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Tripitaka


Tripitaka Buddhist sacred scriptures that contain the religion, philosophy, sayings and teachings of gautam buddha. The word 'Tripitaka' means Triple Baskets or three parts: Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka an Abhidhamma Pitaka.

Vinaya Pitaka' is the first of the Tripitaka and it contains all the disciplinary rules of ecclesiastical acts and duties formulated by the Buddha himself for the conduct and guidance of monks and nuns. It consists of five books: Parajika, Pachittiya, Mahavagga, Chullavagga and Parivara. The Parajika deals with the eight kinds of transgressions of the Vinaya. The Pachittiya is commentary on the Parajika and is modelled on the Patimoksa and designed for nuns. These two canonical books are collectively known as the Sutta Vibhanga. Vinaya is violated in eight ways which are divided into Parajika and Pachittiaya. The penalty of Parajika offences is expulsion from a sangha. For Pachittiya offences a Bhiksu has to undergo expiation for the period indicated. Mahavagga traces the growth and development of Buddhist monks. It also includes the rules about admission to the order, Uposatha ceremony, Pravarana, barsabas (retreat), food, dwellings, medicaments, cloths etc for monks. The Chullvagga contains details of ecclesiastical punishments to be inflicted and accepted by the guilty, process of suspension, rehabilitation, and the special rules laid out for the nuns. Both of them are collectively called Khandhakas or Treatises.

Parivara is a manual of guidelines for the use of the monks. Its object is to help monks not only to remember the rules but also to be aware of the facts and circumstances. It contains lists created to help in memorising the rules. In addition to the above books, Vinaya Pitaka is an important part of the Tripitaka. It is an important part of the Pali Canon. It contains 227 rules. Buddha gave much stress on the Vinaya as 'the life of his teachings'.'

Sutta Pitaka' is the second part of the Tripitaka. It contains some suttas, or religious advice, concerning the basic principles of buddhism which were given by Buddha to his disciples, including both monks and laypersons. The Sutta Pitaka explains sila, Samadhi and Prajva the three steps of Buddhist practice. It also highlights the four Aryan truths of Buddhism: Pratityasamutpada, Karmavada and Nirvana. The society, economy, politics and religious faith of Buddha's age are also discussed in it. Sutta Pitaka consists of five Nikayas. Of these Dighanikaya contains thirty-four long discourses such as Brahmajala, Samavva Phala, Mahaparinivvana, Mahanidana etc on the life of Buddha and various aspects of Buddhism. Majjhamanikaya contains 152 discourses which analyse various aspects of Buddhist doctrines. Sangsuttanikaya contains 2889 small suttas that have been classified into 56 groups (samsuttas). Abguttaranikaya contains about 2308 small suttas divided into eleven sections. The Khuddakanikaya contains 15 books of various lengths, namely Khuddakapatha, dhammapada, Udana, Itivuttaka, Suttanipata, Bimanavatthu, Petavatthu, Therigatha, jataka, Niddesa, Patisambhidamagna, Apadana, Buddhavangsha and Chariyapitaka, which are store-houses of information.

Abhidhamma Pitaka' the third part of Tripitaka, treats subjects similar to the Sutta Pitaka but differs from the latter in being more scholastic, philosophical as well as drier and monotonous, being overloaded with endless synonyms. It is composed in the form of questions and answers with the ideas classified and outlined. It contains seven books: Dhammasabgani, Vibhabga, Dhatukatha, Puggalapavvatti, Kathavasthu, Yamaka, and Patthana. Dhammasangani deals with the definition and classification of psychical conditions and phenomena like chitta and chaitasika belonging to mundane and super-mundane realms. Vibhanga synthesises the psychical conditions and phenomena which are analysed in the Dhammasangani. Puggalapannatti contains discussions on the nature of the personality according to the different spiritual stages. Dhatukatha discusses the elements of psychical phenomena and their mutual relations which have been referred to in Dhammasangani and Vibhanga. Kathavasthu, compiled by Moggaliputtatisutha, criticises many heretical views from the theravada standpoint. Yamaka analyses psychological subjects while Patthana discusses the twenty-four causal relations. [Binayendra Chaudhury and Sumangal Barua]