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The Great Commentary on the Abhidharma

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Great Commentary on the Abhidharma, The
阿毘達磨大毘婆沙論 (Skt Abhidharma-mahavibhasha-shastra; Chin A-p’i-ta-mo-ta-p’i-p’o-sha-lun; Jpn Abidatsuma-daibibasha-ron )

    An exhaustive commentary on the Hinayana doctrines. This work was compiled in Kashmir in the former half of the second century. According to tradition, the compilation was carried out by five hundred arhats under the guidance of Parshva and the support of King Kanishka at the time of the Fourth Buddhist Council; the compilation took twelve years. This two-hundred-volume work is a commentary on Katyayaniputra's Treatise on the Source of Wisdom, the basic doctrinal text of the Sarvastivada school, and was translated into Chinese by Hsüan-tsang in the mid-seventh century. There is another Chinese translation, which is the sixty-volume Commentary on the Abhidharma, made by Buddhavarman and Tao-t'ai of the Northern Liang dynasty (397-439). This work corresponds to the first half of The Great Commentary on the Abhidharma. The Great Commentary on the Abhidharma sets forth the doctrine of the conservative Sarvastivada school of Kashmir and refutes the positions of the more progressive Gandhara Sarvastivada school, the Mahasamghika school, the non-Buddhist Samkhya school, and other non-Buddhist schools. It serves as a record of the doctrinal development of the Sarvastivada school from the time of the writing of The Treatise on the Source of Wisdom. This work systematized the Sarvastivada doctrine; however, because it was so voluminous, it later prompted the compilation of a condensed version, The Heart of the Abhidharma.

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