A commentarial work included in the Canon as part of the Khuddaka Nikāya. It is generally divided into two books: the Culla-Niddesa and the Mahā Niddesa.
The Culla Niddesa contains comments on the Khaggavisāna Sutta and the sixteen suttas of the Parāyana Vagga of the Sutta Nipāta, while the Mahā Niddesa deals with the sixteen suttas of the Atthaka Vagga.
It is significant that the Culla Niddesa contains no comments on the fifty six (Vatthugāthā) introductory stanzas, which preface the Parāyana Vagga as at present found in the Sutta Nipāta. This lends support to the suggestion that at the time the Culla Niddesa was written the Parāyana Vagga, was a separate anthology, and that the Khaggavisāna Sutta did not belong to any particular group. Similarly with the Mahā Niddesa and the Atthaka Vagga.
The comments in the Niddesa seem to have been modelled on exegetical explanations such as are attributed here and there in the Pitakas to Mahā Kaccāna (E.g., Madhupindika Sutta (M.i.110f); also S.iii.9) and to Sāriputta (E.g., Sangitī Sutta, D.iii.207f).
There is a tradition (NidA. p.1), which ascribes the authorship of the Niddesa to Sāriputta. There exists a Commentary on it, called the Saddhammapajjotikā, by Upasena. It was written in Ceylon at the request of a monk called Deva Thera.