Sūtra (Sanskrit, Devanagari सूत्र) or Sutta (Pāli), literally means a rope or thread that holds things together, and more metaphorically refers to an aphorism (or line, rule, formula), or large a collection of such aphorisms in the form of a manual. It is derived from the verbal root siv-, meaning to sew (these words, including Latin suere and English to sew and "suture", all derive from PIE *syū-).
In Hinduism the 'sutra' is a distinct type of literary composition, based on short aphoristic statements, generally using various technical terms. The literary form of the sutra was designed for concision, as the texts were intended to be memorized by students in some of the formal methods of scriptural and scientific study (Sanskrit: ). Since each line is highly condensed, another literary form arose in which commentaries (Sanskrit: ) on the sutras were added, to clarify and explain them..
One of the most famous definitions of a sutra in Indian literature is itself a sutra and comes from the Vayu Purana:
"alpākṣaraṃ asandigdhaṃ sāravad viśvato mukham /astobhyaṃ anavadyaṃ ca sūtram sūtra vido viduḥ"
"Of minimal syllabary, unambiguous, pithy, comprehensive, / non-redundant, and without flaw: who knows the sūtra knows it to be thus."
In Buddhism, the term "sutra" refers mostly to canonical scriptures that are regarded as records of the oral teachings of Gautama Buddha. In Chinese, these are known as 經 (pinyin: jīng). These teachings are assembled in part of the Tripitaka which is called Sutra Pitaka. There are also some Buddhist texts, such as the Platform Sutra, that are called sutras despite being attributed to much later authors. Some scholars consider that the Buddhist use of sutra is a mis-Sanskritization of sutta, and that the latter represented Sanskrit sūkta (well spoken).
See: Buddhist texts
Associated with Christianity