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2722 Thu 23 Aug 2018 LESSON (63) Thu 23 Aug 2007 Do Good Be Mindful - Awakened One with Awareness (AOA) Life & teachings of Lord Buddha Pali Canon Online The Original Words of the Buddha Parinirvana: How the Historical Buddha Entered Nirvana The Last Days of the Buddha
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2722 Thu 23 Aug 2018 LESSON (63) Thu 23 Aug 2007
Do Good Be Mindful  -  Awakened One with Awareness (AOA)

Life & teachings of Lord Buddha

Pali Canon Online

The Original Words of the Buddha

Parinirvana: How the Historical Buddha Entered Nirvana

The Last Days of the Buddha

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Theravada Buddhism
Theravada Buddhism. The Way of the Elders. Theravada. Passes Buddha’s
teachings … Although images of Buddhism did not appear early on,
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Buddhism. The Way of the Elders. Theravada. Passes Buddha’s teachings
… Although images of Buddhism did not appear early on, symbols were
used to …

Thai Animated Life of Buddha

Thai Animated Life of Buddha

This is one of the best and most accurate adaptations of the
traditional life of the Buddha I have come across, based firmly on the
Theravada traditions.

Of the various Lives
I’ve featured here the so-called documentaries done by the BBC and PBS
are the weakest; the various movie versions are generally better; but it
is the animated films which are the closest to the original story, and
manage to get the most information over.

This film was made originally in Thailand (here it is dubbed into
Vietnamese) and at four hours is by far the most detailed and
informative of the cartoon Lives I know, closely following the
traditional story as found in the commentaries and later Pali works.

It’s a long watch: The story begins with the Bodhisatta in Heaven and
finishes with his parinibbāna (with a written coda on the First
Council), and takes in most of the major events and characters in the
story that has come down to us.

The film is well drawn, well paced, and colourful, and is a mine of
information and would bear watching more than one time. Probably the
best way to watch it though is to download it first and watch it over a
couple of nights.


if this video is no longer available please leave a comment so I can update the page
(the comment is not published)


to see a set of stills click on the date at the top of the embed below
The Buddha (Full Documentary)
Published on Feb 5, 2015
This documentary tells the story of the Buddha’s life, a journey
especially relevant to our own bewildering times of violent change and
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greatest artists and sculptors, who across two millennia, have depicted
the Buddha’s life in art rich in beauty and complexity. Hear insights
into the ancient narrative by contemporary Buddhists, including Pulitzer Prize winning poet W.S. Merwin and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Film & Animation

documentary tells the story of the Buddha’s life, a journey especially
relevant to our own bewildering times of violent change and spiritual
confusion. …
Life & teachings of Lord Buddha Part 1 - History of Buddhism, 8 fold paths & Nirvana explained
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Tsem Rinpoche


What is Abhidhamma?

Nov 2, 2013 |
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From TheBuddhism.Net

Abhidhamma is the analytical doctrine of mental faculties and elements.

The Abhidhamma Pitaka contains the profound moral psychology and
philosophy of the Buddha’s teaching, in contrast to the simpler
discourses in the Sutta Pitaka.

The knowledge gained from the sutta can certainly help us in
overcoming our difficulties, as well as in developing our moral conduct
and training the mind. Having such knowledge will enable one to lead a
life which is peaceful, respectable, harmless and noble. By listening to
the discourses, we develop understanding of the Dhamma and can mould
our daily lives accordingly. The concepts behind certain words and terms
used in the Sutta Pitaka are, however, subject to changes and should be
interpreted within the context of the social environment prevailing at
the Buddha’s time.

The concepts used in the sutta are like the conventional words and terms lay people use to express scientific subjects.

While concepts in the sutta are to be understood in the conventional
sense, those used in the Abhidhamma must be understood in the ultimate
sense. The concepts expressed in the Abhidhamma are like the precise
scientific words and terms used by scientists to prevent

It is only in the Abhidhamma that explanations are given on how and
at which mental beats a person can create good and bad karmic thoughts,
according to his desires and other mental states. Clear explanations of
the nature of the different mental faculties and precise analytical
interpretations of the elements can be found in this important
collection of discourses.

Understanding the Dhamma through the knowledge gained from the sutta
is like the knowledge acquired from studying the prescripti0ons for
different types of sicknesses. Such knowledge when applied can certainly
help to cure certain types of sicknesses. On the other hand, a
qualified physician, with his precise knowledge, can diagnose a wider
range of sicknesses and discover their causes. This specialized
knowledge puts him in a better position to prescribe more effective
remedies. Similarly, a person who has studied the Abhidhamma can better
understand the nature of the mind and analyse the mental attitudes which
cause a human being to commit mistakes and develop the will to avoid

The Abhidhamma teaches that the egoistic beliefs and other concepts
such as ‘I’, “you”, ‘man’ and ‘the world’, which we use in daily
conversation, do not adequately describe the real nature of existence.
The conventional concepts do not reflect the fleeting nature of
pleasures, uncertainties, impermanence of every component thing, and the
conflict among the elements and energies intrinsic in all animate or
inanimate things. The Abhidhamma doctrine gives a clear exposition of
the ultimate nature of man and brings the analysis of the human
condition further than other studies known to man.

The Abhidhamma deals with realities existing in the ultimate sense, or paramattha dhamma in Pali. There are four such realities:

Citta, mind or consciousness, defined as ‘that which knows or
experiences’ an object. Citta occurs as distinct momentary states of

Cetasika, the mental factors that arise and occur along with the citta.

Rupa, physical phenomenon or material form.

Nibbana, the unconditioned state of bliss which is the final goal.

Citta, the cetasika, and rupa are conditioned realities. They arise
because of conditions sustaining them cease to continue to do so. They
are impermanent states. Nibbana, on the other hand, is an unconditioned
reality. It does not arise and, therefore, does not fall away. These
four realities can be experienced regardless of the names we may choose
to give them. Other than these realities, everything _ be it within
ourselves or without, whether in the past, present or future, whether
coarse or subtle, low or lofty, far or near _ is a concept and not an
ultimate reality.

Citta, cetisaka(?), and Nibbana are also called nama. Nibbana is an
unconditioned nama. The two conditioned nama, that is, cita and
cetasika, together with rupa (form), make up psychophysical organisms,
including human beings. Both mind and matter, or nama-rupa, are analysed
in Abhidhamma as though under a microscope. Events connected with the
process of birth and death are explained in detail. The Abhidhamma
clarifies intricate points of the Dhamma and enables the arising of an
understanding of reality, thereby setting forth in clear terms the Path
of Emancipation. The realization we gain from the Abhidhamma with regard
to our lives and the world is not in a conventional sense, but absolute

The clear exposition of thought processes in Abhidhamma cannot be
found in any other psychological treatise either in the east or west.
Consciousness is defined, while thoughts are analysed and classified
mainly from an ethical standpoint. The composition of each type of
consciousness is set forth in detail. The fact that consciousness flows
like a steam, a view propounded by psychologists like William James,
becomes extremely clear to one who understands the Abhidhamma. In
addition, a student of Abhidhamma can fully comprehend the Anatta
(No-soul) doctrine, which is important both from a philosophical and
ethical standpoint.

The Abhidhamma explains the process of rebirth in various planes
after the occurrence of death without anything to pass from one life to
another. This explanation provides support to the doctrine of Kamma and
Rebirth. It also gives a wealth of details about the mind, as well as
the units of mental and material forces, properties of matter, sources
of matter, relationship of mind and matter.

In the Abhidhamattha Sangaha, a manual of Abhidhamma, there is a
brief exposition of the ‘Law of Dependent Origination”, followed by a
descriptive account of the Causal Relations which finds no parallel in
any other study of the human condition anywhere else in the world.
Because of its analytics and profound expositions, the Abhidhamma is not
a subject of fleeting interest designed for the superficial reader.

To what extent can we compare modern psychology with the analysis
provided in the Abhidhamma? Modern psychology, limited as it is, comes
within the scope of Abhidhamma in so far as it deals with the mind—with
thoughts, thought processes, and mental states. The difference lies in
the fact that Abhidhamma does not accept the concept of a psyche or a

The analysis of the nature of the mind given in the Abhidhamma is not
available through any other source.. Even modern psychologists are very
much in the dark with regards to subjects like mental impulses or
mental beats (Javana Citta) as discussed in the Abhidhamma. Dr. Graham
Howe, an eminent Harley Street psychologist, wrote in his book, the
Invisible Anatomy:

‘In the course of their work many psychologists have found, as the
pioneer work of C.G. Jung has shown, that we are near to [the] Buddha.
To read a little Buddhism is to realize that the Buddhists knew two
thousand five hundred years ago far more about our modern problems of
psychology than they have yet been given credit for. They studied these
problems long ago, and found the answers too. We are now rediscovering
the Ancient Wisdom of the East.’

Some scholars assert that the Abhidhamma is not the teaching of the
Buddha, but it grew out of the commentaries on the basic teachings of
the Buddha. These commentaries are said to be the work of great scholar
monks. Tradition, however, attributes the nucleus of the Abhidhamma to
the Buddha Himself.

Commentators state that the Buddha, as a mark of gratitude to His
mother who was born as a deva in a celestial plane, preached the
Abhidhamma to His mother together with other devas continuously for
three months. The principal topics (matika) of the advanced teaching,
such as moral states (kusala dhamma) and immoral states (akusala
dhamma), were then repeated by the Buddha to Venerable Sariputta Thera,
who subsequently elaborated them and later compiled them into six books.

From ancient times there were controversies as to whether the
Abhidhamma was really taught by the Buddha. While this discussion may be
interesting for academic purposes, what is important is for us to
experience and understand the realities described in the Abhidhamma. One
will realize for oneself that such profound and consistently verifiable
truths can only emanate from a supremely enlightened source _ from a
Buddha. Much of what is contained in the Abhidhamma is also found in the
Sutta Pitaka. Such a statement, of course, cannot be supported by

According to the Theravada tradition, the essence, fundamentals and
framework of the Abhidhamma are ascribed to the Buddha, although the
tabulations and classifications may have been the work of later
disciples. What is important is the essence. It is this that we would
try to experience for ourselves. The Buddha Himself clearly took this
stand of using the knowledge of the Abhidhamma to clarify many existing
psychological, metaphysical and philosophical problems. Mere
intellectual quibbling about whether the Buddha taught the Abhidhamma or
not will not help us to understand reality.

The question is also raised whether the Abhidhamma is essential for
Dhamma practice. The answer to this will depend on the individual who
undertakes the practice. People vary in their levels of understanding,
their temperaments and spiritual development. Ideally, all the different
spiritual faculties should be harmonized, but some people are quite
contented with devotional practices based on faith, while others are
keen on developing penetrative insight. The Abhidhamma is most useful to
those who want to understand the Dhamma in greater depth and detail. It
aids the development of insight into the three characteristics of
existence?impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and non-self. It is useful
not only for the periods devoted to formal meditation, but also during
the rest of the day when we are engaged in various mundane chores. We
derive great benefit from the study of the Abhidhamma when we experience
absolute reality. In addition, a comprehensive knowledge of the
Abhidhamma is useful for those engaged in teaching and explaining the
Dhamma. In fact the real meaning of the most important Buddhist
terminologies such as Dhamma, Kamma, Samsara, Sankhara, Paticca
Samuppada and Nibbana cannot be understood without a knowledge of

Source :

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Parinirvana: How the Historical Buddha Entered Nirvana

The Last Days of the Buddha

Reclining Buddha at Isurimuniya Temple, Sri Lanka

This abridged account of the historical Buddha’s passing and entry into Nirvana is taken primarily from the Maha-parinibbana Sutta, translated from the Pali by Sister Vajira & Francis Story. Other sources consulted are Buddha by Karen Armstrong (Penguin, 2001) and Old Path White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh (Parallax Press, 1991).

Forty-five years had passed since the Lord Buddha’s enlightenment,
and the Blessed One was 80 years old. He and his monks were staying in
the village of Beluvagamaka (or Beluva), which was near the present-day
city of Basrah, Bihar state, northeast India. It was the time of the
monsoon rains retreat,when the Buddha and his disciples stopped traveling.

Like an Old Cart

One day the Buddha asked the monks to leave and find other places to
stay during the monsoon. He would remain in Beluvagamaka with only his
cousin and companion, Ananda.
After the monks had left, Ananda could see that his master was ill. The
Blessed One, in great pain, found comfort only in deep meditation. But
with the strength of will, he overcame his illness.

Ananda was relieved but shaken. When I saw the Blessed One’s sickness my own body became weak, he said. Everything
became dim to me, and my senses failed. Ye I still had some comfort in
the thought that the Blessed One would not come to his final passing
away until he had given some last instructions to his monks.

The Lord Buddha responded, What more does the community of monks
expect from me, Ananda? I have taught the dharma openly and completely. I
have held nothing back, and have nothing more to add to the teachings. A
person who thought the sangha depended on him for leadership might have
something to say. But, Ananda, the Tathagata has no such idea, that the sangha depends on him. So what instructions should he give?

Now I am frail, Ananda, old, aged, far gone in years. This is my
eightieth year, and my life is spent. My body is like an old cart,
barely held together.

Therefore, Ananda, be islands unto yourselves, refuges unto
yourselves, seeking no other refuge; with the Dharma as your island, the
Dharma as your refuge, seeking no other refuge.

At the Capala Shrine

Soon after he had recovered from his illness, the Lord Buddha
suggested he and Ananda spend the day at a shrine, called the Capala
Shrine. As the two elderly men sat together, the Buddha remarked upon
the beauty of the scenery all around. The Blessed One continued, Whosoever,
Ananda, has perfected psychic power could, if he so desired, remain in
this place throughout a world-period or until the end of it. The
Tathagata, Ananda, has done so. Therefore the Tathagata could remain
throughout a world-period or until the end of it.

The Buddha repeated this suggestion three times. Ananda, possibly not understanding, said nothing.

Then came Mara, the evil one, who 45 years earlier had tried to tempt the Buddha away from enlightenment. You have accomplished what you set out to do, Mara said. Give up this life and enter Parinirvana [complete Nirvana] now.

The Buddha Relinquishes His Will to Live

Do not trouble yourself, Evil One, the Buddha replied. In three months I will pass away and enter Nirvana.

Then the Blessed One, clearly and mindfully, renounced his will to
live on. The earth itself responded with an earthquake. The Buddha told
the shaken Ananda about his decision to make his final entry into
Nirvana in three months. Ananda objected, and the Buddha replied that
Ananda should have made his objections known earlier, and requested the
Tathagata remain throughout a world-period or until the end of it.

To Kushinagar

For the next three months, the Buddha and Ananda traveled and spoke
to groups of monks. One evening he and several of the monks stayed in
the home of Cunda, the son of a goldsmith. Cunda invited the Blessed One
to dine in his home, and he gave the Buddha a dish called sukaramaddava.
This means “pigs’ soft food.” No one today is certain what this means.
It may have been a pork dish, or it may have been a dish of something
pigs like to eat, like truffle mushrooms.

Whatever was in the sukaramaddava, the Buddha insisted that
he would be the only one to eat from that dish. When he had finished,
the Buddha told Cunda to bury what was left so that no one else would
eat it.

That night, the Buddha suffered terrible pain and dysentery. But the
next day he insisted in traveling on to Kushinagar, located in what is
now the state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India. On the way, he told
Ananda not to blame Cunda for his death.

Ananda’s Sorrow

The Buddha and his monks came to a grove of sal trees in Kushinagar.
The Buddha asked Ananda to prepare a couch between to trees, with its
head to the north. I am weary and want to lie down, he said.
When the couch was ready, the Buddha lay down on his right side, one
foot upon the other, with his head supported by his right hand. Then the
sal trees bloomed, although it was not their season, pale yellow petals
rained down on the Buddha.

The Buddha spoke for a time to his monks. At one point Ananda left
the grove to lean against a door post and weep. The Buddha sent a monk
to find Ananda and bring him back. Then the Blessed One said to Ananda, Enough,
Ananda! Do not grieve! Have I not taught from the very beginning that
with all that is dear and beloved there must be change and separation?
All that is born, comes into being, is compounded, and is subject to
decay. How can one say: “May it not come to dissolution”? This cannot

Ananda, you have served the Tathagata with loving-kindness in
deed, word, and thought; graciously, pleasantly, wholeheartedly. Now you
should strive to liberate yourself.
The Blessed One then praised Ananda in front of the other assembled monks.


The Buddha spoke further, advising the monks to keep the rules of the
order of monks. Then he asked three times if any among them had any
questions. Do not be given to remorse later on with the thought:
“The Master was with us face to face, yet face to face we failed to ask
But no one spoke. The Buddha assured all of the monks they would realize enlightenment.

Then he said, All compounded things are subject to decay. Strive with diligence. Then, serenely, he passed into Parinirvana.


of Anuruddhācariya

A manual of ABHIDHAMMA-

Pali Canon Online

The Original Words of the Buddha-

Abhidhamma Pitaka

Edited in the original Pali Text with English Translation and Explanatory

by Nārada Thera, Vājirārāma, Colombo


CHAPTER I - Different Types of
Consciousness (citta-sangaha-vibhāgo)

Introductory Verse
Subject - Matter (Abhidhammatthā)
The Four Classes of Consciousness (catubbidha-cittāni)
Immoral Consciousness (akusala cittāni)
(18 Types Of Rootless Consciousness)
“Beautiful” Consciousness Of The Sensuous Sphere - 24
(Form-Sphere Consciousness - 15)
(Formless-Sphere Consciousness - 12)
(Supra Mundane Consciousness - 4)
(121 Types of Consciousness)
CHAPTER II - Mental States (cetasika)
52 Kinds of Mental States
Different Combinations of Mental States
Immoral Mental States
(Beautiful Mental States)
Contents of Different Types of Consciousness
Supra mundane Consciousness
(Sublime Consciousness)
Sense-Sphere Beautiful Consciousness
Immoral Consciousness
Rootless Consciousness
CHAPTER III - Miscellaneous Section
(i. Summary of Feeling)
(ii. Summary of Roots)
(iii. Summary of Functions)
(iv. Summary of Doors)
(v. Summary of Objects)
(vi. Summary of Bases)
CHAPTER IV - Analysis of Thought-Processes
Five Sense-Door Thought-process
Mind-door Thought-Process
Appanā Thought-Process
The Procedure of Retention
Procedure of Javana (13)
Classification of Individuals
Section on Planes
Diagram IX
Summary of Rebirth Procedure
i. Four Planes of Life
ii. Fourfold Rebirth
iii. Fourfold Kamma (29)
iv . Procedure with Regard to Decease and Rebirth
v. The Stream of Consciousness
Analysis of Matter
Classification of Matter
The Arising of Material Phenomena (52)
Grouping of Material Qualities (57)
Arising of Material Phenomena (58)
Nibbāna (59)
Diagram XIII
CHAPTER VII - Abhidhamma Categories
Introductory verse
(Immoral Categories)
Diagram XIV
Mixed Categories
Factors of Enlightenment (28)
A Synthesis of ‘the Whole’ (36)
CHAPTER VIII - The Compendium Of Relations
Introductory verse
The Law of Dependent Arising
The Law of Casual Relations
CHAPTER IX - Mental Culture

Introductory verse
(Compendium of Calm)
Suitability of Subjects for different Temperaments
Stages of Mental Culture
Signs of Mental Culture
Rūpa Jhāna
Arūpa Jhāna (22)
Supernormal Knowledge (23)
Different Kind of Purity
The Path of Purification




Abhidhamma, as the term implies, is the Higher Teaching of the Buddha. It
expounds the quintessence of His profound doctrine.

The Dhamma, embodied in the Sutta Pitaka, is the conventional teaching
(vohāra desanā),
and the Abhidhamma is the ultimate teaching (paramattha

In the Abhidhamma both mind and matter, which constitute this complex
machinery of man, are microscopically analyzed. Chief events connected with the
process of birth and death are explained in detail. Intricate points of the
Dhamma are clarified. The Path of Emancipation is set forth in clear terms.

Modern Psychology, limited as it is comes within the scope of Abhidhamma
inasmuch as it deals with the mind, with thoughts, thought-processes, and mental
states but it does not admit of a psyche or a soul. Buddhism teaches a
psychology without a psyche.

If one were to read the Abhidhamma as a modern textbook on psychology, one
would be disappointed. No attempt has here been made to solve all the problems
that confront a modern psychologist.

Consciousness is defined. Thoughts are analyzed and classified chiefly from
an ethical standpoint. All mental states are enumerated. The composition of each
type of consciousness is set forth in detail. The description of
thought-processes that arise through the five sense-doors and the mind-door is
extremely interesting. Such a clear exposition of thought-processes cannot be
found in any other psychological treatise.

Bhavanga and Javana thought-moments, which are explained only
in the Abhidhamma, and which have no parallel in modern psychology, are of
special interest to a research student in psychology.

That consciousness flows like a stream, a view propounded by some modern
psychologists like William James, becomes extremely clear to one who understands
the Abhidhamma. It must be added that an Abhidhamma student can fully comprehend
the Anattā
(No-soul) doctrine, the crux of Buddhism, which is important both from a
philosophical and an ethical standpoint.

The advent of death, process of rebirth in various planes without anything to
pass from one life to another, the evidently verifiable doctrine of Kamma and
Rebirth are fully explained.

Giving a wealth of details about mind, Abhidhamma discusses the second factor
of man-matter or rūpa. Fundamental units of matter, material forces,
properties of matter, source of matter, relationship of mind and matter, are

In the Abhidhammattha Sangaha there is a brief exposition of the Law of
Dependent Origination, followed by a descriptive account of the Causal Relations
that finds no parallel in any other philosophy.

A physicist should not delve into Abhidhamma to get a thorough knowledge of

It should be made clear that Abhidhamma does not attempt to give a
systematized knowledge of mind and matter. It investigates these two composite
factors of so-called being to help the understanding of things as they truly
are. A philosophy has been developed on these lines. Based on that philosophy,
an ethical system has been evolved to realize the ultimate goal, Nibbāna.

As Mrs. Rhys Davids rightly says, Abhidhamma deals with “(1) What we find (a)
within us (b) around us and of (2) what we aspire to find.”

In Abhidhamma all irrelevant problems that interest students and scholars,
but having no relation to one’s Deliverance, are deliberately set aside.

The Abhidhammattha Sangaha, the authorship of which is attributed to
venerable Anuruddha Thera, an Indian monk of Kanjevaram (Kāñcipura), gives an
epitome of the entire Abhidhamma Pitaka. It is still the most fitting
introduction to Abhidhamma. By mastering this book, a general knowledge of
Abhidhamma may easily be acquired.

To be a master of Abhidhamma all the seven books, together with commentaries
and sub-commentaries, have to be read and re-read patiently and critically.

Abhidhamma is not a subject of fleeting interest designed for the superficial

To the wise truth-seekers, Abhidhamma is an indispensable guide and an
intellectual treat. Here there is food for thought to original thinkers and to
earnest students who wish to increase their wisdom and lead an ideal Buddhist

However, to the superficial, Abhidhamma must appear as dry as dust.

It may be questioned, “Is Abhidhamma absolutely essential to realize Nibbāna,
the summum bonum of Buddhism, or even to comprehend things as they truly are?”

Undoubtedly Abhidhamma is extremely helpful to comprehend fully the word of
the Buddha and realize Nibbāna, as it presents a key to open the door of
reality. It deals with realities and a practical way of noble living, based on
the experience of those who have understood and realized. Without a knowledge of
the Abhidhamma one at times’ finds it difficult to understand the real
significance of some profound teachings of the Buddha. To develop Insight
Abhidhamma is certainly very useful.

But one cannot positively assert that Abhidhamma is absolutely necessary to
gain one’s Deliverance.

Understanding or realization is purely personal (sanditthika).
The four Noble Truths that form the foundation of the Buddha’s teaching are
dependent on this one fathom body. The Dhamma is not apart from oneself. Look
within, Seek thyself. Lo, the truth will unfold itself.

Did not sorrow-afflicted Patācārā, who lost her dear and near ones, realize
Nibbāna; reflecting on the disappearance of water that washed her feet?

Did not Cūlapanthaka, who could not memorize a verse even for four months,
attain Arahantship by comprehending the impermanent nature of a clean
handkerchief that he was handling, gazing at the sun?

Did not Upatissa, later venerable Sāriputta Thera, realize Nibbāna, on
hearing half a stanza relating to cause and effect?

To some a fallen withered leaf alone was sufficient to attain Pacceka Buddha

It was mindfulness on respiration (ānāpāna-sati) that acted as the
basis for the Bodhisatta to attain Buddha hood.

To profound thinkers, a slight indication is sufficient to discover great

According to some scholars, Abhidhamma is not a teaching of the Buddha, but
is a later elaboration of scholastic monks.

Tradition, however, attributes the nucleus of the Abhidhamma to the Buddha

Commentators state that the Buddha, as a mark of gratitude to His mother who
was born in a celestial plane, preached the Abhidhamma to His mother Deva and
others continuously for three months. The principal topics (mātikā) of
the advanced teaching such as moral states (kusalā dhammā), immoral
states (akusalā dhammā) and indeterminate states (abyākatā dhammā),
etc., were taught by the Buddha to venerable Sāriputta Thera, who subsequently
elaborated them in the six books (Kathāvatthu being excluded) that comprise the
Abhidhamma Pitaka.

Whoever the great author or authors of the Abhidhamma may have been, it has
to be admitted that he or they had intellectual genius comparable only to that
of the Buddha. This is evident from the intricate and subtle Patthāna Pakarana
which minutely describes the various causal relations.

It is very difficult to suggest an appropriate English equivalent for

There are many technical terms, too, in Abhidhamma which cannot be rendered
into English so as to convey their exact connotation. Some English equivalents
such as consciousness, will, volition, intellect, perception are used in a
specific sense in Western Philosophy. Readers should try to understand in what
sense these technical terms are employed in Abhidhamma. To avoid any
misunderstanding, due to preconceived views, Pāli words, though at times
cumbersome to those not acquainted with the language, have judiciously been
retained wherever the English renderings seem to be inadequate. To convey the
correct meaning implied by the Pāli terms, the etymology has been given in many

At times Pāli technical terms have been used in preference to English
renderings so that the reader may be acquainted with them and not get confused
with English terminology.

Sometimes readers will come across unusual words such as corruption,
defilement, volitional activities, functional, resultants, and so forth, which
are of great significance from an Abhidhamma standpoint. Their exact meaning
should be clearly understood.

In preparing this translation, Buddhist Psychology by Mrs. Rhys Davids and
the Compendium of Philosophy (Abhidhammattha Sangaha) by Mr. Shwe Zan Aung
proved extremely helpful to me. Liberty has been taken to quote them wherever
necessary with due acknowledgment.

My grateful thanks are due to the Kandy Buddhist Publication Society for the
printing of this fourth revised volume, to the printers for expediting the
printing, to Miss Rañjani Goonatilaka for correcting the proofs, and to Ven.
Bhikkhu Bodhi for his useful suggestions.

Above all I have to thank Mr. Lankatilaka, a most distinguished artist of Sri
Lanka, for his beautiful and symbolical dust jacket design.

Nārada 14.7.1978/2522.

(letter of Narada)
(Title 1 of first edition)
(Title 2 of first edition)


Pali Canon Online

The Original Words of the Buddha

Abhidhamma Pitaka

The seven books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka, the third division
of the Tipitaka, offer an extraordinarily detailed analysis of the basic
natural principles that govern mental and physical processes. Whereas
the Sutta and Vinaya Pitakas lay out the practical aspects of the
Buddhist path to Awakening, the Abhidhamma Pitaka provides a theoretical
framework to explain the causal underpinnings of that very path. In
Abhidhamma philosophy the familiar psycho-physical universe (our world
of “trees” and “rocks,” “I” and “you”) is distilled to its essence: an
intricate web of impersonal phenomena and processes unfolding at an
inconceivably rapid pace from moment to moment, according to precisely
defined natural laws.

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Dhammasangani - Enumeration of Phenomena


Dhammasangani Commentary I


Dhammasangani Commentary II


Kathavatthu - Points of Controversy


The Origin of the Pali Canon

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‘Suppose a monk were to say:
“Friends, I heard and received this from the Lord’s own lips: this is
the Dhamma, this is the discipline, this is the Master’s teaching”,
then, monks, you should neither approve nor disapprove his words. Then,
without approving or disapproving, his words and ex­pressions should be
carefully noted and compared with the Suttas and reviewed in the light
of the discipline. If they, on such comparison and review, are found not
to conform to the Suttas or the discipline, the conclusion must be:
“Assuredly this is not the word of the Buddha, it has been wrongly
un­derstood by this monk”, and the matter is to be rejected. But where
on such comparison and review they are found to con­form to the Suttas
or the discipline, the conclusion must be: “Assuredly this is the word
of the Buddha, it has been rightly understood by this monk.”

- DN 16 Mahāparinibbāna Sutta - The Great Passing, The Buddha’s Last Days

The authentic teachings of Gotama the Buddha have been preserved and
handed down to us and are to be found in the Tipiṭaka. The Pāli word,
‘Tipiṭaka’, literally means ‘the three baskets’ (ti=three +
piṭaka=collections of scriptures). All of the Buddha’s teachings were
divided into three parts.

1. The first part is known as the Vinaya Piṭaka and it contains all the rules which Buddha laid down for monks and nuns.
2. The second part is called the Suttaṅta Piṭaka and it contains the Discourses.
3. The third part is known as the Abhidhamma Piṭaka and comprises the psycho-ethical teachings of the Buddha.

It is known, that whenever the Buddha gave a discourse to his ordained
disciples or lay-followers or prescribed a monastic rule in the course
of his forty-five year ministry, those of his devoted and learned monks,
then present would immediately commit his teachings word for word to
memory. Thus the Buddha’s words were preserved accurately and were in
due course passed down orally from teacher to pupil. Some of the monks
who had heard the Buddha preach in person were Arahants, and so by
definition, ‘pure ones’ free from passion, ill-will and delusion and
therefore, was without doubt capable of retaining, perfectly the
Buddha’s words. Thus they ensured that the Buddha’s teachings would be
preserved faithfully for posterity.

Even those devoted monks
who had not yet attained Arahantahood but had reached the first three
stages of sainthood and had powerful, retentive memories could also call
to mind word for word what the Buddha had preached and so could be
worthy custodians of the Buddha’s teachings. One such monk was Ānanda,
the chosen attendant and constant companion of the Buddha during the
last twenty-five years of the his life. Ānanda was highly intelligent
and gifted with the ability to remember whatever he had heard. Indeed,
it was his express wish that the Buddha always relate all of his
discourses to him and although he was not yet an Arahanta he
deliberately committed to memory word for word all the Buddha’s sermons
with which he exhorted monks, nuns and his lay followers. The combined
efforts of these gifted and devoted monks made it possible for the
Dhamma and Vinaya, as taught by the Buddha to be preserved in its
original state.

The Pāli Tipiṭaka and its allied literature
exists as a result of the Buddha’s discovery of the noble and liberating
path of the pure Dhamma. This path enables all those who follow it to
lead a peaceful and happy life. Indeed, in this day and age we are
fortunate to have the authentic teachings of the Buddha preserved for
future generations through the conscientious and concerted efforts of
his ordained disciples down through the ages. The Buddha had said to his
disciples that when he was no longer amongst them, that it was
essential that the Saṅgha should come together for the purpose of
collectively reciting the Dhamma, precisely as he had taught it. In
compliance with this instruction the first Elders duly called a council
and systematically ordered all the Buddha’s discourses and monastic
rules and then faithfully recited them word for word in concert.

The teachings contained in the Tipiṭaka are also known as the Doctrine
of the Elders [Theravāda]. These discourses number several hundred and
have always been recited word for word ever since the First Council was
convened. Subsequently, more Councils have been called for a number of
reasons but at every one of them the entire body of the Buddha’s
teaching has always been recited by the Saṅgha participants, in concert
and word for word. The first council took place three months after the
Buddha’s attainment of Mahāparinibbāṇa and was followed by five more,
two of which were convened in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
These collective recitations which were performed by the monks at all
these Dhamma Councils are known as the ‘Dhamma Saṅgītis’, the Dhamma
Recitations. They are so designated because of the precedent set at the
First Dhamma Council, when all the Teachings were recited first by an
Elder of the Saṅgha and then chanted once again in chorus by all of the
monks attending the assembly. The recitation was judged to have been
authentic, when and only when, it had been approved unanimously by the
members of the Council. What follows is a brief history of the Six

The First Council

King Ajātasattu sponsored the First Council. It was convened in 544
B.C. in the Sattapaāāī Cave situated outside Rājagaha three months after
the Buddha had passed away. A detailed account of this historic meeting
can be found in the Cūllavagga of the Vinaya Piṭaka. According to this
record the incident which prompted the Elder Mahākassapa to call this
meeting was his hearing a disparaging remark about the strict rule of
life for monks. This is what happened. The monk Subhadda, a former
barber, who had ordained late in life, upon hearing that the Buddha had
expired, voiced his resentment at having to abide by all the rules for
monks laid down by the Buddha. Many monks lamented the passing of the
Buddha and were deeply grieved. However, the Elder Mahākassapa heard
Subhadda say: ‘’Enough your Reverences, do not grieve, do not lament. We
are well rid of this great recluse (the Buddha). We were tormented when
he said, ‘this is allowable to you, this is not allowable to you’ but
now we will be able to do as we like and we will not have to do what we
do not like'’. Mahākassapa was alarmed by his remark and feared that the
Dhamma and the Vinaya might be corrupted and not survive intact if
other monks were to behave like Subhadda and interpret the Dhamma and
the Vinaya rules as they pleased. To avoid this he decided that the
Dhamma must be preserved and protected. To this end after gaining the
Saṅgha’s approval he called to council five hundred Arahants. Ānanda was
to be included in this provided he attained Arahanthood by the time the
council convened. With the Elder Mahākassapa presiding, the
five-hundred Arahant monks met in council during the rainy season. The
first thing Mahākassapa did was to question the foremost expert on the
Vinaya of the day, Venerable Upāli on particulars of the monastic rule.
This monk was well qualified for the task as the Buddha had taught him
the whole of the Vinaya himself. First of all the Elder Mahākassapa
asked him specifically about the ruling on the first offense [pārājika],
with regard to the subject, the occasion, the individual introduced,
the proclamation, the repetition of the proclamation, the offense and
the case of non-offense. Upāli gave knowledgeable and adequate answers
and his remarks met with the unanimous approval of the presiding Saṅgha.
Thus the Vinaya was formally approved.

The Elder Mahākassapa
then turned his attention to Ānanda in virtue of his reputable expertise
in all matters connected with the Dhamma. Happily, the night before the
Council was to meet, Ānanda had attained Arahantship and joined the
Council. The Elder Mahākassapa, therefore, was able to question him at
length with complete confidence about the Dhamma with specific reference
to the Buddha’s sermons. This interrogation on the Dhamma sought to
verify the place where all the discourses were first preached and the
person to whom they had been addressed. Ānanda, aided by his
word-perfect memory was able to answer accurately and so the Discourses
met with the unanimous approval of the Saṅgha. The First Council also
gave its official seal of approval for the closure of the chapter on the
minor and lesser rules, and approval for their observance. It took the
monks seven months to recite the whole of the Vinaya and the Dhamma and
those monks sufficiently endowed with good memories retained all that
had been recited. This historic first council came to be known as the
Paācasatika because five-hundred fully enlightened Arahants had taken
part in it.

The Second Council

The Second Council was called one hundred years after the Buddha’s
Parinibbāṇa in order to settle a serious dispute over the ‘ten points’.
This is a reference to some monks breaking of ten minor rules. they were
given to:

1. Storing salt in a horn.
2. Eating after midday.
3. Eating once and then going again to a village for alms.
4. Holding the Uposatha Ceremony with monks dwelling in the same locality.
5. Carrying out official acts when the assembly was incomplete.
6. Following a certain practice because it was done by one’s tutor or teacher.
7. Eating sour milk after one had his midday meal.
8. Consuming strong drink before it had been fermented.
9. Using a rug which was not the proper size.
10. Using gold and silver.

Their misdeeds became an issue and caused a major controversy as
breaking these rules was thought to contradict the Buddha’s original
teachings. King Kāḷāsoka was the Second Council’s patron and the meeting
took place at Vesāli due to the following circumstances. One day,
whilst visiting the Mahāvana Grove at Veāsli, the Elder Yasa came to
know that a large group of monks known as the Vajjians were infringing
the rule which prohibited monk’s accepting gold and silver by openly
asking for it from their lay devotees. He immediately criticized their
behavior and their response was to offer him a share of their illegal
gains in the hope that he would be won over. The Elder Yasa, however
declined and scorned their behavior. The monks immediately sued him with
a formal action of reconciliation, accusing him of having blamed their
lay devotees. The Elder Yasa accordingly reconciled himself with the lay
devotees, but at the same time, convinced them that the Vijjian monks
had done wrong by quoting the Buddha’s pronouncement on the prohibition
against accepting or soliciting for gold and silver. The laymen
immediately expressed their support for the Elder Yasa and declared the
Vajjian monks to the wrong-doers and heretics, saying ‘’the Elder Yasa
alone is the real monk and Sākyan son. All the others are not monks, not
Sākyan sons'’.

The Stubborn and unrepentant Vajjian monks then
moved to suspend the Venerable Yasa Thera without the approval of the
rest of the Saṅgha when they came to know of the outcome of his meeting
with their lay devotees. The Elder Yasa, however escaped their censure
and went in search of support from monks elsewhere, who upheld his
orthodox views on the Vinaya. Sixty forest dwelling monks from Pāvā and
eighty monks from the southern regions of Avanti who were of the same
view, offered to help him to check the corruption of the Vinaya.
Together they decided to go to Soreyya to consult the Venerable Revata
as he was a highly revered monk and an expert in the Dhamma and the
Vinaya. As soon as the Vajjian monks came to know this they also sought
the Venerable Revata’s support by offering him the four requisites which
he promptly refused. These monks then sought to use the same means to
win over the Venerable Revata’s attendant, the Venerable Uttara. At
first he too, rightly declined their offer but they craftily persuaded
him to accept their offer, saying that when the requisites meant for the
Buddha were not accepted by him, Ānanda would be asked to accept them
and would often agree to do so. Uttara changed his mind and accepted the
requisites. Urged on by them he then agreed to go and persuade the
Venerable Revata to declare that the Vajjian monks were indeed speakers
of the Truth and upholders of the Dhamma. The Venerable Revata saw
through their ruse and refused to support them. He then dismissed
Uttara. In order to settle the matter once and for all, the Venerable
Revata advised that a council should be called at Vāḷikārāma with
himself asking questions on the ten offenses of the most senior of the
Elders of the day, the Thera Sabbjakāmi. Once his opinion was given it
was to be heard by a committee of eight monks, and its validity decided
by their vote. The eight monks called to judge the matter were the
Venerables Sabbakāmi, saḷha, Khujjasobhita and Vāsabhagāmika, from the
East and four monks from the West, the Venerables Revata,
Sambhuta-Sāṇavāsī, Yasa and Sumana. They thoroughly debated the matter
with Revata as the questioner and sabbakāmī answering his questions.
After the debate was heard the eight monks decided against the Vajjian
monks and their verdict was announced to the assembly. Afterwards
seven-hundred monks recited the Dhamma and Vinaya and this recital came
to be known as the Sattasatī because seven-hundred monks had taken part
in it. This historic council is also called, the Yasatthera Sangīti
because of the major role the Elder Yasa played in it and his zeal for
safeguarding the Vinaya. The Vajjian monks categorically refused to
accept the Council’s decision and in defiance called a council of there
own which was called the Mahāsaṅgiti.

The Third Council

The Third Council was held primarily to rid the Saṅgha of corruption
and bogus monks who held heretical views. The Council was convened in
326 B.C. At Asokārāma in Paṭaliputta under the patronage of Emperor
Asoka. It was presided over by the Elder Moggaliputta Tissa and one
thousand monks participated in this Council. Tradition has it that Asoka
had won his throne through shedding the blood of all his father’s son’s
save his own brother, Tissa Kumāra who eventually got ordained and
achieved Arahantship.

Asoka was crowned in the two hundred and
eighteenth year after the Buddha’s Mahaparinibbāna. At first he paid
only token homage to the Dhamma and the Saṅgha and also supported
members of other religious sects as his father had done before him.
However, all this changed when he met the pious novice-monk Nigrodha who
preached him the Appamāda-vagga. Thereafter he ceased supporting other
religious groups and his interest in and devotion to the Dhamma
deepened. He used his enormous wealth to build, it is said, eighty-four
thousand pagodas and vihāras and to lavishly support the Bhikkhus with
the four requisites. His son Mahinda and his daughter Saṅghamittā were
ordained and admitted to the Saṅgha. Eventually, his generosity was to
cause serious problems within the Saṅgha. In time the order was
infiltrated by many unworthy men, holding heretical views and who were
attracted to the order because of the Emperor’s generous support and
costly offerings of food, clothing, shelter and medicine. Large numbers
of faithless, greedy men espousing wrong views tried to join the order
but were deemed unfit for ordination. Despite this they seized the
chance to exploit the Emperor’s generosity for their own ends and donned
robes and joined the order without having been ordained properly.
Consequently, respect for the Saṅgha diminished. When this came to light
some of the genuine monks refused to hold the prescribed purification
or Uposatha ceremony in the company of the corrupt, heretical monks.

When the Emperor heard about this he sought to rectify the situation
and dispatched one of his ministers to the monks with the command that
they perform the ceremony. However, the Emperor had given the minister
no specific orders as to what means were to be used to carry out his
command. The monks refused to obey and hold the ceremony in the company
of their false and ‘thieving’ companions [theyyasinivāsaka]. In
desperation the angry minister advanced down the line of seated monks
and drawing his sword, beheaded all of them one after the other until he
came to the King’s brother, Tissa who had been ordained. The horrified
minister stopped the slaughter and fled the hall and reported back to
the Emperor Asoka was deeply grieved and upset by what had happened and
blamed himself for the killings. He sought Thera Moggaliputta Tissa’s
counsel. He proposed that the heretical monks be expelled from the order
and a third Council be convened immediately. So it was that in the
seventeenth year of the Emperor’s reign the Third Council was called.
Thera Moggaliputta Tissa headed the proceedings and chose one thousand
monks from the sixty thousand participants for the traditional
recitation of the Dhamma and the Vinaya, which went on for nine months.
The Emperor, himself questioned monks from a number of monasteries about
the teachings of the Buddha. Those who held wrong views were exposed
and expelled from the Saṅgha immediately. In this way the Bhikkhu Saṅgha
was purged of heretics and bogus bhikkhus.

This council
achieved a number of other important things as well. The Elder
Moggaliputta Tissa, in order to refute a number of heresies and ensure
the Dhamma was kept pure, complied a book during the council called the
Kathāvatthu. This book consists of twenty-three chapters, and is a
collection of discussion (kathā) and refutations of the heretical views
held by various sects on matters philosophical. It is the fifth of the
seven books of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka. The members of the Council also
gave a royal seal of approval to the doctrine of the Buddha, naming it
the Vibhajjavāda, the Doctrine of Analysis. It is identical with the
approved Theravāda doctrine. One of the most significant achievements of
this Dhamma assembly and one which was to bear fruit for centuries to
come, was the Emperor’s sending forth of monks, well versed in the
Buddha’s Dhamma and Vinaya who could recite all of it by heart, to teach
it in nine different countries. These Dhammadūta monks included the
Venerable Majjhantika Thera who went to Kashmir and Gandhāra. He was
asked to preach the Dhamma and establish an order of monks there. The
Venerable Mahādeva was sent to Mahinsakamaṇḍaḷa (modern Mysore) and the
Venerable Rakkhita Thera was dispatched to Vanavāsī (northern Kanara in
the south of India.) The Venerable Yonaka Dhammarakkhita Thera was sent
to Upper Aparantaka (northern Gujarat, Kathiawar, Kutch and Sindh].

The Venerable Mahārakkhita Thera went to Yonaka-loka (the land of the
lonians, Bactrians and the Greeks.) The Venerable Majjhima Thera went to
Himavanta (the place adjoining the Himalayas.) The Venerable Soṇa and
the Venerable Uttara were sent to Suvaṇṇabhūmi [now Myanmar]. The
Venerable Mahinda Thera, The Venerable Ittiya Thera, the Venerable
Uttiya Thera, the Venerable Sambala Thera and the Venerable Bhaddasāla
Thera were sent to Tambapaṇṇi (now Sri Lanka). The Dhamma missions of
these monks succeeded and bore great fruits in the course of time and
went a long way in ennobling the peoples of these lands with the gift of
the Dhamma and influencing their civilizations and cultures.

With the spread of Dhamma through the words of the Buddha, in due course
India came to be known as Visvaguru, the teacher of the world.

The Fourth Council

The Fourth Council was held in Tambapaṇṇi [Sri Lanka] in 29 B.C.
under the patronage of King Vaṭṭagāmaṇi. The main reason for its
convening was the realization that is was now not possible for the
majority of monks to retain the entire Tipiṭaka in their memories as had
been the case formerly for the Venerable Mahinda and those who followed
him soon after. Therefore, as the art of writing had, by this time
developed substantially, it was thought expedient and necessary to have
the entire body of the Buddha’s teaching written down. King Vaṭṭagāmaṇi
supported the monk’s idea and a council was held specifically to reduce
the Tipiṭaka in its entirety to writing. Therefore, so that the genuine
Dhamma might be lastingly preserved, the Venerable Mahārakhita and five
hundred monks recited the words of the Buddha and then wrote them down
on palm leaves. This remarkable project took place in a cave called, the
Āloka lena, situated in the cleft of an ancient landslip near what is
now Matale. Thus the aim of the Council was achieved and the
preservation in writing of the authentic Dhamma was ensured. Later, in
the Eighteenth Century, King Vijayarājasīha had images of the Buddha
created in this cave.

The Fifth Council

The Fifth Council took place in Māndalay, Burma now known as Myanmar
in 1871 A.D. in the reign of King Mindon. The chief objective of this
meeting was to recite all the teachings of the Buddha and examine them
in minute detail to see if any of them had been altered, distorted or
dropped. It was presided over by three Elders, the Venerable Mahāthera
Jāgarābhivaṃsa, the Venerable Narindābhidhaja, and the Venerable
Mahāthera Sumaṅgalasāmi in the company of some two thousand four hundred
monks (2,400). Their joint Dhamma recitation lasted for five months. It
was also the work of this council to cause the entire Tipiṭaka to be
inscribed for posterity on seven hundred and twenty-nine marble slabs in
the Myanmar script after its recitation had been completed and
unanimously approved. This monumental task was done by some two thousand
four hundred erudite monks and many skilled craftsmen who upon
completion of each slab had them housed in beautiful miniature ‘piṭaka’
pagodas on a special site in the grounds of King Mindon’s Kuthodaw
Pagoda at the foot of Māndalay Hill where this so called ‘largest book
in the world’, stands to this day.

The Sixth Council

The Sixth Council was called at Kaba Aye in Yangon, formerly Rangoon
in 1954, eighty-three years after the fifth one was held in Mandalay. It
was sponsored by the Burmese Government led by the Prime Minister, the
Honorable U Nu. He authorized the construction of the Mahā Pāsāna Gūhā,
the great cave that was built from the ground up, to serve as the
gathering place much like India’s Sattapānni Cave–the site of the first
Dhamma Council. Upon its completion, the Council met on the 17th of
May, 1954. As in the case of the preceding councils, its first objective
was to affirm and preserve the genuine Dhamma and Vinaya. However it
was unique in so far as the monks who took part in it came from eight
countries. These two thousand five hundred learned Theravāda monks came
from Myanmar, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and
Vietnam. The late Venerable Mahāsi Sayadaw was appointed the noble task
of asking the required questions about the Dhamma of the Venerable
Bhadanta Vicittasārābhivaṃsa Tipiṭakadhara Dhammabhaṇḍāgārika who
answered all of them learnedly and satisfactorily. By the time this
council met, all the participating countries had the Pāli Tipiṭaka
rendered into their native scripts, with the exception of India.

The traditional recitation of the Dhamma Scriptures took two years
during which the Tipiṭaka and its allied literature in all the scripts
were painstakingly examined. Any differences found were noted down, the
necessary corrections were made and all the versions were then collated.
Happily, it was found that there was not much difference in the content
of any of the texts. Finally, after the Council had officially approved
them, all the volumes of the Tipiṭaka and their Commentaries were
prepared for printing on modern presses and published in the Myanmar
(Burmese) script. This notable achievement was made possible through the
dedicated efforts of the two thousand five hundred monks and numerous
lay people. Their work came to an end in May, 1956, two and a half
millennia after the Lord attained Parinibbāna. This council’s work was
the unique achievement of representatives from the entire Buddhist
world. The version of the Tipiṭaka which it undertook to produce has
been recognized as being true to the pristine teachings of Gotama the
Buddha and the most authoritative rendering of them to date.

The volumes printed after the Sixth Saṅgāyana were printed in Myanmar
script. In order to make the volumes to the people of India, Vipassana
Research Institute started the project to print the Tipiṭaka with its
Aṭṭhakathās and ṭikas in Devanagari in the year 1990.

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