Abhidharma PiṠaka

Quick Reference

(Skt., basket of higher doctrine). The last of the three divisions of the corpus of Buddhist canonical literature known as the Tripiṭaka (Pāli, Tipiṭaka) or ‘three baskets’. The fact that the Abhidharma is not mentioned in the sūtras (where only the first two divisions of Dharma andVinaya are referred to) proves that at one time the Abhidharma Piṭaka did not form a separate section of the canon. The contents probably had their origin in lists of key terms abstracted from the sūtras known as mātṛkās. Only two complete Abhidharma collections have survived, those of the Theravāda and the Sarvāstivāda schools. The Theravāda Abhidharma (Pāli, Abhidhamma) consists of seven books: Dhammasaṇgaṇī, Vibhaṇga, Kathāvatthu, Puggalapaññatti, Dhātukathā, Yamaka, and Paṭṭhāna. Commentaries in Pāli exist on these seven books, as does an exegetical work on the whole piṭaka by the title of Abhidhamma Mūlaṭīkā, compiled by Ānanda Vanaratanatissa of Sri Lanka. The seven books of the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma, which survive mainly in Tibetan and Chinese, are the Saṇgītiparyāya, Dharmaskandha, Prajñaptiśāstra, Vijñānakāya, Dhātukāya, Prakaraṇapāda, and Jñāna-prasthāna.

Subjects: Buddhism.

Reference entries