Writing A Document for Authenticating The Abhidhamma and Commentaries

I’m thinking about writing a document or maybe even a book to explain the importance of the commentaries and Abhidhamma. My idea is we can collect information here and then I can try to assemble this into a document of some sort. I think there is quite a lot to say. Quoted material is best, but also opinions would be good (but not so long winded). It would be good to have an explanation of the quote and why it is good. Sutta and Vinaya pitaka references are best.

If someone has already digested these two videos then that would save me time.


I think most relevant sutta, vinaya, commentary and other references are mentioned in Robert’s thread.

These are Accounts from Tibetan and Chinese sources regarding the first council, if anyone is looking for a confirmation outside of Theravada tradition.
(I coudn’t get access to the original sources yet.)

“Geiger’s introduction to his translation of the ‘Mahavamsa’ (PTS)”:

"Among the Northern Buddhist sources dealing with the first Council I mention the Mahavastu. Here, in agreement with the southern tradition Kasyapa is given as the originator of the coucil, the number of the bhiksus taking part is stated to be 500 and the place the aptaparna grotto near Rajagrha.

"There is, besides, an account in the second volume of the Dulva, the Tibetan Vinaya of the Sarvastivadin sect. The fixing of the canon took place, according to this source, in the following order: 1) Dharma, by Ananda; 2)Vinaya, by Upali; 3)Matrka (i.e.Abhidarma) by Mahakasyapa himself.

Fa-hian and Hiuen-thsang also mention the First Council. The former gives the number of the bhiksus a 500, the latter as 1,000; the former speaks in a general way of ‘a collection of sacred books’, the latter expressly mentions also the redaction of the Abhidharma by Mahakasyapa.”

Norman, K.R. (1983) Pali Literature , p. 119. :
(Included in Wikipedia as well)

There is no direct evidence that any commentarial material was in fact recited at the first council, but there is clear evidence that some parts of the commentaries are very old, perhaps even going back to the time of the Buddha, because they afford parallels with texts which are regarded as canonical by other sects, and must therefore pre-date the schisms between the sects. As has already been noted, some canonical texts include commentarial passages, while the existence of the Old Commentary in the Vinaya-pitaka and the canonical status of the Niddesa prove that some sort of exegesis was felt to be needed at a very early stage of Buddhism.

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Please just give relevant typed information rather than links.
Mostly references to actual books (rather than page discussion links).
Please give quality information instead of quantity.

Excerpt from the introduction passage of Paṭṭhāna translation:

The Abhidhamma was Expounded Only by the Buddha

In the Preface to the Discourse on Elements, U Thein Nyun gave reasons to prove that the Abhidhamma was expounded by the Buddha. Here other reasons will be given, together with appropriate quotations, in confirmation of this fact.

When the systematic exposition of Patthana, dealt with above, is frankly considered, the only conclusion that will be arrived at, is that this is the province of Omniscience and that no disciple could have attained that knowledge or have the ability to expound it on his own.

The Expositor II[6], p. 519 states this as:

“What is known as Abhidhamma is not the province nor the sphere of a disciple; it is the province, the sphere of the Buddhas (Omniscient Ones)”.
Some are of the opinion that the Abhidhamma was compiled from the Suttas. Again, there are some who are of the opinion that the Abhidhamma was compiled from the Suttas. But this cannot be so.

For the subject matter of the Dhammasangani is not to be found in any of the Suttas. In the case of the Suttanta couplets given there, they were expounded by Sariputta and not by the Buddha.

This is stated in the Expositor I[6], p. 11: “Thence whence arose the other forty-two (Suttanta) couplets? By whom were they laid down and taught? They originated with Sariputta, Generalissimo of the Law, having been laid down and taught by him. But he did not lay them down through his own self-evolved knowledge.

They have been gathered from the EkaNipata and DukaNipata of the Anguttara Nikaya, the Sangiti and Dasuttarasuttantas of the DighaNikaya, in order to help students of the Abhidhamma in their references to the Suttantas”.

The Suttanta Classification of Vibhanga and the Puggalapaññati were expounded for the deliverance of those devas and brahmas who were not intelligent enough to understand the abstruse Abhidhamma.

But the Abhidhamma Classification and Catechism of Vibhanga are not to be found in their completeness in any of the Suttas. Besides, the subjects dealt with in Dhatukatha, Yamaka and Patthana are not to be found in the Suttas. Thus the opinion that the Abhidhamma was compiled from the Suttas does not hold water.

To dispel the views, 1. that the Abhidhamma was not expounded by The Buddha, 2. that it was a later addition, and 3. that it was non-existent during The Buddha’s time.

(1) Some hold the view that the Abhidhamma was not ex-pounded by The Buddha. It is quite true that the Abhidhamma was not expounded by The Buddha in the human world. The reason for this, already explained in the Discourse on Elements, is that the audience would not be able to remain in the same posture during the whole period that the Abhidhamma was expounded, since a discourse is al-ways completed by The Buddha at one sitting. But Sariputta preached Abhidhamma to five hundred bhikkhus, his own pupils, when the method was taught to him by The Buddha.

(2) As for the view that the Abhidhamma was added later, one should ask, “By whom was this done”? If there were any person capable of compiling this profound and abstruse Pitaka, then his name would still be famous today. But because this Pitaka cannot be ascribed to any such person it has been assumed that it came into existence after the Third Council. This, however, is an entirely false view.

(3) The Abhidhamma was in existence during The Buddha’s time. This can be proved from the following passages:
(a) “Not given leave means; without asking (for permission).
Should ask a question means: if, having asked for leave in regard to Suttanta, she asks about Discipline or about Abhidhamma, there is an offence of expiation. If, having asked for leave in regard to Abhidhamma, she asks about Suttanta or about Discipline, there is an offence of expiation”.1 (b) “There is no offence if, not desiring to disparage, he speaks, saying: ‘Look here, do you master suttantas or verses or what is extra to dhamma (i.e. Abhidhamma) and afterwards you will master discipline’; if he is mad, if he is the first wrong-doer”.

These passages clearly show that Abhidhamma was in existence during The Buddha’s time because rules about it were laid down by Him.


Sometimes, I feel that it is in vain to convince people about it.

People of wrong view and strong arrogance cannot be tamed easily and it was not really our responsibility to tame them either. We can share, if they reject, we can let go.

Why not we make best effort to attain Maggaphala attainments here and now? It should be easier for us, having confidence in the complete, pure, well taught Dhamma.

Just like Buddha let go of Sati, so too, we should let go of those who reject Abhidhamma after many times of explanation.


Yes, It is somewhat a lost cause for most people, but I think good for a couple of new people here and there. It is also good for those who are already in orthodox theravada to know for themselves so that they don’t get worn down by the whitewashed theravada community that is difficult to avoid.

I vaguely remember a cheat sheet for vegetarians “How to win an argument with meat eaters” . But this won’t be a cheat sheet. It will be a doc… maybe 60 pages a5.

It is a six month or one year project, so take your time to post references. I have many projects, but this is one I want to write.


The Buddha taught Abhidhamma to all Devas and Brahmas, with Māyādevaputta as the chief receiver of this subtle teaching in Tavatimsa Heaven.

Petavatthu (Sixth Synod Edition, p. 159) states:
(1) “At the time The Buddha, the Exalted One, was residing on the Pandukambala Stone at the foot of the Coral tree in Tavatimsa (for expounding the Abhidhamma).

(2) At that time the devas and brahmas of the 10,000 worlds held a meeting and approached The Buddha who resided at the top of Mount Meru (where Tavatimsa is situated).

(3) At that time no deva or brahma could excel in radiance and splendour that of The Buddha”.

Referring to Robertk’s post:

Vinaya pitaka
“If without any intention of reviling the Vinaya one were to instigate another saying -‘pray study the suttas or gathas or Abhidhamma first and afterwards learn the vinaya’ there is no offense”
Vinaya iv 344

Ven Dhammanando wrote:

There is another Vinaya passage, the 95th pācittiya rule for nuns, where in place of suttante vā gāthāyo vā abhidhammaṃ vā we get suttante … vinayaṃ vā abhidhammaṃ vā:

“Whatever nun should ask a question of a monk who has not given leave, there is an offence of expiation.”

“Should ask a question” means: if, having asked for leave in regard to Suttanta, she asks about Vinaya or about Abhidhamma, there is an offence of expiation. If, having asked for leave in regard to Vinaya, she asks about Suttanta or about Abhidhamma, there is an offence of expiation. If, having asked for leave in regard to Abhidhamma, she asks about Suttanta or about Vinaya, there is an offence of expiation.

Sub-commentary (Vajirabuddhi-ṭīkā)
Suttante okāsaṃ kārāpetvā vinayaṃ vā abhidhammaṃ vā pucchatī ti ettha ca tīṇi piṭakāni attano attano nāmena vuttānīti katvā abhidhammo buddhena bhāsito evāti dīpitaṃ hoti.

“Having asked for leave in regard to Suttanta, she asks about Vinaya or about Abhidhamma”: herein are the three Baskets each individually named, revealing that the Abhidhamma was spoken only by the Buddha.


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In Suttanta & Vinaya, Abhidhammakathā word appeared in several occasions. Now the definition is this:

The Pali Text Society’s Pali-English Dictionary

Abhidhammakathā refers to: discourse on philosophical or psychological matters, M.I, 214, 218; A.III, 106, 392. See dhammakathā. (Page 65)

Note: abhidhammakathā is a Pali compound consisting of the words abhidhamma and kathā.

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Other than Mahagosingasutta, here is another Suttanta:

Hatthisāriputtasuttaṃ (Aṅguttaranikāya)

Evaṃ me sutaṃ – ekaṃ samayaṃ bhagavā bārāṇasiyaṃ viharati isipatane migadāye. Tena kho pana samayena sambahulā therā bhikkhū pacchābhattaṃ piṇḍapātapaṭikkantā maṇḍalamāḷe sannisinnā sannipatitā abhidhammakathaṃ kathenti. Tatra sudaṃ āyasmā citto hatthisāriputto therānaṃ bhikkhūnaṃ abhidhammakathaṃ kathentānaṃ antarantarā kathaṃ opāteti. Atha kho āyasmā mahākoṭṭhiko āyasmantaṃ cittaṃ hatthisāriputtaṃ etadavoca – “Māyasmā citto hatthisāriputto therānaṃ bhikkhūnaṃ abhidhammakathaṃ kathentānaṃ antarantarā kathaṃ opātesi, yāva kathāpariyosānaṃ āyasmā citto āgametū”ti. Evaṃ vutte āyasmato cittassa hatthisāriputtassa sahāyakā bhikkhū āyasmantaṃ mahākoṭṭhikaṃ etadavocuṃ – “Māyasmā mahākoṭṭhiko āyasmantaṃ cittaṃ hatthisāriputtaṃ apasādesi, paṇḍito āyasmā citto hatthisāriputto. Pahoti cāyasmā citto hatthisāriputto therānaṃ bhikkhūnaṃ abhidhammakathaṃ kathetu”nti.


Tatiyaanāgatabhayasuttaṃ (Aṅguttaranikāya)

“Puna caparaṃ, bhikkhave, bhavissanti bhikkhū anāgatamaddhānaṃ abhāvitakāyā abhāvitasīlā abhāvitacittā abhāvitapaññā. Te abhāvitakāyā samānā abhāvitasīlā abhāvitacittā abhāvitapaññā abhidhammakathaṃ vedallakathaṃ kathentā kaṇhadhammaṃ okkamamānā na bujjhissanti. Iti kho, bhikkhave, dhammasandosā vinayasandoso; vinayasandosā dhammasandoso. Idaṃ, bhikkhave, tatiyaṃ anāgatabhayaṃ etarahi asamuppannaṃ āyatiṃ samuppajjissati. Taṃ vo paṭibujjhitabbaṃ; paṭibujjhitvā ca tassa pahānāya vāyamitabbaṃ.


Yes… but the problem is that the “scholars” say that abhidhamma means something else. A few examples are good to have, but there are quite many which are pretty much the same.

Sadhu for your help.

95th pācittiya rule for nuns
is considered best.


yes… that one lists all three baskets and is without a doubt. It is mentioned in Sayadaw Kumarabhivamsa’s video with a commentary reference pointing out that the Suttantin was sleeping during vinaya class :rofl:

The bulk of the book will be from those 2 videos mentioned above in the first post.

But Robert has some nice references in his marathon post located on this discourse site.



I hope this can help too.

Sutta was one of the Nava anga. Veyyakarana (explanation) is another aspect of the teaching, which is actually the so-called Abhidhamma Pitaka now according to commentaries.

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Yes… I think this is also mentioned in the Simile of the Snake.
Because of the repetition omissions (pe…), the normal reader might think that these are bad, but they are mentioned in full in positive light for the second repetition.

I recently told this to a supporter in Chicago who is a follower of Ajahn Kukrit about 6 months ago and referred him to the unabridged version of the sutta found at buddhadust.net (no need to rant about this monk in this thread).


a water course Vism.554 (˚âtikkamaka); Mhvs.35, Mhvs.96; Mhvs.37, Mhvs.50; Snp-a.500 (= sobbha); Dhp-a.ii.141 (its purpose: “ito c’ ito ca udakaṁ haritvā attano sassa-kammaṁ sampādenti”); Vv-a.301
tabulation, register, tabulated summary, condensed contents, esp. of philosophical parts of the Canonical books in the Abhidhamma; used in Vinaya in place of Abhidhamma Piṭaka; probably the original form of that (later) Piṭaka Vin.i.119, Vin.i.337; Vin.ii.8 [cp semantically in similar sense Lat. mātrix = E. matric i.e. register. In BSḳ. mātrikā

Ven. Ananda said, “There is the case, friend, where a monk masters the Dhamma: dialogues, narratives of mixed prose & verse, explanations, verses, spontaneous exclamations, quotations, birth stories, amazing events, question & answer sessions. He teaches the Dhamma in detail—as he has heard it, as he has remembered it—to others. He gets others to recite the Dhamma in detail—as they have heard it, as they have remembered it. He holds a group chanting of the Dhamma in detail—as he has heard it, as he has remembered it. He thinks about & evaluates the Dhamma as he has heard it, as he has remembered it; he contemplates it with his intellect. He enters the Rains in monasteries in which there are senior monks who are learned, who know the tradition, who are holders of the Dhamma, the Vinaya, & the Matika.

-AN 6.51

So, the argument that the Abhidhamma strictly was not around nor approved of by the Buddha, and that it is something that came about long after his death and the compiling of the suttas is conclusively false. It was around and was called matika, and accepted by his immediate disciples. Simple as that. Arguments could be made that the existing Abhidhamma patika is an expanded version of the matikas, and that parts of it weren’t around during the Buddha’s time, however the argument that the entire Abhidhamma pitaka is a late, post Buddha invention is destroyed by the mention of the matikas in the suttas (in the above and also at AN 11.17, and per the dictionary entry above it is mentioned in the Vinaya. I’m looking for other mentions, I feel like I read a mention in DN but am having trouble finding it. Will update if I find it).

‘In such-and-such monastery there are several senior mendicants who are very learned, knowledgeable in the scriptures, who have memorized the teachings, the texts on monastic training, and the outlines.
‘amukasmiṁ nāma āvāse sambahulā therā bhikkhū viharanti bahussutā āgatāgamā dhammadharā vinayadharā mātikādharā.

-DN 16

“Here, friend Sāriputta, two bhikkhus engage in a talk on the higher Dhamma and they question each other, and each being questioned by the other answers without foundering, and their talk rolls on in accordance with the Dhamma. That kind of bhikkhu could illuminate this Gosinga Sāla-tree Wood.”

"Idhāvuso sāriputta, dve bhikkhū abhidhammakathaṁ kathenti, te aññamaññaṁ pañhaṁ pucchanti, aññamaññassa pañhaṁ puṭṭhā vissajjenti, no ca saṁsādenti, dhammī ca nesaṁ kathā pavattinī hoti.

-MN 32

With the addition of that DN 16 quote, that pretty much sums it up. The abhidhamma is clearly attested in the suttas and vinaya. Any attempts to demonstrate it being strictly a late work are thus invalid, and so are then also invalid any attempts to entirely prove it as being false, or as a totally incorrect understanding of the Buddha’s teaching. In other words, playing the suttas against the abhidhamma to refute the latter is a false dichotomy. The bulk of the abhidhamma is merely a tabulation and outline of the suttas. A tabulation of a larger work cannot be refuted by the larger work itself, such would be illogical.

Might a minority of parts of the abhidhamma be later? Perhaps, but not the majority of it. The majority of the abhidhamma is a tabulation of what is found in the suttas.

That’s what I’ve concluded. Copied from my post on another forum. The importance of the Abhidhamma is that it is equally as important as the suttas, but makes things very stark and clear. The commentaries are extremely imiportant, because they are the only thing preventing people from completely forgetting what the Buddha actually taught, due to charlatans subverting the suttas for the purpose of making them into eternalism/extreme relativism/subjective idealism/extreme nihilism. This can only be done if they throw out the commentaries, because the commentaries were written precisely to make clear how the suttas should be interpreted, almost presciently aware of these very charlatans. Although surely such charlatans were around in their time, as well. Regardless, any sensible, rational person, reading the suttas will come to similar conclusions as the commentaries. But when the suttas are read by an irrational, eternalist, or Mahyanist, they see souls, eternal consciousness, etc. and the commentaries are there to say “nope.”

In other words, while the suttas are already very clear, a lot of people deliberately mess around with them and claim they are eternalist/etc. This is impossible to do with the Visuddhimagga, commentaries, etc., since they are fully drawn out exegesis of the suttas and very, very clear, and address specifically these topics. The suttas couldn’t address these topics, because these misinterpretations of the suttas only happened later, after they were composed. So, thankfully, we have the commentary tradition for exactly this reason.

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Many great points here. Please keep them coming as they come to mind. Again, this research and possible book is mostly for us. This ClassicalTheravada group is to preach to our own choir, but also to maintenance for our own faith. Otherwise we would publicly announce this new website. Yet, there will be a time when a disagreement comes from a visitor, and we should be familiar with these fully referenced points to set the record straight. I hope to organize this material.

Eventually others will come here who are from other groups. I have even invited some who I know are polite and open minded. We are already on the first page impression for google under “classical theravada”


Excellent initiative venerable Subhuti!
And already many good references coming in.


@RobertK I hope you can add your two cents too.