Tipiṭaka

▪ Buddhist canon
(Pāli: “Triple Basket”),Sanskrit  Tripiṭaka,  

      the total canon of the southern schools of Buddhism, somewhat pejoratively dubbed Hīnayāna (Lesser Vehicle) by the self-styled Mahāyāna (Greater Vehicle) schools; for the latter, the canon constitutes a preliminary body of teachings, analogous to the Old Testament in Christianity. The books of this southern canon were nearly all written in India within 500 years of the time of the Buddha (between about 500 BC and the beginning of the Christian Era). They appeared in two languages—in Pāli within the Theravāda (Way of the Elders) school, which now predominates in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and Southeast Asia, and in Sanskrit among the Sarvāstivāda (Doctrine That All Is Real), Mahāsaṅghika (Great Community), and other schools that did not survive the demise of Buddhism in India. The Pāli texts constitute the entire surviving body of literature in that language.

      Each school had its own canonical collection that differed somewhat from others in the contents of particular texts, which texts it included, and the ordering of texts within the canon. There was more agreement on the first two sections, the Vinaya Piṭaka (Sanskrit and Pāli: “Basket of Discipline”) and the Sutta Piṭaka (Pāli: “Basket of Discourse”; Sanskrit: Sūtra Piṭaka) than on the third, the Abhidhamma Piṭaka (Pāli: “Basket of Special [or Further] Doctrine”; Sanskrit: Abhidharma Piṭaka).

      The first of the three, which is also the earliest and smallest, provides for the regulation of monastic life. The second and largest contains the Hīnayāna-sutta (Sanskrit: sūtra) literature—i.e., sermons and doctrinal and ethical discourses attributed to the Buddha or, in a few cases, to his disciples. (The basic texts produced by Mahāyāna schools are also called sūtras and are often considered to have been revealed by the Buddha after he had passed into Nirvāṇa.) The Abhidhamma (or Abhidharma) Piṭaka, which was apparently accepted only by the Sarvāstivādins and the Theravādins—and in two quite different forms—is basically a schematization of doctrinal material from the suttas. All three sections of the canon contain, as well, an abundance of legends and other narratives.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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