Major Buddhist Texts

  • The Buddha’s teaching was oral. He taught for 45 years, adapting the teaching to suit the group he was addressing.
    • The Sangha memorized the teachings, and there were group recitations at festivals and special occasions.
  • The teachings were rehearsed and authenticated at the First Council and were divided in Three Pitakas in 483 BC.
    • His teachings were written down around 25 B.C.E. in Pali.
  • Three Pitakas
    • The Vinaya Pitaka consists of rules of conduct and discipline applicable to the monastic life of the monks and nuns.
    • The Sutta Pitaka consists of the main teaching or Dhamma of Buddha. It is divided into five Nikayas or collections:
      • Digha Nikaya
      • Majjhima Nikaya
      • Samyutta Nikaya
      • Anguttara Nikaya
      • Khuddaka Nikaya
    • The Abhidamma Pitaka is a philosophical analysis and systematization of the teaching and the scholarly activity of the monks.
    • Other important Buddhist texts include Divyavadana, Dipavamsa, Mahavamsa, Milind Panha etc.
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