The Abhidharmakosa (Treasury of Abhidharma) was composed by the fourth- or fifth-century Indian Buddhist master, VASUBANDHU.
No scholarly consensus exists concerning whether or not Vasubandhu, the author of the Abhidharmako´sa, should be identified with Vasubandhu, the author of numerous MAHAYANA and YOGACARA SCHOOL treatises.
According to traditional biographical accounts, Vasubandhu composed the verses of the Abhidharmakosa, or karika, as a digest of orthodox Kashmiri Sarvastivada-Vaibhasika abhidharma doctrine.
However, in his prose auto-commentary, the bhasya, Vasubandhu frequently criticized Sarvastivada doctrinal positions and presented his own divergent interpretations.
Typical of the later abhidharma genre of polemical, summary digests, the Abhidharmakosa attempts to present the entirety of abhidharma doctrinal teaching according to a logical format, while also recording variant, sectarian interpretations and often lengthy arguments on specific points.
For his organizational structure and much of his content, Vasubandhu relied upon earlier abhidharma treatises: notably, for content, upon the massive scholastic compendia (vibhasa) of Kashmir, and for structure and tenor of interpretation, upon the Abhidharmahrdaya (Heart of Abhidharma) texts of Gandhara.
The Abhidharmakosa is divided into nine chapters (nirde´sa):
1. Elements (dhatu)
2. Faculties (indriya) ABHIDHARMAKOSABHASYA
3. Worlds (loka)
4. Action (karma)
5. Contaminants (anusaya)
6. Path of Religious Praxis and Religious Persons (margapudgala)
7. Knowledge (jñana)
8. Meditative States (samapatti)
9. Person (pudgala)
The ninth chapter contains a refutation of the theory of the existence of the person and may represent a separate treatise by Vasubandhu, appended to the remainder of the Abhidharmakosa.
The Abhidharmakosa became the most influential early Indian Buddhist Abhidharma text within the later scholastic traditions of Tibet and East Asia, where it served as a textbook within monastic curricula and generated numerous commentaries.
See also: Abhidharma; Dharma and Dharmas; Sarvastivada and Mulasarvastivada
La Vallée Poussin, Louis de, trans. Abhidharmakosa de Vasubandhu, 6 vols. Paris: Paul Geuthner, 1923–1931. English trans. Leo M. Pruden, Abhidharmakosabhasyam, Vols. 1–4.
Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1988–1990.