What are the Numerical Discourses?

The Aṅguttara Nikaya (AN) is the last of the four main books (nikāya) of the Buddha’s discourses (also known as the Sutta Piṭaka) in the Pāḷi Canon.

The Buddha often taught according to numbered lists throughout his career as a teacher, as anyone familiar with Buddhist doctrine will know. In fact, this memorable quality of a list is one of its great advantages as a format and the AN takes full advantage of this technique and hence its name.

From DN 33, we know that the Saṅgha would often recite the Buddha’s teachings in numerical order even during the Buddha’s own lifetime, so it isn’t hard to imagine how the tradition came to form the Aṅguttara Nikaya as we have it today. The first book (AN 1) contains a multitude of teachings on “one thing”, the second book (AN 2) contains teachings on “two things”, etc.

The Aṅguttara Nikaya contains some of the most practical suttas in the entire canon: for monastics and the laity. Being organized around a theme as abstract as numbers (starting with the number one!), the AN contains a rich variety of subjects sure to appeal to readers of any level or interest.


This course is technically a continuation of Bhikkhu Bodhi’s epic, multi-year course on the Majjhimā Nikaya, but don’t let that scare you off! This course is designed to be approachable by anyone with a basic understanding of Buddhism and of the Early Buddhist Texts.

Time Requirement

As of 2021, the course is still ongoing, with new lectures appearing every couple of weeks. I recommend watching one or two videos per week to slowly catch up, but you’re welcome to watch at whatever pace works for you.

Course Contents

This course goes sequentially through the Aṅguttara Nikaya, explaining each sutta or sutta cluster one at a time.


A copy of the Aṅguttara Nikaya is required for this class. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s own translation is, of course, preferred:

The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the Aṅguttara Nikāya – Bhikkhu Bodhi

You can also find Bhikkhu Sujato’s translation free online:


  • All the lectures for the class can be found on YouTube and on Google Drive at the links above.
  • Note that the videos on YouTube are slightly out of order and that the Drive video files can be downloaded for offline viewing, but may not include the latest videos.

Looking Forward, Back, or Up

Where’s that sutta? – Laurence Khantipālo Mills (.pdf)
  • If, either remembering a sutta you read or looking for a new one, this index of subjects, places, etc has probably got you!
  • Or you can try searching on SuttaCentral!

Advanced Courses

The Majjhima Nikāya
Go back and study the Majjhima Nikaya with Bhikkhu Bodhi in this prequel to the present course.
An Introduction to Buddhist Philosophy
A more systematic introduction to Buddhist Philosophy with Bhikkhu Bodhi and several other guest lecturers.
The Pāli Language: Level 1
Learn the Pali language itself with Bhikkhu Bodhi.
or feel free to check out any of our University's other fine offerings.