The Udana (udāna) is a Buddhist scripture, part of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism. It is included there in the Sutta Pitaka's Khuddaka Nikaya. The title might be translated "inspired utterances". The book comprises 80 such utterances, most in verse, each preceded by a narrative giving the context in which the Buddha utters it.
The famous story of the Blind men and an elephant appears in Udana, under Tittha Sutta (Ud. 6.4)
The Udana is composed of eight chapters (vagga) of ten discourses each. The chapter titles are:
Bodhivagga (Awakening chapter)
Mucalindavagga (King Mucalinda chapter)
Nandavagga (Ven. Nanda chapter)
Meghiyavagga (Ven. Meghiya chapter)
Soṇavagga (Lay Follower Sona chapter)
Jaccandhavagga (Blind From Birth chapter)
Cullavagga (Minor chapter)
Pāṭaligāmiyavagga (Pataligamiya chapter)
Each discourse includes a prose portion followed by a verse. At the end of each prose section, as prelude to the verse, the following formulaic text is included:
Then, on realizing the significance of that, the Blessed One on that occasion exclaimed:
Atha kho bhagavā etam-atthaṃ viditvā tāyaṃ velāyaṃ imaṃ udānaṃ udānesi:
It is from such "exclamations" (udāna) that the collection derives its name.
Dating of text
Some scholars consider this one of the earliest of all Buddhist scriptures, while others consider it somewhat later.
Hinuber identifies this type of discourse (although not necessarily the existing collection itself) as being part of the pre-canonical navaṅga (Pali for "nine-fold") which classified discourses according to their form and style, such as geyya (mixed prose and verse), gāthā (four-lined couplets), udāna (utterances) and jātaka (birth story).
Relationship to other sacred texts
Within Buddhist literature, about a fourth of the Udana's prose sections correspond to text elsewhere in the Pali Canon, particularly in the Vinaya. In addition, in regards to Tibetan Buddhist literature, Hinuber suggests that the Udana formed the original core of the Sanskrit Udānavarga, to which verses from the Dhammapada were added.
In terms of non-Buddhist texts, some Udana concepts can be found in the Vedantic Upanishads and in Jain texts.
Tr Major-General D. M. Strong, 1902
"Verses of uplift", in Minor Anthologies of the Pali Canon, volume II, tr F. L. Woodward, 1935, Pali Text Society , Bristol
Tr John D. Ireland, Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka, 1990; later reprinted in 1 volume with his translation of the Itivuttaka
Tr Peter Masefield, 1994, Pali Text Society, Bristol; the PTS's preferred translation; its declared aim is to translate in accordance with the commentary's interpretation
Bilingual Pali-English study edition, 2010 Theravada Tipitaka Press