Tripitaka (Representation only)

Tripitaka or Three Baskets is a traditional term used for various Buddhist scriptures. It is known as Pali Canon in English. The three pitakas are Sutta Pitaka, Vinaya Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka.

The Tripiṭaka was composed between about 550 BCE and 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 Tripiṭaka and its commentary orally now wrote them down in books, because of the threat posed by famine and 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 Tripiṭaka for its monasteries, written by its sangha, each set consisting of 32 books, in three parts or baskets of teachings: Vinaya Piṭaka (“Basket of Discipline”), Sūtra Piṭaka (“Basket of Discourse”), and Abhidharma Piṭaka (“Basket of Special Doctrine”). 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 Tripiṭaka literature is in Pali, with some in Sanskrit as well as other local Asian languages.

1. Suttapitaka (Pali: “Basket of Discourse”) is extensive body of texts constituting the basic doctrinal section of the Buddhist canon. It consists of more than 10,000 Suttas (discourses) delivered by the Buddha and his close disciples during and shortly after the Buddha’s forty-five year teaching career, as well as many additional verses by other members of the Sangha.This also deals with the first Buddhist council which was held shortly after Buddha’s death, dated by the majority of recent scholars around 400 BC.

2. Vinaya Pitaka, is the textual framework upon which the monastic community (Sangha) is built. It includes not only the rules governing the life of every Theravada bhikkhu (monk) and bhikkhuni (nun) but also a host of procedures and conventions of etiquette that support harmonious relations, both among the monastics themselves, and between the monastics and their lay supporters, upon whom they depend for all their material needs. It is thus also called as Book of Discipline.

3. Abhidhammapitaka deals with the philosophy and doctrine of Buddhism appearing in the suttas. However, it does not contain the systematic philosophical treatises but a detailed reworking. They represent a development in a rationalistic direction of summaries or numerical lists. The topics dealt with in Abhidhamma books include ethics, psychology, and epistemology