Sacred-Texts Buddhism

Buddhism in Translations

This book was translated and edited by Henry Clarke Warren (1854-1899), and published in 1896 as Volume III of the Harvard Oriental Series. As such, it (like The Sacred Books of the East) suffers from some of the deficiencies of Victorian-era translations, mainly: intentionally archaic phrasing (although not as much as is found in many books), versification that today strikes us as stilted (if not downright bad), and translations of some Buddhist technical terms that may show a lack of understanding for the subtleties of Buddhist thought (very notably, the use of the word 'priest' instead of 'monk' to translate 'bhikku', which is not at all a subtle distinction) and have been superceded in more modern translations. Also, it is an anthology of excerpts from various Pâli sources, and as such, it subjects us to Warren's judgment as to what is important to read.

All that being said, however, it is still a quite worthwhile book, and a fine introduction to the vast range of Pâli Buddhist literature. The translations are of a high quality given their time period, and many of the excerpts are of good size, including a number of complete texts. While it may not be suitable for use as devotional text or scholarly reference, it does have value in its own right. Some of the material included (especially the excerpts from the Visudddhi Magga) is not available in any other public domain sources, and at a mere 496 pp. it is concise introduction to the major ideas of Theravada Buddhism. A second table of contents for the book has also been provided, reorganizing the material according to the original sources.

This text was reduced to HTML by Christopher M. Weimer, February 2002, revised July 2002. The entire markup package is hereby made free for any noncommercial use.

Title Page
Table of Contents
Table of Sources