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The Udāna is a text from the Khuddaka Nikaya of the Pali Canon. The title might be translated "inspired utterances". The book comprises 80 such utterances, most in verse, each preceded by a narrative giving the context in which the Buddha utters it.

The famous story of the Blind men and an elephant appears in Udana, under Tittha Sutta (Ud. 6.4).[1]

Structure of the Udana

The Udana is composed of eight chapters (vagga) of ten discourses each. The chapter titles are:

  1. Bodhivagga (Awakening chapter)
  2. Mucalindavagga (King Mucalinda chapter)
  3. Nandavagga (Ven. Nanda chapter)
  4. Meghiyavagga (Ven. Meghiya chapter)
  5. Soṇavagga (Lay Follower Sona chapter)
  6. Jaccandhavagga (Blind From Birth chapter)
  7. Cullavagga (Minor chapter)
  8. Pāṭaligāmiyavagga (Pataligamiya chapter)

Each discourse includes a prose portion followed by a verse. At the end of each prose section, as prelude to the verse, the following formulaic text is included:

It is from such "exclamations" (udāna) that the collection derives its name.

Dating of text

This text is considered to be one of the earlier Buddhist scriptures.[4] A recent analysis concludes that the text of the Pali discourses, including the Udāna, was largely fixed in its current form, with only small differences from the modern text, by the first century B.C.E.[5]

Hinüber identifies this type of discourse (although not necessarily the existing collection itself) as being part of the pre-canonical navaṅga (Pali for "nine-fold") which classified discourses according to their form and style, such as geyya (mixed prose and verse), gāthā (four-lined couplets), udāna (utterances) and jātaka (birth story).[6]

Relationship to other texts

Within Buddhist literature, about a fourth of the Udana's prose sections correspond to text elsewhere in the Pali Canon, particularly in the Vinaya. In addition, in regards to Tibetan Buddhist literature, von Hinüber suggests that the Udana formed the original core of the Sanskrit Udānavarga, to which verses from the Dhammapada were added.[7]

In terms of non-Buddhist texts, some Udana concepts can be found in the Vedantic Upanishads and in Jain texts.[8]


  • Tr Major-General D. M. Strong, 1902
  • "Verses of uplift", in Minor Anthologies of the Pali Canon, volume II, tr F. L. Woodward, 1935, Pali Text Society[2], Bristol
  • Tr John D. Ireland, Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka, 1990; later reprinted in 1 volume with his translation of the Itivuttaka
  • Tr Peter Masefield, 1994, Pali Text Society, Bristol; the PTS's preferred translation; its declared aim is to translate in accordance with the commentary's interpretation
  • Bilingual Pali-English study edition, 2010 Theravada Tipitaka Press[3]
  • Tr Ānandajoti Bhikkhu, Udāna. Exalted Utterances [4]; Last revised version 2008
  • Tr Sāmaṇera Mahinda (Anagarika Mahendra), Udāna: Book of Inspired Utterances, Bilingual Pali-English First Edition 2022, Dhamma Publishers, Roslindale MA; ISBN 9780999078181 [5].



  1. See, for example, Thanissaro (1994).
  2. Thanissaro's translation, e.g., in Thanissaro (1994).
  3. SLTP (n.d.).
  4. Nakamura (1980); and, Hinüber (2000), p. 46 (§91).
  5. Anālayo, "The Historical Value of the Pāli Discourse", Indo-Iranian Journal, (published by Brill) 2012, Vol. 55, No. 3 (2012), pp. 223-253, https://www.jstor.org/stable/24665100
  6. von Hinüber (2000), pp. 7 (§10), 46 (§91); and, Rhys Davids & Stede (1921–1925), p. 348, entry for "Nava" at [1] (retrieved 2007-10-12). In particular, von Hinüber (2000, p. 46, §91) states: "The Udāna ... belongs to those old texts mentioned already as one of the navaṅga.... [I]t does not seem to be impossible that there once was an Ud having only verses such as those in the Udānavarga...."
  7. von Hinüber (2000), pp. 45 (§89), 46 (§91).
  8. von Hinüber (2000), p. 46 (§91).


External links

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