|The Buddha and royal Indo-Scythian disciples, Gandhara (enlightened-spirituality.org)|
Intermingled with the familiar Sections (Nikayas), Monastic Disciplinary Code (Vinaya texts), and the "Higher Doctrine" or "Ultimate Teachings" (Abhidharma) are scores of titles with long, scarcely-pronounceable Pali names.
Although many Western students of Buddhism are likely to be unacquainted with these works (indeed, most have never been translated into English), these books have for centuries played a crucial role in the development of Buddhist thought and practice across Asia and, ultimately, the West. In fact, in some countries they are as deeply treasured as the sutras themselves.
But what are these ancient books, and what relevance do they have to the western student of Buddhism in the 21st century? Although complete answers to these questions lie well beyond the range of my abilities, I hope that this short document will provide enough of a road map to help orient the interested student as he or she sets out to explore this vast corpus of important Buddhist literature.
|Ven. Hotei, also known as Budai, sitting in a therapist's chair (Muffett68/flickr.com)|
- commentaries on the Tipitaka itself
- historical chronicles
- Pali grammars
- articles by learned scholars of the past
- and more.
|The most famous Buddhist commentary of all|