Thursday, 31 March 2011



The Abhidhamma piTaka is the third great collection of the TipiTaka. It is a huge collection of systematically arranged and classified teaching of the Buddha, representing the quintessence of His teaching. It is unique in its abstruseness, analytical approach, and immensity to one’s liberation.

     According to the TheravAdins åbhidhamma piTaka is made up of seven books as they are given below
1.  ∂hammasaNgAni
2.  VibhaGga
3.  ∂hAtukatha
4.  PuggalappaJJatti
5.  Kathavatthu
6.  Yamaka
7.  Patthana

The åbhidhamma piTaka deals with higher teachings of the Buddha not dealt in the first two collections. The deepest teachings of the Buddha are collected in åbhidhamma piTaka.   

      According to Stefan Anecker he says åbhidhammas are attested to for a great many Buddhist sects, at present only three Abhidhamma Piţakas exist in their entirety. They are:
1.   The TheravAda åbhidhamma (in Pāli)
2.   The ßarvastivAda åbhidhamma (originally in Sanskrit)
3.   The ∂harmagupta  (Chinese version)  ∂hammasaGgāni
The first book, in the accepted order of precedence, of the åbhidhamma  piTaka. It deals with more or less the same topics as the nikAyas, differing only in methods of treatment; the chief subject is that of ethics, the enquiry there into being conducted from a psychological standpoint. The book enumerates and defines a number of categories of terms occurring in the nikAyas. VibhaGga
One of the seven books of the åbhidhamma piTaka; it is generally placed second in the list. It deals in a general way with the different categories and formulas given in the ∂hammasanganI, though different methods of treatment are used. The book is divided into eighteen chapters, each of which is called a Vibhanga. Each chapter has three portions: ßuttantabhAjaniya, åbhidhammabhAjaniya and PaJJApucchaka or list of questions. The Commentary to the Vibhanga is called ßammohavinodanI Dhātukatha
Although ∂hAtukatha, the third book of åbhidhamma piTaka is a small book, it ranks with the first books forming an important trilogy, which must be thoroughly digested for the complete understanding of the åbhidhamma. ∂hAtukatha studies how the dhammas listed in the Tikas and ∂ukas of the µAtika are related to the three categories of Khandha, Āyatana and ∂hAtu in their complete distribution. These are discussed in fourteen ways of analytical investigations which constitute the fourteen chapters of ∂hAtukatha. Puggalapaññatti
The first two books and the third book of åbhidhamma piTaka investigate the absolute truth of Dhamma in a planned system of detailed analysis employing such terms as Khanda, Āyatana, ∂hAtu, ßacca and îndriya. These terms are mere designations which express things that exist in reality and therefore classed as the conventional usage of the first type. The second type of conventional usage belong such expressions as man, woman, deva, individual, etc, which have no existence in reality but nevertheless are essential for communication of thoughts. KathAvatthu
The fifth of the seven books of the åbhidhamma piTaaka. Tradition ascribes its compilation to Moggaliputtatissa at the end of the Third Council, held under Asoka's patronage; at PAtaliputta. The book consists of twenty-three chapters, and is a collection of discussions (kathA) and refutations of the heretical views of various sects on matters connected with theology and philosophy and established right view.  Yamaka
The Yamaka sets out to define the interrelationship of Dhamma and Puggalas as they exist in the three worlds (ßankhāraloka, ßattaloka and Okasaloka). This accomplished in the form of pairs of questions, which gives it the title of Yamaka. The logical process of conversion (anuloma) and complete inversion (patiloma) is applied to determine the complete import and limit of a term in its relationship with the others. An equivocal nature of term (saMsaya) is avoided by showing, through such arrangement of question, how other meanings of the term do not fit for particular consideration. PaTThAna
The  PaTThAna is the last book of åbhidhamma piTaka, is called the µahApakArana, the ‘Great Book’ announcing the supreme position it occupies and the height of excellence it has reached in its investigations into the ultimate nature of all the Dhammas in the universe.

      According to some scholars åbhidhamma is not a teaching of the Buddha, but is a later elaboration of scholastic monks. Tradition, however, attributes the nucleus of the åbhidhamma to the Buddha himself. The µAtika or Matrices of the åbhidhamma, such as kusala Dhamma (wholesome states), åkusala Dhamma (Unwholesome states), and åbyakata Dhamma (indeterminate states), etc., which have been elaborated in the six books (Kathavatthu being excluded), were expounded by the Buddha. To the Ven. Sāriputta is assigned the honor of having explained all these topics in detail.

      Whoever the great author or authors may have been, it has to be admitted that the åbhidhamma must be the product of an intellectual genius comparable only to the Buddha. This is evident from the intricate and subtle PaTThAna takaraNa, which describes in details the various causal relations.

      To the wise truth-seekers, åbhidhamma is an indispensable guide and an intellectual treat. Here is found food for thought to original thinkers and to earnest students who wish to develop wisdom and lead an ideal Buddhist life. åbhidhamma is not a subject of fleeting interest design for the superficial reader.  

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