THE Pali Texts on this subject are numerous, the most important of them being :-
- Dhammasangani Pakarana
- Vibhanga Pakarana
- Dhätukathä Pakarana
- Puggala Pannatti Pakarana
- Kathavatthu Pakar•aru
- Yamaka Pakarana
- Putthäna Pakatana
These texts, collectively known as the “Satta Pakarana”, belong to the Abhidhamma section of the Buddha’s teaching. No satisfactory translations of them seem to have been published so far in any of the western languages.
The highly specialized technical inforrnation which these texts contain was often found to be difficult for the beginner, and hence the ancient scholars have compiled elementary texts to assist students. These elementary texts are also in Pali and amongst the most well-known of them are the following : —
- Abhidhammattha Sngaha
- Näma Rüpa Pariccheda
- Paramattha Vinicchaya
- Näma Rüpa Smäsa.
Of thee five texts , the Abhidhammattha Sangaha, in particular, has been very popular with students and has been translated into some modern languages.
There is also a large number Of satellite texts both modern and ancient compiled by various scholars and the enterprising student encouraged to read from them too, as much as possible.
On one point, however, it is necessary to a sound a note of caution. As the Buddha has always emphasized, one should carefully avoid getting enslaved by words, whether they be in the original Päli texts or in any of the translations, commentaries, synopses etc. To be successful in this study, the words of the texts or the words of any teacher, including the Buddha himself,
should never be accepted in mere faith, but must be fully and clearly understood.
Without laying too much importance on the written words found in the texts or the spoken words of any teacher. one should understand how to benefit most from whatever words as are available. The best benefits Of words Come to those who use those words mainly to stimulate the mind to develop deep.
direct, and concentrated thought.
It is desirable to mention here that there is a tendency amongst some modern scholars to consider that the abidhamma is a mere study Of the super-natural. This error which seerns to be gaining ground fast in some quarters, must be rectified, for the Abhidhamma is far from being any study Of the supernatural. Abhidhamma is the study Of natural phenomera as they actually are. Abhidhamma is not a mere theory, nor is it abstract and subtle talk. Abhidhamrna is the systenutic study Of the whole universe. Dealing with both mind (näma) and matter (rüpa). Many will also do well to remember thet the Buddha was the discoverer and, even more, that the Buddha was a man like all men. The Buddha set out to find the natural amwer to a simple and straightforward problem which accidentally occurred to him and which worked deeply into him, the problem being: why Old-age, disease, and death?
The answer to this problem is not so simple as it would at first sight appear, for in it lay the answer to every knotty problem of the universe. The Buddha was completely successful in his endeavor. After a tedious search, the Buddha not Only found the natural answer to the problem he sought to solve, but also discovered every truth about every problem concerning everyone and everything in every part Of the universe. This is the manner in which the Buddha achieved the state Of Buddha-hood.
The Buddha could have kept his discoveries to himself and yet received the same benefits, but he considered it his duty to assist as many as he could With what he discovered. This was the sole motive behind the Buddha’s campaign of preaching. The Buddha is unique in one respect and this is that he laid bare all the relevant facts and left each individual the sole master at the helm Of all affairs. Asia, Which is the birth-place Of all the four principal religions (the Christian, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist), still continues to have a predominating proportion Of people Who prefer to accept the Buddha’s teaching. And this book contains the fundamental principles of the Buddha ‘s philosophy on which is based the general outlook on life and the
cultural make up Of not only those people in Asia who profess Buddhism as their religion, but of the Asian population as a Whole.
This is, however, more than a subject that should be merely left to the Care of the students of Asian Culture and Comparative Religions. In the present civilization of widespread social turmoil. with so many clouds of future universal insecurity gathering around, thinkers in every field of learning should give their mind to the study Of this subject, for through the influence of the knowledge it imparts humanity on this earth can yet find it possible to survive for many centuries to come.