Christians have The Holy Bible, Muslims have The Noble Quran, Hindus have Bhagavad Gita and many more.

Do Buddhists have sacred scripture(s) to read?


1 Answer 1


Basically the answer is YES, OF COURSE.

The oldest completely available set of scriptures is the Pali canon, the so called tipiṭaka or "three-basket". It contains the vinaya-piṭaka on the rules of monkish life, the sutta-piṭaka which contains by and large the words of the Buddha as collected by disciples and fixed on a number of councils, and last but not least the abhidhamma-piṭaka, which is hardest to translate or explain in just a word. Maybe "basket of systematics" for a start.

In different schools, vehicles, sects of Buddhism there are also different canons current, some of these schools have perished and so parts or most parts of their canons are lost. As pointed out here, there are basically three different canons: What are the major sects of Buddhism?

But when I read your question, I was not hundred percent sure, whether it also somewhat refers to these scriptures being considered as "holy words". If yes, I guess this would be a matter of discussion and elaboration, but the words of the Buddha (sutta-piṭaka) are if I dare say, at the very least auspicious to be heard and read.

  • ;-) Hmm, (Opinion!) I would say: "no". The intention of the Buddha was that his disciples (thus on the long run: we) have his teaching in the memory, in the mind (and also in the daily practice). If something at all were "holy" then this (oral) teaching/transmitting (and memorizing). The literature is only a later tool for us forgetting beings and for the time, where the oral transmission is threatened and/or disrupted. Thus the Pali-canon as scripture should not be seen as "holy" like the "holy Quran". ... Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 12:21
  • ...(contnued) where the "holy Quran" is itself an explicite gift of the Allah and by this -as object itself- "holy". The attitude of "keeping things holy" should -again:if at all- be towards the dharma, the sangha, the Buddha, and not towards the "scripture-of-the-dharma". Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 12:22
  • You see why I was so cautious to give a statement about all of Buddhism at all. Considering the scriptures as something holy doesn't quite fit with my understanding of Buddhism, though I know from the Buddhist countries, that in practice they do contain some sacredness in the eyes of many or even most people.
    – zwiebel
    Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 13:09
  • You know, in a year when I was often in a smiling mood I've invented some ancient sage, named "Ya Nun", letting him teach his wisdom in sutra-style with disengagement and fine smile. One of that "teachings" is that about the role of the scriptures, teaching the bikkhus at the holy library of the sacred scriptures... Unfortunately I'm unable to translate this appropriately to english, but if someone german-speaking fellow is here around, he/she might enjoy the 2nd teaching in go.helms-net.de/txt/yanun/yanun.pdf Commented Jul 4, 2014 at 13:35

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