy of the Middle Way. State University of New York Press.
  • Li, Shenghai. Candrakīrti’s Āgama: A Study of the Concept and Uses of Scripture in Classical Indian Buddhism. [PhD Thesis]. 2012.
  • Mattia Salvini. 'The Nidānasamyukta and the Mūlamadhyamakakārikā: understanding the Middle Way through comparison and exegesis.' Thai International Journal of Buddhist Studies II (2011): 57-95.
  • Tripāṭhī, Chandra. (Ed.). 'Fünfundzwanzig Sūtras Des Nidānasaṃyukta' in Sanskrittexte aus den Turfanfunden (Vol. VIII). Edited by Ernst Waldschmidt. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1962. [Includes translation into German]
  • Vaidya, P. L. Saddharma-laṅkāvatāra Sūtram. The Mithila Institute of Post-Graduate Studies and Research in Sanskrit Learning. Darbhanga. 1963.

See alsoEdit