Pali Canon

Definition - What does Pali Canon mean?

The Pali Canon is a collection of Buddhist teachings that are the foundation of the Theravada Buddhist philosophy. It is the earliest grouping of Buddhist teachings. The Pali Canon is also known as the Tipitaka, from the Pali words, ti, meaning "three"; and pitaka, meaning "baskets."

Theravada Buddhism describes the Pali Canon as buddhavacana, or the word of the Buddha, as it contains the teachings of the Buddha and his disciples. The content was gathered and organized at the First Buddhist Council shortly after the Buddha's death in the fourth century B.C.E. and passed down orally until written down in the third century B.C.E.

Yogapedia explains Pali Canon

The Pali Canon is organized into three sections:

  • Vinaya Pitaka (discipline basket), which contains rules of conduct for the community of monks and nuns.
  • Sutta Pitaka (sutra, or sayings, basket), which is a collection of the discourses by the Buddha and his disciples. All of Theravada Buddhism's main teachings are in this pitaka, and it is divided into five collections. The Buddha's teachings on doctrine, behavior and meditation are included.
  • Abhidhamma Pitaka (higher knowledge, or teachings, basket), which is a collection of writings, songs, stories and poetry that focuses primarily on philosophy and psychology, and explains Buddhist doctrine.
Share this: