This study is a comparative examination of the main teachings contained in the Sutra-anga portion of the Pali Samyutta-nikaya (SN) and its Chinese counterpart, Samyuktagama (雜阿含經Za-ahan-jing) (SA).
The SN and SA are essentially two different versions of the same collection of discourses. This study builds on the work of Yin Shun, which demonstrates the historical importance of SN/SA in the formation of the early Buddhist canon. In particular, it is based on Yin Shun's recognition of the three-anga structure of SN/SA, and of the status of its Sutra-anga portion as of prime importance in the historical formation of this nikaya/agama, and as containing the most fundamental teachings of the Buddha. The aim of this research is to reveal and clarify the similarities and differences between SN and S A, with regard to the principal Buddhist teachings contained in their Sutra-anga portion. It is pointed out that SN/SA particularly lends itself to such study because of its organisation into collections, or samyuktas (P. samyutta, Ch. Xiangying 相應), each of which is made up of discourses dealing with a specific doctrinal topic. For example, the Khandha- Samyutta of SN and its counterpart, Yin Xiangying (陰相應) of SA, deal with the important topic of the five aggregates (khandhas).
After presenting, in Chapter 1, an overall picture of the structure of SN/SA, particularly its Sutra-anga portion, the thesis goes on to examine, in succeeding chapters, the following major doctrinal topics: the five aggregates (khandha), the sense spheres (salayatana), feeling (vedana), the realms of nature (dhatu), causal condition (nidana), and the path (magga, bojjhanga, etc.).
The comparative study of the two versions (SN and SA) finds them to be largely in agreement on essential points, but also reveals some significant areas of disagreement. This is seen as demonstrating the importance of the methodological principle employed here. It supports the assertion that any attempt to identify the teachings of early Buddhism should not be based on the Pali texts alone, but should entail comparative study of the Pali texts and their Chinese counterparts.