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Which of the following statements is/are correct about Buddhist texts?

1. The Buddha’s teachings were included in the Abhidhamma Pitaka. 

2. The Vinaya Pitaka included rules and regulations for those who joined the sangha or monastic order.

3. The Sutta Pitaka dealt with philosophical matters. 

1. 1 only
2. 1 and 2 only
3. 2 only
4. 1 and 3 only

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Correct Answer - Option 3 : 2 only

The correct answer is 2 only.

  • The Buddha taught orally through discussion and debate.
  • Men and women attended these discourses and discussed what they heard.
  • None of the Buddha’s speeches was written down during his lifetime.
  • After his death (c. fifth-fourth century BCE) his teachings were compiled by his disciples at a council of “elders” or senior monks at Vesali (Pali for Vaishali in present-day Bihar).
  • These compilations were known as Tipitaka literally, three baskets to hold different types of texts.
    • They were first transmitted orally and then written and classified according to length as well as subject matter.
    • The Vinaya Pitaka included rules and regulations for those who joined the sangha or monastic order. Hence, Statement 2 is correct.
    • The Buddha’s teachings were included in the Sutta Pitaka. Hence, Statement 1 is incorrect.
    • The Abhidhamma Pitaka dealt with philosophical matters. Hence, Statement 3 is incorrect.
  • Each Pitaka comprised a number of individual texts.
  • Later, commentaries were written on these texts by Buddhist scholars.
  • As Buddhism travelled to new regions such as Sri Lanka, other texts such as the Dipavamsa (literally, the chronicle of the island) and Mahavamsa (the great chronicle) were written, containing regional histories of Buddhism.

  • When Buddhism spread to East Asia, pilgrims such as Fa Xian and Xuan Zang travelled all the way from China to India in search of texts.
    • These they took back to their own country, where they were translated by scholars.
  • Indian Buddhist teachers also travelled to faraway places, carrying texts to disseminate the teachings of the Buddha.
  • Buddhist texts were preserved in manuscripts for several centuries in monasteries in different parts of Asia.
  • Modern translations have been prepared from Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese and Tibetan texts.

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