(Last Updated on : 04/02/2011)
The Abhidhamma Pitaka (abhidhammapitaka) is the last of the three pitakas, i.e., baskets, comprising the Pali Canon, the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism. It represents a more schematic, abstract, systematic form of teaching compared to the others. Abhidhamma Pitaka or Higher Knowledge or Special Teachings Basket also comprises songs, poetry, hymns and stories on Buddha and his past lives. Buddhist philosophy and psychology are its key subjects. One of the main Buddhist texts, Dhammapada, is included within this Pitaka. This includes Buddha's sermons and his simple discussions through which he made his profound principles comprehensible to all.
Nature of abhidhamma pitaka
Abhidhamma has been described in diverse ways as philosophy, psychology, metaphysics etc. According to the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004), it started out as elaboration of the sutras, but later developed independent doctrines. According to professors and scholars, the abhidhamma methodology views things in terms of occasions or events, rather than sequences or processes. Tradition states that the abhidhamma is the absolute teaching, while the sutras are adapted to specific hearers.
Origins of abhidhamma pitaka
According to scriptures themselves, the abhidhamma was taught by the Buddha himself. Tradition speaks that he conceived it out immediately after his enlightenment, but only taught it some years later, to the Gods. He then retold it to Sariputta (one of the two pricnipal disciples of Buddha, he became an arhat. Also renowned for his wisdom), who passed it on to his disciples. Scholars generally date these works to approximately the 3rd century BCE, but disputations say that the abhidhamma methodology goes back earlier, perhaps to the Buddha himself.
Contents of Abhidhamma Pitaka, Buddhist philosophy
Consistng of seven primary books, this pitaka renders an extensive knowledge about Buddha's doctrines and philosophies.
The abhidhamma pitaka consists of seven books, which are as follows:
Dhammasangani (-sangani or -sangani)