Buddhism’s Sacred Texts

Buddhist Texts are those religious texts which are part of the Buddhist tradition. The first Buddhist texts were initially passed on orally by Buddhist monastics, but were later written down and composed as manuscripts in various Indo-Aryan languages and collected into various Buddhist canons. These were then translated into other languages such as Buddhist Chinese (fójiào hànyǔ 佛教漢語) and Classical Tibetan as Buddhism spread outside of India.

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: for example, one authority refers to “scriptures and other canonical texts”, while another says that scriptures can be categorized into canonical, commentarial, and pseudo-canonical. 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.

Burmese-Pali manuscript copy of the Buddhist text Mahaniddesa, showing three different types of Burmese script, (top) medium square, (centre) round and (bottom) outline round in red lacquer from the inside of one of the gilded covers

Burmese-Pali manuscript copy of the Buddhist text Mahaniddesa, showing three different types of Burmese script, (top) medium square, (centre) round and (bottom) outline round in red lacquer from the inside of one of the gilded covers

Articles on Buddhist texts

Main article: Buddhism’s Sacred Texts

Zen Scriptures

Zen Scriptures

 

Mahayana texts

Theravada texts

Vajrayana texts

 

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