The Tipitaka (Pali ti, "three," + pitaka, "baskets"), or Pali canon, is the collection of primary Pali language texts which form the doctrinal foundation of Theravada Buddhism. The Tipitaka and the paracanonical Pali texts (commentaries, chronicles, etc.) together constitute the complete body of classical Theravada texts.
The three divisions of the Tipitaka are:
The collection of texts concerning the rules of conduct governing the daily affairs within the Sangha — the community of bhikkhus (ordained monks) and bhikkhunis (ordained nuns). Far more than merely a list of rules, the Vinaya Pitaka also includes the stories behind the origin of each rule, providing a detailed account of the Buddha's solution to the question of how to maintain communal harmony within a large and diverse spiritual community.
The collection of suttas, or discourses, attributed to the Buddha and a few of his closest disciples, containing all the central teachings of Theravada Buddhism. The suttas are divided among five nikayas (collections):
Digha Nikaya — the "long collection" Majjhima Nikaya — the "middle-length collection" Samyutta Nikaya — the "grouped collection" Anguttara Nikaya — the "further-factored collection" Khuddaka Nikaya — the "collection of little texts": Khuddakapatha Dhammapada Udana Itivuttaka Sutta Nipata Vimanavatthu Petavatthu Theragatha Therigatha Jataka Niddesa Patisambhidamagga Apadana Buddhavamsa Cariyapitaka Nettippakarana (included only in the Burmese edition of the Tipitaka) Petakopadesa ( " " ) Milindapañha ( " " )
The collection of texts in which the underlying doctrinal principles presented in the Sutta Pitaka are reworked and reorganized into a systematic framework that can be applied to an investigation into the nature of mind and matter.
From Tipitaka. The Pali Canon with links to English translations
- Beyond the Tipitaka: A Field Guide to Post-canonical Pali Literature
- [Pali Language Study Aids]http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/pali.html offers links that may be useful to Pali students of every level.
- Handbook of Pali Literature, by Somapala Jayawardhana (Colombo: Karunaratne & Sons, Ltd., 1994). A guide, in dictionary form, through the Pali canon, with detailed descriptions of the major landmarks in the Canon.
- An Analysis of the Pali Canon, Russell Webb, ed. (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1975). An indispensable "roadmap" and outline of the Pali canon. Contains an excellent index listing suttas by name.
- Guide to Tipitaka, U Ko Lay, ed. (Delhi: Sri Satguru Publications, 1990). Another excellent outline of the Tipitaka, containing summaries of many important suttas.
- Buddhist Dictionary, by Nyanatiloka Mahathera (Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1980). A classic handbook of important terms and concepts in Theravada Buddhism.