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DO GOODPURIFY MIND- Let’s convert all our homes to show the Path for All Societies to Attain NIBBANA
It is a good thing that no drop of blood has to be shed in the name of Buddha, on his word.
Buddhism is not a mere philosophy; it is not merely “love of wisdom”;
it is very much more comprehensive. Philosophy deals mainly with
knowledge and is not concerned with practice for attaining elevated
states of mind; whereas Buddhism emphasises practice and realisation.
Buddhism is not “a system of standardised faith and worship” either. It
does not demand blind faith. A Buddhist is not invited to sacrifice his
freedom of thought by becoming a follower of Buddha. The starting point
of Buddhism is self-help meditation, followed by some reasoning or
understanding, or, in other words, Samma-ditthi. A discerning Buddhist
seeks to live up to Buddha’s basic teachings, and what are they? They
foster self-development in certain ways. The core is meditation, then
other self-help practices and skills for your own good. Great teachings
to steer by in life, come in addition. But you don’t have to believe a
thing to begin with, and do not have to call you a Buddhist, even. What
matters to grasp is this: Fair Buddism is for you; not the other way
round; and that attitude is rooted in old teachings of Buddha.
Buddhism is a system devised to get rid of ills of life and foster
intense and even jubilant gladness of heart. It is neither sceptical nor
Buddha’s teachings, also called the Dharma, show the way to such ends.
This Dharma is not something apart from oneself, for Buddha exhorts in
the Parinibbana Sutta: “Abide with oneself as an island, with oneself as
a Refuge. Abide with the Dharma as an island, with the Dharma as a
Refuge. Seek no external refuge.”
Buddhist canon depends on old Buddhist records, which were formed for
oral transmission. Within five hundred years or so the oldest ones that
have come down to us had been put down in writing, and those that have
survived, are found mainly on Ceylon (today: Sri Lanka).
The Pali language is a Middle Indo-Aryan language of north Indian
origin, related to Old Indo-Aryan Vedic and Sanskrit dialects. Buddha
appears to have taught by conversation, by use of matrikas
(schemes of presentation formulated by him), and his teachings were
handed down through oral instruction for generations. His sayings spread
through India to Ceylon in the 200s BC, where they were written down in
Pali in the 1st century BC. Hence, it took some five centuries before
the first extant texts were written down after the time of Buddha, and
the huge canon that grew up around him for centuries after his demise,
is accounted for as a result of joint efforts of many. Many things in
this canon - legends and anecdotes, similes and metaphors, phrases and
idioms - have been taken almost verbatim from a common Indian stock.
The earliest records of Buddhism are inscriptional, as seen in the
famous edicts of emperor Asoka (c. 269-232 BC), after he converted to
Buddhism. The inscriptions were written in a variety of Indo-Aryan
languages close to early Sanskrit, but later than it.
Pali, the vehicle of the earliest Buddhist texts that have survived, is
said to be a western Indian dialect on a substratum of several central
and eastern ones. Pali is not a living language any more, but its texts
form the doctrinal foundation of Thereveda Buddhism. This dialect came
to be used by the Theravada school of Buddhism, one of many schools in
early Buddhism. Consequently, the Pali dialect is incorrectly identified
with Buddha’s own speech. Buddha came from northern India in what is
“In the Tipitaka one finds milk for the babe and meat for the strong,”
says Narada Thera. Here is how these canonical text collections came
about: Buddha left no written records of His Teachings; disciples
preserved them by committing to memory and transmitting them orally from
generation to generation. During the reign of the Sinhala King
Vattagamani Abhaya, about 83 B.C., the Tipitaka was committed to writing
on palm leaves (ola) in Ceylon.
This voluminous Tipitaka, which contains the essence of Buddha’s
Teaching, is estimated to be about eleven times the size of the Bible.
The Tipitaka consists of the Basket of Discipline (Vinaya Pitaka), the
Basket of Discourses (Sutta Pitaka), and the Basket of Ultimate Doctrine
The texts of the Pali canon of Theraveda Buddhism form a vast body of literature that is called Tipitaka (”The Three Baskets”; Sanskrit: Tripitaka).
Tipitaka contains what is considered the most authentic texts of what
Buddha stood for, despite many additions and modifications.
The texts of the three baskets (Tipitaka) are distinguished from the commentaries on many of them.
The Vinayapitaka, where large sections have fallen into disuse,
is divided into five major parts grouped into three divisions. The five
parts (books, Vibhanga) are:
The three divisions are: Sutta-vibhanga (”Division of Rules”); Khandhakas (”Sections”); and Parivara (”Accessory”):
1.1. The Sutta-vibhanga is a commentary on the Patimokkha-sutta
(”Obligatory Rules”), which forms the nucleus of the Vinayapitaka. It
is one of the oldest parts of the Pali canon and utilizes an archaic
language. It consists of two parts, (1.1.1) the Bhikkhu-patimokkha (”Rules for Monks”) and the (1.1.2) Bhikkhuni-patimokkha (”Rules for Nuns”).
The commentary on the Patimokkha is divided into the Maha-vibhanga of 227 rules for monks and the Bhikkhuni-vibhanga of additional rules and regulations for nuns.
1.2. The Khandhaka section of the Vinaya consists of two parts, the (1.2.1) Mahavagga (”Great Grouping”) and the (1.2.2) Cullavagga
(”Small Grouping”). These two sections lack logical sequence. They
contain rules for ordination; descriptions of rainy-season retreats,
instructiond of nuns; and so forth. The Cullavagga supplements the details of the Mahavagga to make an authoritative compilation of Buddha’s sayings of discipline.
1.3. The Parivara contains summaries and classifications of the disciplinary rules. It is a later supplement.
2.1. The Sutta Pitaka (”Basket of Discourse, Sutra”) is the largest of the “three baskets” (Tipitaka). It consists of five collections (nikayas)
that contain prose discourses attributed to Buddha, as spoken on
various occasions. There are also a few discourses delivered by some of
his better known disciples such as Sariputta, Ananda, and Moggallana in
it. There may be seemingly contradictory statements. Most of the sermons
were intended mainly for the benefit of Bhikkhus [ascetic monks]. There
are several other discourses which deal with both the material and
moral progress of His lay followers.
Interspersed are stanzas to illustrate or sum up particular points.
Many of the discourses seem drawn out and repetitive, but they were
actually made to serve oral transmission and - yes - propaganda. Also,
they are hints on how to meditate, with illustrations by excellent
All the sayings of these discourses hardly represent the exact words of
Buddha, although some phrases may have been accurately remembered. They
can reveal glimpses of the personality and soaring spirit of Buddha.
The grouping of the discourses into collections (nikayas) has no topical basis. The third and fourth nikayas (Samyutta and Anguttara) seem to reflect a later development, they serve to rearrange the topics dealt with in the Digha and Majjhima Nikayas
The five nikayas or collections are:
2.1.1 The Digha Nikaya (”Collection of Long Discourses”) contains 34 suttas,
some of considerable length, presenting a vivid picture of the
different aspects of life and thought at Buddha’s time. Divided into
three books, it contrasts superstitious beliefs, various doctrinal and
philosophical speculations, and ascetic practices with Buddhist ethical
ideas, which are elucidated with the help of similes and examples taken
from the everyday life of the people. One of the most interesting suttantas (”discourses”) is the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, which gives an account of the last days of Buddha and stresses the importance of striving for emancipation.
2.1.2 The Majjhima Nikaya (”Collection of the Middle Length Sayings”) contains 152 suttas
in its present version, while the Chinese one, preserving the lost
Sarvastivada collection, has 222, some of which are also found in other nikayas (collections) of the Pali canon. Like the Digha, the suttas in the Majjhima present Buddhist ideas and ideals, illustrating them by profound similes of beauty.
2.1.3 The Samyutta Nikaya (”Collection of Kindred Discourses”) has altogether 2,941 suttas, classed in 59 divisions (called samyutta) grouped in five parts (vaggas).
22.214.171.124 The first vagga (part) has suttas that contain stanzas. The suttas
begin with a description of the particular occasion when the stanzas
were spoken; the stanzas themselves represent a kind of questioning and
126.96.36.199 The second vagga deals with the important principle of dependent origination - the chain of cause and effect affecting all things.
188.8.131.52 The third vagga presents the anatman (no-self) doctrine,
which is the rejection of an abiding principle that could be termed a
self or a pure ego.
184.108.40.206 The fourth vagga is very similar to the previous one,
but here it is not the philosophical principle underlying the analysis
that is stressed but the transitoriness of the elements constituting
220.127.116.11 The fifth vagga is devoted to a discussion of the basic principles of Buddhist philosophy, religion, and culture.
2.1.4 The Anguttara Nikaya (”Collection of the Gradual Sayings”) contains as many as 2,308 small suttas
arranged according to the number of topics discussed, ranging from one
to eleven. There are three areas in which training is needed: in
conduct, concentration, and insight - and [at least] eight worldly
concerns: gain, loss, fame, blame, rebuke, praise, pleasure, and pain.
Here, too, similes enliven the presentation.
2.1.5 The Khuddaka Nikaya (”Collection of Small Texts”) is subdivided into fifteen books:
In addition to the above come: Nettippakarana (Burmese Tipitaka only); Petakopadesa (Burmese Tipitaka only): and Milindapanha (Questions of Milinda) (Burmese Tipitaka only)
The Abhidhamma Pitaka (”Basket of Scholasticism”) is the third
of the three “baskets”. It comprises seven works that are based on the
contents of Buddha’s discourses and deal with selected and specific
topics that form the basis for the later philosophical interpretations.
The Pali version is a strictly Theravada collection and has little in
common with the Abhidhamma works recognized by other schools.
The Abhidhamma Pitaka contains the profound philosophy of Buddha’s
teaching in contrast to the illuminating and simpler discourses in the
Sutta Pitaka. Narada Thera says, “In the Sutta Pitaka is found the
conventional teaching (vohara desana) while in the Abhidhamma Pitaka is
found the ultimate teaching (paramattha-desana).”
In Abhidhamma, consciousness is defined. Thoughts are analyzed and
classified from an ethical standpoint mainly. Mental states are
enumerated. Mind and matter are discussed, an ethical system is evolved,
with the aim of realizing Nibbana.
The seven books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka in the Pali canon are:
3.1. Dhammasangani (”Summary of Dhamma” or “Classification of Dhammas), an enumeration of the entities constituting reality.
3.2. Vibhanga (”Division”, or “The book of Divisions), a definition of these entities from various points of view.
3.3. Kathavatthu (”Points of
Controversy”, or “Points of Controversy), a later work discussing the
controversial doctrinal points among the various ancient schools.
3.4. Puggalapannatti (”Designation of
Person”, or “Descriptions of Individuals), an interesting psychological
typology in which people are classified according to their intellectual
acumen and spiritual attainments.
3.5. Dhatukatha (”Discussion of
Elements”, or “Discussion with reference to elements), a classification
of the elements of reality according to various levels of organization.
3.6. Yamaka (”Pairs”, or “The Book of Pairs), dealing with basic sets of categories arranged in pairs of questions.
3.7. Patthana (”Activations”, or “The Book of Relations), a voluminous work discussing 24 kinds of causal relations.
The noncanonical literature of Theravada Buddhism consists to a large extent of commentaries on the Tipitaka texts but also includes independent works.
Nagasena, Buddhadatta, Buddhaghosa, and Dhammapala attempted to harmonize apparently conflicting teachings and to grasp the inner meanings:
Nagasena was the learned monk who debated with the well-informed Greco-Bactrian ruler Menander, as described in the literary prose work Milinda-panha
(”Questions of King Menander”), which Nagasena is supposed to have
compiled about 150 BC, and certainly before 400 AD, since Buddhaghosa
from the 400s quotes the work as an authority. In it, the king has
conversations with the monk. The work is one of the few postcanonical
works of the Theravada school that was not produced in Ceylon (modern
Buddhaghosa, who flourished in the early 400s, was a prolific writer who settled on Ceylon. The first work that he wrote was the Visuddhimagga (”Way to Purity”), a revered compendium of Theravada teaching. He also wrote commentaries on the Vinaya, the first four nikayas, and the seven books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka.
Other works are traditionally attributed to Buddhaghosa too, although
modern scholarship indicates that he was not the author. These works
include commentaries on the Suttanipata and the Khuddaka-patha, as well as the extremely important commentaries on the Dhammapada and the Jatakas. The commentary on the Jatakas
has as its introduction what is perhaps the most famous “biography” of
Buddha, and concludes with 547 stories. Some of them are great for kids
in the West too, through the values they show. They serve enculturation
well. In all Theravada countries these narratives and romances have
exerted a tremendous influence on fine arts and law too.
Buddhadatta, a contemporary of Buddhaghosa, was
from Tamil Nadu in southern India. Like Buddhaghosa he went to Sri Lanka
to study at the Mahavihara in Anuradhapura. He wrote his works in a
monastery. His Abhidhammavatara (”The Coming of the Abhidhamma”), is a summary of the older commentaries on the Abhidhamma Pitaka.
He reduced Buddhaghosa’s five metaphysical ultimates - ie, form,
feeling, sensations, motivations, and perception - to four, namely,
mind, mental events, forms, and nirvana.
Dhammapala was slightly later than Buddhadatta and Buddhaghosa, and in the same tradition. In his commentary on Buddhaghosa’s Visuddhimagga, he quotes a verse from the Hindu scripture Bhagavadgita. His work reveals something of the intellectual activity at the time.
The Dipavamsa (”History of the Island”), seems to be a poor
redaction in Pali of an older Old Sinhalese version of how Sri Lanka was
occupied and built.
During and after the “revival” and spread of the Theravada in the
centuries after AD 1000, more Theravada literature was made:
commentaries and independent works written in Pali in Sri Lanka and the
Theravada countries of Southeast Asia (for example, the highly respected
commentary on the Mangala Sutta written in northern Thailand in the 16th century). The 14th-century cosmology called the Traiphumikatha (Three Worlds According to King Ruang), is the oldest known full-length text written in Thai.
Abbreviations of the texts of the Pali canon: [Link]
Holder, John J., ed and tr. Early Buddhist Discourses. Cambridge, UK: Hackett Publishing Company, 2006.
Shaw, Sarah. Buddhist Meditation: An Anthology of Texts from the Pali Canon. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2006.
Thanissaro, Bhikkhu. The Wings to Awakening: An Anthology from the Pali Canon. Barre, MA: Dhamma Dana Publication, 1996.
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DO GOODPURIFY MIND- Let’s convert all our homes to show the Path for All Societies to Attain NIBBANA
Please take cognizance! Respect our religious sentiments.We Buddhist followers are being deprived of meditation/worship at the preaching place of Tathagat Buddha, Sarnath.