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Abhidharma/Abhidhamma

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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The Abhidharma is one of the three subsections or “baskets” of the TRIPITAKA, the traditional collection of the Buddhist sacred scriptures.

The Abhidharma is sometimes also written as Abhidharmapitaka, meaning “the basket of the Abhidharma.” Abhidharma means, literally, “concerning the DHARMA.

The term Dharma here refers to the teachings of the Buddha, which are mainly recorded in the Sutrapitaka, the SUTRAS, or “sayings,” of the Buddha.

The Abhidharma literature is a collection of commentaries on the sutras. It contains literature that we generally classify as philosophy, along with other works of a more religious or historical nature.

The earliest version of the Abhidharma was produced in the Pali language. Various schools of Buddhism quickly developed their own versions of the Abhidharma and argued strongly for the superiority of their own interpretations.

However, only three Abhidharma literatures still exist today: the Pali Abhidhamma (using the Pali spelling for this term), the Sarvastivadin Abhidharma, and the Sariputra Abhidharma of the Dharmaguptaka school