This text presents important early teachings of the Buddha, namely the fourfold Āgamas that constitute the Sutra-piṭaka of traditional Buddhism—as preserved throughout the medieval period as part of the Mahayana Tripiṭaka corpus through the Chinese versions since the fifth century C.E. (paraphrased from the Translator’s Introduction).
This is the second in a series of volumes of three volumes translating The Canonical Book of the Buddha’s Lengthy Discourses. Volume I contains sutras 1–10 (of 30). Volume II contains ten more (sutras 11-20). Translations of the remaining sutras 21-30 appear in Volume III.
The text was translated into Chinese from the Sanskrit Dīrgha Āgama in the fifth century by the monks Buddhayaśas and Zhu Fonian. One of the four Āgamas upheld by the orthodox Dharmaguptaka school, the Dīrgha Āgama has many parallels with the Pāli Dīgha Nikāya preserved in the Theravāda tradition, but it is unique in two ways. First, the Āgama editors organized the sutras in four major sections, reflecting their major concerns: (1) the centrality of Śākyamuni Buddha as the primary subject, (2) the importance of the Dharma and doctrine, (3) the resultant practice, discipline, and advanced spiritual states, and (4) a record of the cosmological origins of the world. Second, the “Sutra of Cosmology,” which is not found in the Pāli Dīgha Nikāya, was added as the last text in the collection in order to present the Buddha’s teaching more effectively and attractively to a non-Buddhist audience. Some scholars suggest that the underlying principle of the Chang ahan jing reflects a conciliatory impulse intended to bridge the early Buddhist teachings with Mahayana Buddhist teaching and scriptures.
Skt. Dīrgha Āgama, translated by Buddhayaśas and Zhu Fonian into the Chinese as Chan ahan jing (中阿含經). 22 fascicles.