The Buddha has passed away but His teachings still exist in its purity. The collection of Buddha’s teachings is called “The Dhamma”. In English the word “Doctrine” is used for the word “Dhamma”.
Dhamma (Doctrine) is compiled in the form of “Pali Tipitaka”.
Tipitaka is not written by Buddha Himself. There is no written record of Buddha’s teachings by Himself. But the disciples of the Buddha preserved these teachings by committing to memory and written efforts.
We are really thankful to all those disciples who had done this noble and great work.
Tipitaka contains the essence of the Buddha’s teachings. Tipitaka is a Pali word; in Sanskrit we call it “Tripitaka”. Tripitaka word is made by two words, “Tri” and “Pitaka”. The meaning of “Tri” is “Three” and the meaning of “Pitaka” is “Basket”.
Hence the meaning of whole word “Tipitaka” is “Three Baskets”.
These three baskets are:
- Vinaya Pitaka (The Basket of Discipline)
- Sutta Pitaka (The Basket of Discourses)
- Abhidhamma Pitaka (The Basket of Ultimate Doctrine)
1. VINAYA PITAKA
Vinaya Pitaka is called “The Basket of Discipline” because it contains all the rules and regulations of the order of monks and nuns. The word “Order” is used for the “Sangha” which means “The Group of Disciples”. Vinaya Pitaka contains a very high moral standard and discipline.
These rules were made by Buddha Himself for the future discipline of the Group. These rules are very necessary for the harmony of Group. So each and every rule is described in details in Vinaya Pitaka.
Vinaya Pitaka contains following five books:
- Parajika Pali (Major Offences)
- Pacittiya Pali (Minor Offences)
- Mahavagga Pali (Greater Section)
- Cullavagga Pali (Lesser Section)
- Parivara Pali (Epitome of The Discipline)
2. SUTTA PITAKA
Sutta Pitaka contains all the discourses given by Buddha for (a) Sangha (b) Layman and (c) Small Children.
These discourses are related to Life, Doctrine, Ethics, Morality, Love, Peace, Truth, Wisdom, Compassion and almost everything. These discourses contain beautiful stories also.
These discourses are very simple to understand and easy to apply in life.
Sutta Pitaka contains following five Nikayas. Nikaya is a Pali word which means “Collection”.
- Digha Nikaya (Collection of long discourses)
- Majjhima Nikaya (Collection of middle length discourses)
- Samyutta Nikaya (Collection of Kindred Discourses)
- Anguttara Nikaya (Collection of Gradual Discourses)
- Khuddaka Nikaya (Smaller Collection)
The fifth part Khuddaka Nikaya is subdivided into fifteen books:
- Khuddaka Patha (Shorter texts)
- Dhammapada (The way of truth)
- Udana (Paeans of joy)
- Itivuttaka (Discourses as it is)
- Sutta Nipata (Collected Discourese)
- Vimana Vatthu (Stories of Celestial Mansions)
- Peta Vatthu (Stories of Petas)
- Theragatha (Psalms of the Brethren)
- Therigatha (Psalms of the Sisters)
- Jataka (Birth stories of the Bodhisatta)
- Niddesa (Expositions)
- Patisambhida (Book on analytical knowledge)
- Apadana (Lives of Arahants)
- Buddhavansa (History of the Buddha)
- Cariya Pitaka (Modes of Coduct)
3. ABHIDHAMMA PITAKA
Abhidhamma Pitaka means the basket of Ultimate Doctrine. It is the most important part of Buddha’s teachings. I must admit that the Abhidhamma is the product of and intellectual genius-ness of the Buddha. It is a result of highest intelligence. Nobody is able to understand it completely.
Abhidhamma deals with the Mind, Thoughts, Thought Process, Mental Property, Consciousness, Fundamental Units of Matter, Material Properties, Source of Matter, Relationship of Mind and Matter and many other things.
Abhidhamma help us to understand the things as they are in reality. The concept of Abhidhamma is so much deep wide. Modern Psychology is just a tiny; very small part of it. This is about something beyond the Psychology and Philosophy.
Mrs. Rhys Davids says: “Abhidhamma deals with (i) what we find (a) within us (b) around us and of (ii) what we aspire to find.”
Abhidhamma Pitaka contains following seven books:
- Dhammasangani (Classification of Dhamma)
- Vibhanga (Divisions)
- Dhatukatha (Discourse on Elements)
- Puggala Pannatti (The Book on Individuals)
- Kathavatthu (Points of Controversy)
- Yamaka (The Book of Pairs)
- Patthana (The Book of Causal Relations)