Philosophy of language in the Five Nikayas

by K.T.S. Sarao | 2013 | 141,449 words

This page relates ‘The Abhiddhamma Pitaka’ of the study of the Philosophy of language in the Five Nikayas, from the perspective of linguistics. The Five Nikayas, in Theravada Buddhism, refers to the five books of the Sutta Pitaka (“Basket of Sutra”), which itself is the second division of the Pali Tipitaka of the Buddhist Canon (literature).

2.6 The Abhiddhamma Piṭaka

The third great division of the Tipiṭaka is the Abhidhamma Piṭaka which contains sevens books offering an extraordinarily detailed analysis of the basic natural principles that govern mental and physical processes. Whereas the Sutta and Vinaya Piṭakas lay out the practical aspects of the Buddhist path to Awakening, the Abhidhamma Piṭaka provides a theoretical framework to explain the causal underpinnings of that very path. Abhidhamma, generally speaking, forms a large edifice of knowledge relating to the ultimate realities which, in its immensity of scope, grandeur, subtlety, and profundity, properly belongs only to the intellectual domain of the Buddha.

The Abhidhamma Piṭaka is divided into seven massive treatises as below.

i. Dhammasaṅgaṇī ‘Classification of Dhamma’, containing detailed enumeration of all phenomena (Paramattha Dhamma) to be found in the world with an analysis of citta ‘consciousness’ and its concomitant mental factors (Cetasikas).

ii. Vibhaṅga ‘Divisions’ is divided into eighteen separate sections, each of these deals with a particular aspect of the dhamma, its full analysis and investigation into each constituent. The arrangement and classification into groups and heads follow the same system as in the Dhammasaṅgani. It may therefore be regarded as complementary to Dhammasaṅgani.

iii. Dhātukathā ‘Discourse on Elements’ is a small treatise that reiterates the foregoing in the form of questions and answers. This book with fourteen chapters ranks with the first two books forming an important trilogy of the Abhidhamma.

iv. Puggalapaññatti ‘The Book on Individuals’ is a small treatise giving a description of various types of individuals according to the stage of their achievement along the Path. Different types of individuals are classified in ten chapters of this book after the manner of enumeration employed in Aṅguttara Nikāya.

v. Kathāvatthu ‘Points of Controversy’, like Puggalapaññatti, falls outside the regular system of the Abhidhamma. Kathāvatthu is a compilation by the venerable Moggaliputta. The book with twentythree chapters is a collection of discussions and refutations of the heretical views such as ‘person exists’, ‘self exists’ and so on which were held by various sects at the time of one hundred year after the Buddha’s Parinirvāṇa.

vi. Yamaka ‘The Book of Pairs’ regarded as a treatise on applied logic in which analytical procedure is arranged in pairs of questions. The logical process of conversion (anuloma) and complete inversion (paṭiloma) is applied to determine the complete import and limit of a term in its relationship with the others.

vii. Paṭṭhāna ‘The Book of Causal Relations’ occupies the supreme position on account of its investigations into the ultimate nature of all the dhammas in the Universe. This book together with Dhammasaṅgani constitutes the quintessence of the Abhidhamma Piṭaka.

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: