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