A Survey of Paramattha Dhammas
Chapter 1 - The Scriptures And Their Commentaries
The word of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Vinaya as taught by him, consists of nine divisions which are:
- Abbhuta and
- Vedalla 1 .
- Sutta 2 includes all Discourses, such as the "Mangala Sutta" ("Good Omen Discourse ", Minor Readings, V), and also the Vinaya Piiaka 3 and the Niddesa.
- Geyya includes all Suttas with verses (gatha), such as the Sagatha vagga of the Sayyutta Nikaya or "Kindred Sayings" (I).
- Veyyakaraua or "Exposition" includes the Abhidhamma Piiaka, the Suttas without verses, and the words of the Buddha which are not included in the other eight divisions.
- Gatha or "Verses", include the Dhammapada, Theragatha, Therigatha (Psalms of the Brothers and Sisters) and those parts of the Sutta Nipata not called Sutta and entirely in verse.
- Udana or "Verses of Uplift" include eighty two Suttas connected with verses recited by the Buddha, inspired by knowledge and joy.
- Itivuttaka or "As it was said" includes hundred and ten Suttas 4 beginning with "Thus it was said by the Blessed One" (in Pali: "Vuttay h"etay Bhagavata").
- Jataka or Birth Stories include five hundred and fifty stories of the past lives of the Buddha and his disciples, beginning with the "Apauuaka Jataka".
- Abbhuta, "Marvelous", includes Suttas connected with wonderful and marvelous things (Dhammas with extraordinary qualities, which are amazing).
- Vedalla includes Suttas with questions and answers which have as result understanding and delight, such as the "Cullavedalla Sutta".
The word of the Buddha consists of eighty four thousand units of text. The venerable Ananda learnt from the Exalted One eighty two thousand units of text, and from the Bhikkhus, mainly from the venerable Shariputra, two thousand units of text. Each theme is one unit of text, thus, the Sutta containing one theme is one unit of text. Where there are questions and answers, each question forms one unit of text and each answer forms one unit of text.
When the scriptures are classified as the "Tipitaka", they are classified as threefold, namely: the Vinaya, the Suttanta and the Abhidhamma. The Vinaya Piiaka or "Books of Discipline" consist of five Books, namely:
- Bhikkhuni vibhaoga 5
- Parivara (Appendix or Accessory)
The Commentary which explains the Vinaya is the "Samantapasadika".
The Suttanta Piiaka or Discourses consist of five "Nikayas 6 ", namely:
- Digha Nikaya or "Dialogues of the Buddha" 7 ,
- Majjhima Nikaya or "Middle Length Sayings" 8 ,
- Sayyutta Nikaya or "Kindred Sayings" 9 ,
- Anguttara Nikaya or "Gradual Sayings" 10,
- Khuddaka Nikaya or "The Minor Collection" 11.
The Digha Nikaya is a collection of long dialogues (digha means long), consisting of thirty four Suttas. This collection is divided into three sections (in Pali: vagga) 12:
- Sila kkhandha vagga (sila means morality and khandha means group)
- Maha vagga (maha means great)
- Paiika vagga (called after the first Sutta; Paiika is a proper name).
The Commentary to this collection is the "Sumaogalavilasini".
The Majjhima Nikaya is a collection of Suttas of medium length (majjhima means middle), and it consists of hundred and fifty two Suttas. It is divided into three parts which are called in Pali "pauuasa", meaning fifty. The first two parts consist of fifty Suttas each and the third part of fifty two Suttas. They are called:
- Mula pauuasa (mula means root), consisting of five sections of ten Suttas
- Majjhima pauuasa, consisting of five sections of ten Suttas
- Upari pauuasa (upari means above or later), consisting of five sections, of which four have ten Suttas and the fifth has twelve Suttas.
The Commentary to this collection is the "Papancasudani".
The Sayyutta Nikaya is a group of Suttas (sayyutta means joined, connected) divided into five main divisions, namely:
- Sagatha vagga (gatha means verse, with verses), with eleven sections
- Nidana vagga (nidana means origin or cause), consisting of nine sections
- Khandha vagga (dealing with the five khandhas), consisting of thirteen sections
- Saiayatana vagga (saiayatana is the six fold ayatana or sphere of sense), consisting of ten sections
- Maha vagga (great chapter), consisting of twelve sections.
The Commentary to this collection is the "Saratthappakasini".
The "Anguttara Nikaya" consists of Suttas grouped according to the numbers of Dhamma subjects or points dealt with. They are arranged by way of an increase of the parts by one at a time, from one up to eleven. Thus, there are eleven "nipata", or sections in all. "Book of the Ones" consists of Suttas dealing with one kind of subject, and so on up to the Book of the Elevens. Summarizing them, they are:
- Eka nipata (eka means one), Book of the Ones
- Duka nipata (duka, from dve, two, meaning pair), Book of the Twos
- Tika nipata, Book of the Threes
- Catuka nipata, Book of the Fours
- Pancaka nipata, Book of the Fives
- Chaka nipata, Book of the Sixes
- Sattaka nipata, Book of the Sevens
- Aiihaka nipata, Book of the Eights
- Navaka nipata, Book of the Nines
- Dasaka nipata, Book of the Tens
- Ekadasaka nipata, Book of the Elevens.
The Commentary to the Anguttara Nikaya is the Manorathapurani.
Apart from these four Nikayas, there is the Khuddaka Nikaya which contains the word of the Buddha. This consists of the
- Khuddakapaiha or "Minor Readings"13
- Dhammapada (pada means word or phrase)14
- Udana or "Verses of Uplift" 15
- Itivuttaka or "As it was said"
- Suttanipata or "The Group of Discourses"
- Vimanavatthu or "Stories of the Mansions" (in Minor Anthologies IV)
- Petavatthu or "Stories of the Departed" (in Minor Anthologies IV)
- Theragatha or "Psalms of the Brethren"
- Therigatha or "Psalms of the Sisters"
- Jataka or "Stories of the Buddha"s Former Births" (in three volumes by P.T.S.)
- Maha Niddesa (niddesa means descriptive exposition)
- Cuia Niddesa (cuia or culla means small) 16
- Paiisambhidamagga or "The Path of Discrimination"
- Apadana (life histories) 17
- Buddhavaysa or "Chronical of the Buddhas" (in Minor Anthologies III)
- Cariyapiiaka or "Basket of Conduct" (in Minor Anthologies III)
The Commentaries to these collections of the Khuddaka Nikaya are the following:
- the Paramatthajotika which is the Commentary to the Khuddakapatha and the Suttanipata 18
- Dhammapadaiihakatha or "Buddhist Legends" (in three volumes by the P.T.S.) which is the Commentary to the Dhammapada
- The Paramatthadipani which is the Commentary to the Udana, the Itivuttaka, the Petavatthu, the Theragatha, the Therigatha, the
- Cariyapiiaka and the Vimanavatthu 19 .
- the Jatakatthavauuana, which is the Commentary to the Jataka 20
- the SadDhammapajjotika, which is the Commentary to the Maha Niddesa and the Cuia Niddesa
- the SadDhammappakasini, which is the Commentary to the Paiisambhidamagga
- the Visuddhajanavilasini, which is the Commentary to the Apadana
- the Madhuratthavilasini, or "The Clarifier of Sweet Meaning" (P.T.S.), which is the Commentary to the Buddhavaysa.
The Abhidhamma Pitaka consists of the following seven Books:
- Dhammasaogaui or "Buddhist Psychological Ethics", which has as Commentary the Aiihasalini or "The Expositor" 21
- Vibhaoga or "The Book of Analysis", which has as Commentary Sammohavinodani or "Dispeller of Delusion" 22 .
- Dhatukatha or "Discourse on Elements"
- Puggalapannatti or "a Designation of Human Types"
- Kathavatthu or "Points of Controversy"
- Yamaka 23
- Paiihana or "Conditional Relations" 24
As to the Commentary to the last five Books of the Abhidhamma, this is the Pancappakarauatthakatha. 25
The greater part of the commentaries to the Tipitaka are from the hand of the great commentator Buddhaghosa 26 . He translated into Pali, compiled and arranged material from the ancient commentaries which were written in Singhalese. These commentaries which were the Maha Atthakatha, the Maha Paccari and the Kuruuei, stemmed from the time of the Thera Mahinda, the son of the great King Ashoka who came to Sri Lanka in order to propagate Buddhism.
Furthermore, there are sub commentaries, called in Pali: iika, which explain the commentaries. These are the Saratthadipani, a sub commentary to the Samantapasadika, which is the commentary to the Vinaya, the Sarattha Manjusa, a sub commentary to the Suttanta Piiaka, the Paramatthapakasini, a sub commentary to the Abhidhamma Piiaka, and the anu iika (anu meaning: along, alongside) which explains words and expressions in the sub commentaries. Apart from the afore mentioned works there are several other texts in Buddhism needed for the Study of the Dhamma which were composed by the "Elders" 27 who were qualified to pass on the tradition of the Dhamma. These are the following texts:
- Milindapanha or "Milinda"s Questions" 28 , composed about 500 Buddhist Era (43 B.C.E.)
- Visuddhimagga or "Path of Purification" 29 , an Encyclopedia on Buddhism, composed by Buddhaghosa about 1000 B.E. ( 457 A.D.)
- Abhidhammattha Saogaha or "A Manual of Abhidhamma" 30, composed by Ven. Anuruddha about 1000 B.E. (457 A.D.) 31 .
- Sarattha Saogaha, composed by Ven. Nanda about 1000 B.E. (457 A.D.)
- Paramattha Manjusa, a subcommentary to the Visuddhimagga, composed by the Ven. Dhammapala.
- Saccasaukhepa (meaning Exposition of the Truth), composed by Ven. Dhammapala.
- Abhidhammattha vibhavini iika, a subcommentary to the Abhidhammattha Saogaha 32 , composed by Sumangala, of Sri Lanka.
- Moha Vicchedani, an explanation of the Dhammasangaui and the Vibhaoga (the first and second Books of the Abhidhamma), composed by Ven. Kassapa of Sri Lanka, about 1703 B.E. (1160 C.E.)
- Mangalattha Dipani, an explanation of the Mangala Sutta (Good- Omen Discourse, Khuddakapaiha, Minor Readings, no 5) composed by Ven. Sirimangala in Chiangmai. 33
See the "Expositor", Atthasalini, Introductory Discourse, 26. The teachings as compiled (not yet written) literature are thus enumerated in the scriptures as nine divisions, for example in the "Middle Length Sayings" I, no. 22.2.
The Pali term Sutta means: that which is heard. The word of the Buddha which has been heard.3.
The three Piiaka, or Tipitaka, are the three divisions of the teachings, namely: the Vinaya, Suttanta and Abhidhamma. When the teachings are classified as nine divisions, the Vinaya is in the section of Sutta. The "Atthasalini" mentions in this section on Sutta the Sutta Vibhaoga and Parivara, which belong to the Vinaya.4.
In the "Atthasalini" the counting is hundred and twelve.5.
The P.T.S. has edited and translated these two books as three parts, the "Suttavibhaoga".6.
Nikaya means "body" or collection.7.
I am giving the English titles, as used in the translations of the P.T.S. "The Dialogues of the Buddha" have been edited in three volumes.8.
Edited in three volumes.9.
Edited in five volumes.10.
Edited in five volumes.11.
This collection consisting of sixteen parts has been edited in different volumes, but not all of them have been translated into English.12.
These sections are in the Pali text but not in the English edition.13.
Translated into English and edited by the P.T.S. in one volume together with the translation of its commentary "The Illustrator of Ultimate Meaning".14.
Of this text there are several English translations.15.
I add the English title when it has been translated into English.16.
The Maha Niddesa and the Cuia Niddesa have not been translated into English.17.
This has not been translated into English18.
The commentary to the Khuddakapatha has been translated into English as I mentioned, but the commentary to the Sutta Nipata has not been translated.19.
Translated into English are: the Udana Commentary (two volumes), the Commentary to the Vimanavatthu, "Vimana Stories", the Commentary to the Petavatthu, "Peta Stories", the Commentary to the Therigatha, "Commentary on the Verses of the Theris".20.
In the English edition of the Buddha"s Birth Stories, parts of the Commentary have been added.21.
In two volumes22.
In two volumes23.
Yamaka means "Pair". This has not been translated into English.24.
There is a translation of part of the Paiihana. There is also a "Guide to Conditional Relations", vol. I and II, explaining part of the Paiihana, by U Narada, Myanmar. Vol. II is no longer available.25.
Only the Commentary to the Kathavatthu has been translated into English, with the title of "Debates Commentary".26.
He lived in the fifth century of the Christian era and stayed in the "Great Monastery" of Anuradhapura, in Sri Lanka.27.
Thera can be translated as Elder or senior monk, a monk who has been ordained for at least ten years.28.
In two volumes. One translation by the P.T.S. and another one by T.W. Rhys Davids.29.
One edition as translated by Ven. Nyauamoli, Colombo, and one edition as translated by Pe Maung Tin, P.T.S.30.
Translated by Ven. Narada, Colombo. Another edition by P.T.S. has the title of "Compendium of Philosophy".31.
The P.T.S. edition suggests that the date is between the 8th and the 12th century A.D.32.
Translated into English by P.T.S.33.
I could add to this enumeration the Nettippakaraua, translated as "The Guide", P.T.S. and the Peiakopadesa or "Disclosure of the Piiakas" which has not been translated into English. They are compilations of a school which, according to tradition, traced its descent to Maha Kaccana, one of the great disciples of the Buddha. Dhammapala has written a commentary on the Netti, probably late fifth century C.E.