Electronic edition note

This electronic edition is based on the scanned 1995 reprint. Relevant changes are noted below.

  1. Sections in the front matter were reordered — short dedications, prefatory notes, acknowledgements were moved under the new heading Prefaces for clarity.

  2. Index and glossaries are skipped in the electronic edition.

  3. The Additions and Corrections section was applied and is therefore skipped.

  4. Cross-references to pages were converted (they only appear in LaTeX, in other non-paged formats such as Sphinx, they are empty).

  5. Citation references were fixed (Ibid. expanded, inconsistent citation abbreviations fixed). Bibliography was somewhat reorganized.

  6. Footnotes in chapter titles were moved at the beginning of the main text, owing to limitations of some target formats which can’t handle footnotes in chapter titles.

  7. Owing to an imperfect OCR process, there are typos in the text, especially in the Pali quotes. This is a reader’s edition, so those needing the Pali footnotes should check the sources. These quotes might be machine-corrected based on fuzzy matching (e.g. with SuttaCentral data), in the future.

  8. The BPS edition sections the text into fascicles; the partially coincide and partially go across chapter sectioning. Fascicle sectioning was removed from the electronic edition, along with each fascicle’s heading such as:

The path of Freedom.
Fascicle the first.
Written by the Arahant Upatissa who was called Great Light in Ryo.
Translated in Ryo by Tipitaka Sanghapāla of Funan.
  1. The BPS edition sectioning is almost completely flat (single level below chapters). This will be modernized for easier navigation.

  1. Publisher’s note on Gedatsu-Dō-Ron vs. Cié-to-tāo-lun was removed as the few confusing instances were fixed in the text itself.

Dedication quote

Anupubbena medhāvī thokathokaṃ khaṇe khaṇe
kammāro rajatass’ eva niddhame malam attano.
Gradually should the perspicacious one,
Moment by moment, little by little, expel
His own dross, as would the smith
That which is in silver.
Dhammapada v. 239
(Trans. by Soma Thera)

Editorial data


The Path of Freedom (Vimuttimagga)
By the Arahant Upatissa
Translated into Chinese as Cié-to-tāo-lun by Tipitaka Sanghapāla of Funan
Translated from the Chinese by Rev. N. R. M. Ehara, Soma Thera, and Kheminda Thera
Buddhist Publication Society. Kandy, Sri Lanka


Buddhist Publication Society, P.O. Box 61, 54, Sangharaja Mawatha, Kandy, Sri Lanka
First published in 1961 by Dr. D. Roland D. Weerasuria
First BPS edition 1977, Reprinted 1995
Copyright © 1995 Buddhist Publication Society
ISBN 955-24-0054-6
Reprinted and Donated for free distribution by The Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation
11F, 55 Hang Chow South Road Sec 1, Taipei, Taiwan, R.O.C.
Tel: 886-2-23951198, Fax: 886-2-23913415




Dedicated to the memory of

The Venerable Mahā Nāyaka Thera, Paeḷāēnē Siri Vajirañāṇa of Vajirārāma, Colombo, Ceylon


The Venerable Myin Mu Myo Sayadaw, Pāṇḍava Mahā Thera of the Satipaṭṭhāna Monastery, Moulmein, Burma.



Prefatory Note to Original Draft Translation


In the following pages is a draft translation of the first fascicle of Gedatsu Do Ron (Vimuttimagga), No. 1648 of the Taisho Edition of the Chinese Tripitaka (No- 1293 in Nanjio’s Catalogue). The pages of the text are given in square brackets.

This is circulated with the hope of receiving suggestions and criticisms helpful towards bringing out a complete translation of the Vimuttimagga.

We have derived much help from Prof. R. Higata’s Japanese translation of the Gedatsu Do Ron, and Prof Pe Maung Tin’s English Translation of the Visuddhimagga.

N. R. M. Ehara, V. E. P. Pulle, G. S. Prelis

Jozaiji, Kawatana-Machi, Nagasaki-Ken. Japan.

Hanamatsuri, the eighth day of the fourth lunar month, May 28, 1936.


Acknowledgments (Original Draft Translation)

Jozaiji, Kawatana-Machi, Nagasaki-Ken, Japan.

August 29, 1936.


For having encouraged us, we offer our hearty thanks to Dr. C. A. F. Rhys Davids, J. F. McKechnie Esq., (England); Prof. Dr. Wilh, Geiger (Germany); Dr. B. C Law, Ven. Nyāṇatiloka Mahā Thera, Ven. Nārada Thera (India and Ceylon); Dr. Unrai Woghihara, Dr. Makoto Nagai, Prof. Nichiki Kimura, Prof Giokei Umada, Dr. Baiye Henmi, Prof. Chotatsu Ikeda, Prof Kaijo Ishikawa, Prof. Kairyu Yamamoto, Prof Yukio Sakamoto, Rev. Sho-on Mizuno (Tokyo); Dr. Giei Honda, Prof. Chizen Akanuma (Kyoto); Prof. Ryusho Higata (Fukuoka).

N. R. M. Ehara, V. E. P. Pulle, G. S. Prelis



[xxxi/32] As stated elsewhere (In Memoriam) the draft translation of the Cié-to-tāo-lun (being the Chinese name for the Vimuttimagga, rendered as Gedatsu Dō Ron in Japanese) was completed in four months. Therefore it was thought that it needed some revision. This the Venerable Soma Thera intended to do on his return to Ceylon in 1937. But he fell ill and by the end of 1939 the Second World War was already three months old. All hope of publishing the revised edition of the Original Draft Translation during the war had to be given up. With the end of the war, however, conditions were even less favourable. Meanwhile, though the Venerable Soma Thera wished to complete the revision, and await a favourable occasion to publish it, other work he had undertaken prevented him from doing so. Further, asthma robbed him of much, of his time. Thus the work he intended to do on the Vimuttimagga translation had to be postponed each time he took it up.

When he passed away many venerable theras and dāyakas were much interested in publishing, at least, the Original Draft Translation as it was, and they requested me to prepare it for publication. Knowing my own limitations, I was at first rather disinclined to undertake this work, but later acceded to their earnest request for the following reasons.

The Venerable Soma Thera had originally wished to have the English translation of the Vimuttimagga (The Path of Freedom) revised and published some day. But later, seeing difficulties, he modified the idea and was even content with merely revising the Draft Translation, leaving the publication itself to some future time. He said that the important thing, the Draft Translation, had been done, and that if people felt that they needed it they would see to its publication.

It was a work that had inspired both the Venerable Soma Thera and me, and there were many who welcomed its publication.

Dr. D. Roland D. Weerasuria of Balcombe House, Balcombe Place, Colombo, invited the Venerable Soma Thera sometime in 1959 to write an abridged version of the Visuddhimagga as he felt that such an edition would supply a long felt want. But shortly after he began writing it death intervened. Dr. Weerasuria then requested the Venerable Ñāṇamoli Thera to take up the work which, after some hesitation, he agreed to finish within a year. But he, too, passed away within a week. Sometime after this Dr. Weerasuria, having seen the Original Draft Translation of the Vimuttimagga, was keen on its publication.

This was a fitting occasion to pay a tribute to the memory of the two senior co-translators of the Vimuttimagga, the Reverend N. R. M. Ehara and the Venerable Soma Mahā Thera.

[xxxii/33] And finally the urgent personal need to keep myself immersed in the Dhamma throughout the waking hours during this period of stress prompted me to take up the work.

From the above it will be seen that this work was taken up due to sheer force of circumstances and not because of any special qualification on my part. Therefore, perhaps, some things stated here could have been said in other and better ways. Inexpert as I am in scholarly pursuits there is bound to be many a lack in my portion of this work and so I ask the reader to bear with me should he detect any errors of commission or omission here.

In preparing this work for printing I have made a few alterations in the rendering of certain terms and passages, as they appeared in the Original Draft Translation, in accordance with notes and instructions left by the Venerable Soma Thera. The lacunae in the Draft Translation were filled, as far as possible, with the help of the word for word translation in consultation with Soma Thera’s notes. All the longer Pali quotations in the footnotes, except a few from the Visuddhimagga and some from the Dhammasaṅgani etc., were inserted by me. They are given in full mainly with the idea of helping the general reader conversant with the Pali but to whom reference books are not easily accessible. By this attempt of mine if but just a few readers happen to be benefitted, to any extent, I should consider myself amply rewarded.

Since the Introduction had already been sent to the Printers by the time the ‘Encyclopaedia of Buddhism’ (1961 Government of Ceylon, Fascicule A-Aca) was out, the following is included here. In his article, Abhidharma Literature, Dr. Kōgen Mizuno makes three statements on page 78 of the Encyclopaedia regarding the Vimuttimagga: (1) that the Vimuttimagga (along with the Dhammapada, the Aṭṭhakavagga of the Suttanipāta etc.) “probably belonged to the Abhayagiri sect and not to the Mahāvihāra sect” (paragraph B continued from the previous page); (2) that “He (i. e., the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera) evidently studied the Vimuttimagga, which was a manual of the Abhayagirivihāra sect” (paragraph c); and (3) “That the Vimuttimagga, was Upatissa’s work and belonged to the Abhayagirivihāra sect is mentioned in the ṭikā (sub-commentary, i.e., Dhammapāla’s Paramatthamañjūsā) of the Visuddhimagga” (paragraph c).

The first statement, (1) above, says that the Vimuttimagga “probably belonged to the Abhayagiri sect”, while the second, (2) above, says “Vimuttimagga, which was a manuel of the Abhayagirivihāra sect”. How, precisely, did probability in paragraph b became certainty in paragraph c? As for the third statement, (3) above, the Paramatthamañjūsā does not say that the Vimuttimagga “belonged to the Abhayagirivihāra sect” as is claimed here. What it says is that the Vimuttimagga is the work of the Venerable Upatissa Thera. The fact that certain teachings are common to both the Abhayagirivihāra [xxxiii/34] and the Vimuttimagga does not prove that the latter belonged to the Abhayagirivihāra sect. For details see Introduction and n. 2 of the present translation.

I have derived much help from Prof. Dr. P. V. Bapat’s Vimuttimagga and Visuddhimagga—a Comparative Study [VimMagandVisMag] , and the Venerable Ñāṇamoli Thera’s translation of the Visuddhimagga—The Path of Purification [VisMag] . The Pali Text Society’s Pali-English Dictionary 1921, and Trenchner’s Critical Pali Dictionary, Copenhagen 1924-1948 have been equally helpful.

It is with great pleasure that I make the following acknowledgements to all those whose help and encouragement made my work less difficult.

To the Venerable Maḍihē Paññâsīha Mahā Nāyaka Thera of Vajirārāma for his kindly and ready help and advice at all times lacking which this work would not have been completed.

To all those venerable monks who encouraged me by word and deed when that encouragement was most needed.

To the Venerable Ñāṇavīra Thera for his welcome suggestions and the readiness with which he helped in many ways.

To Mr. W. Joseph Soysa who helped in reading over some of the proofs. He has always been much interested in the Vimuttimagga and in its publication.

To Mr. Lakshman de Mel who read through the type-script and made valuable suggestions.

To Mr. R. D. Piyasena and those who helped, him for taking a great deal of trouble in preparing the English Index.

Lastly, to Dr. D. Roland D. Weerasuria who has generously borne the entire cost of publishing this translation. Provision has been made by him to keep the price of this book within reach of the modest purse. He has performed this meritorious act (puññakamma) with great faith (saddhâ) wishing his father, Mudaliyar D. D. Weerasuria J. P., who passed away on 25. 5. 1949, the happiness of Nibbāna. May the result of this pure deed redound in full measure to his lasting happiness.

The Printers have to be thanked for their patience and high quality of work.

Vijirārāma, Colombo, Ceylon.

Kheminda Thera, October 2505/1961.