Dhammapada: Translated by Ven. Narada, PDF, Mobi/Kindle, Epub

Venerable Narada’s translation is regarded as being accurate and readable, but the language is perhaps a bit older than Acharya Buddharakkita’s version. It can often be found as a free distribution book that includes the translation, Pali, notes, and summaries from the commentary stories. An on-line version of the text can be found here. Other free electronic versions can be found below:

PDF

Booklet

Print double sided onto 8.5×11 paper and fold to make a booklet (choose “flip on short edge” in printer settings). This edition does not include the story summaries or footnotes from the original.

Letter Size

Verses only. Print on 8.5×11 paper. Otherwise the text is the same as above.

Epub, Mobi/Kindle: Verse Only

This is the verses only of the original translation by Venerable Narada Maha Thera.

Epub: With Commentary Stories

Bhikkhu Pesala has revised the translation of the verses and commentary stories and made it available as both an Epub and PDF on aimwell.org. If you need a version to read on a Kindle, you can easily use software called Calibre to convert the epub into mobi.

Note: Please do not re-distribute these files as corrections/improvements are made from time to time. Please just link to this page.

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Dhammapada: The Buddha’s Path of Wisdom, Translated by Acharya Buddharakkhita, Kindle, Epub, PDF, MP3

This translation of the Dhammapada by Venerable Acharya Buddharkkhita is highly regarded by many for both it’s accuracy as well as readability. It’s prefect to use for reading the Dhammapada as a daily practice. There are currently two editions in circulation:

  • The most recent is currently published by the Buddhist Publication Society. They have a regular and pocket version, both in paperback including the Pali as well as the translation. See the Source Page for ordering information. A must for every sutta library.
  • An older edition, originally published in 1985, is now available widely on line for free distribution. All of the digital versions found on this site originate from the one on AccessToInsight.org. Even though this edition does not include the revisions in the one mentioned above, it is still very usable. You can also find this translation on SuttaCentral.net.

1985 Edition, Free Electronic versions:

E-books: Kindle/Mobi, Epub

This version includes the introduction by Bhikkhu Bodhi as well as the footnotes. To ensure proper font rendering, choose the correct version for your device. Note: the table of contents may not render properly on e-pub reading devices.

Pali and English

This is the same translation as above, but with the original Pali included verse by verse.

PDF

Verses Only

The following two versions only include the Dhammapada verses themselves. Be sure to read Bhikkhu Bodhi’s introduction to this translation, not included in this version. (For a print version of the the introduction, see the next item)

This version can be printed double sided onto 8.5×11 paper and then folded into a booklet (choose “flip on short edge” in printer settings):

Simply print on 8.5×11 paper:

Introduction and notes

This is only the introduction and notes without the verses. This version can be printed double sided onto 8.5×11 paper and then folded into a booklet (choose “flip on short edge” in printer settings)

MP3

An audio version of the Dhammapada 1985 edition can be downloaded from this page, each chapter as its own file.

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Sutta Nipata: translated by Viggo Fausböll, Free Kindle, Epub

This is a free e-book edition of the Sutta Nipata, translated by Viggo Fausböll, originally part of Sacred Books of the East, Vol. 10: The Dhammapada and Sutta Nipata, by Max Müller and Viggo Fausböll, [1881]. These e-books are strictly for free distribution.

There are several versions of this text on Amazon.com, but none of them are free. Additionally, in this edition the notes have been hyper-linked and moved to the back of the book.

Considering the translation was done well over 100 years ago it is remarkably lucid and accurate. However, someone without a strong background in the suttas would be advised to stick with more contemporary works.

For a very accurate and modern translation of the Sutta Nipata, see:

  • The Suttanipata: An Ancient Collection of the Buddha’s Discourses Together with Its Commentaries, by Bhikkhu Bodhi from Wisdom Publications in both print and ebook form.
  • The Rhinoceros Horn and Other Early Buddhist Poems (Sutta Nipāta), translated by K. R. Norman, with alternative translations by I. B. Horner and Ven. Walapola Rahula, Pali Text Society. Paperback edition available. Complete text.

The on-line version of the text in this e-book can be found here at sacred-texts.com.

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Please report any errors in these books using the Contact Page or the comments below.

Therigatha: Psalms of the Sisters, Mrs C.A.F. Rhys Davids, Free Kindle, Epub

This is a free, public domain edition of the 1909 Psalms of the Sisters, translated by Mrs C.A.F. Rhys Davids, M.A., originally part of Psalms of the Early Buddhists. It is a complete translation of the Therigatha along with the origin stories of the verses.

The digital version of the text was used by permission from A Celebration of Women Writers. The editor of that series, Mary Mark Ockerbloom, did excellent work creating the HTML needed to make this e-book edition. The same text can be found, divided into smaller pages for faster loading, at Sacred-Texts.com. These e-books are strictly for free distribution.

The language used in this translation is quite outdated, although the New Oxford American Dictionary that comes with many e-book readers has most of the archaic and poetic words. Most readers would do well to start with the translation by K.R. Norman or Ajahn Thanissaro listed below.

The following print translations of the Therigatha are available from the Pali Text Society, www.palitext.com:

  • Psalms of the Early Buddhists, verse tr. Mrs C.A.F. Rhys Davids: The Sisters, 1909 and The Brethren, 2nd edn. 1937, reprinted as one volume 1980. ISBN 076 2. Translation of Theragatha and Therigatha.
  • Elders’ Verses, prose, tr. K.R. Norman, Vol. II (1971, 1992, 1995, 2nd ed. 2007) ISBN 436 9 The ninth text of the Khuddaka-nikāya of the Sutta-pitaka, these are collections of poems ascribed to elder nuns (theris). Many of the verses are accounts of religious experiences, some of which also achieve a high poetic standard.Translation of  Therigatha.
  • Poems of Early Buddhist Nuns, verse tr. Mrs C.A.F. Rhys Davids and prose tr. K.R. Norman, 1989, reprinted 1997. ISBN 289 7 Paperback. Translation of Therigatha. Contains extracts from Elders’ Verses Vol. II and Psalms of the Early Buddhists. Does not contain the footnotes found in Psalms of the Early Buddhists.

Selections from the Therigatha can be found on-line at accesstoinsight.org, mostly translated by Ajahn Thanissaro. His translations of the Therigatha can also be found in Volume 4 of Handful of Leaves, distributed by the Sati Center.

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Please report any errors in these books using the Contact Page or the comments below.

Using an E-book Reader for Sutta Reading Practice: Kindle, Nook, etc.

Although it is recommended that you do your sutta reading practice from a book and not from the computer, using an e-book reader in some circumstances might work as well as a paper book.

For the purpose of these recommendations, an e-book reader refers to a device that is dedicated to just reading books, such as a Kindle or a Nook. It’s true that you can read e-books on an iPad, iPod, or cell phone, but all of those devices are similar to computers in their connectedness and potential for distraction. Of course, in a pinch, better to read from one of those than nothing at all.

If you don’t already have an e-book reader, then by all means, just stick with paper books. If you begin to do sutta study as well as sutta practice, you will need to work from paper books.

Benefits of using an e-book reader

  • E-books are hard to navigate. They are really designed for people reading novels, which is always done one page after another. This is, in fact, the way we approach the text as a reading practice, not wanting to get distracted by flipping around here and there.
  • They are light weight, so if you are walking back and forth when you are reading it is quite convenient.
  • They are extremely portable, so you can easily take it with you and keep up your practice when traveling, which can be a rewarding experience.
  • You can potentially download your text and start right away.
  • A growing number of texts are available for free.
  • Checking the hyper-linked footnotes is quick so it doesn’t pull you away from the text for very long.
  • Some e-book readers have a text-to-speech function that might be helpful if the hindrances are strong. Of course, the reading will be mechanized and is no substitute for listening to actual recordings of the suttas.
  • Some e-book reading devices allow you to highlight passages and later transfer them to another document. This works well if you do feel compelled to take notes.
  • You can increase the text size. This is a general quality of all e-book readers but worth mentioning none the less.
  • E-book readers usually have a built in dictionary. This is beneficial as translators are often forced to use somewhat uncommon English words.

Disadvantages of using an e-book reader

  • Frequently (especially in the Wisdom Publications Nikaya editions) passages that appear in multiple suttas are left out with a remark such as “as Sutta 4, §27”. It is quite cumbersome, as noted above, to navigate to that passage involving potentially dozens of page turn clicks. It is especially important for the first three or four times we are reading a book to read those missing parts.
  • Even within a sutta, repetitions are frequently left out and it is not as easy to read them back in as it would be in a paper book.
  • When a note refers to a previous note, there is usually no hyper link from the footnote itself so looking it up is near impossible.
  • It is impossible, without lots of clicking, to determine how long a sutta is or how much you have left to read. If you have to modify your reading order slightly to accommodate your daily schedule, this would be very hard in a book like the Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha.
  • Unless you have highlighted it, it is nearly impossible to flip back through suttas previously read to find a passage.
  • You loose the physical reminder of the book in your life. When you have a real book sitting somewhere special in your house you will see it and remember your practice.
  • You loose the physical memory trigger of where a sutta or passage is located in the book. Because the idea is to work with a text over a lifetime, when you work with a paper book eventually you will have a sense of where a sutta is located, or even where an important passage falls on the page. With an e-book that is not so easy to do. This may be offset by the ability to do a word search if you can remember the exact word used and it doesn’t appear hundreds of times.

Because of the extreme difficulty in navigation to find elided(condensed) text, people just starting out may want to use e-books only as a backup, especially for the Wisdom Publication editions. If you are working with a book that has smaller suttas, such as the Dhammapada or the Udana, this may not be so much of an issue. Similar with an anthology such as In the Words of the Buddha. And having an e-book version of your text as a backup for when you travel is very convenient.

For practice, a paper book is perfect. So if you don’t already have an e-book reader, just stick with the paper versions.

If you do use an e-book reader for your practice, you may want to consider trying the Don’t Break the Chain tool to have a physical reminder of your commitment and history.

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Have you used an e-book reader for a sutta reading practice? Share your experience in the comments below.