Tipitaka, The Pali Canon
(Pali ti, "three," + pitaka, "baskets"),
or Pali Canon, is the collection of primary Pali language texts
which form the doctrinal foundation of Theravada Buddhism. Together
with the ancient commentaries, they constitute the complete
body of classical Theravada texts.
The Pali Canon is
a vast body of literature: in English translation the texts
add up to several thousand printed pages. Most -- but not all
-- of the Canon has already been published in English over the
years. Although only a small fraction of these texts are available
here at Access to Insight, this collection can nonetheless be
a very good place to start.
The three divisions
of the Tipitaka are:
The collection of texts concerning the rules of conduct governing
the daily affairs within the Sangha -- the community of bhikkhus
(ordained monks) and bhikkhunis (ordained nuns). Far
more than merely a list of rules, the Vinaya Pitaka also includes
the stories behind the origin of each rule, providing a detailed
account of the Buddha's solution to the question of how to
maintain communal harmony within a large and diverse spiritual
The collection of discourses, attributed to the Buddha and
a few of his closest disciples, containing all the central
teachings of Theravada Buddhism. (Over six hundred sutta translations
are available here.)
The collection of texts in which the underlying doctrinal
principles presented in the Sutta Pitaka are reworked and
reorganized into a systematic framework that can be applied
to an investigation into the nature of mind and matter.
| | |
Vinaya Pitaka Abhidhamma Pitaka Sutta Pitaka
| | |
Suttavibhanga Dhammasangani |
Mahavagga Vibhanga |
Cullavagga Dhatukatha |
Parivara Puggalapa˝˝atti |
| | | | |
Digha Nikaya | Samyutta Nikaya | |
Majjhima Nikaya Anguttara Nikaya |
| | | | | | | | | |
Khuddakapatha | | | | | | | | |
Dhammapada | | | | | | | |
Udana | | | | | | |
Itivuttaka | | | | | |
Sutta Nipata | | | | |
Vimanavatthu | | | |
Petavatthu | | |
Theragatha | |
For further reading:
- A Guide to Learning
the Pali Language offers some suggestions for people interested
in learning the Pali language.
- Handbook of
Pali Literature, by Somapala Jayawardhana (Colombo: Karunaratne
& Sons, Ltd., 1994). A guide, in dictionary form, through
the Pali Canon, with detailed descriptions of the major landmarks
in the Canon.
- An Analysis
of the Pali Canon, Russell Webb, ed. (Kandy: Buddhist
Publication Society, 1975). An indispensable "roadmap"
and outline of the Pali Canon. Contains an excellent index
listing suttas by name.
to Tipitaka, U Ko Lay, ed. (Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications,
1990). Another excellent outline of the Tipitaka, containing
summaries of many important suttas.
by Nyanatiloka Mahathera (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society,
1980). A classic handbook of important terms and concepts
of Theravada Buddhism.