Learn which are the texts that are considered significant in Buddhism. Also find out further details about them.
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Buddhist Literature

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Buddhist texts come in numerous variety, however not all of them command the same kind of respect from the Buddhist community. There are texts which are respected to an extent of being worshipped. At the same time, there are other texts that have comparitively less or even miniscule significance for Buddhists.

Major Classification
The most important categorisation that is accepted of Buddhist literature is between canonical and non canonical texts.

Canonical Texts
Canonical texts are those that are linked to Gautama Buddha in one way or another. Differences, however exist among different Buddhist schools as to which texts are canonical. Also, there are a number of revised versions of Buddhist canons as well. Consensus as to which one of them is canonical is also not there.

Canonical texts comprise three different kind of texts – the sutras (discourses), vinaya (discipline) and abhidharma (analytical texts).

Together they are called the The ‘Three Baskets’ or Tipitaka (in Pali language) and Tripitaka (in Sanskrit).

Non Canonical Texts
Non Canonical texts or semi canonical texts have held a significant place for themselves since a long time now. These include commentaries in Pali, Tibetan, Chinese and other East Asian languages on the canonical texts. Apart from this, non canonical texts also include treatise on the dharma, collection of quotations, histories and grammars.

The Three Baskets/Tipitaka/Tripitaka
Vinaya
Vinaya texts mostly comprise literatures that deal with monastic discipline. These texts also deal with origin of these rules and their further deveolpment. Apart from monastic rules, the vinaya texts also include doctrinal expositions, ritual and liturgical texts, biographical stories, and some elements of the "Jatakas", or birth stories.

There are six vinayas that exist in their entirety. These include the vinaya of Therevada school, Mula-Sarv?stiv?da, Mah?s?nghika, Sarv?stiv?da, Mah?sh?sika, and Dharmagupta. The first of these was written in Pali and exists in the same way. The others were originally written in Sanskrit but survive completely only in Tibetan (second one) and Chinese translations (last four).

Other vinaya texts exist in various languages but only in parts.

Sutta/ Sutra
These texts are those that include discourses given by the Buddha himself or anyone of his close disciple. These texts are known as Buddhavacana or the word of the Buddha. These discourse were arranged on the basis of the manner in which they were delivered. Originally they were nine, later on became twelve. These include S?tra, Geya, Vy?karana, G?th?, Ud?na, Ityukta, J?taka, Abhutadharma,Vaipulya, Nid?na, Avad?na and Upadesha

A new scheme categorises Suttas as follows:
Abhidharma
Known as Abhidhamma in Pali language, Abhidharma implies ‘further dharma’ and deals with the analysis of phenomena and relationship between them. It originally emerged out of the list of teachings such as the Bodhipaksika-dharmas or the 37 Factors leading to Awakening.

Abhidharma is not taken as canonical by many Buddhist schools. For example, the Sautr?ntika do not include abhidharma, they consider only vinaya and sutra as canonical.

Some Important Non Canonical Texts
Mahayana Texts



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