The Tipiţaka
The Pāli Canon

The Tipiţaka (literally "three Baskets") is a general term referring to three collections of Pāli texts which represent the original teachings of Sakiyamuni Buddha. These discourses were systematized immediately after the Buddha's Mahāparinirvana in ca. 483 BCE by the first Buddhist Council which, sponsored by King Ajatasattu, convened at Satiapanni cave near Rajagaha. Here the Buddha's discourses and the accompanying treastices were presented, approved by the elders, and divided into three collections - the "Tripiţaka" (literally "three Baskets").

The Vinaya Piţaka refers to discourses concerning the disciplinary rules (Vinaya) which were presented to the council by the Monk Upāli who had been previously designated by the Buddha as the foremost monk of discipline.

The Sutta Piţaka refers to general doctrinal discourses which were presented to the council by the monk Ānanda, the Buddha's cousin, who served as the Buddha's attendant for decades. Ānanda's phenomenal memory allowed him to recite all of the Buddha's discourses which he had heard. The 500 other Arhats present at the council approved his version and these became known as the Sutta Piţaka.

The Abhidhamma Piţaka refers to general philosophical treastices which were presented to the council by the Monk Mahākassapa. Mahākassapa was considered to be the most senior monk surviving the Buddha and was charged with the role of presiding over the first Buddhist Council (previously designated by the Buddha as the foremost monk of the acetic practices). Due to the fact that the Abhidhamma Piţaka is a doctrinal interpretation of Mahākassapa, the authenticity of this Pitaka was contested by some schools in ancient India. Today it is accepted by all Theravāda schools as an essential and authentic part of the Tipiţaka.

After the first Buddhist council was concluded, these three collections (Tipiţaka) were memorized by succesive groups of monks and several hundred years later were they written onto palm leaves. Most recently, the entire Piţakas have been digitalized and are available in the original Pāli language.


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