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Mahāpadeśa (P. mahāpadesa; T. chen po bstan pa ཆེན་པོ་བསྟན་པ་; C. dashuo) is translated as "great authority," "great references," etc. It is a set of criteria used to determine if a text is the "word of the Buddha" (buddhavacana).[1] These criteria are presented in the Mahāpadesasutta of the Pali canon.

According to this criteria, a teaching (or text) can be considered the "word of the Buddha" if it has been transmitted by one of the following types of authorities:[1]

  • from the Buddha
  • from a community of senior monks
  • from a smaller group of learned elder monks
  • from a single learned monk

If the teaching has been transmitted by one of the above authorities, and the sangha is determines that the teaching is in accord with the teachings of the sutras and vinaya, than it can be accepted as "word of the Buddha."


  1. 1.0 1.1 Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. mahāpadeśa.