Translation: The Guide, tr Nanamoli, 1962, Pali Text Society, Bristol.
The nature of the Netti is a matter of some disagreement among scholars. The translator, supported by Professor George Bond of Northwestern University, holds that it is a guide to help those who already understand the teaching present it to others. However, A. K. Warder, Professor Emeritus of Sanskrit at the University of Toronto, disagrees, maintaining that it covers all aspects of interpretation, not just this.
The Netti itself says that the methods were taught by the Buddha's disciple Kaccana (also Katyayana or Kaccayana), and the colophon says he composed the book, that it was approved by the Buddha and that it was recited at the First Council. Scholars do not take this literally, but the translator admits the methods may go back to him. The translator holds that the book is a revised edition of the Petakopadesa, though this has been questioned by Professor von Hinüber. Scholars generally date it somewhere around the beginning of the common era.
The Netti was regarded as canonical by the head of the Burmese sangha around two centuries ago. It is included in the Burmese Phayre manuscript of the Canon, dated 1841/2, the inscriptions of the Canon approved by the Burmese Fifth Council, the 1956 printed edition of the Sixth Council, the new transcript of the Council text being produced under the patronage of the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand and the Sinhalese Buddha Jayanti edition of the Canon. A recent Burmese teacher has not regarded it as canonical.
The Nettipakarana is divided into:
- Sangahavāra: collection of the contents
- Vibhāgavāra: the section which gives a systematic treatment in classified tables. This section contains three sub-sections:
The Uddesavāra gives three separate categories (Pali terms with Nanamoli's translations):
- The sixteen hāras (conveyings, or modes of conveying) are : Desanā (teaching), vicaya (investigation), yutti (construing), Padatthāna (footings), Lakkhana (characteristics), Catuvyūha (fourfold array), Āvatta (conversion), Vibhatti (analysis), Parivattana (reversal), Vevacana (synonyms), Paññatti (descriptions), otarana (ways of entry), sodhana (clearing up), adhitthāna (terms of expression), parikkhāra (requisites), and samāropana (co-ordination).
- The five naya (guidelines) are : Nandiyāvatta (conversion of relishing); tipukkhala (trefoil); sīhavikkīlita (play of lions) ; disālocana (plotting of directions); ankusa (the hook).
- The eighteen mūlapadas consist of nine kusala and nine akusala.
- Nine akusala are
- Tanhā (craving), avijja (Ignorance),
- Lobha (greed), Dosa (Hate), Moha (Delusion),
- Subha saññā (perception of beauty), Nicca saññā (perception of permanence), Sukha saññā (perception of pleasure). Attasaññā (perception of self);
- Nine kusala are:
- samatha (quiet), vipassanā (insight),
- alobha (non-greed), adosa (non-hate), amoha (non-delusion),
- asubhasaññā (perception of ugliness), Dukkhasaññā (perception of pain), Aniccasaññā (perception of impermanence), and Anattasaññā (perception of not-self) etc.
- Nine akusala are