RS12.01 Gos̱iga Sutra

This Gāndhārī version of the Buddha’s Cow‐horn Discourse (P Cūḷagosiṅga-sutta, Ch. 牛角娑羅林經 Niújiǎosuōluólín-jīng) is preserved on scroll 12 of the Robert Senior collection, one of the longest in the collection. The Gāndhārī title *Gos̱iga Sutra has been reconstructed on the basis of the title given in the Pali parallel. Full parallels, which are listed below, can be found in the Pali and Chinese Majjhima-nikāya/Madhyamāgama collections. This is one of four sūtras in the Robert Senior collection that most likely originally belonged to the Madhyamāgama of the community that produced it, where the majority of the sūtras in the collection have their parallels in the Saṃyutta-nikāya/Saṃyuktāgamas. The Senior collection as a whole seems to represent an anthology of sūtras selected from these or similar collections. This publication contains the first diplomatic edition, reconstruction, and translation of this Gāndhārī sūtra version.

Item Robert Senior Scroll 12 | Text 1 | Surface ll.1 ‒ 50 (recto), 51‒75 (verso) | Material Birch Bark | Size H: max. 69.7 cm; W: max. 12 cm | Findspot uncertain (presumably Haḍḍa, Afghanistan) | Date approx. 140 CE | Current Location University of Washington, Seattle

Content Summary

The discourse deals with the Buddha’s visit to a group of three senior monks who live in harmony in the Cow-horn Grove (G Gos̱igaśalavaṇadag̱a, P Gosiṅgasālavanadāya, Skt. Gośṛṅgaśālavanadāgha). The monks are Aṇarudha (P Anuruddha, Skt. Aniruddha), Ṇadia (P Nandiya, Skt. Nandika) and Kibhira (P Kimbhila, Skt. Kimbhira). The discourse opens with a description of the cooperative mealtime activities of the three monks. The Buddha questions the three monks about their wellbeing and harmonious living situation and the monks each outline the compassion and respect they show their fellows. The Buddha continues with his questioning, asking whether the monks have other attainments that surpass the human state (G utari maṇuśadharma, Skt. uttari mānuṣyadharma), while living in such a harmonious way. The Buddha engages in a round of progressive questioning, moving by each step to the next higher attainment. Aṇarudha elucidates their higher attainments following the progression of the nine meditative states, the four dhyānas, the four ārūpyasamapattis, “formless attainments,” and cessation. The Buddha departs the Gos̱iga Grove accompanied for a short while by the three monks out of respect. When the three monks have returned and are alone together, Ṇadia and Kibhira ask Aṇarudha how he knew of the extent of their attainments. Aṇarudha explains he has the ability to understand their thoughts and attainments directly with his mind, and that spirits had also informed him. The Buddha, on his path away from the Gos̱iga Grove, is approached by the spirit Driga, who issues an acclamation about the three Aṇarudha monks, that their presence in the Vaji country (P Vajji, Skt. Vṛji) is a benefit for, and will bring advantage to, the local population. The Buddha confirms that all those associated with the monks, and who remember them, obtain such benefit. The sūtra concludes with the spirit Driga’s acclamation about the Aṇarudha monks passing through the heavenly realms, starting with the bhuma deva (P bhumma deva, Skt. bhūmya deva), “earth spirits,” and reaching as far as the bramaloa (P/Skt. brahmaloka), “Brahmā-world.”


attainment states, harmonious living


  • P.  Cūḷagosiṅga-sutta MN 31 at MN I 205–211
  • Ch.  牛角娑羅林經 Niújiǎosuōluólín-jīng MĀ 185 at T 1 no. 26 729b28–731a28.
  • P.  Upakkilesa-sutta MN 128 at MN III 152–162 contains the episode about the Anuruddha monks parallel to paragraphs 3–4 of the Gāndhārī (pp. 155.13–157.23).
  • P.  Kosamba-kkhandaka of Mahāvagga X of the Vinaya-piṭaka at Vin I 337–360 contains the episode about the Anuruddha monks parallel to paragraphs 3–4 of the Gāndhārī (pp. 350.30–352.20).
  • Ch.  長壽王本起經 Chángshòuwáng Běnqǐ-jīng MĀ 72 at T 1 no. 26 532c1–539b13 contains the episode about the Ānàlǜtuó monks parallel to paragraphs 3–4 of the Gāndhārī (p. 536a17–c16).
  • Ch.  長壽經 Chángshòu-jīng EĀ 24.8 at T 2 no. 125 626b11–630b17 contains the episode about the Ānàlǜ monks parallel to paragraphs 3–4 of the Gāndhārī (pp. 629a13–630a6).

Companion Publications

  • Silverlock, Blair Alan. 2015. An Edition and Study of the Gos̱iga‐sutra, the Cow‐Horn Discourse (Senior Collection Scroll No. 12): An Account of the Harmonious Aṇarudha Monks. PhD Dissertation. The University of Sydney.  


Research on this edition was made possible through the financial support of several sources, including an Australian Postgraduate Award (University of Sydney) 2010–2013, the Dhammachai Education Foundation, and various private donors to the University of Sydney’s Buddhist Studies program.

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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: Blair Silverlock, Mark Allon and Stephanie Majcher, “Gos̱iga Sutra” Journal of Gandhāran Buddhist Texts, Xxxx nn, 2022,