The Buddhist Literature

 The religious works of the Jainas and the Buddhists are important sources of history which refer to historical persons and incidents. Early Buddhist literature is generally divided into canonical and non-canonical texts written in Pali. The Pali Tipitikas consisting of three books – the Vinaya, Sutta and Abhidhamma – fall under the first group. They contain all the basic aspects of Buddhist socio-religious order. Jatakas or the stories of Gautam Buddha’s previous births form the most important portion of the non-canonical literature. Besides making incidental references to political events in the age of Buddha, the Jatakas throw invaluable light on the social and economic conditions of the period between the 5th and 2nd century BCE. Milindapanha (2nd century BCE – 1st century CE), the Pali chronicles – the Dipavamsa (4th-5th centuries CE) and the Mahavamsa (5th century CE) and several other Buddhist works in Sanskrit or mixed Prakrit-Sanskrit such as the Mahavastu, the Lalitvistara, the Divyavadana, Ashvaghosha’s Buddhacarita etc. are important sources for the reconstruction of socio-religious, political and economic history of their times.

Tripitaka is a major term associated with jaina Literature. Tripitaka or Three Baskets is a traditional term used for various Buddhist scriptures. It is known as pali Canon in English.The three pitakas are Sutta Pitaka, Vinaya Pitaka and Abhidhamma Pitaka.

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