RS22.02 Aṇatvalakṣaṇa Sutra

This Gāndhārī version of the Buddha’s Discourse on Not-self (P Anattalakkhaṇa-sutta, Skt. *Anātmalakṣaṇa-sūtra) is the second of six sūtras or discourses preserved on scroll 22 (RS 22) of the Robert Senior collection. The Gāndhārī title *Aṇatvalakṣaṇa Sutra has been reconstructed on the basis of the title given in the Pali parallels. This discourse records the second teaching given by the Buddha shortly after his awakening to the group of five monks at the Deer Park near Benares. The significance of this teaching and its exposition of the five aggregates (G kadha, P khandha, Skt. skandha) as having the nature of “not-self” (G aṇatva, P anatta, Skt. anātman) is indicated by the numerous versions available in Pali, Sanskrit, Tibetan, and Chinese, and now Gāndhārī. This digital journal article presents the first diplomatic publication of the Gāndhārī sutra including a diplomatic edition, reconstruction, hybrid edition, translation, Sanskrit chāyā, a glossary, palaeographic report and images.  Details of the parallels and a preliminary study of the text were published in Allon 2020.

Item Robert Senior Scroll 22 | Text 2 | Surface r.8 – 30 | Material Birch Bark | Size H: 87 cm; W: 13.5-7 cm | Findspot uncertain (presumably Haḍḍa, Afghanistan) | Date approx. 140 CE | Current Location University of Washington, Seattle

Content Summary

While dwelling in the Deer Park near Benares, the Buddha instructs a group of five monks about the “not-self” nature of form, feeling, perception, volitional formations, and consciousness. In his teaching, the Buddha explains that if these aggregates were self, they would not lead to affliction and suffering and one would be able to control their character, but since they are not-self they do lead to affliction and suffering and it is not possible to control their character. Through a series of questions and answers, the Buddha then leads the monks to identify the aggregates as having the character of impermanence and suffering and as being inappropriate objects of self-identification. As a result of this realization, the monks are liberated from the cycle of rebirth.


disciple, liberation, not-self, skandhas (aggregates)


  • P.  Anattalakkhaṇa-sutta SN 22.59 at SN III 66.23–68.29 (Anattalakkhaṇasutta [Be SN II 55.1–56.28]; Pañcavaggiyasuttaṃ [Ce SN III 114.27–118.8]; no title [Se SN III 82.9−85.6]).
  • P.  Second half of the Soṇa-sutta SN 22.49 at SN III 48.5–50.10 is identical to the second half of the Anattalakkhaṇa-sutta (the identical passage is pp. 49.9–50.10).
  • P.  Vin I 13.18–14.37 (Be Vin III 18.18–20.27; Ce Vin IV 28.1–30.18; Se Vin IV 24.17−28.16).
  • Skt.  CPS § 15.
  • Skt.  SBhV I 138.10–139.17.
  • Skt.  Mvu III 337.9–340.17.
  • Skt.  Avś II 168.9–170.5.
  • Ch.  SĀ 34 at T II 7c13–8a4
  • Ch.  SĀ 33 at T II 7b22–c12 (with minor variations)
  • Ch.  Independent translation T 102 at T II 499c.
  • Ch.  MūSā Vin T 1450 at T XXIV 128b16–c12 and T 1451 at T XXIV 407a23–b18
  • Ch.  DhG Vin T 1428 at XXII 789a12–b4
  • Ch.  Mahīś Vin T 1421 at XXII 105a15–25.
  • Ch.  FJJ T 190 at III 813a29–c4.
  • Tib.  Tibetan versions in the SBhV and Kṣudrakavastu of the MūSā Vin (see Waldschmidt 1952–1962: 163–171).

Companion Publications

  • Allon, Mark (2020) “A Gandhari Saṃyukta-āgama Version of the ‘Discourse on Not-self’ (Pali Anattalakkhaṇa-sutta, Sanskrit *Anātmalakṣaṇa-sūtra).” In Dhammadinnā, ed. Research on the Saṃyukta-āgama. Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts Research Series, pp 201-258. Taipei: Dharma Drum Publishing Co.


Research on this edition was made possible through the financial support of a number of different sources, including an Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Project Research Fellow (University of Sydney) 2002–2006, Robert H. No Ho Family Foundation Grants for Critical Editions and Scholarly Translations 2019–2020, and various private donors to the University of Sydney’s Buddhist Studies program. The study of this text was first presented by Mark Allon as “A Gāndhārī Saṃyukta-āgama version of the Discourse on Not-self (P Anattalakkhaṇa-sutta, Skt. *Anātmalakṣaṇa-sūtra) (RS 22, no. 2)” in Research on the Saṃyukta-āgama (The IV Seminar of the Āgama Research Group), Buenos Aires, Argentina, 27–28 October 2018. The edition has benefited from comments by seminar participants and especially from subsequent comments by Richard Salomon.

The digital edition is published here with the permission of the Venerable Dhammadinnā, the editor of the Research on the Saṃyukta-āgama (Dharma Drum Institute of Liberal Arts Research Series. Taipei: Dharma Drum Publishing Co.) in which Allon 2020 appeared.

Digital publishing by Stephanie Majcher and Ian McCrabb

Each digital edition includes background information about the text, a summary of its content, and references to parallel texts and related publications. Users can explore the text, image, and other analysis resources through various preset views from the READ interface, or customize the views themselves.

By developing the text in READ, the text and image are linked such that selecting a syllable, word, or compound in the text or glossary will highlight the associated akṣaras on the manuscript. This allows you to in effect “read” the manuscript as you read the transcribed text, even if you do not know the script.

Users can choose from several preset READ views by selecting the tabs at the top. Each of these convenient arrangements of text and resources is suited to a different experience with the manuscript. For instance, choose the Script view to study the paleography of the manuscript or the Glossary view to study its vocabulary. It is recommended that the user toggles through the default views to gain a holistic perspective of the text.

  • Transliteration: Image and transliteration.
  • Translation: Transliteration and translation.
  • Chāyā: Transliteration and chāyā.
  • Glossary: Image, transliteration, and glossary.
  • Script: Image, transliteration, and script chart
  • Visualize: Visualize the text structure display.
  • Synch HTML: Interactive synchronized rendition.
  • TEI: EpiDoc TEI rendition.
  • Plain HTML: Transliteration in HTML format.



Avadānaśataka (ed. Speyer 1906–1909)
Burmese (Chaṭṭhasaṅgāyana) edition
Sri Lankan (Buddha Jayanti Tipiṭaka Series) edition
Catuṣpariṣat-sūtra (ed. Waldschmidt 1952–1962)
European (Pali Text Society) edition
Fobenxing ji jing (T 190)
Mahāvastu-avadāna (ed. Senart 1882–1897)
Saṃyukta-āgama (T 99)
Saṅghabhedavastu (ed. Gnoli 1977–1978)
Thai (King of Siam) edition
Taishō 大正 edition

Cite this article as: Mark Allon, Stephanie Majcher and Ian McCrabb, “Aṇatvalakṣaṇa Sutra,” Journal of Gandhāran Buddhist Texts, December 21, 2020,