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In Hinduism, a brief aphoristic composition; in Buddhism, a more extended exposition of a subject and the basic form of the scripture of both Theravada and Mahayana traditions. Since the early Indian philosophers did not work with written texts at all, and later philosophers often disdained them, there was a need for very brief explanatory works that could be committed to memory. The earliest sutras were expositions of ritual procedures, but their use spread, and eventually nearly all Indian philosophical systems had their own sutras. See alsoAvatamsaka-sutra, Diamond Sutra, Lotus Sutra, Tripitaka.
Variants of SUTRA
sutra Pali sutta
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on sutra, visit Britannica.com.