Thursday, June 3, 2010
(Pali: "Words of Doctrine," or "Way of Truth"), probably the best-known book in the Pali Buddhist canon and the most quoted in other Buddhist writings. It is an anthology of basic Buddhist teachings (primarily ethical teachings) in a simple aphoristic style. The Dhammapada contains 423 stanzas arranged in 26 chapters. It also appears in somewhat different versions in Prakrit, Sanskrit, and Chinese, and there are translations in other languages. More than half the verses are excerpted from other canonical texts and include many of the most famous Buddhist sayings; others come from the storehouse of pithy sayings drawn upon by much of Indian literature.The book is popular in Buddhist countries of both Theravada and Mahayana traditions. In Sri Lanka it has been used for centuries as a manual for novices, and it is said that every monk can recite it from memory.