Full Parallel and Partial Parallel

In keeping with the simple classification established in Akanuma (1929), two types of discourse parallel are recognised here:

  • “Full parallel”, shown unmarked; for example, DN 1 is shown as corresponding to DA 21, which is a full parallel.
  • “Partial parallel”, marked with an asterisk; for example, DN 30 is shown as corresponding to MA 59*, which is a partial parallel. (this feature is under construction)

Discourses identified as “full parallels” may differ in content to a certain extent, but they are similar enough to make it likely that they stem from a common ancestor.

Discourses identified as “partial parallels” display markedly incomplete agreement. Usually, a partial parallel has only a relatively small part of its content in common with the other discourse, a situation that could have arisen through various different historical processes.

Distinguishing between full parallel and partial parallel involves some degree of subjectivity. Consequently, the presence or absence of an asterisk (to signify partial or full parallel) should be seen as providing helpful guidance rather than as delivering a final judgement about the relationship between the two texts.

Fragmentary manuscript remains in Sanskrit or other languages are not “partial parallels” in this sense, so are not marked with an asterisk. They are identified instead by “frgm” (for “fragment”) following the language label; e.g., “Skt frgm”.

Implied Correspondences

Discourses listed as full parallels to a given Pali discourse can safely be assumed to be full parallels to one another. For example, DN 22 is shown as having full parallels in MN 10, MA 98, and EA 12.1, and from this one can safely infer that MA 98 is a full parallel to MN 10 and EA 12.1.

However, for discourses listed as partial parallels to a given Pali discourse, no such inferences can be drawn. For example, DN 22 is shown as having partial parallels in MN 141, MA 31, and T 32. From this one cannot infer any correspondence between MA 31 and T 32 (though in fact they are full parallels of each other), or between MA 31 and EA 12.1 (which in fact are quite unrelated).

Materials Covered

In identifying parallels to Pali discourses, SuttaCentral currently focuses on Chinese Sūtra and Vinaya material, sūtra translations in the Tibetan Kanjur, and published fragments in Sanskrit and other languages. The many sūtra quotations found in Abhidharma and commen­tarial works are, with just a few exceptions, left out of account at this early stage in the project.

Accuracy and completeness of the data

Currently, only the DN and MN correspondences have been thoroughly checked for accuracy and completeness. The information on parallels to SN and AN is less reliable, but is being updated as the relevant research progresses. The identification of Pali parallels to Pali discourses is still incomplete and uneven. For Chinese discourses that lack Pali parallels, information on non-Pali parallels has yet to be included.