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The Pali Abhidamma

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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Pali Abhidamma; Tradition states that the Pali Abhidamma developed when the Buddha visited his mother in Tusita, one of the Buddhist heavens, and taught her (along with Mara, the Buddhist devil, and all the remaining devas, or gods, in heaven) about the Dharma. He did this at night, and in the daytime he would repeat the same teachings to his major disciple, Sariputra. Sariputra recited the comments to his disciple, who in turn passed them down until they were recited at the Third Council of Buddhism, held at Pataliputra in 251 b.c.e. At that time all seven books were recited accurately by Revata, who was the presiding monk of the council.

The Pali Abhidamma, still used throughout the Theravada world, consists of these seven major works of Buddhist philosophy (arranged in order of historical age):

1. Dhammasangani: This work gives a scheme to categorize all dhammas (dharmas), here meaning "phenomena." The types of dham-mas are arranged in headings in a list called the Matika. In the Dhammasangani’s Matika there are 122 headings in four categories: cittuppada (dhammas of consciousness), rupa (those of corporeality), nikkhepa (the way dhammas are distributed), and atthakatha (an additional summary section).

2. Vibhanga ("distinctions"): Called "the Book of Analysis," the Vibhanga complements the Dhammasangani by fully discussing all dhammas, in the same order as the Dhammasangani. There are 18 topics in three groups: those dealing with mental phenomena, those dealing with the holy life, and supplemental categories.

3. Dhatukatha: This text concentrates on analyzing the dhatus, the physical elements, from 14 separate perspectives.

4. Puggalapannatti ("the designation of individuals"): This work discusses classifications of people, in 10 topics.

5. Kathavatthu ("subjects of discussion"): This work deals with wrong views. It was compiled as a result of schismatic disagreements among the early 18 schools of Buddhism. Written as a debate between two people, it involves 1,000 statements about the Matika, each analyzed in depth. The Kathavatthu was said to have been recited at the Third Council of Buddhism.

6. Yamaka ("book of pairs"): This work discusses the relationship between dhammas, elements of existence, and puggalas (in Sanskrit, pudgalas, "individuals" or "selves"). The format it follows is to ask two questions concerning an unclear subject, the answers to which reveal important distinctions.

7. Patthana ("system of relations"): Also called the "Great Book," the Patthana presents the entire system of conditioned reality. This work deals with pratitya-samutpada and the interrelations among elements of reality. There are four divisions, each one discussing the 24 paccayas (in Sanskrit, pratyayas, or "conditions").

Source

http://what-when-how.com/buddhism/abhidharmaabhidhamma-to-aitken-robert-baker-buddhism/