Abhidharma


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Abhidharma

(ŭb`ĭdŭr'mə) [Skt.,=higher dharma, or doctrine], schools of Buddhist philosophy. Early BuddhismBuddhism
, religion and philosophy founded in India c.525 B.C. by Siddhartha Gautama, called the Buddha. There are over 300 million Buddhists worldwide. One of the great world religions, it is divided into two main schools: the Theravada or Hinayana in Sri Lanka and SE Asia, and
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 analyzed experience into 5 skandhas or aggregates, and alternatively into 18 dhatus or elements. Later schools developed the process of analysis and classification that was called Abhidharma; their treatises were collected in the Abhidharmapitaka, one of the three main divisions of the Pali Buddhist canon (see Buddhist literatureBuddhist literature.
During his lifetime the Buddha taught not in Vedic Sanskrit, which had become unintelligible to the people, but in his own NE Indian dialect; he also encouraged his monks to propagate his teachings in the vernacular.
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, Pali canonPali canon
, sacred literature of Buddhism. The texts in the Pali canon are the earliest Buddhist sources, and for Theravada Buddhists, who claim to conserve the original teachings of the Buddha, they are still the most authoritative sacred texts.
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). The five skandhas analyzed experience to demonstrate the absence of an abiding "self." The categories of analysis were dharmas, or natures, ultimate qualities or principles that arise and pass away in irreducible moments of time. Lists of dharmas varied from 75 to 157, with different schools classifying the dharmas into different groups, and the exact definition of a dharma eventually became the subject of great controversy. The greatest systematizer of Abhidharma thought was Vasubandhu (5th cent. A.D.), who wrote the encyclopedic Abhidharma-kosa or Treasury of Abhidharma.

Bibliography

See H. Guenther, Philosophy and Psychology in the Abhidharma (1957); T. Stcherbatsky, The Central Conception of Buddhism (4th ed. 1970).

References in periodicals archive ?
Certain Abhidharma atomists who assert that at the ultimate reality level there are impartite psychophysical atoms are an exception.
Tripitaka is the traditional term used by Buddhist traditions to describe three main categories of teachings -- the Sutra, the sermons of the Buddha; the Vinaya, the precepts and rules of monastic discipline; and the Abhidharma, commentaries and explications of the teachings.
This opinion may be corroborated by the fact that the Kathavatthu, a 'Theravadin Abhidharma work, refutes the following thesis: "The Buddha, the Blessed One's common use is supra-mundane (lokuttara)," (47) which the commentary on the Kathavatthu (Kv-a 59-60) attributes to the Andhakas, a collective term covering four subsects of the Mahasamghikas.
Abhidharma Buddhism claims that each dharma as a series of experiences is self-sufficient but impermanent hence antithetical to Brahman.
Whatever its origins, it is a remarkable text that presents a new perspective on the nature of phenomena and proposes a revolutionary break with the Buddhist psychology set forth by the traditional Abhidharma schools.
There are also a considerable number of fragments belonging to the Samghabhedavastu and the Civaravastu of the Mulasarvastivadin, and Sutras corresponding to parts of the Chinese Samyuktagama, as well as fragments of the Vasubandhu's Abhidharmakosha and -bhashya, and over 50 Abhidharma texts.
The Abhidharma, the earliest compilation of Buddhist philosophy and psychology, still remains the basis for both Theravadin and Mahayana Buddhism after a millennium and a half, while our modern neurology textbooks are out of date almost as soon as they are written.
3) See Harvey, Introduction to Buddhism 32-46, 53-59; Herbert Guenther, Philosophy and Psychology in the Abhidharma (Berkeley: Shambhala, 1976) chap.
Waddell seems to have mistaken the Chopen [Chos dPon] (Pujari) as the whole and sole representative of his "Lamaism", and he is completely ignorant of the fact that at the time he wrote, over 5000 students were studying the philosophy of Nagarjuna, the Abhidharma Kosha of Vasubandhu the Pramana Vartika of Dharmakirti, one of the world's greatest logicians in all history, in just one college called Sera in Tibet.
this idea of the nonsubstantive or "empty" character of self and phenomena came to be extended to include everything, including the dharmas, the causal factors of existence that the earlier Abhidharma school had viewed as substantive.
Of course, if all that exists are aggregates of psychophysical atoms, as Abhidharma Buddhism posits, then perhaps they can function equally on a non-physical level that is nonetheless causal, just as they apparently do on the physical level, given their two-fold natures.
Other genres represented include abhidharma, stotra, avadlina, dharani/raksil, and medical literature.