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Tipitaka (scripture), fundamental scripture of Buddhism, divided by subject into three collections. The Tipitaka is revered by Theravada Buddhists as the complete teachings of the founder of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, known as the Buddha, or Enlightened One. Mahayana Buddhists also esteem the Tipitaka, but they regard the Mahayana sutras (discourses of the Buddha) as more important. The contents of the Tipitaka were handed down by the Buddha's disciples as oral traditions, not written down until a later date.

In its present format, the Tipitaka is composed of the Vinaya Pitaka, the Sutta Pitaka, and the Abhidhamma Pitaka. The Vinaya Pitaka contains the rules of conduct for Buddhist monks and nuns and explains regulations concerning the structure, function, and life of the sangha (monastic community).

The Sutta (Discourse) Pitaka contains the actual discourses of the Buddha, supplemented by extensive commentaries, associated material, and myths and legends. It includes some of the most important doctrinal statements on anatman (the absence of a permanent soul) and pratityasamutpada (dependent origination) of existence and suffering. It also includes independent poems, hymns of praise by monks and nuns, popular doctrinal statements such as the famous Dhammapada (Religious Sentences), and the Jatakas, stories of former lives of the Buddha.
The Abhidhamma Pitaka contains scholarly works presenting largely Theravada doctrinal positions on topics from the Buddha's teaching. These works are chiefly of interest to advanced students of Buddhism. Mahayana schools have often substituted their own treatises for this collection.

According to early Buddhist sources, the Tipitaka was written down after 50 BC, in the Pali dialect of the internal linkSanskrit  internal linklanguage. The name means "three baskets" in Pali. The Tipitaka spread with the expansion of Buddhism. Five versions of the Vinaya exist in Chinese translation, and one in internal linkTibetan translation. The Pali Tipitaka is the only one preserved in its entirety.

For several centuries after the death of the Buddha, the scriptural traditions recited at the councils were transmitted orally. These were finally written down in about the 1st century BC. The Buddhist canon is known as the Tipitaka. It consists of three collections of writings: the Sutra Pitaka, a collection of discourses; the Vinaya Pitaka, the code of monastic discipline; and the Abhidharma Pitaka, which contains philosophical, psychological, and doctrinal discussions and classifications. Theravada Buddhists have traditionally considered the Tipitaka to be the remembered words of Siddhartha Gautama. Mahayana Buddhists have never bound themselves to a closed canon of sacred writings.

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