Abhidhamma Pitaka

The Abhidhamma Pitaka (IAST|abhidhammapiṭaka) is the last of the three pitakas, that is, baskets, constituting the Pali Canon, the scriptures of Theravāda Buddhism.

The Abhidhamma pitaka is a detailed scholastic reworking of doctrinal material appearing in the Suttas, according to schematic classifications. It does not contain systematic philosophical treatises, but summaries or numerical lists ["Abhidhamma Pitaka." Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.] . Thus, it contains mainly long, dry, formal, abstract and systematic lists. The Pāli scholar Caroline Rhys Davids famously described the ten chapters of the Yamaka as "ten valleys of dry bones" [Rhys Davids (1914).] .

Nature of abhidhamma

Abhidhamma has been variously described as philosophy, psychology, metaphysics etc. L. S. Cousins says that the abhidhamma methodology looks at things in terms of occasions or events instead of sequences or processes. ["Pali oral literature", in "Buddhist Studies", ed Denwood and Piatigorski, Curzon, London, 1982/3]

Origins

Tradition [Malalasekera, "Dictionary of Pali Proper Names", India Office, 1938, reprinted Pali Text Society, Bristol, volume I, page 138] says that the Buddha thought the Abhidhamma out immediately after his enlightenment, but only taught it some years later, to the gods. He then repeated it to Sariputta, who handed it on to his disciples. This tradition is also evident in the Parivara, a very late addition to the Vinaya Pitaka ["This work (the Parivara) is in fact a very much later composition, and probably the work of a Ceylonese Thera." from: "Book of the Discipline", volume VI, page ix (translators' introduction)] , which mentions in a concluding verse of praise to the Buddha that "this best of creatures, the lion, taught the three pitakas." ["Book of the Discipline", volume VI, page 123] .

Scholars however generally date the Abhidhamma works to around the third century BCE, 100 to 200 years after the death of the Buddha. Therefore the seven Abhidhamma works are generally claimed by scholars not to represent the words of the Buddha himself, but those of disciples and great scholars ["Abhidhamma Pitaka." Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.] . Dr Rupert Gethin however said that important elements of abhidhamma methodology probably go back to the Buddha's lifetime ["Foundations of Buddhism", Oxford University Press, 1998, page 48] . A. K. Warder and Dr Peter Harvey both suggested early dates for the matikas on which most of the Abidhamma books are based. Abhidhamma started out as elaboration of the suttas,dubious but later developed independent doctrines [Macmillan "Encyclopedia of Buddhism" (2004), pages 1, 4] .

As the last major division of the canon, the Abhidhamma Pitaka has had a checkered history. It was not accepted as canonical by the Mahasanghika schooldubious ["Abhidhamma Pitaka." Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.] [Buddhist Sects in india, Nalinaksha Dutt, 1978, page 58] and several other schoolsdubious ["several schools rejected the authority of abhidharma and claimed that abhidharma treatises were composed by fallible, human teachers." in: Macmillan "Encyclopedia of Buddhism" (2004), page 2. (A similar statement can be found on pages 112 and 756.)] . Another school included most of the Khuddaka Nikaya within the Abhidhamma Pitaka ["Abhidhamma Pitaka." Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.] . Also, the Pali version of the Abhidhamma is a strictly Theravada collection, and has little in common with the Abhidhamma works recognized by other Buddhist schools ["Buddhism." Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008.] . The various Abhidhamma philosophies of the various early schools have no agreement on doctrine [Kanai Lal Hazra, Pali Language and Literature - A Systematic Survey and Historical Survey, 1994, Vol. 1, page 415] and belong to the period of 'Divided Buddhism' [Kanai Lal Hazra, Pali Language and Literature - A Systematic Survey and Historical Survey, 1994, Vol. 1, page 415] (as opposed to Undivided Buddhism). The earliest texts of the Pali Canon have no mention of (the texts of) the Abhidhamma Pitaka [Kanai Lal Hazra, Pali Language and Literature - A Systematic Survey and Historical Survey, 1994, Vol. 1, page 412] . The Abhidhamma is also not mentioned in some reports of the First Buddhist Council, which do mention the existence of the texts of the Vinaya and either the five Nikayas [I.B. Horner, Book of the Discipline, Volume 5, page 398. An older translation of this texts can be found at: [http://www.sacred-texts.com/bud/sbe20/sbe20119.htm Eleventh Khandhaka: On the council of Rajagaha.] ] or the four Agamas [The Mahisasaka Account of the First Council. see http://santifm1.0.googlepages.com/thefirstcouncil(mahisasakaversion)] . Other accounts do include the Abhidhamma. [Warder, "Indian Buddhism", 3rd ed, page 196]

Contents

The Abhidhamma Pitaka consists of seven books.

* Dhammasangani (IAST|-saṅgaṇi or IAST|-saṅgaṇī)
* Vibhanga (IAST|vibhaṅga)
* Dhatukatha (dhātukathā)
* Puggalapannatti (-paññatti)
* Kathavatthu (kathā-)
* Yamaka
* Patthana (paţţhāna)

Dhammasangani

This book begins with a matika (mātikā, literally, matrix), listing classifications of dhammas, variously translated as phenomena, ideas, states, etc. It starts with 22 threefold classifications, beginning with good/bad/unclassified, and follows this with 100 twofold ones according to the abhidhamma method. Many of these classifications are not exhaustive, and some are not even exclusive. The matika ends with 42 twofold classifications according to the sutta method, which are used only in this book, whereas the other 122 are used also in some of the other books.

The main body of the book is in four parts. The first of these goes through numerous states of mind, listing and defining, by lists of synonyms, factors present in them. The second deals with material form, beginning with its own matika, classifying by ones, twos and so on, explained after. The third explains the book's matika in terms of the first two parts, as does the fourth, by a different method, and omitting the sutta method.

Vibhanga

This book is in 18 chapters, each dealing with a different topic; for example the first deals with the five aggregates. A typical chapter (there are a number of divergences from this pattern) is in three parts. The first explains the topic according to the sutta method, often word-for-word the same as in actual suttas. The second is abhidhamma explanation, mainly by lists of synonyms as in the Dhammasangani. The third uses questions and answers, based on the matika: "How many aggregates are good etc?"

Dhatukatha

This book covers both the matika and various topics, mostly from the Vibhanga, relating them to the 5 aggregates, 12 bases and 18 elements. The first chapter is fairly simple: "In how many aggregates etc. are good dhammas etc. included?" The book progressively works up to more complicated questions: "From how many aggregates etc. are the dhammas dissociated from attention etc. dissociated?"

Puggalapannatti

This book starts with its own matika, which begins with some standard lists but then continues with lists of persons grouped numerically from ones to tens. This latter portion of the matika is then explained in the main body of the work. Most of the lists of persons and many of the explanations are also found in the Anguttara Nikaya.

Kathavatthu

This book consists of more than two hundred debates on questions of doctrine. It does not identify the participants. The commentary says the debates are between the Theravada and other schools, which it identifies in each case. These identifications are mostly consistent with what is known from other sources about the doctrines of different schools. [Bareau, "Les Sectes bouddhiques du Petit Véhicule", Ecole Française d'Extrême Orient, Saigon, 1955]

Yamaka

This book consists of ten chapters, each dealing with a different topic; for example, the first deals with roots. A typical chapter (there are a number of divergences from this pattern) is in three parts. The first part deals with questions of identity: "Is good root root?" "But is root good root?" The entire Yamaka consists of such pairs of converse questions, with their answers. Hence its name, which means pairs. The second part deals with arising: "For someone for whom the form aggregate arises, does the feeling aggregate arise?" The third part deals with understanding: "Does someone who understands the eye base understand the ear base?"

Patthana

This book deals with 24 conditions in relation to the matika: "Good dhamma is related to good dhamma by root condition", with details and numbers of answers.

Place in the tradition

The importance of the Abhidhamma Pitaka in classical Sinhalese Buddhism is suggested by the fact that it came to be furnished, not only, like much of the canon, with a commentary and a subcommentary on that commentary, but even with a subsubcommentary on that subcommentary. [Hinüber, "Handbook of Pali Literature", Walter de Gruyter, Berlin, 1996] In more recent centuries, however, Burma has become the main centre of abhidhamma studies.

Translations

The first five books and part of the seventh have been translated by the Pali Text Society [http://www.palitext.com] . For these and other translations see separate articles.

See also

* Vinaya Pitaka
* Sutta Pitaka

References


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Abhidhamma Pitaka — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda El Abhidhamma Pitaka (Canasta de los Textos Superiores) (abhidhammapiṭaka), es el tercer y último grupo de textos que componen el Canon Pali del budismo Theravāda. Los primeros dos compendios, el Sutta pitaka y el… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Abhidhamma Pitaka — Abhidhamma L Abhidhamma Pitaka (pâli, sanskrit : Abhidharma) littéralement « La corbeille des commentaires », « La doctrine spéciale » ou encore « au dessus de l enseignement » est la section du canon pâli, le… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Abhidhamma-pitaka — El Abhidhamma pitaka (Canasta de los Textos Superiores) (abhidhammapiṭaka), es el tercer y último grupo de textos que componen el Canon Pali del budismo Theravāda. Los primeros dos compendios, el Sutta pitaka y el Vinaya pitaka, son atribuidos a… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Abhidhamma Pitaka — /ub i dum euh/, Buddhism. See under Pali Canon. * * * Third and latest collection of texts comprising the Pali canon (see Tripitaka) of Theravada Buddhism. The first two collections, Sutta Pitaka and Vinaya Pitaka, are attributed to the Buddha.… …   Universalium

  • Abhidhamma-Pitaka — Der Abhidhammapitaka (Pali; Sanskrit: abhidharma) ist der dritte Teil des buddhistischen Pali Kanons. Die Lehren Buddhas und seiner Hauptschüler erhalten in diesem Werk eine psychologische und philosophische Begründung und Ausformulierung.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Abhidhamma Pitaka — /ub i dum euh/, Buddhism. See under Pali Canon …   Useful english dictionary

  • Abhidhamma — L Abhidhamma Pitaka (pâli, sanskrit : Abhidharma) littéralement « La corbeille des commentaires », « La doctrine spéciale » ou encore « au dessus de l enseignement » est la section du canon pâli, le Tipitaka,… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Abhidhamma — Der Abhidhammapitaka (Pali; Sanskrit: abhidharma) ist der dritte Teil des buddhistischen Pali Kanons. Die Lehren Buddhas und seiner Hauptschüler erhalten in diesem Werk eine psychologische und philosophische Begründung und Ausformulierung.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Pitaka — /pit euh keuh/, n. Buddhism. See under Pali Canon. [ < Pali: lit., basket] * * * (as used in expressions) Abhidhamma Pitaka Sutta Pitaka Vinaya Pitaka * * * …   Universalium

  • Vinaya Pitaka — /vin euh yeuh/, Buddhism. See under Pali Canon. * * * Oldest and smallest division of the Tripitaka. It lays out the 227 rules of monastic life for bhiksus, along with an account of the occasion that led the Buddha to formulate the rule. It… …   Universalium


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.