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Early Buddhist Philosophy (Abhidharma/Abhidhamma) Tadeusz Skorupski

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Introduction During the centuries after the Buddha’s demise, the activities of the Saṅgha in India are sparsely documented. It is, however, evident that the Buddha’s followers made efforts to gather and systematize his teaching. The efforts to gather his teaching resulted in due course in the collection of the Vinaya and Sūtra Piṭakas. The efforts to systematize his teachings induced controversies, and resulted in the fragmentation of the Saṅgha into schools, and the composition of sectarian Abhidharma texts. Generally, the Tripiṭaka (Vinaya, Sūtra, Abhidharma) is treated as the Buddha Word. However, particularly in the case of the Abhidharma texts, historical and textual studies indicate that

their crystallization into the Abhidharma Piṭaka took several centuries after the Buddha. Conventionally, the Abhidharma is said to provide a systematization of the Dharma taught by the Buddha, but in effect it offers more than that. As such the term Abhidharma encompasses a body of literature and doctrine. In terms of literature, the roots of the Abhidharma Piṭaka are often traced to mnemonic lists called mātṛkā in Sanskrit, and mātikā in Pāli. Basic lists are already present in the Sūtra Piṭaka, for instance, in

the Saṅgīti and Dasuttara suttas of the Dīghanikāya. Starting with such lists, Buddhist masters produced more lists, which they grouped and collated to form the foundation of Buddhist doctrine and practice. The phases that culminated in the compilation of the mature Abhidharma Piṭakas, as we have them, remain enigmatic. In terms of doctrine, the Abhidharma does not represent a mere systematization of the Buddha’s legacy. In addition to safeguarding his teaching, the Abhidharma casts new horizons for classifying and analyzing the phenomena of existence. One of its seminal aspects is its focus on taxonomy of the entire spectrum of existence in terms of the ultimate realities called dharmas

(factors, phenomena). The dharmas are differentiated into conditioned and unconditioned, and correlated with the threefold stratification of the cosmos. The conditioned dharmas are analyzed in terms of their ethical and other qualities, and arranged into taxonomic groups. A clear distinction is made between dharmas that perpetuate existence or suffering, and dharmas that are conducive to the soteriological progress and attainment of the unconditioned state, nirvāṇa. The Abhidharma adepts also produced innovative theories and pragmatic stages of the path leading to emancipation. Thus the Abhidharma adepts formulated an innovative scenario of Buddhist doctrines, which they placed under the Buddha’s authority, and at the same time proclaimed them as the ultimate teaching. Extant Abhidharma Piṭakas The technical term abhidharma is a propositional compound composed of abhi and dharma, which the relevant sources endow with two principal meanings: (1) pertaining to or with regard to (abhi) the doctrine (dharma); (2) the highest or advanced (abhi) doctrine (dharma). While the first etymology is favored by the


Sarvāstivāda school, the Theravāda tradition endorses the second interpretation. Taken together, these two interpretations clearly indicate that the term abhidharma is styled as a systematized and definitive exposition of the Dharma that is articulated in a variety of ways in the discourses of the Buddha and his immediate disciples. In the introductory verses of his Abhidharmakośa, Vasubandhu makes a distinction between the abhidharma that is stainless wisdom (anāsrava prajñā), and the abhidharma as treatises (śāstra) that are a repository of wisdom that aids to obtain the stainless wisdom. He credits the Buddha with teaching the ultimate Abhidharma, and treats the treatises of the

Abhidharma Piṭaka as human products. It is impossible to determine whether all of the early schools had their own Abhidharma Piṭaka, but certain sources indicate the existence of Abhidharma texts of several, some say seven, different schools. Unfortunately, only three complete collections of the Abhidharma Piṭaka are extant: Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, and one attributed to the Dharmaguptakas. This entry mainly covers the Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma Piṭakas, and to a lesser extent the Dharmaguptaka Abhidharma treatise (śāstra). Theravāda Abhidhamma Piṭaka According to the relevant sources, the Theravāda Tipiṭaka was committed to writing in the second half of the 1st century BCE. What was actually recorded is not fully attested until the 5th century CE, the time when Buddhaghosa composed his commentaries. The Theravāda Abhidhamma Piṭaka comprises seven

books or treatises, and survives in its original Indian vernacular, Pāli. This tradition ascribes the Abhidhamma Piṭaka to the Buddha himself, both in terms of its historical origin and literary form. According to Buddhaghosa, the sequential order of the seven Abhidhamma books is as follows: Dhammasaṅgaṇi, Vibhaṅga, Dhātukathā, Puggalapaññatti, Kathāvatthu, Yamaka, and Paṭṭhāna. The Pāli texts of the seven Abhidhamma books have been edited and published by the Pali Text Society. Five out of these seven Abhidhamma books have been translated into English and published by the Pali Text Society. Dhammasaṅgaṇi is translated in Rhys Davids 1993, Vibhaṅga in Thiṭṭila 1988, Dhātukathā in Nārada 1995, Puggallapaññatti in Law 1992, and Kathāvatthu in Aung and Davids 1993. Only the initial part of the massive Paṭṭhāna is translated in Nārada 1969–1981. The Yamaka remains untranslated, but there exist summaries, one of which is included in Lang 1996. Aung, S. Z., and Caroline A. F. Rhys Davids, trans. Kathāvatthu: Points of Controversy. London: Pali Text Society, 1993. This treatise is ascribed to Moggaliputta Tissa, who disclosed it at the conclusion of the council held at Pāṭaliputta in the 3rd century BCE. It refutes some 250 doctrinal controversies. It defends the orthodox position held by the Fraternity of Elders (sthaviranikāya). It presumes the existence of the Dhammasaṅgaṇi and

Vibhaṅgha as authorities for resolving doctrinal controversies. First edition 1915. Law, B. C., trans. Puggallapaññatti: Designation of Human Types. London: Pali Text Society, 1992. This text presents categories of persons (puggala), grouping them in sets from ones to tens. The term puggala does not denote any real entity, but is a mere concept (paññatti) without any reality. As this text is tangibly derived from the sutta collection, some scholars think that it may appertain to the earliest Abhidhamma materials. First edition 1924. Nārada, U., trans. Paṭṭhāna: Conditional Relations. 2 vols. London: Pali Text Society, 1969–1981.


This text, partially translated by U Nārada, is the longest text included in this group of seven books. It is concerned with the twenty-four conditions that govern the interactions of all conditioned phenomena. Its aim is to demonstrate how the causes and their results or fruits are interrelated. Basically it deals with the phenomena classified in the Dhammasaṅgaṇi with reference to the twenty-four conditions. Nārada, U., trans. Dhātukathā: Discourse on Elements. London: Pali Text Society, 1995. This text in fourteen chapters establishes the correlation between specific phenomena (dhamma) and the five aggregates, twelve sense-bases, and eighteen elements. The aim is to eliminate erroneous conceptualizations about one’s personal ego (attā). To that extent it treats the phenomena that appertain to the preceding three classifications, which do not stand for or nourish the self (anattā). First edition 1962. Rhys Davids, Caroline A. F., trans. Dhammasaṅgaṇi: Buddhist Psychological Ethics. London: Royal Asiatic Society, 1993.

This text contains a detailed classification of mental and physical phenomena of existence. The largest portion of this text is concerned with the classification of consciousness and mental concomitants in terms of their ethical qualities, and in relation to the threefold stratification of the Buddhist world. First edition 1900. Thiṭṭila, U., trans. Vibhaṅga: The Book of Analysis. London: Pali Text Society, 1988. This text is comprised of eighteen chapters, which individually deal with specific topics, including the five aggregates, the four noble truths, dependent origination, four foundations of mindfulness, and types of knowledge. The analysis of the treated subjects is given on the pattern of the methods of the discourses (sutta), Abhidhamma, and catechistic formulations. First edition 1969. Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma Piṭaka The Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma Piṭaka also consists of seven books, which were compiled by the Sarvāstivāda Vaibhāṣikas in Kashmir around the 2nd century CE. This Piṭaka does not survive in its

original Indian language, but exists only in its Chinese version executed in the 7th century. The Sarvāstivāda Vaibhāṣikas admit that named masters compiled the seven Abhidharma books. However, at the same time they claim that ultimately the Abhidharma Piṭaka stems from the Buddha himself, but some schools, notably the Sautrāntikas, reject their claim. In this set of the seven Abhidharma books, the Jñānaprasthāna is styled as the body, and the remaining six books are portrayed as the feet, or auxiliaries: Prakaraṇapāda, Vijñānakāya, Dharmaskandha, Prajñaptiśāstra, Dhātukāya, Saṅgītiparyāya. Out of the seven Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma books preserved in Chinese versions, six books are complete and one book is incomplete. The Chinese version of the Prajñapti is incomplete, but its complete version is extant in a Tibetan translation. In terms of translations into Western languages, only the Saṅgītiparyāya has been translated into German in Stache-Rosen 1968. Dharmaskandha. In Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō. Edited by Junjirō Takakusu, Kaigyoku Watanabe, and Genmyō Ono. 100 vols. Tokyo: Daizō Shuppan Kabushiki Kaisha, 1924–1934, No 1537. This text (Aggregation of Dharmas) is attributed to either Śāriputra or Mahāmaudgalyāyana. It treats the thirty-seven factors conducive to enlightenment (bodhipākṣika-dharma), and unveils one of the earliest systematizations of the p

ath. It also inaugurates a distinction between the path of vision (darśana-mārga) and the path of meditative cultivation (bhāvanā-mārga), which stand at the heart of the Sarvāstivāda portrayal of the path. Dhātukāya. In Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō. Edited by Junjirō Takakusu, Kaigyoku Watanabe, and Genmyō Ono. 100 vols. Tokyo: Daizō Shuppan Kabushiki Kaisha, 1924–1934, No 1540. This text (Collection of Elements) is attributed to either Pūrṇa or Vasumitra. It is a collection of classificatory schemes for grouping mental states. The first part provides a scheme of ninety-one categories of mind (citta) and its

concomitants (caitta), redistributed into fourteen groups. The second part ascertains the correlation between the mental states included in these groups. Jñānaprasthāna. In Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō. Edited by Junjirō Takakusu, Kaigyoku Watanabe, and Genmyō Ono. 100 vols. Tokyo: Daizō Shuppan Kabushiki Kaisha, 1924–1934, No 1544. This text (Foundations of Knowledge) is attributed to Kātyāyanīputra. It contains an ordered and mature exposition of the Sarvāstivāda doctrine and practice. It consists of eight sections, which include expositions of defilements, knowledge, karma, absorptions, and intuitive vision. Essentially, these eight sections reflect the Sarvāstivāda soteriological schema. This text also establishes a set of six causes (hetu), not found in the earlier texts. Prajñaptiśāstra. In Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō. Edited by Junjirō

Takakusu, Kaigyoku Watanabe, and Genmyō Ono. 100 vols. Tokyo: Daizō Shuppan Kabushiki Kaisha, 1924–1934, No 1538 This text (Designations) is attributed to Maudgalyāyana. It consists of three parts. Part one treats the speculations about the origins of the world. Part two ascertains the causal conditions that govern the course of the Bodhisattva’s career. Part three provides a general exposition of the theory of ethical causes and their effects. Its complete Tibetan version is in Derge Tanjur: Tōhoku Catalogue 4086, 4087, and 4088. Prakaraṇapāda. In Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō. Edited by Junjirō Takakusu, Kaigyoku Watanabe, and Genmyō Ono. 100 vols. Tokyo: Daizō Shuppan Kabushiki Kaisha, 1924–1934, No 1542. This text (Exposition) is attributed to Vasumitra. It consolidates the Sarvāstivāda fivefold classification of all phenomena into matter or form (rūpa), mind (citta), mental concomitants (caitta), phenomena dissociated from the mind (cittaviprayukta), and unconditioned phenomena (asaṃskṛta). The Sautrāntikas and Mahāyāna schools accept this classification. It is considered to constitute the final scheme of the Sarvāstivāda doctrinal systematizations. Stache-Rosen, Valentina, trans. Saṅgītiparyāya: Das Saṃgītisūtra und sein Kommentar Saṃgītiparyāya. 2 vols. Dogmatische Begriffsreihen im älteren Buddhismus 2. Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1968. Depending on the source, this text (Discourse on Concordance) is attributed either to Mahākauṣṭhila or to Śāriputra. It is a commentary on the Saṅgīti-sūtra, and comprises a series of dharma lists, systematically arranged from ones to tens. It is in ten sections that cover some two hundred dharma groups. Some scholars consider it as one of the oldest among

Abhidharma texts. The Chinese translation is in Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō No 1536. Vijñānakāya. In Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō. Edited by Junjirō Takakusu, Kaigyoku Watanabe, and Genmyō Ono. 100 vols. Tokyo: Daizō Shuppan Kabushiki Kaisha, 1924–1934, No 1539. This text (Collection on Consciousness) is attributed to Devaśarman. The initial section provides a sustained proof of the primary Sarvāstivāda tenet that all phenomena exist (sarva-asti) in the past, present, and future. The second section focuses on the refutation of the erroneous belief in a person. The next sections deal with different types of causes and conditions, and some other doctrines. Dharmaguptaka Śāriputra Abhidharma Śāstra The precise authorship of this treatise is not determined, but the dominant opinion among Buddhist scholars is that it probably originated in the Dharmaguptaka school. This treatise is preserved only in its Chinese translation executed at the beginning of the 5th century. According to Bareau 1950, it is a massive composition that provides a complete exposition of the abhidharma doctrine. Yoshimoto 1996 provides a summary of this treatise. Matsuda 2002 identifies three Sanskrit fragments that exhibit parallels with the Chinese translation of this treatise. Bareau 1950 analyzes the doctrinal position of

this treatise in an attempt to establish its sectarian affiliation. Bareau, André. “Les Origines du Śāriputrābhidharmaśāstra.” Le Muséon 63.1–4 (1950): 69–95. Bareau attempts to identify the school that may have produced the Śāriputra Abhidharma Śāstra. To that extent, he compares and contrasts the doctrinal tenets of this treatise with the doctrines held by the major schools of early Buddhism. He progressively eliminates the schools with which the Śāriputra Abhidharma Śāstra is in disagreement, and concludes that this treatise most likely originated in the Dharmaguptaka school. Matsuda, Kazunobu. “Three Fragments Related to the Śāriputra-Abhidharma.” In Buddhist Manuscripts. Vol. 2.

Edited by Jens Braarvig, 239–248. Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection 3. Oslo, Norway: Hermes, 2002. In this study Matsuda edits and discusses three Sanskrit fragments, which suggestively approximate to a passage of the Chinese translation of the Śāriputra Abhidharma. A modified version of this study with images of the manuscript fragments is included in Traces of Gandhāra Buddhism: An Exhibition of Ancient Buddhist Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection, by Jens Braarvig and Fredrik Liland. Oslo, Norway: Hermes Publishing, 2010 (pages 46–49). Śāriputra Abhidharma Śāstra. In Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō. Edited by Junjirō Takakusu, Kaigyoku Watanabe, and Genmyō Ono. 100 vols. Tokyo: Daizō

Shuppan Kabushiki Kaisha, 1924–1934, No 1548. This treatise in thirty fascicles (chüan) was translated into Chinese at the beginning of the 5th century. Yoshimoto, Shingyo. “Śāriputra Abhidharma Śāstra.” In Abhidharma Buddhism to 150 A.D. Edited by Karl H. Potter. With Robert E. Buswell Jr., Padmanabh S. Jaini, and Noble Ross Reat, 317–325. Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies. Vol. 7. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1996. Yoshimoto’s summary sketches the primary topics of this treatise. Yoshimoto also provides a reference to Baiyu Watanabe’s Japanese translation of this treatise from the Chinese. Synoptic Guides to the Abhidharma Piṭaka The publications listed in this section are intended to facilitate intellectual inroads into the content and structure of the seven Abhidharma books of the Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma Piṭakas. Norman 1983 and Hinüber 1996 sketch the structure and broad content of the Theravāda Abhidharma books. Nārada 1979 and Nārada 1986 offer a limited and yet substantial guide to the Paṭṭhāna. Nyanatiloka 2007 provides a detailed guide to the Theravāda Abhidharma Piṭaka. Takakusu 1904– 1905 sketches the content of the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma treatises. Buswell and Lopez 2013 contains excellent entries on the individual texts of the Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda Piṭakas. Potter 1996 contains

substantial summaries of all of the extant Abhidharma treatises. Buswell, Robert E., Jr., and Donald S. Lopez Jr. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton, NJ, and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2013. This dictionary includes one entry on the Abhidharma Piṭaka, and analytic entries on each of the seven Abhidharma works of the Sarvāstivāda and Theravāda Abhidharma Piṭakas. Hinüber, Oskar von. A Handbook of Pali Literature. Indian Philology and South Asian Studies 2. Berlin and New York: Walter de

Gruyter, 1996. This book offers a comprehensive overview of the Theravāda literary heritage. It covers editions and translations of the canonical and post-canonical works, as well as commentaries and sub-commentaries. It also discusses the history of scholarship of Theravāda literature. Nārada, U. Guide to Conditional Relations (Paṭṭhāna). Part 1. London: Pali Text Society, 1979. Provides a guide to pages 1–12 of the Paṭṭhāna. Nārada, U. Guide to Conditional Relations (Paṭṭhāna). Part 2. Rangoon, Burma: Religious Affairs Department Press, 1986. Provides a guide to pages 13–141 of the Paṭṭhāna. In some editions the Paṭṭhāna text extends over 2,500 pages. Norman, Kenneth Roy. Pāli Literature: Including the Canonical Literature in Prakrit and Sanskrit of All the Hīnayāna Schools of Buddhism. Wiesbaden, Germany: Otto Harrassowitz, 1983. This book provides

a competent and authoritative treatment of the Theravāda Tipiṭaka, commentaries, and later literature. The seven Abhidhamma treatises are discussed in terms of their structure and general content (pages 96–107). Nyanatiloka, Mahāthera. Guide through the Abhidhamma Piṭaka: A Synopsis of the Philosophical Collection of the Buddhist Pāli Canon. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society, 2007. This guide provides summaries of the seven Abhidhamma books of the Theravāda tradition. The initial section provides a translation and an explanation of the mātikā list, which is included at the beginning of the Dhammasaṅgaṇi. This list or matrix serves as the primary framework for the

classification and analysis of all phenomena. Potter, Karl H., ed. Abhidharma Buddhism to 150 A.D. With Robert E. Buswell Jr., Padmanabh S. Jaini, and Noble Ross Reat. Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies. Vol. 7. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1996. This volume includes summaries of the seven Abhidharma works of the Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma Piṭakas. Takakusu, Junjirō. “On the Abhidharma Literature of the Sarvāstivādins.” Journal of the Pali Text Society 5 (1904–1905): 67–146. The bulk of this paper provides an analytic description of the seven Abhidharma treatises of the Sarvāstivāda school. Essentially, it presents the content of each book in a

somewhat tabulated but informative manner. Theravāda Commentaries The Theravāda tradition attributes to Buddhaghosa the composition of three commentaries (aṭṭhakathā) on the seven books of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka. He compiled single commentaries on the Dhammasaṅgaṇi and the Vibhaṅga, which he respectively named Atthasālinī and Sammohavinodanī. In the case of his commentaries upon the remaining five Abhidhamma books, he placed them together under the title of Pañcappakaraṇaṭṭhakathā. Three commentaries are available in English translations: Atthasālinī translated in Tin 1999, Sammohavinodanī in Ñāṇamoli 1987–1991, and the commentary on the Kathāvatthu in Law 1940. Buswell and Lopez 2013 contains entries on Buddhghosa’s commentaries. Goonesekere 1967 discusses the history and categories of the Pāli commentaries. Norman 1983 treats the development and scope of the Pāli commentaries. Buswell, Robert E., Jr., and Donald S. Lopez Jr. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton, NJ, and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2013. This dictionary contains instructive entries on the Pāli commentaries. Goonesekere, Lakshmi R. Buddhist Commentarial Literature. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society, 1967. This booklet sketches the history and character of the commentaries on the Pāli Tipiṭaka. In the initial sections, the author discusses the way in which the term

commentary (aṭṭhakathā) is understood in Sri Lanka. Next she discusses the early Sinhala and Dravidian commentaries, and then the commentaries produced by Buddhaghosa, Dhammapāla, and other important commentators. Law, B. C., trans. Kathāvatthuppakaraṇa: The Debates Commentary. Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1940. This is Buddhaghosa’s commentary on the Kathāvatthu. It is an indispensable source for clarifying many shady and knotty passages in the Kathāvattu. It also identifies the names of the schools that upheld controversial theories and contentions. Ñāṇamoli, Bhikkhu, trans. Sammohavinodanī: The Dispeller of Delusion. Revised by Lance Cousins, Nyanaponika Mahāthera, and C. M. M. Shaw. 2 vols. Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1987–1991. This is Buddhaghosa’s commentary on the Vibhaṅgha. It is divided into eighteen chapters, starting with an exposition of

the five aggregates. Other topics treated in this text include meditation, the path, and rules of training. In this treatise Buddhaghosa provides a comprehensive exposition of the doctrine of dependent origination; perhaps the most detailed account of this doctrine in the Abhidhamma works. Volume one published 1987; volume two published 1991. Norman, Kenneth Roy. Pāli Literature: Including the Canonical Literature in Prakrit and Sanskrit of All the Hīnayāna Schools of Buddhism. Wiesbaden, Germany: Otto Harrassowitz, 1983. Buddhaghosa’s commentaries on the seven Abhidhamma books are critically evaluated on pages 122–125. Tin, Pe Maung, trans. Atthasālinī: The Expositor. 2 vols. Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1999. This is Buddhaghosa’s commentary on the Dhammasaṅgani. In the initial sections, Buddhaghosa upholds a vigorous defense of the Theravāda claim that the seven


Abhidhamma treatises were spoken by the Buddha himself, and then handed down to Sāriputta, and inherited by an unbroken succession of Abhidhamma masters. The third chapter of this commentary contains a comprehensive treatment of karma. First editions 1920, 1921. Sarvāstivāda Commentaries The Sarvāstivāda masters did not produce a set of commentaries on their Abhidharma Piṭaka texts. Instead they composed three compendia of which the (Abhidharma-) Mahāvibhāṣā is the largest and most important. This text was compiled in Kashmir, and survives only in its Chinese version. It is purported to be a commentary on the primary treatise of the Abhidharma Piṭaka, the Jñānaprasthāna composed by Kātyāyanīputra. Ichimura 1996 contains a summary of the Mahāvibhāṣā, and Buswell and Lopez 2013 sketches its structure. Translations of selected topics treated in the

Mahāvibhāṣā are contained in La Vallée Poussin 1930, La Vallée Poussin 1931– 1932, La Vallée Poussin 1936–1937, and Rahder 1931–1932. Buswell, Robert E., Jr., and Donald S. Lopez Jr. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton, NJ, and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2013. This dictionary offers an insightful overview of the history and structure of the Mahāvibhāṣā. Look under the heading of Abhidharmamahāvibhāṣā. Ichimura, Shohei. “Mahāvibhāṣā.” In Abhidharma Buddhism to 150 A.D. Edited by Karl H. Potter.

With Robert E. Buswell Jr., Padmanath S. Jaini, and Noble Ross Reat. Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies. Vol. 7. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1996. This summary provides a fairly detailed digest of the major topics treated in the Mahāvibhāṣā; pages 511–568. La Vallée Poussin, Louis de. “Documents d’Abhidharma: Textes relatifs au nirvāṇa et aux asaṃskŗtas en général.” Bulletin de l’École Française d’ExtrêmeOrient 30 (1930): 1–28, 247–298. The exposition of the nature of nirvāṇa, and of the unconditioned dharmas, largely consists of translations from the Mahāvibhāṣā, and from Saṅghabhadra’s Nyāyānusāra. La Vallée Poussin, Louis de. “Documents d’Abhidharma: La doctrine des refuges, le

corps de l’arhat.” Mélanges Chinois et Bouddhiques 1 (1931–1932): 65–127. This study of the three refuges contains translations from the Mahāvibhāṣā and from the Nyāyānusāra. La Vallée Poussin, Louis de. “Documents d’Abhidharma: La controverse du temps; Les deux, les quatre, les trois vérités.” Mélanges Chinois et Bouddhiques 5 (1936–1937): 7–187. The expositions of the controversy over the existence of the three times, and of the two and four truths, largely consist of translations from the Mahāvibhāṣā and the Nyāyānusāra. Mahāvibhāṣā. In Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō. Edited by Junjirō Takakusu, Kaigyoku Watanabe, and Genmyō Ono. 100 vols. Tokyo: Daizō Shuppan Kabushiki Kaisha, 1924–1934, No 1545. As mentioned in the commentary paragraph to this section, this massive treatise compiled in 200 fascicles (chüan) survives only in its Chinese translation, which was executed in the 7th century by Hsüan-tsang and his translation team. Rahder, Johannes. “Le satkāyadṛṣṭi d’après Vibhāṣā.” Mélanges Chinois et Bouddhiques 1 (1931–1932): 227–239. The exposition of the erroneous view of personality includes translations from the Mahāvibhāṣā. Abhidharma Synopses The seven Abhidharma treaties, as literary compositions, are rather dense, cryptic, concise, and schematic. As they are

long and difficult to comprehend, there arose a need to produce shorter but comprehensive and topically structured expositions of Abhidharma doctrines. This need resulted in the composition of a series of systematized texts having different titles, but here they are collectively categorized as synopses. The production of such synoptic treatises also reflects the next stage in the development and systematization of Abhidharma doctrine and practice. Both Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda produced a number of synopses, some of

which became highly celebrated, such as Buddhaghosa’s Visuddhimagga, and Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakośa. Theravāda Abhidhamma Synopses This section presents Theravāda works that are high-ranking and exist in translations. The approximate chronological order of the authors listed in this section is as follows: Upatissa, Buddhaghosa, Anuruddha, Sumangala, and Khema. Upatissa 1961, translated by Ehara, encapsulates the primary doctrines and practices necessary for the attainment of emancipation. Buddhaghosa 1956, translated by Ñāṇamoli, constitutes a masterly and treasured synopsis of Buddhist doctrines and practices. Anuruddha 1956, translated by Nārada, and Anuruddha 1993, revised by Bodhi, is treated as the Theravāda primer for the study of Abhidhamma doctrines and practices. Sumangala 2002, translated by Wijeratne and Gethin, provides a commentary on

Anuruddha’s work. Khema 1987, translated by Saddhātissa, deals with consciousness and matter. Anuruddha. Abhidhammattha-saṅgaha. Translated by Mahāthera Nārada. A Manual of Abhidhamma: Being Abhidhammattha Sangaha of Bhadanta Acariya Anuruddha. Colombo, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society, 1956. This important translation of Anuruddha’s work was revised by Bhikkhu Bodhi, as detailed in Anuruddha 1993. Anuruddha. Abhidhammattha-saṅgaha. Revised by Bhikkhu Bodhi. A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma: The Abhidhammattha Saṅgaha of Ācarya Anuruddha. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society, 1993. A revision of Anuruddha 1956. Anuruddha’s dates and homeland are uncertain, but some scholars date him to the 11th century. Anuruddha’s work provides a complete exposition of Abhidhamma teachings. A textual guide compiled by Rewata Dhamma and Bhikkhu Bodhi accompanies Anurudha’s text. This work serves as the primer for the study of the Abhidhamma in the Theravāda world. Buddhaghosa. Visuddhimagga. Translated by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoḷi. The Path of Purification. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society, 1956. Buddhaghosa’s synopsis is a masterly and all-inclusive exposition of the Theravāda doctrine and practice extracted from the Piṭakas. Structurally, it is divided into three parts that correspond to the threefold training in morality, meditation, and wisdom. Part one deals with the purification of morality. Part two covers the purification of meditation. Part three explains the fivefold purification of wisdom.


Khema. Nāmarūpasamāso. Translated by Hammalava Saddhātissa. “Summary of Mind and Matter,” Journal of the Pali Text Society 11 (1987): 7–31. Khema’s text is assigned to the 10th or 11th century. It is a compact manual that provides a synopsis of the Abhidhamma categories of consciousness and matter. The works of Anuruddha and Khema, along with seven other works, form a group of texts known in Burma as “the little finger manuals.” Sumangala. Abhidhammatthavibhāvinī. Translated by R. P. Wijeratne and R. Gethin. Summary of the Topics of Abhidhamma (Abhidhammatthasaṅgaha) by Anuruddha. Exposition of the Topics of Abhidhamma (Abhidhammatthavibhāvinī) by Sumangala, Being a Commentary to Anuruddha’s Summary of the Topics of Abhidhamma. London: Pali Texts Society, 2002. This publication includes translations of two texts: Anuruddha’s treatise

(Abhidhammatthasaṅgaha) and Sumangala’s commentary on it (Abhidhammatthavibhāvinī). Thus, in effect this publication has two titles combined into one. Sumangala’s work provides a fairly detailed and helpful elucidation of Anurudha’s text. Upatissa. Vimuttimagga. Translated by N. R. M. Ehara, Soma Thera, and Kheminda Thera. The Path of Freedom by the Arahant Upatissa. Colombo, Sri Lanka: Saman, 1961. The identity and dates of Upatissa (or Upatiṣya) are uncertain, and his work survives only in a Chinese translation. It is normally known by its putative Pāli title; its Sanskrit title would be Vimuktimārga. Its attested existence dates to the 5th century. It is in twelve chapters, and sketches the path in terms of the three trainings in morality, concentration, and wisdom. Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma Synopses In addition to the three Vibhāṣā compendia produced in Kashmir,

there exist Sarvāstivāda texts that originate from the cultural region of Gandhāra. The Sarvāstivāda adepts from this region developed a distinctive strand of Abhidharma ideas and systematizations. Some scholars refer to the works produced in the Gadhāra region as hṛdaya (heart, essence) texts, because their titles contain this term. The approximate chronological order of the Indian authors listed in this section is as follows: Dharmaśrī, Ghoṣaka, Dharmatrāta, Vasubandhu, Saṅghabhadra, Skandhila, and Yaśomitra. Dharmaśrī 2006, translated by Willemen, represents one of the earliest compositions that provide a systematic and topically arranged exposition of the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma. Ghoṣaka 1977, translated by Broeck, also provides a coherent treatment of Abhidharma teachings. Dharmatrāta 1999, translated by Dessein, is the same in structure as Dharmaśrī’s text, but it is much larger in textual volume. Skandhila 2008, translated by Dhammajoti (as well as by Velthem in 1997), provides an exposition of the Sarvāstivāda dharma theory. Vasubandhu 1967, edited by Pradhan, constitutes the doctrinal culmination of the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma developments in India; later Abhidharma generations did not write new treatises, but instead composed commentaries on it. Yaśomitra 1932–1936, summarized in Anacker 2008, is a commentary on Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakośa. Saṅghabhadra 1995, partially translated by Cox, defends the Sarvāstivāda orthodoxy against Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakośa. Mejor 1991 studies the commentaries on Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakośa. Anacker, Stefan. “Sphuṭārthābhidharmakośavyākhyā.” In Buddhist Philosophy from 350 to 600 A.D. Edited by Karl H. Potter. Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies. Vol. 9. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2008.


In Part two of this volume, Anacker provides a fairly detailed summary of Yaśomitra’s Sphuṭārthābhidharmakośavyākhyā, pages 565–593. Dharmaśrī. Abhidharmahṛdaya. Translated by Charles Willemen. The Essence of Scholasticism: Abhidharmahṛdaya T1550. Rev. ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2006. In academic circles, the vital dates of Dharmaśrī (or Dharmaśreṣṭhin) range between the 1st century BCE and the 2nd century CE. At any rate, his text Abhidharmahṛdaya is one of the first systematized expositions of the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma. The original text survives only in a Chinese translation, and consists of 250 summary verses followed by their commentaries. The topics that are covered include karma, defilements, knowledge, and concentration. French translation by I. Armelin. Le Coeur de la Loi Suprême: Abhidharmahṛdayaśāstra. Paris: Paul Geuthner,

1978. Dharmatrāta. Saṃyuktābhidharmahṛdaya. Translated by Bart Dessein. Saṃyuktābhidharmahṛdaya: Heart of Scholasticism with Miscellaneous Additions. Buddhist Tradition Series 33–35. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1999. This publication is in three parts. Part one of over seven hundred pages contains an introduction and a translation of Dharmatrāta’s work. Part two provides copious annotations to Part one, and Part three consists of indices, glossaries, and bibliography. Dharmatrāta’s treatise is an expansion of Dharmaśrī’s work and consists of 596 verses and their commentaries, divided into eleven topical chapters. Ghoṣaka. Abhidharmāmṛtarasa. Translated and annotated by José van den Broeck. La

Saveur de l’immortel (A-p’i-t-an Kan Lu Wei Lun): La Version Chinoise de l’Amṛtarasa de Ghoṣaka (T. 1553). Publications de l’Institut Orientaliste de Louvain 15. Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium: Institut Orientaliste, 1977. The dates and homeland of Ghoṣaka remain uncertain, but it is surmised that he lived in the 2nd century, and probably composed his work in Gandhāra. The Chinese translation was made in the 3rd century CE. The introduction provides an analysis of selected subjects treated in Ghoṣaka’s work. Taken together this text covers the entire spectrum of Abhidharma teachings. Mejor, Marek. Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakośa and the Commentaries Preserved in the Tanjur. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner

Verlag, 1991. This is an insightful study of Vasubandhu’s life and works, and a textual and doctrinal analysis of nine commentaries on his Abhidharmakośa that are extant in Tibetan translations. Saṅghabhadra. Nyāyānusāra. Translated by Collett Cox. Disputed Dharmas: Early Buddhist Theories of Existence, An Annotated Translation of the Section on Factors Dissociated from Thought from Saṅghabhadra’s Nyāyānusāra. Studia Philologica Buddhica, Monograph Series 11. Tokyo: International Institute for Buddhist Studies, 1995. This is a partially translated treatise that reasserts the Sarvāstivāda Vaibhāṣika orthodoxy, and at the same time debunks the Sautrāntika positions as recorded in Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakośabhāṣya. The translated portion deals with the fourteen factors dissociated from the mind (cittaviprayukta-dharma). In addition, Cox provides an insightful introduction with sections on the origin and scope of the Abhidharma texts. Skandhila. Abhidharmāvatāra. Translated by Kuala Lumpur Dhammajoti. Entrance into the Supreme Doctrine: Skandhila’s Abhidharmāvatāra. Hong Kong: Centre of Buddhist Studies, 2008. Translated from the Chinese. Skandhila is dated to the 5th century, and is surmised to have been a Vaibhāṣika from Kashmir. His work is extant in Chinese and Tibetan versions. It is a summary of the dharma theory of the Sarvāstivāda school. The first five chapters treat the conditioned dharmas redistributed among the five aggregates, and

the remaining chapters deal with the three unconditioned dharmas. The Tibetan version was translated by Marcel van Velthem. La Traité de la Descente dans la Profonde Loi: Abhidharmāvatāraśāstra. Publications de l’Institut Orientaliste de Louvain 16. Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium: Institut Orientaliste, 1977. Vasubandhu. Abhidharmakośabhāṣya. Edited by Prahalad Pradhan. Abhidharmakośabhāṣya of Vasubandhu. Patna, India: K. P. Jayaswal Research Institute, 1967. Vasubandhu’s work was composed in India in the late 4th or early 5th century. It exists in the original Sanskrit, and Chinese and Tibetan versions. It emulates the structure of Dharmatrāta’s work. It comprises the root text (kārikā), and its autocommentary (bhāṣya). The Vaibhāṣikas approved of the root text as faithfully reflecting the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma, but criticized the commentary for doctrinal

distortions. French translation by Louis de La Vallée Poussin. L’Abhidharmakośa de Vasubandhu: Traduction et Annotations. 6 vols. Paris: Librairie Orientaliste Paul Geuthner; J. B. ISTAS, Louvain, Belgium: 1923–1931. English translation from the French by Leo M. Pruden. Abhidharmakośabhāṣyam. 4 vols. Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1988–1990. Yaśomitra. Sphuṭārthābhidharmakośavyākhyā. 2 vols. Edited by Unrai Wogihara. Sphuṭārthā: Abhidharmakośavyākhyā. Tokyo: Publishing Association of Abhidharmakośavyākhyā, 1932–1936. This is the only commentary on the Abhidharmakośa that survives in the original Sanskrit. Otherwise it is an Abhidharma treatise in its own right. There are no

translations of this work in Western languages. See Anacker 2008. Reference Works Reference resources included here provide sound entries on Abhidharma topics and technical terminology. Among the sources listed in this section, the Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Malalasekera and Weeraratne 1961–2007, provides the most comprehensive coverage of Abhidharma literature and doctrine. The Encyclopedia of Religion, Jones 2004, is more limited in coverage of Buddhism, but still contains an impressive range of entries on Abhidharma doctrines and schools. The Encyclopedia of Buddhism, Buswell 2003, offers substantial entries on Abhidharma literature and schools. The Princeton Dictionary of

Buddhism, Buswell and Lopez 2013, contains numerous entries on Abhidharma texts, concepts, schools, and masters. The Buddhist Dictionary, Nyanatiloka 1980, focuses on technical terminology culled from Pāli sources. Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies, Williams 2005, facilitates access to 110 articles, some of which are important for the study of the Abhidharma. Potter 1995 contains a wide-ranging bibliography on the Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda texts and doctrines. Potter 1996, Potter 1999, and Potter 2008 essentially contain summaries of a large number of Buddhist texts, including all important Abhidharma works. Buswell, Robert E., ed. Encyclopedia of Buddhism. New York: Macmillan, 2003.


This encyclopedia includes approximately 470 entries in over 900 pages. Its coverage of Abhidharma terms is less extensive than in Malalasekera and Weeraratne 1961– 2007, or Buswell and Lopez 2013. However, it has a number of fine entries on Abhidharma, cosmology, dharma and dharmas, Hīnayāna, karma, mainstream Buddhist schools, Sarvāstivāda, and Theravāda. Buswell, Robert E., Jr., and Donald S. Lopez Jr. The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton, NJ, and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2013. This dictionary of over 5,000 entries is based on original sources in Pāli, Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan, Japanese, and Korean. It covers texts, concepts, authors, and much more. In terms of Abhidharma, it offers generous entries on Abhidharma, the seven works of the Abhidharma Piṭakas belonging to the Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda schools, commentaries, commentators, schools, and a gamut of technical terms. Jones, Lindsay, ed. Encyclopedia of Religion. 2d ed. 16 vols. New York: Macmillan, 2004. This encyclopedia contains a wide range of

entries on Buddhist topics. Volume two provides a solid treatment of Buddhist history, literature, and teachings. The topics that are relevant to this entry include Buddhism in India, Buddhism in Southeast Asia, Hīnayāna, Buddhist philosophy, Buddhist soteriology, Abhidharmapiṭaka, Sarvāstivāda, and Theravāda. Originally published in 1997, Mircea Eliade, editor-inchief, New York: Macmillan. Malalasekera, G. P., and W. G. Weeraratne, eds. Encyclopedia of Buddhism. 8 vols. Government of Sri Lanka, 1961–2007. This encyclopedia was produced over the period of fifty years. It offers a wide range of entries on Buddhist history, literature, doctrine, and much more. It is particularly strong

on the Theravāda tradition and early Buddhism, but it also includes many entries on other Buddhist traditions. Nyanatiloka, Mahāthera. Buddhist Dictionary: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society, 1980. This dictionary covers a considerable range of technical terms of Buddhist doctrines and practices. The terms are given in Pāli and explained on the basis of Pāli sources. The overall aim of this compilation is to provide sound and readable explanations of the basic Buddhist terminology. First edition 1950. Potter, Karl H. Bibliography. Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies. Vol. 1. 3d rev. ed. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1995. A fairly

comprehensive bibliography, which includes a substantial range of publications on the Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma topics. This bibliography is kept up to date and can be accessed online. Potter, Karl H., ed. Abhidharma Buddhism to 150 A.D. With Robert Buswell, Padmanath Jaini, and Noble Ross Reat. Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies. Vol.

7. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1996. Part one has one section on the development of Abhidharma philosophy, and one section on a few early Abhidharma concepts. Part two provides summaries of twentyfour Abhidharma texts, including the Abhidharma treatises belonging to the Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma Piṭakas. Potter, Karl H., ed. Buddhist Philosophy from 100 to 350 A.D. Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies. Vol. 8. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1999. Part one includes one section on the Buddhist path, and one section on the categories of phenomena (dharmas). Part two contains summaries of over 200 texts, including the works of Vasubandhu, and of Saṅghabhadra’s Nyāyānusāra. Potter, Karl H., ed. Buddhist Philosophy from 350 to 600 A.D. Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies. Vol. 9. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2008. In Part one, chapter two discusses different aspects of the Abhidharma stages leading to liberation. Part two includes summaries of almost 200 texts,

including Yaśomitra’s Abhidharmakośa-Sphuṭārthāvyākhyā. Williams, Paul, ed. Buddhism: Critical Concepts in Religious Studies. 8 vols. London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2005. The following articles are pertinent. Volume one: Collins on the idea of the Canon; Cousins on oral literature; Lamotte on textual authenticity, and on textual interpretation. Volume two: Bechert on the sects; Cousins on the nature of jhāna, Mahādeva’s five points, and person and self. Volume four: Cousins on the Patthāna

and Abhidhamma, and on nibbāna and Abhidhamma; Gethin on the aggregates; Williams on Abhidharma ontology. Historical and Textual Studies on the Abhidharma Treatises This section includes a selection of books and articles that study the origin, formation, and content of the Abhidharma Piṭaka and affiliated texts. Frauwallner 1995 traces the literary and doctrinal evolution of the Sarvāstivāda and Theravāda Abhidharma Piṭakas. Cox 1992 studies the origin and formation of the Abhidharma literature of the Sarvāstivāda school. Bronkhorst 2000 discusses the Sarvāstvāda Abhidharma doctrines. Watanabe 1954 assesses the debates and doctrinal disagreements among the Sarvāstivāda masters. Anālayo 2012 assesses the accounts of the Buddha’s teaching of the Abhidharma in the abode of the Thirty-Three gods. Anālayo 2014 formulates an innovative vision of

the origin of the Abhidharma Piṭaka. Willemen, et al. 1998 provides a detailed survey of the Sarvāstivāda history and literature. Lamotte 1988 assesses the Abhidharma texts, and sketches the formation and character of the early schools. Bareau 1951 discusses the Abhidharma texts that are extant or possibly were in existence. Gethin 1992 concentrates on the lists (mātikā) that form the seminal core of the Abhidhamma treatises. Anālayo. “Teaching the Abhidharma in the Heaven of the Thirty-Three: The Buddha and His Mother.” Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies 2 (2012): 9–35. The story of the Buddha’s teaching the Abhidharma to his mother in the Trāyastriṃśa abode is contained in a number of Buddhist sources. The author traces its development and intended purpose, and concludes that it was devised to authenticate the Abhidharma treatises. Anālayo. The Dawn of Abhidharma. Hamburg Buddhist Studies 2. Hamburg, Germany: Hamburg University Press, 2014. This study attempts to trace the origin of the Abhidharma treatises. The author postulates that initially the Abhidharma doctrines had their roots in certain formulations that were inserted into the Sūtra Piṭaka. After that these formulations were ingeniously reformulated into Abhidharma treatises, and finally placed under the Buddha’s authority. Bareau, André. “Les Sectes Bouddhiques du Petit Véhicule et leur Abhidharmapiṭaka.” Bulletin de l’Ecole Francaise d’Extrême-Orient 44.1 (1951): 1–11.


First the author discusses the Abhidharma texts that exist as complete Abhidharma sets: Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, and Śāriputra Abhidharma Śāstra. Next, he attempts to determine which schools definitely had, and which schools probably had, separate Abhidharmas. In his opinion, three other schools had their own Abhidharmas: Mahāsāṅghika, Dharmaguptaka, and Haimavata. Five other schools probably had separate Abhidharmas. Bronkhorst, Johannes. “Die buddhistische Lehre.” In Der Buddhismus I: Der indische Buddhismus und seine

Verzweigungen. Edited by Heinz Bechert, Johannes Bronkhorst, Jacob Ensink, et al., 23–213. Die Religionen der Menschheit, Band 24.1. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer Verlag, 2000. This lengthy study provides a comprehensive treatment of Indian Buddhism. It consists of three sections: the teaching in the Buddha’s discourses, the Abhidharma systematization, and the Mahāyāna development. In the Abhidharma section, much of the discussion focuses on the Sarvāstivāda doctrines, and on the dharma theory. It is an erudite account of the Abhidharma within the spectrum of Indian Buddhism. Cox, Collett. “The Unbroken Treatise: Scripture and Argument in Early Buddhist Scholasticism.” In Innovations in Religious Traditions: Essays in the Interpretation of Religious Change. Edited by Michael A. Williams, Collett Cox, and Martin S. Jaffee, 143–189. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 1992. This is a comprehensive study of the origin and development of the Abhidharma literature of the Sarvāstivāda school. Initially the author discusses the Buddhist position

in relation to the Vedic texts. After that she systematically unfolds the stages of Abhidharma literature: formation of Abhidharma treatises, production of synoptic texts, and legitimization of Abhidharma treatises. Frauwallner, Erich. Studies in Abhidharma Literature and the Origins of Buddhist Philosophical Systems. Translated by Sophie Francis Kidd. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1995. This book contains Frauwallner’s research into the origin and development of the Abhidharma treatises and philosophical systems. In his opinion, the Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda Abhidhamma treatises were not composed at a stroke and at the same time, but were compiled over a considerable period of time. Gethin, Rupert. “The Mātikās: Memorization, Mindfulness, and the List.” In the Mirror of Memory: Reflections on Mindfulness and Remembrance in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. Edited by Janet Gyatso, 149–172. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992. In this paper Gethin offers an insightful and instructive treatment of the Abhidhamma mātikās. He identifies and discusses the character of the various mātikā lists, shows how they epitomize the essence of the Dhamma, and indicates how they underpin the development of the Abhidhamma. He also discusses their importance for meditation. Lamotte, Étienne Paul Marie. History of Indian Buddhism, From the Origins to the Śaka Era. Translated by Sara Webb-Boin. Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium: Institut Orientaliste, 1988. The formation and canonicity of the Theravāda and Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma works is discussed in the sections that deal with the early canonical collections (pages 179– 191). In chapter six (pages 517–637), Lamotte collates and appraises a rich range of sources that shed light on the origin and doctrinal leanings of the early Buddhist schools. Translated from the French. Histoire du Bouddhisme Indien des Origines à l’Ère Śaka. Louvain, Belgium: Institut Orientaliste, 1958.


Watanabe, Baiyū. Ubu abidatsumaron no kenkyū. Tokyo: Heibonsha, 1954. This publication (Study of Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma Texts) is considered to be one of the most important studies of the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma. The author largely focuses on doctrinal differences upheld by discordant Sarvāstivāda groups. He mainly deals with disagreements between the Sarvāstivāda masters from Kashmir, the masters from Gandhāra, the western masters (pāścātya), and the masters from the peripheral regions (bahirdeśaka). Willemen, Charles, Bart Dessein, and Collett Cox. Sarvāstivāda Buddhist Scholasticism. Handbuch der Orientalistik. Zweite Abteilung. Indien. 11 Bd. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1998. This book provides an extensive survey of the history and literature of the Sarvāstivāda school. Chapter three contains an analysis of the seven Abhidharma books, and of their Vibhāṣā compendia. Chapter four ascertains the Abhidharma treatises produced in the Gandhāra region. The bibliography of secondary materials includes an ample number of

publications produced by modern Japanese scholars. Academic Handbooks and General Studies This heading encompasses a selection of academic publications that provide comprehensive or general studies of the Abhidharma treatises and their doctrines. Karunadasa 2010 provides a detailed study of the Theravāda Abhidhamma. Ronkin 2005 focuses on the philosophical framework of the Theravāda Abhidhamma. Nyanaponika 2010 outlines the Theravāda philosophical scope, and discusses the complex of mental states. Gorkom 2011 outlines the Theravāda exposition of the mind and its processes. Skilton 2013 offers an insightful sketch of the Abhidhamma literature and doctrine. Dhammajoti 2009 offers an

all-inclusive study of literature and doctrines of the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma. Hirakawa 1990 provides an allencompassing silhouette of early Buddhism in India. Stcherbatsky 1979 treats several concepts of the Sarvāstivāda school, and compiles the primary lists of all phenomena according to the classification system of the Sarvāstivāda schools. Dhammajoti, Kuala Lumpur. Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma. Hong Kong: Centre of Buddhist Studies, 2009. This book of over 500 pages provides an extensive survey of the history, literature, and doctrines of the Sarvāstivāda school. It is based on the Sarvāstivāda works and related sources. The sixteen chapters of this book include discussions of Sarvāstivāda treatises, causality, consciousness, karma, and the path of emancipation. Gorkom, Nina van. Introduction to the Abhidhamma. London: Zolag, 2011. This publication

of just over forty pages provides a coherent overview of the Abhidhamma principles. The main focus is on the states of consciousness and its ethical qualities, and on the process of its purification. This work is a modified and restructured version of the author’s earlier and longer book Abhidhamma in Daily Life, also published by Zolag in 2009. Hirakawa, Akira. Indo Bukkyō Shi. Translated and edited by Paul Groner. A History of Indian Buddhism: From Śākyamuni to Early Mahāyāna. Asian Studies at Hawai’i 36. Honolulu:

University of Hawai’i Press, 1990. As its title suggests, this book covers the Buddhist history and doctrine from the time of the Buddha to the origin of Mahāyāna texts and doctrines. Part two deals with the development of Nikāya Buddhism, Abhidharma literature, classification of phenomena (dharmas), cosmology, and the theory of karma. Karunadasa, Y. The Theravāda Abhidhamma: Its Inquiry into the Nature of Conditioned Reality. Hong Kong: Centre of Buddhist Studies, 2010. This book of over 300 pages provides an extensive and coherent treatment of the Theravāda Abhidhamma. It is based on primary sources and selected secondary sources. It consists of eighteen topical chapters, which essentially provide a comprehensive analysis of consciousness and its concomitants, matter, and other related topics. Nyanaponika, Thera. Adhidhamma Studies: Buddhist Exploration of Consciousness and Time. Edited by Bhikkhu Bodhi. Boston: Wisdom, 2010. Chapter one provides an overview of Abhidhamma philosophy. Chapter two ascertains the

Abhidhamma method of analysis and investigation into the conditionality of phenomena. The next two chapters are based on the Dhammasaṅgaṇi, and deal with its classificatory scheme of mental states. In the introduction, Bhikkhu Bodhi provides a fine overview of the Abhidhamma literature and teaching. First edition 1949. Ronkin, Noa. Early Buddhist Metaphysics: The Making of a Philosophical Tradition. London: Routledge-Curzon, 2005. This book soundly contributes to the study of the Theravāda Abhidhamma. It is divided into five chapters, which cover the emergence of the Abhidhamma, the dhamma theory, the concept of svabhāva, consciousness, and causation. A more succinct exposition of the

major Abhidharma themes is given in Ronkin’s Abhidharma entry in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta, ed., available online. Skilton, Andrew. “Theravāda.” In A Companion to Buddhist Philosophy. Edited by S. M. Emmanuel, 71–85. Blackwell Companions to Philosophy. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013. Skilton provides a competent and insightful survey of Theravāda history, doctrine, and literature. The treatment of the canonical Abhidhamma treatises and their commentaries is informative and formulated with clarity. Stcherbatsky, Theodor. The Central Conception of Buddhism and the Meaning of the Word Dharma. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1979. This book provides a succinct and coherent exposition of the Sarvāstivāda principal concepts and a detailed classification of phenomena (dharma). The different groups of dharmas are

explained separately. It also covers the law of causality, karma, and the theory of cognition. First edition 1923. Studies on Abhidharma Concepts and Topics In addition to handbooks and standard studies, there exists a considerable range of articles and books that treat specific concepts and topics, most of which appertain to the basic framework of Abhidharma doctrines. Gethin 2004 studies the term dhamma on the basis of Pāli sources. Cox 2004 treats the notion and function of the term dharma as found in the Sarvāstivāda sources. Boisvert 1995 studies the nature, function, and innate permutation of the five aggregates. Collins 1982 casts a diversified imagery of the Buddhist doctrine that denies the existence of the self (anattā). McDermott 1980 shows that the early Buddhist interpretations of karma and rebirth were controversial. Ryose 1987

discusses the notion of karma and related matters on the basis of the Sarvāstivāda sources. Cox 1993 traces the interpretative evolution of the notion of dependent origination in the Sarvāstivāda sources. Karunadasa 1989 ascertains the notion and classification of matter on the basis of Theravāda sources. Rospatt 2015 treats the controversial theories of momentariness as propounded in the Abhidharma sources. Boisvert, Mathieu. The Five Aggregates: Understanding Theravāda Psychology and Soteriology. Editions SR 17. Waterloo, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1995. This study focuses on the five aggregate

(khandha), and their correlation with dependent origination. Chapter one discusses the concept of khandha, and differentiates between the five aggregates as such and as the five aggregates of clinging. The next five chapters analyze each of the aggregates, and the final chapter examines their innate interrelationship and affinity to dependent origination. Collins, Steven. Selfless Persons: Imagery and Thought in Theravāda Buddhism. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1982. Parts one and two analyze the Theravāda doctrine of the nonexistence of the self or soul (anattā). Parts three and four deal with the accounts of personality, rebirth, and continuity. The author postulates that for Buddhists specialists, the anattā doctrine denotes a pattern of self-perception and mental analysis that reflects the true state of reality. Cox, Collett. “Dependent Origination: Its Elaboration in Early Sarvāstivādin Abhidharma Texts.” In Researches in Indian and Buddhist Philosophy: Essays in Honour of Professor Alex Wayman. Edited by Ram Karan Sharma, 119–141. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1993. This instructive article concentrates on the interpretative evolution of the concept of dependent origination (pratītyasamutpāda) as found in the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma texts. In order to demonstrate the progressive transformation of this concept, initially the author discusses its perceptions in the early discourses (sūtra), in order to serve as the foundational scenario. Next she traces its conceptual transformation. Cox, Collett. “From Category to Ontology: The Changing Role of Dharma in Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 32 (2004): 543–597. This erudite article explores the doctrinal scope and

function of the complex term dharma on the basis of the Sarvāstivāda texts. It also discusses its purpose and relation to other terms such as intrinsic nature (svabhāva) and existence (bhāva). Dhammajoti, Kuala Lumpur. Abhidharma Doctrines and Controversies on Perception. Hong Kong: Centre of Buddhist Studies, 2007. In the Theravāda sources the exposition of the cognitive process of consciousness is largely uncontroversial. By contrast, Sarvāstivāda masters had tense disagreements about the process and nature of perception, and the cognitive error. The author investigates the Sarvāstivāda controversies about the apparatus of perception, the mental factors responsible for perception, and the process of gaining knowledge of the external world. Gethin, Rupert. “He Who Sees Dhamma Sees Dhammas: Dhamma in Early Buddhism.” Journal of Indian Philosophy 32

(2004): 513–542. In the initial sections the author discusses the previous publications on the subject, and some fundamental meanings of the term dhamma, such as teaching, truth, and mental or physical state. The next sections deal with the understanding of dhamma in the Theravāda commentaries, and with the evolution of its Buddhist interpretation. Karunadasa, Y. Buddhist Analysis of Matter. Singapore: Buddhist Research Society, 1989. This book offers a detailed analysis of matter (rūpa) in the light of Theravāda sources. Chapter one examines the senses and contexts in which the term rūpa occurs. Chapter two

deals with the four primary elements and their properties. The remaining chapters deal with the secondary matter, its classification, and other related topics. McDermott, J. P. “Karma and Rebirth in Early Buddhism.” In Karma and Rebirth in Classical Indian Traditions. Edited by W. D. O’Flaherty, 165–192. Berkeley and London: University of California Press, 1980. The author examines the early Buddhist theories on the karma process and transition from one existence to the next. The Pudgalavādins postulated that a “person” (pudgala) transmigrates and provides the link between lives. The Theravāda introduced the rebirth-linking consciousness that arises at conception. The Sarvāstivāda school postulated the existence of an intermediate state or being between death and birth. Rospatt, Alexander von. The Buddhist Doctrine of Momentariness: A Survey of the Origins and Early Phase of This Doctrine up to Vasubandhu. Rev. ed. Berkeley, CA: Institute of Buddhist Studies and BDK America, 2015. This is a textually based study of the

complex and controversial theory of momentariness of conditioned phenomena, and of their characteristic marks. It covers the doctrinal positions propounded by the Sarvāstivāda, Sautrāntika, Dārṣṭāntika, and other early sectarian affiliations. Original edition: Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 1995. Ryose, Wataru. “A Study of the Abhidharmahṛdaya: The Historical Development of the Concept of Karma in the Sarvāstivāda Thought.” PhD thesis, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1987. In Part one, this thesis ascertains the development and different aspects of karma, and assesses karma as a form of ethical system. Part two contains an analysis and a translation of the chapter on karma of

Dharmaśrī’s Abhidharmahṛdaya, and of the commentary culled from Dharmatrāta’s work. Studies on Abhidharma Soteriological Topics The Abhidharma treatises and related texts not just systematize and consolidate the Buddha’s doctrinal teaching, but they also vibrate with soteriological dimensions and concerns. The field of Buddhist soteriology is vast, and the selection of publications listed in this section represents a fraction of the available sources. Collins 1998 provides a broad study of the Theravāda notion and metaphoric imagery of nirvāṇa. Dhammajoti 2002 focuses on the Sarvāstivāda interpretation of nirvāṇa. Fuller 2005 treats the notion of right view, which constitutes the first factor of the eightfold path. Bodhi 2006 sketches the core teaching of the eightfold path (magga), which is the primary expedient of emancipation. Gethin 2001 studies in detail a set of the primary factors that are conducive to spiritual liberation. Gunaratana 1988 treats the meditative techniques that are essential to climb the ladder of spiritual development. Cox 1992 provides an overview of the Sarvāstivāda exposition of the path. Bodhi, Bhikkhu. The Noble Eightfold Path: The Way to the End of Suffering. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society, 2006. In chapter one, the author discusses the nature of suffering, its causes, and the elimination of the causes of suffering. The remaining seven chapters provide a detailed exposition of the noble eightfold path. The book is based on Theravāda sources. First edition 1984.


Collins, Steven. Nirvana and Other Buddhist Felicities. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998. This is an innovative study of nirvāṇa, which is realized in the final phase of meditative cultivation. Nirvāṇa is studied in terms of its systematic treatment, and of its expression through images and in narrative. In the author’s words (page 188), Buddhist thought says that nirvāṇa “is a real, external and timeless existent, not merely a concept; the Abhidhamma classification scheme places it in the categories of mental object sense-base and mental object element.” Cox, Collett. “Attainment through Abandonment: The Sarvāstivādin Path of Removing Defilements.” In Paths to Liberation: The Mārga and Its Transformations in Buddhist Thought. Edited by Robert E. Buswell and Robert M. Gimello, 63–105. Studies in East Asian Buddhism 7. Honolulu: University of

Hawai’i Press, 1992. In this article Collett Cox provides a detailed study of the Sarvāstivāda theory and practice of the path (mārga) that concludes with the elimination of defilements. First she explains the character of defilements, and then outlines the consecutive stages of the path. The full exposition of the Sarvāstivāda path is given in chapter six of the Abhidharmakośa. Dhammajoti, Kuala Lumpur. “The Sarvāstivāda Conception of Nirvāṇa.” In Buddhist and Indian Studies in Honour of Professor Sodo Mori. Edited

by a Publication Committee, 335–348. Hamamatsu, Japan: Kokusai Bukkyoto Kyokai, 2002. Dhammajoti studies the notion of nirvāṇa on the basis of the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma treatises. He focuses on the nature of nirvāṇa, its reality, and its character as a state of liberation. For the Sarvāstivāda school, nirvāṇa (or pratisaṃkhyā-nirodha) is a distinct entity, and a kind of ontological force that is experienced when all defilements are abandoned. Fuller, Paul. The Notion of Diṭṭhi in Theravāda Buddhism: The Point of

View. London and New York: Routledge-Curzon, 2005. There are two primary ways of understanding the notion of views. The first way understands right view as a correction of wrong views. The second one understands it as the elimination of all views. The author argues that these two approaches are defective, and postulates that in the early texts, this term denotes an attitude that transcends all views. Gethin, Rupert M. L. The Buddhist Path to Awakening: A Study of the BodhiPakkhiyā Dhammā. Oxford: One World, 2001.

This is a textual study of the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment based on Pāli sources. These factors are divided into seven groups, and are considered to be equivalent to the path to enlightenment. The author assesses their formation, and then provides detailed studies of each group. The final section of this book deals with the Sarvāstivāda formulation of the path. First edition, Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 1992. Originally a PhD dissertation submitted at the University of Manchester in 1987. Gold, Jonathan C. Paving the Great Way: Vasubandhu’s Unifying Buddhist Philosophy. New York: Columbia University Press, 2014. This publication represents a major study of Vasubandhu’s religious and philosophical ideas. The author admirably discusses and unfolds Vasubandhu’s

critical and creative contribution to the interpretation of the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma doctrines. Gunaratana, Henepola. The Jhanas in Theravada Buddhist Meditation. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society, 1988. This is a comprehensive study of the four fine material jhānas and four immaterial jhānas. It is based on the Pāli canonical texts and their commentaries. Essentially, it explores the dynamics of the jhānas and their function in the process of gaining the ultimate liberation, nibbāna. It also discusses the supernormal categories of knowledge (abhiññā).





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