moral and philosophical system expounded by the Buddha,
no blind faith from its adherents, expounds no dogmatic
no superstitious rites and ceremonies, but advocates a
that guides a disciple through pure living and pure thinking
gain of supreme wisdom and deliverance from all evil, is
Dhamma and is popularly known as Buddhism.
Buddha has passed away, but the sublime Dhamma which he
bequeathed to humanity, still exists in its pristine purity.
has left no written records of his teachings, his
preserved them by committing to memory and transmitting them
from generation to generation.
500 chief arahats versed in the
and Vinaya, held a convocation
rehearse the Doctrine as was originally taught by the
Ananda Thera, who enjoyed the special privilege of hearing
discourses, recited the Dhamma, while the Venerable Upali
compiled and arranged in its present form by those arahats
of the pious Sinhala king Vattagamani Abhaya, about 83 B.C.,
was, for the first time in the history of Buddhism,
committed to writing
on palm leaves (ola) in Ceylon.
Tipitaka, which contains the essence of the Buddha's
estimated to be about eleven times the size of the Bible. A
contrast between the Tipitaka and the Bible is that the
not a gradual development like the latter.
implies, the Tipitaka consists of three baskets. They are
of Discipline (Vinaya Pitaka), the Basket of
Pitaka), and the Basket of Ultimate Doctrine (Abhidhamma
which is regarded as the sheet anchor to the oldest historic
order -- the Sangha -- mainly deals with rules and
the Buddha promulgated, as occasion arose, for the future
of the Order of monks (Bhikkhus) and nuns (Bhikkunis). It
in detail the gradual development of the Sasana
account of the life and ministry of the Buddha is also
it reveals some important and interesting information about
history, Indian customs, arts, science, etc.
consists of the five following books:
1. Parajika Pali -- Major Offenses
2. Pacittiya Pali -- Minor Offenses
3. Mahavagga Pali -- Greater Section
4. Cullavagga Pali -- Shorter Section
5. Parivara Pali -- Epitome of the Vinaya
consists chiefly of discourses, delivered by the Buddha
various occasions. There are also a few discourses delivered
of his distinguished disciples such as the Venerable
Moggallana, etc., included in it. It is like a book of
as the sermons embodied therein were expounded to suit the
occasions and the temperaments of various persons. There may
contradictory statements, but they should not be
misconstrued as they
were opportunely uttered by the Buddha to suit a particular
for instance, to the self-same question he would maintain
(when the inquirer is merely foolishly inquisitive), or give
reply when he knew the inquirer to be an earnest seeker.
Most of the
sermons were intended mainly for the benefit of bhikkhus and
deal with the holy life and with the expositions of the
There are also several other discourses which deal with both
and moral progress of his lay followers.
divided into five Nikayas or collections, viz:
(Collection of Long Discourses).
2. Majjhima Nikaya (Collection of Middle-Length
3. Samyutta Nikaya (Collection of Kindred Sayings).
4. Anguttara Nikaya (Collection of Discourses arranged in
5. Khuddaka Nikaya (Smaller Collection).
fifth is subdivided
into fifteen books:
Patha (Shorter texts)
2. Dhammapada (Way of Truth)
3. Udana (Paeans of Joy)
4. Iti Vuttaka ("Thus said" Discourses)
5. Sutta Nipata (Collected Discourses)
6. Vimana Vatthu (Stories of Celestial Mansions)
7. Peta Vatthu (Stories of Petas)
8. Theragatha (Psalms of the Brethren)
9. Therigatha (Psalms of the Sisters)
10. Jataka (Birth Stories)
11. Niddesa (Expositions)
12. Patisambhida Magga (Analytical Knowledge)
13. Apadana (Lives of Arahats)
14. Buddhavamsa (The History of the Buddha)
15. Cariya Pitaka (Modes of Conduct)
The Abhidhamma Pitaka is the most important and the most
of the three, containing as it does the profound philosophy
Buddha's Teaching in contrast to the illuminating and
in the Sutta Pitaka.
is found the conventional teaching (vohara desana)
the Abhidhamma Pitaka is found the ultimate teaching (paramattha-desana).
is an indispensable guide; to the spiritually evolved, an
treat; and to research scholars, food for thought.
defined. Thoughts are analyzed and classified chiefly from
standpoint. Mental states are enumerated. The composition of
type of consciousness is set forth in detail. How thoughts
is minutely described. Irrelevant problems that interest
having no relation to one's purification, are deliberately
discussed; fundamental units of matter, properties of
of matter, relationship between mind and matter, are
investigates mind and matter, the two composite factors of
being, to help the understanding of things as they truly
a philosophy has been developed on those lines. Based on
an ethical system has been evolved, to realize the ultimate
Pitaka consists of seven books:
(Classification of Dhammas)
2. Vibhanga (The book of Divisions)
3. Katha-Vatthu (Points of Controversy)
4. Puggala-Paññatti (Descriptions of Individuals)
5. Dhatu-Katha (Discussion with reference to
6. Yamaka (The Book of Pairs),
7. Patthana (The Book of Relations)
one finds milk for the babe and meat for the strong, for the
taught his doctrine both to the masses and to the
The sublime Dhamma enshrined in these sacred texts, deals
and facts, and is not concerned with theories and
may be accepted as profound truths today only to be thrown
tomorrow. The Buddha has presented us with no new astounding
theories, nor did he venture to create any new material
explained to us what is within and without so far as it
emancipation, as ultimately expounded a path of deliverance,
is unique. Incidentally, he has, however, forestalled many a
scientist and philosopher.
his "World as Will and Idea" has presented the truth of
suffering and its cause in a Western garb. Spinoza, though
not the existence of a permanent reality, asserts that all
existence is transitory. In his opinion sorrow is conquered
finding an object of knowledge which is not transient, not
but is immutable, permanent, everlasting." Berkeley proved
the so-called indivisible atom is a metaphysical fiction.
a relentless analysis of the mind, concluded that
of fleeting mental states. Bergson advocates the doctrine of
Prof. James refers to a stream of consciousness.
these doctrines of transiency, (anicca), sorrow (dukkha),
and no-soul (anatta) some 2500 years ago while he was
in the valley of the Ganges.
should be understood
that the Buddha did not preach all that he knew. On one
the Buddha was passing through a forest he took a handful of
and said: "O bhikkhus, what I have taught is comparable to
leaves in my hand. What I have not taught is comparable to
of leaves in the forest."
he deemed was absolutely essential for one's purification
distinction between an esoteric and exoteric doctrine. He
silent on questions irrelevant to his noble mission.
accords with science, but both should be treated as parallel
since one deals mainly with material truths while the other
itself to moral and spiritual truths. The subject matter of
taught is not merely to be preserved in books, nor is it a
to be studied from an historical or literary standpoint. On
it is to be learnt and put into practice in the course of
life, for without practice one cannot appreciate the truth.
is to be studied, and more to be practiced, and above all to
immediate realization is its ultimate goal. As such the
compared to a raft which is meant for the sole purpose of
from the ocean of birth and death (samsara).
cannot strictly be called a mere philosophy because it is
the "love of, inducing the search after, wisdom." Buddhism
may approximate a philosophy, but it is very much more
mainly with knowledge and is not concerned with practice;
Buddhism lays special emphasis on practice and realization.