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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Buddhist Studies: Sacred Texts

A guide for those beginning Buddhist Studies

Online Resources

The words of the Buddha were carried down through oral tradition after his death and later complied collections called suttas (Pali) or sutras (Sanskrit).  These collections, plus the Vinaya Pitaka (monastic rules) and Abidhamma/Aabidharma (philosophical texts) compose the early Buddhist Canon (also known as the Pali Canon or Tripitaka)

Note! When searching for sutras in the catalogue knowing the Sanskrit and/or Pali name is useful

A non-exhaustive survey of books you can find at the History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library 

Pali Canon 

In the Buddha Words (Selected texts of Pali Canon) Call No. BQ1192.E53 B63 2005

The Middle Length Discourses (Majjhima Nikāya) Call No. BQ1312.E5 N36 1995

The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha ( Anguttara Nikāya)  Call No. BQ1342.E5 B63 2012

The Connected Discourses of the Buddha (Samyutta Nikāya)   Call No.  BQ1332.B63 E5 2000

The Long Discourses of the Buddha (Digha Nikāya) Call No. BQ1292.E53 W35 1995

The Therīgāthā Call No.  BQ1452.E5 H35 2015

Some Mahayana Sūtras (later sūtras related to Mahayana Buddhism)

Lotus Sūtra (Saddharma Puṇḍarīka Sūtra) Call No: BQ2052.E5 W38 1993

The Heart Sūtra (Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya) Call No. BQ1967.T35 2014

The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra: Call No. BQ1722.E5 S89 1999

The Vimalakīrti Sūtra Call No. BQ2212.E5 W66 1997

These various sūtras are complied in different ways for each iteration of Buddhism in different regions. See Chinese Buddhist Canon, Korean Buddhist Canon, Tibetan Buddhist Canon etc. 

In the Buddha's Words

The American scholar-monk Bhikkhu Bodhi, whose voluminous translations have won widespread acclaim, here presents selected discourses of the Buddha from the Pali Canon, the earliest record of what the Buddha taught. This book contains: Clear translations of the Buddha's original teachings Thoughtfully curated selections from the Pali Canon Chapters on the Buddha's life, rebirth, suffering, liberation, and practice A foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama

The Lotus Sutra

Since its appearance in China in the third century, The Lotus Sutra has been regarded as one of the most illustrious scriptures in the Mahayana Buddhist canon. The object of intense veneration among generations of Buddhists in China, Korea, Japan, and other parts of the world, it has had a profound impact on the great works of Japanese and Chinese literature, attracting more commentary than any other Buddhist scripture.


The Therigatha, composed more than two millennia ago, is an anthology of poems in the Pali language by and about the first Buddhist women.


"ILLUSTRATED BUDDHIST TEXT , 1984.425,” Harvard Art Museums collections online, Oct 07, 2021,