The Info List - Tripiṭaka

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TRIPIṭAKA, also referred to as TIPIṭAKA, is the traditional term for the Buddhist scriptures. The version canonical to Theravada Buddhism
is often referred to as Pali
Canon in English. Mahayana Buddhism
also reveres the Tripitaka as authoritative but, unlike Theravadins, it also reveres various derivative literature and commentaries that were composed much later.

The Tripitakas were composed between about 500 BCE to about the start of the common era, likely written down for the first time in the 1st century BCE. The Dipavamsa states that during the reign of Valagamba of Anuradhapura (29–17 BCE) the monks who had previously remembered the Tipitaka and its commentary orally now wrote them down in books, because of the threat posed by famine, war. The Mahavamsa also refers briefly to the writing down of the canon and the commentaries at this time. Each Buddhist sub-tradition had its own Tripitaka for its monasteries, written by its sangha , each set consisting of 32 books, in three parts or baskets of teachings: (1) the basket of expected discipline from monks ( Vinaya Piṭaka ), (2) basket of discourse (Sūtra Piṭaka , Nikayas), and (3) basket of special doctrine ( Abhidharma Piṭaka). The structure, the code of conduct and moral virtues in the Vinaya basket particularly, have similarities to some of the surviving Dharmasutra texts of Hinduism. Much of the surviving Tripitaka literature is in Pali, some in Sanskrit, as well as other local Asian languages.


* 1 Etymology * 2 Chronology

* 3 The three categories

* 3.1 Vinaya * 3.2 Sutta * 3.3 Abhidhamma

* 4 In Indian Buddhist schools

* 4.1 Mahāsāṃghika * 4.2 Caitika * 4.3 Bahuśrutīya * 4.4 Prajñaptivāda * 4.5 Sārvāstivāda * 4.6 Mūlasārvāstivāda * 4.7 Dharmaguptaka * 4.8 Mahīśāsaka * 4.9 Kāśyapīya

* 5 In the Theravada
school * 6 In Mahāyāna
schools * 7 As a title * 8 See also * 9 Notes * 10 Further reading * 11 External links


(Sanskrit: त्रिपिटक), also called Tipiṭaka ( Pali
), means Three Baskets. It is a compound Sanskrit word of tra (त्र) meaning three, and pitaka (पिटक) or pita (पिट) meaning "basket or box made from bamboo or wood" and "collection of writings", according to Monier-Williams. These terms are also spelled without diacritics as Tripitaka and Tipitaka in scholarly literature.


The dating of the Tripitakas is unclear. Max Muller
Max Muller
states that the texts were likely composed in the third century BCE, but transmitted orally from generation to generation just like the Vedas and the early Upanishads. The first version, suggests Muller, was very likely reduced to writing in the 1st century BCE (nearly 500 years after the time of Buddha).

According to the Tibetan historian Bu-ston, states Warder, around or before 1st century CE, there were eighteen schools of Buddhism
and their Tripitakas were written down by then. However, except for one version that has survived in full, and others of which parts have survived, all of these texts are lost to history or yet to be found. the tripitaka was compiled into writing for the first time during the reign of King Walagambahu of Sri Lanka(1st century BCE). It's written in the Sri Lankan history that more than 1000monks who were already Arahath state (totally awakened)represented in writing .The place where they carried out was in Aluvihare Matale Sri Lanka. These texts were written down in four related Indo-European languages of South Asia: Sanskrit, Pali, Paisaci and Prakrit, sometime between 1st century BCE and 7th century CE. Some of these were translated in East Asian languages such as Chinese, Tibetan and Mongolian by ancient visiting scholars, which though vast are incomplete.

Wu and Chia state that emerging evidence, though uncertain, suggests that the earliest written Buddhist Tripitaka texts may have arrived in China from India by the 1st century BCE.


The woodblock of Tripitaka Koreana
Tripitaka Koreana
in Haeinsa
, Hapcheon, South Korea .

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Tripitaka comprises the three main categories of texts that is the Buddhist canon. The three parts of the Pāli canon are not as contemporary as the traditional Buddhist account seems to suggest: the Sūtra Piṭaka is older than the Vinaya Piṭaka, and the Abhidharma Piṭaka represents scholastic developments originated at least two centuries after the other two parts of the canon. The Vinaya Piṭaka appears to have grown gradually as a commentary and justification of the monastic code (Prātimokṣa), which presupposes a transition from a community of wandering mendicants (the Sūtra Piṭaka period ) to a more sedentary monastic community (the Vinaya Piṭaka period). Even within the Sūtra Piṭaka it is possible to detect older and later texts.


Main article: Vinaya

Rules and regulations of monastic life that range from dress code and dietary rules to prohibitions of certain personal conducts.


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Main articles: Mahayana
sutra and Sutta Pitaka

The Buddha
delivered all his sermons in local language of northern India. These sermons were collected during 1st assembly just after the Parinibbana of the Buddha. Later these teachings were translated into Sanskrit


Main article: Abhidharma

Philosophical and psychological discourse and interpretation of Buddhist doctrine.


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Each of the Early Buddhist Schools likely had their own recensions of the Tripiṭaka. According to some sources, there were some Indian schools of Buddhism
that had five or seven piṭakas.


The Mahāsāṃghika Vinaya was translated by Buddhabhadra and Faxian in 416 CE, and is preserved in Chinese translation (Taishō Tripiṭaka

The 6th century CE Indian monk Paramārtha wrote that 200 years after the parinirvāṇa of the Buddha, much of the Mahāsāṃghika school moved north of Rājagṛha , and were divided over whether the Mahāyāna
sūtras should be incorporated formally into their Tripiṭaka. According to this account, they split into three groups based upon the relative manner and degree to which they accepted the authority of these Mahāyāna
texts. Paramārtha states that the Kukkuṭika sect did not accept the Mahāyāna
sūtras as buddhavacana ("words of the Buddha"), while the Lokottaravāda sect and the Ekavyāvahārika sect did accept the Mahāyāna
sūtras as buddhavacana. Also in the 6th century CE, Avalokitavrata writes of the Mahāsāṃghikas using a "Great Āgama Piṭaka," which is then associated with Mahāyāna
sūtras such as the Prajñāparamitā and the Daśabhūmika Sūtra .

According to some sources, abhidharma was not accepted as canonical by the Mahāsāṃghika school. The Theravādin Dīpavaṃsa , for example, records that the Mahāsāṃghikas had no abhidharma. However, other sources indicate that there were such collections of abhidharma, and the Chinese pilgrims Faxian and Xuanzang
both mention Mahāsāṃghika abhidharma. On the basis of textual evidence as well as inscriptions at Nāgārjunakoṇḍā , Joseph Walser concludes that at least some Mahāsāṃghika sects probably had an abhidharma collection, and that it likely contained five or six books.


The Caitikas included a number of sub-sects including the Pūrvaśailas, Aparaśailas, Siddhārthikas, and Rājagirikas. In the 6th century CE, Avalokitavrata writes that Mahāyāna
sūtras such as the Prajñāparamitā and others are chanted by the Aparaśailas and the Pūrvaśailas. Also in the 6th century CE, Bhāvaviveka speaks of the Siddhārthikas using a Vidyādhāra Piṭaka, and the Pūrvaśailas and Aparaśailas both using a Bodhisattva
Piṭaka, implying collections of Mahāyāna
texts within these Caitika schools.


The Bahuśrutīya school is said to have included a Bodhisattva Piṭaka in their canon. The Satyasiddhi Śāstra, also called the Tattvasiddhi Śāstra, is an extant abhidharma from the Bahuśrutīya school. This abhidharma was translated into Chinese in sixteen fascicles (Taishō Tripiṭaka
1646). Its authorship is attributed to Harivarman, a third-century monk from central India. Paramārtha cites this Bahuśrutīya abhidharma as containing a combination of Hīnayāna and Mahāyāna
doctrines, and Joseph Walser agrees that this assessment is correct.


The Prajñaptivādins held that the Buddha's teachings in the various piṭakas were nominal (Skt. prajñapti), conventional (Skt. saṃvṛti), and causal (Skt. hetuphala). Therefore, all teachings were viewed by the Prajñaptivādins as being of provisional importance, since they cannot contain the ultimate truth. It has been observed that this view of the Buddha's teachings is very close to the fully developed position of the Mahāyāna


Scholars at present have "a nearly complete collection of sūtras from the Sarvāstivāda school" thanks to a recent discovery in Afghanistan of roughly two-thirds of Dīrgha Āgama in Sanskrit. The Madhyama Āgama (Taishō Tripiṭaka
26) was translated by Gautama Saṃghadeva, and is available in Chinese. The Saṃyukta Āgama (Taishō Tripiṭaka
99) was translated by Guṇabhadra , also available in Chinese translation. The Sarvāstivāda is therefore the only early school besides the Theravada
for which we have a roughly complete Sūtra Piṭaka. The Sārvāstivāda Vinaya Piṭaka is also extant in Chinese translation, as are the seven books of the Sarvāstivāda Abhidharma Piṭaka. There is also the encyclopedic Abhidharma Mahāvibhāṣa Śāstra (Taishō Tripiṭaka
1545), which was held as canonical by the Vaibhāṣika Sarvāstivādins of northwest India.


Portions of the Mūlasārvāstivāda Tripiṭaka
survive in Tibetan translation and Nepalese manuscripts. The relationship of the Mūlasārvāstivāda school to Sarvāstivāda school is indeterminate; their vinayas certainly differed but it is not clear that their Sūtra Piṭaka did. The Gilgit manuscripts may contain Āgamas from the Mūlasārvāstivāda school in Sanskrit. The Mūlasārvāstivāda Vinaya Piṭaka survives in Tibetan translation and also in Chinese translation (Taishō Tripiṭaka
1442). The Gilgit manuscripts also contain vinaya texts from the Mūlasārvāstivāda school in Sanskrit.


See also: Gandhāran Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts

A complete version of the Dīrgha Āgama (Taishō Tripiṭaka
1) of the Dharmaguptaka school was translated into Chinese by Buddhayaśas and Zhu Fonian (竺佛念) in the Later Qin
Later Qin
dynasty, dated to 413 CE. It contains 30 sūtras in contrast to the 34 suttas of the Theravadin Dīgha Nikāya. A. K. Warder
A. K. Warder
also associates the extant Ekottara Āgama (Taishō Tripiṭaka
125) with the Dharmaguptaka school, due to the number of rules for monastics, which corresponds to the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya. The Dharmaguptaka Vinaya is also extant in Chinese translation (Taishō Tripiṭaka
1428), and Buddhist monastics in East Asia
East Asia
adhere to the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya.

The Dharmaguptaka Tripiṭaka
is said to have contained a total of five piṭakas. These included a Bodhisattva
Piṭaka and a Mantra Piṭaka (Ch. 咒藏), also sometimes called a Dhāraṇī Piṭaka. According to the 5th century Dharmaguptaka monk Buddhayaśas, the translator of the Dharmaguptaka Vinaya into Chinese, the Dharmaguptaka school had assimilated the Mahāyāna
(Ch. 大乘三藏).


The Mahīśāsaka Vinaya is preserved in Chinese translation (Taishō Tripiṭaka
1421), translated by Buddhajīva and Zhu Daosheng
Zhu Daosheng
in 424 CE.


Small portions of the Tipiṭaka of the Kāśyapīya school survive in Chinese translation. An incomplete Chinese translation of the Saṃyukta Āgama of the Kāśyapīya school by an unknown translator circa the Three Qin (三秦) period (352-431 CE) survives.


The complete Tripiṭaka
set of the Theravāda school is written and preserved in Pali
in the Pali
Canon . Buddhists of the Theravāda school use the Pali
variant Tipitaka to refer what is commonly known in English as the Pali


The term Tripiṭaka
had tended to become synonymous with Buddhist scriptures, and thus continued to be used for the Chinese and Tibetan collections, although their general divisions do not match a strict division into three piṭakas. In the Chinese tradition, the texts are classified in a variety of ways, most of which have in fact four or even more piṭakas or other divisions.


The Chinese form of Tripiṭaka, "sānzàng" (三藏), was sometimes used as an honorary title for a Buddhist monk who has mastered the teachings of the Tripiṭaka. In Chinese culture this is notable in the case of the Tang Dynasty monk Xuanzang
, whose pilgrimage to India to study and bring Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts
back to China was portrayed in the novel Journey to the West
Journey to the West
as "Tang Sanzang" (Tang Dynasty Tripiṭaka Master). Due to the popularity of the novel, the term "sānzàng" is often erroneously understood as a name of the monk Xuanzang
. One such screen version of this is the popular 1979 Monkey (TV series) .

The modern Indian scholar Rahul Sankrityayan is sometimes referred to as Tripitakacharya in reflection of his familiarity with the Tripiṭaka.


* Āgama (Buddhism) * Buddhist texts
Buddhist texts
* Pali
canon * Tripitaka Koreana
Tripitaka Koreana
* Zhaocheng Jin Tripitaka
Zhaocheng Jin Tripitaka


* ^ A B C D Tipitaka Encyclopædia Britannica (2015) * ^ "Buddhist Books and Texts: Canon and Canonization." Lewis Lancaster, Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd edition, pg 1252 * ^ A B C Barbara Crandall (2012). Gender and Religion, 2nd Edition: The Dark Side of Scripture. Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 56–58. ISBN 978-1-4411-4871-1 . * ^ A B Richard F. Gombrich (2006). Theravada
Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo. Routledge. p. 4. ISBN 978-1-134-21718-2 . * ^ Oskar von Hinuber (1995), Buddhist Law according to the Theravada
Vinaya: A Survey of Theory and Practice, Journal of International Association of Buddhist Studies, volume 18, number 1, pages 7-46 * ^ Sir Monier Monier-Williams; Ernst Leumann; Carl Cappeller (2002). A Sanskrit-English Dictionary: Etymologically and Philologically Arranged with Special
Reference to Cognate Indo-European Languages. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 625. ISBN 978-81-208-3105-6 . * ^ A B Friedrich Max Müller (1899). The Six Systems of Indian Philosophy. Longmans, Green. pp. 19–29. * ^ A B C D A. K. Warder
A. K. Warder
(2000). Indian Buddhism. Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 282–283. ISBN 978-81-208-1741-8 . * ^ A. K. Warder
A. K. Warder
(2000). Indian Buddhism. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 3. ISBN 978-81-208-1741-8 . * ^ Jiang Wu; Lucille Chia (2015). Spreading Buddha\'s Word in East Asia: The Formation and Transformation of the Chinese Buddhist Canon. Columbia University Press. pp. 111–123. ISBN 978-0-231-54019-3 . * ^ Skilling, Peter (1992), The Raksa Literature of the Sravakayana, Journal of the Pali
Text Society, volume XVI, page 114 * ^ Walser 2005 , p. 51. * ^ Sree Padma. Barber, Anthony W. Buddhism
in the Krishna River Valley of Andhra. 2008. p. 68. * ^ A B C Walser 2005 , p. 53. * ^ "Abhidhamma Pitaka." Encyclopædia Britannica. Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica, 2008. * ^ Walser 2005 , p. 213. * ^ Walser 2005 , p. 212-213. * ^ The Korean Buddhist Canon: A Descriptive Catalog (K 966) * ^ A B Walser 2005 , p. 52. * ^ A B Dutt 1998 , p. 118. * ^ A B Harris 1991 , p. 98. * ^ Bhikkhu Sujato: The Pali
Nikāyas and Chinese Āgamas * ^ Preservation of Sanskrit
Buddhist Manuscripts In the Kathmandu * ^ A B Memory Of The World Register: Gilgit manuscripts * ^ Warder, A.K. Indian Buddhism. 2000. p. 6 * ^ Baruah, Bibhuti. Buddhist Sects and Sectarianism. 2008. p. 52 * ^ Walser 2005 , p. 52-53. * ^ A Dictionary of Buddhism, by Damien Keown, Oxford University Press: 2004 * ^ Mizuno, Essentials of Buddhism, 1972, English version pub Kosei, Tokyo, 1996 * ^ Nanjio, Catalogue of the Chinese Translations of the Buddhist Tripitaka, Clarendon, Oxford, 1883


* Walser, Joseph (2005), Nāgārjuna in Context: Mahāyāna
Buddhism and Early Indian Culture, Columbia Univ Pr, ISBN 978-0231131643 * Dutt, Nalinaksha (1998), Buddhist Sects in India, Motilal Banarsidass, ISBN 81-208-0428-7 * Harris, Ian Charles (1991), The Continuity of Madhyamaka and Yogacara in Indian Mahayana
Buddhism, Brill Academic Pub, ISBN 9789004094482



* Access to Insight has many suttas translated into English * Sutta Central Early Buddhist texts, translations, and parallels (Multiple Languages) * Tipitaka Network * List of Pali
Canon Suttas translated into English (ongoing) * The Pali
Tipitaka Project (texts in 7 Asian languages) * The Sri Lanka Tripitaka Project Pali
Canons has a searchable database of the Pali
texts * The Vietnamese Nikaaya (continuing, text in Vitenamese)