Abhidhamma

Buddha’s Teachings

The teachings of Lord Buddha in the course of 45 years of His Buddhahood have been divided into three collections called Tipiñaka in pàli, meaning ‘Three Baskets’ literally. The first collection is known as ‘Sutta piñaka’. It is the conventional teaching (Vohàra desana) in which Buddha used common vocabulary to explain His teachings. Practical aspects of tranquility meditation and insight-meditation are included in this collection.

The second collection is called ‘Vinaya piñaka’. It is the authoritative teaching (ânà-desana) in which Buddha used His authority over the monks to lay down rules and disciplines for them to follow. These disciplines embody the highest code of ethics and can surely purify one’s action, speech and thought, thus making one noble and respectful.

The third collection is ‘Abhidhamma piñaka’. It is the higher teaching of the Buddha. Here Buddha employed abstract terms to describe the ultimate realties (paramatthas) in the Universe and Nibbana which is the summum bonum and the highest goal of Buddhism.

So Abhidhamma may be regarded as the ultimate teaching

(Paramattha desanà) of Lord Buddha.

Abhidhammattha-sangaha (Pali) is a Buddhist text composed by Acariya Anuruddha; it is a commentary on the Abhidharma of the Theravada tradition. Abhidhamma is literally known as Higher Doctrine, Aththa is used here to represent English multi-significant word Thing (Not Meaning) and Sangaha simply means Compendium. It briefly mentions, in order, the seven treatises (Prakaranas) of the Abhidhamma Pitaka:

  • Dhammasangani - Classification of Dhammas
  • Vibhanga - Divisions
  • Dhathukatha - Discussion with reference to Elements
  • Puggalapannatthi - Designation of Individuals
  • Kathavatthu - Points of Controversy
  • Yamaka - The Book of Pairs
  • Patthana - The Book of Causal Relations

The prefix Abhi is used in the sense of preponderant, great, excellent, sublime, distinct, etc. Indeed, it is a Manual compiled for easy learning of the Abhidhamma Pitaka.

According to Bhikkhu Bodhi, the Abhidhammattha-sangaha is one of the most important texts in the Theravada tradition. Bhikkhu Boddhi writes:

In nine short chapters occupying about fifty pages in print, the author provides a masterly summary of that abstruse body of Buddhist doctrine called the Abhidhamma. Such is his skill in capturing the essentials of that system, and in arranging them in a format suitable for easy comprehension, that his work has become the standard primer for Abhidhamma studies throughout the Theravada Buddhist countries of South and Southeast Asia. In these countries, particularly in Burma where the study of Abhidhamma is pursued most assiduously, the Abhidhammattha Sangaha is regarded as the indispensable key to unlock this great treasure-store of Buddhist wisdom.

Regarding the author of the text, Bhikkhu Bodhi explains:

This work is ascribed to Acariya Anuruddha, a Buddhist savant about whom so little is known that even his country of origin and the exact century in which he lived remain in question. Chapter outline

Chapter outline

The Abhidhammattha-sangaha consists of the following chapters:

  • Chapter I - Consciousness (citta)
  • Chapter II - Mental Factors (cetasika)
  • Chapter III – Miscellaneous(pakkinaka)
  • Chapter IV - Thought-Processes (vithi)
  • Chapter V – Planes of existence (vithimut/Bhumi)
  • Chapter VI – Matter (rupa)
  • Chapter VII - Compendium of Ultimate Entities (samuccaya)
  • Chapter VIII - The Compendium Of Relations(paccaya)
  • Chapter IX - Meditation ( Kammathana)

At Dhammadipa Buddhism Center, students are learning Abhidhammattha-sangaha in Myanmar Langue and sit exam held by Ministry of Religious Affairs.

DBC starts the Abhidhamma classes in the third week of March and ends in the end of November. The exam is held by Ministry of Religious Affairs in the third week of December .