Abbreviations, Symbols, and Sutta Reference Numbers

Abbreviations used in Pali texts

AN (or A):
Anguttara Nikaya
Dhammapada-atthakatha (Commentary to the Dhammapada)
DN (or D):
Digha Nikaya
Khuddakapatha-atthakatha (Commentary to the Khuddakapatha)
Khuddaka Nikaya
MN (or M):
Majjhima Nikaya
Sutta Nipata
SN (or S):
Samyutta Nikaya
Theragatha-atthakatha (Commentary to the Theragatha)
Therigatha-atthakatha (Commentary to the Therigatha)

Miscellaneous abbreviations

Access to Insight
The Book of the Gradual Sayings, F.L. Woodward and E.M. Hare, trans. (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1994). An English translation of the Anguttara Nikaya.
Sri Lanka Buddha Jayanti Tripitaka Series. A free public-domain electronic edition of the Tipitaka, published in 1997 by the International Buddhist Research and Information Center (380/9, Sarana Road, Colombo 7, Sri Lanka) and distributed by the Sri Lanka Tripitaka Project in association with the Journal of Buddhist Ethics.
The Book of the Kindred Sayings, Rhys Davids and F.L. Woodward, trans. (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1997). An English translation of the Samyutta Nikaya.
Buddhist Publication Society
The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya, Bhikkhu Bodhi, trans. (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2000)
Comm, Comy:
Pali Text Society


Because Pali has many ways of expressing the conjunction "and," Thanissaro Bhikkhu has chosen to make frequent use in his sutta translations of the ampersand (&) to join lists of words and short phrases, while using the word "and" to join long phrases and clauses.
In suttas and their brief summaries, the braces enclose an alternate sutta reference number (see below) — usually either the PTS Pali volume and page number or the verse number.
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Sutta Reference Numbers

Over the years, Pali and Buddhist scholars have used a bewildering array of numbering schemes to refer to suttas and other passages in the Tipitaka.[1] On this website I use the following convention to identify texts within the Sutta Pitaka:

Digha Nikaya (DN)
Contains 34 suttas.[2] References are to sutta number. Example: DN 21
Majjhima Nikaya (MN)
Contains 152 suttas. References are to sutta number. Example: MN 108
Samyutta Nikaya (SN)
Depending on how the suttas are tallied, it contains either 7,762; 2,904; or 2,889 suttas.[3] The Samyutta Nikaya is divided into 5 vaggas (chapters) containing a total of 56 samyuttas (groups) of suttas. References are to samyutta and sutta number, using BKS as a guide to numbering. Example: SN 56.11 is sutta #11 within samyutta #56.
Anguttara Nikaya (AN)
Depending on how the suttas are tallied, it contains either 9,557; 8,777; 2,344; or 2,308 suttas.[4] The Anguttara Nikaya is divided into 11 nipatas (books), each of which is further divided into vaggas containing 10 or more suttas. References are to nipata and sutta number, using BGS as a guide to numbering. Example: AN 3.65 is sutta 65 in the book of the Threes.
Khuddaka Nikaya:
Khuddakapatha (Khp)
Contains 9 short texts. References are to text number. Example: Khp 6 is text #6.
Dhammapada (Dhp)
Contains 423 verses, arranged in 26 vaggas. References are to verse number. Example: Dhp 273 is verse #273.
Udana (Ud)
Contains 80 suttas, arranged in 8 vaggas. References are to vagga and sutta number. Example: Ud 3.2 is sutta #2 within vagga #3.
Itivuttaka (Iti)
Contains 112 suttas, arranged in 4 nipatas. References are to sutta number. Example: Iti 29 is sutta #29.
Sutta Nipata (Sn)
Contains 71 suttas, arranged in 5 vaggas. References are to vagga and sutta number. Example: Sn 1.8 is sutta #8 within vagga #1.
Theragatha (Thag)
Contains 1,291 gathas (verses) divided into 264 poems that are grouped according to length in 21 vaggas. References are to vagga and poem number. Example: Thag 6.10 is poem #10 within vagga #6.
Therigatha (Thig)
Contains 522 gathas divided into 73 poems that are grouped according to length in 16 vaggas. References are to vagga and poem number. Example: Thig 5.10 is poem #10 within vagga #5.

Readers who are accustomed to other numbering systems or who wish to compare Access to Insight's translations against the original Pali texts may refer to the alternative reference numbers that appear in braces {} on the pages that contain the short summaries of the suttas. (These summaries are available by clicking on the "About" link at the top of a sutta page.) These alternate references consist either of the corresponding volume and starting page number in the PTS printed Pali edition (in the case of DN, MN, SN, and AN), the verse numbers (in Ud, Sn, Thag, and Thig), the nipata and sutta number (in Iti), or some combination thereof. The braces may also contain additional notes concerning a text's location within the Tipitaka, especially in cases where the numbering varies between editions of the Tipitaka.

Representing Pali diacritics using the Velthuis method

Some books and articles on Access to Insight contain substantial amounts of Pali text. Many of them use the Velthuis method[5] to represent romanized Pali's accented characters (diacritics) that are not part of the standard roman and ASCII alphabets. In this scheme two basic rules are observed:

  1. Long vowels (those usually typeset with a macron (bar) above them) are doubled: aa ii uu
  2. For consonants, the diacritic mark precedes the letter it affects. Thus, the retroflex (cerebral) consonants (usually typeset with a dot underneath) are: .t .th .d .dh .n .l. The pure nasal (niggahiita) m, also typeset with a dot underneath, is .m. The guttural nasal (n with a dot above) is represented as "n . The palatal nasal (n with a tilde) is ~n.

For example: paa.naatipaataa verama.nii sikkhaa-pada.m samaadiyaami and itihida.m aayasmato ko.n.da~n~nassa a~n~na-ko.n.da~n~no'tveva naama.m ahosiiti.


For a review of the numbering systems used by many Pali scholars, see "The Contents and Structure of the Pali Canon and its Commentaries," by the UK Association for Buddhist Studies at the University of Sunderland (
These sutta tallies are for the complete Tipitaka; the number of sutta translations actually available on this website is a small fraction of that total.
The Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya, Bhikkhu Bodhi, trans. (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 2000), p. 23.
9,557 and 8,777: Handbook of Pali Literature, by Somapala Jayawardhana (Colombo: Karunaratne & Sons, 1994), p. 12. 2,344: Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, by Nyanaponika Thera and Bhikkhu Bodhi (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1999), p. xv. 2,308: An Analysis of the Pali Canon, Russell Webb, ed. (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1975), p. 26.
This scheme was first developed in 1991 by Frans Velthuis for use with his "devnag" Devanagari font, designed for the TEX typesetting system ( Until the arrival of Unicode fonts and applications, Pali and Sanskrit scholars widely used this method as a standard technique in Internet correspondence.