Buddhist texts can be categorized in a number of ways. The Western terms “scripture” and “canonical” are applied to Buddhism in inconsistent ways by Western scholars. Buddhist traditions have generally divided these texts with their own categories and divisions, such as that between buddhavacana “word of the Buddha,” many of which are known as “sutras,” and other texts, such as shastras (treatises) or Abhidharma.

Tripitaka

What Is Tripitaka? Tripiṭaka (Tipiṭaka) is the traditional term for the Buddhist scriptures.[1][2] The version canonical to Theravada Buddhism is generally referred to in English as the Pali Canon. Mahayana Buddhism also holds the Tripiṭaka to be authoritative but, unlike Theravadins, it also includes in its canon various derivative literature and commentaries that were...

Vinaya

What Is Vinaya? The Vinaya (Pali and Sanskrit, literally meaning “leading out”, “education”, “discipline”) is the regulatory framework for the sangha or monastic community of Buddhism based on the canonical texts called the Vinaya Pitaka. The teachings of the Gautama Buddha can be divided into two broad categories: Dharma “doctrine” and Vinaya “discipline”. Extant vinaya texts include those of the Theravada (the...

Vimalakirti Sutra

Vimalakirti Sutra The Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa (विमलकीर्तिनिर्देश), or (the Vimalakīrti Sūtra or Vimalakīrti Nirdeśa Sūtra) is a Mahayana Buddhist sutra. It was extremely influential in East Asia, but most likely of considerably less importance in the Indian and Tibetan sub-traditions of Mahāyāna Buddhism. The word nirdeśa in the title means “instruction, advice”, and Vimalakīrti is the name of the...

Theravada

What Is Theravada? Theravāda (“School of the Elders”)[1][2] is the oldest of Buddhism’s extant schools.[1][2] Theravadins have preserved their version of the Gautama Buddha’s teaching in the Pāli Canon.[1][2] The Pāli Canon is the only complete Buddhist canon surviving in a classical Indian language, Pāli, which serves as the school’s sacred language[2] and lingua franca.[3] For over a millennium, theravādins have...

Tengyur

What Is Tengyur? The Tengyur or Tanjur or Bstan-’gyur (“Translation of Teachings”) is the Tibetan collection of commentaries to the Buddhist teachings, or “Translated Treatises”. The Buddhist Canon Main article: Tibetan Buddhist canon To the Tengyur were assigned commentaries to both Sutras and Tantras, treatises and abhidharma works (both Mahayana and non-Mahayana).[1] Together with the 108-volume Kangyur (the Collection of the Words of the Buddha),...

Tantras in Buddhism

Tantras in Buddhism The Buddhist Tantras are a varied group of Indian and Tibetan texts which outline unique views and practices of the Buddhist tantra religious systems. Overview Buddhist Tantric texts began appearing in the Gupta Empire period [1] though there are texts with elements associated with Tantra that can be seen...

Pāli Canon

What Is Pāli Canon? The Pāli Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pāli language.[1] It is the most complete extant early Buddhist canon.[2][3] During the First Buddhist Council, Ananda recited the Sutta Pitaka, and Upali recited the Vinaya Pitaka thirty years after the parinibbana of Gautama Buddha in Rajgir. The...

Mahayana Sutras

Mahayana Sutras The Mahayana sutras are a broad genre of Buddhist scriptures that various traditions of Mahayana Buddhism accept as canonical. They are largely preserved in the Chinese Buddhist canon, the Tibetan Buddhist canon, and in extant Sanskrit manuscripts. Around one hundred Mahayana sutras survive in Sanskrit, or in Chinese...

Buddhism’s Sacred Texts

What Are The Buddhist Texts? Buddhist texts were initially passed on orally by monks, but were later written down and composed as manuscripts in various Indo-Aryan languages which were then translated into other local languages as Buddhism spread. They can be categorized in a number of ways. The Western terms “scripture” and “canonical” are applied...

Mahayana

What Is Mahayana? Mahāyāna (“Great Vehicle”) is one of two main existing branches of Buddhism (the other being Theravada) and a term for classification of Buddhist philosophiesand practice. This movement added a further set of discourses, and although it was initially small in India, it had long-term historical significance.[1] The Buddhist tradition of Vajrayana is sometimes classified...

Kangyur

What Is Kangyur? The Tibetan Buddhist canon is a loosely defined list of sacred texts recognized by various schools of Tibetan Buddhism, comprising the Kangyur or Kanjur (‘The Translation of the Word’) and the Tengyur or Tanjur (Tengyur) (‘Translation of Treatises’). The Tibetan Buddhist Canon Main article: Tibetan Buddhist canon In addition to earlier foundational Buddhist texts from early Buddhist schools,...

Avatamsaka Sutra

What Is Avatamsaka Sutra? The Avataṃsaka Sūtra (the Mahāvaipulya Buddhāvataṃsaka Sūtra) is one of the most influential Mahayana sutras of East Asian Buddhism. The title is rendered in English as Flower Garland Sutra, Flower Adornment Sutra, or Flower Ornament Scripture. It has been called by the translator Thomas Cleary “the most grandiose, the most comprehensive, and the most...

Scroll Up