Buddhism’s Sacred Texts

A page from Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and Bhasya commentary (c. 2nd to 4th century CE), which placed the practice of asanas as one of the eight limbs of classical yoga

Salistamba Sutra

Salistamba Sutra The Salistamba Sutra or Śālistamba Sūtra (rice stalk or rice sapling sūtra) is an early Buddhist text that shows a few unique features which indicate a turn to the early Mahayana. It thus has been considered as one of the first Mahayana sutras. According to N. Ross Reat,...

Burmese-Pali Palm-leaf manuscript.

Early Buddhist Texts

Early Buddhist Texts Early Buddhist texts (EBTs), Early Buddhist literature or Early Buddhist discourses refers to the parallel texts shared by the Early Buddhist schools. The most widely studied EBT material are the first four Pali Nikayas, as well as the corresponding Chinese Āgamas. However, some scholars have also pointed out that some Vinaya material, like the Patimokkhas of the different Buddhist schools,...

Antique Palm Leaf MANUSCRIPT Sutra Pali Canon Ramayana Story

Āgama in Buddhism

Āgama in Buddhism In Buddhism, an āgama (आगम Sanskrit and Pāli for “sacred work” or “scripture”) is a collection of Early Buddhist Texts. The five āgamas together comprise the Suttapiṭaka of the early Buddhist schools, which had different recensions of each āgama. In the Pali Canon of the Theravada, the term nikāya is used. The word āgama does not occur in this collection. Meaning In Buddhism, the term āgama is used...

Zen Scriptures

Zen Scriptures

Zen Scriptures Though Zen is said to be based on a “special transmission outside scriptures” which “did not stand upon words”, the Zen-tradition has a rich doctrinal and textual background. It has been influenced by sutras such as the Lankavatara Sutra, the Vimalakirti Sutra, the Avatamsaka Sutra, and the Lotus Sutra. Subsequently, the Zen tradition produced...

Depiction of the First Council at Rajgir, a painting at the Nava Jetavana, Shravasti.

Abhidharma

Abhidharma Abhidharma (Sanskrit) or Abhidhamma (Pali) are ancient (3rd century BCE and later) Buddhist texts which contain detailed scholastic presentations of doctrinal material appearing in the Buddhist sutras. It also refers to the scholastic method itself as well as the field of knowledge that this method is said to study. Bhikkhu Bodhi calls it “an abstract...

Chinese text of the Heart Sūtra by Yuan dynasty artist and calligrapher Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322 CE)

Lankavatara Sutra

Lankavatara Sutra The Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra (लंकावतारसूत्र, ལང་ཀར་བཤེགས་པའི་མདོ་) is a prominent Mahayana Buddhist sūtra. This sūtra recounts a teaching primarily between Gautama Buddha and a bodhisattva named Mahāmati, “Great Wisdom”. The sūtra is set in Laṅkā, the island fortress capital of Rāvaṇa, the king of the rākṣasa demons. The title of this text roughly translates as “Scripture of the...

The Wisdom of the Buddha Series

Nikaya

Nikaya Nikaya or Nikāya is a Pāli word meaning “volume”. It is often used like the Sanskrit word āgama to mean “collection”, “assemblage”, “class” or “group” in both Pāḷi and Sanskrit. It is most commonly used in reference to the Pali Buddhist texts of the Tripitaka namely the Sutta Piṭaka, the Vinaya Pitaka and the Abhidhamma Pitaka. It is...

Burmese Pali manuscript

Pali Literature

Pali Literature Pali literature is concerned mainly with Theravada Buddhism, of which Pali is the traditional language. The earliest and most important Pali literature constitutes the Pāli Canon, the scriptures of Theravada school. History Sri Lanka became the headquarters of Theravada for centuries, and most Pali literature in this period was written there,...

Matrika – mother goddesses

Tantra

What is Tantra? Tantra (तन्त्र, literally “loom, weave, system”) denotes the esoteric traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism that co-developed most likely about the middle of the 1st millennium AD. The term tantra, in the Indian religions, also means any systematic broadly applicable “text, theory, system, method, instrument, technique or practice”....

Thai monks blessing the King of Thailand in Wat Nong Wong, Amphoe Sawankhalok, Sukhothai, Thailand.

Vinaya

Vinaya The Vinaya (“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 only...

Fragments of Vimalakirti Sutra in Chinese on the reverse side of Old Tibetan Chronicle discovered in Dunhuang Mogao Cave #17

Vimalakirti Sutra

Vimalakirti Sutra The Vimalakirti Sutra or 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...

Tibetan Blockprints / Undated Tibetan Buddhist Religious Texts, circa 1800s

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). Together with the 108-volume...

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