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SARVSTIVDA

ABHIDHARMA

BSTC6039 ESSAY 1
M B ORSBORN ( )
ID# 2006936639
2006/11/11

Who has completely destroyed all the forms of darkness,
And drawn living beings forth from the mire of birth and death.
Venerate and pay obeisance to such a teacher in accord with the truth.
The treatise of the Abhidharma Koa I shall now teach.
Vasubandhu, Abhidharma Koa
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION.................................................................................................................. 2
SARVSTIVDA: ...................................................................................................................... 2
ABHIDHARMA: ........................................................................................................................ 4
A BRIEF SURVEY OF SARVSTIVDA ABHIDHARMA LITERATURE .............. 6
THE TREATISES OF THE EARLIEST PERIOD.............................................................................. 6
Dharma-skandha-stra, by riputra / Maudgalyyana...................................... 6
Sagti-paryya-stra, by Mahkauhila / riputra......................................... 7
Prajapti-stra, by Maudgalyyana / Mahktyyna......................................... 8
THE LATER, MORE DEVELOPED TEXTS .................................................................................. 8
Jnaprasthna-stra, by Ktyyanputra ............................................................. 9
Vijnakya-stra, by Devaarman........................................................................ 10
Prakaraapda-stra, by Vasumitra ..................................................................... 12
Dhtukya-stra, by Pra / Vasumitra............................................................... 13
THE VIBHA COMPENDIA ................................................................................................... 13
Abhidharma Mahvibh stra, by Katyyniputra......................................... 13
DEVELOPMENT OF THE SARVSTIVDA MANUALS .............................................................. 14
Abhidharmmta(-rasa)-stra, by Ghoaka ......................................................... 15
Abhidharmahdaya, by Dharmar (or Dharmareh)...................................... 15
Abhidharmahdaya-stra, by Upanta ................................................................. 16
Abhidharmahdayavykhy, by Dharmatrta....................................................... 16
THE ABHIDHARMA KOA, ITS BHYA AND COMMENTARIES: ............................................. 16
Abhidharma Koa-[mla-]krik, by Vasubandhu................................................. 16
Abhidharma Koa-bhyam, by Vasubandhu........................................................... 17
Abhidharma Koa-stra-tattvrth-tk, by Sthiramati .................................. 17
Abhidharma Nyynusr, by Saghabhadra ....................................................... 17
Abhidharma Samayapradpik, by Saghabhadra................................................. 18
Abhidharmvatra, by Skandhila ........................................................................... 18
Abhidharmadpa with Vibhprabhvtti, by Vimalamitra ............................... 18
SUMMARY:........................................................................................................................... 19
SARVSTIVDA ABHIDHARMA: ............................................................................................ 19
BEYOND: ............................................................................................................................... 20
BIBLIOGRAPHY.................................................................................................................. 21
ORIGINAL TEXTS: .................................................................................................................. 21
SECONDARY SOURCES: ......................................................................................................... 22

1
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
INTRODUCTION
This paper is a basic introduction and survey of the large corpus of literature known
as the Sarvstivda Abhidharma. The Sarvstivda is a very important movement
in the development of early Buddhist theory and praxis. Many of its doctrines
became precursors to the development of later systems of Buddhist though,
including the Sautrntika, and Mahyna in both Madhyamaka and Yogcara forms.
These doctrines were presented in a number of texts called the Abhidharma.
There are many texts in the Sarvstivda Abhidharma, which in their entirety were
written over the course of many centuries. This paper is only a brief survey on the
matter, and the reader is recommended in particular, to refer to: Bhikkhu Kuala
Lumpur Dhammajotis Sarvstivda Abhidharma; Willemen, Dessein & Coxs
Sarvstivda Buddhist Scholasiticsm; Venerable Yinshuns Study of the Abhidharma, Texts
and Commentators of the Sarvstivda, (); and
Prudens English translation of de la Vallee Poussins Abhidharma-koa-bhym; for a
more complete analysis.
This paper also serves as an introduction to the authors second essay for the course
BSTC6039: Abhidharma Doctrines and Controversies, entitled Development of
Abhidharma Theory of Citta and Caitasika.
Sarvstivda:
Sarvstivda is a Sanskrit term, meaning literally the theory of all exists. Although
there is some dispute over how the word sarvstivda is to be analyzed,
1
the general
consensus is that it is made of three parts: sarvstivda = sarva all or every + asti
exist + vda speak, say or theory. This equates perfectly with the Chinese term,
shuo1yi1qie4you3 bu4, which is literally the sect that speaks of the
existence of everything, as used by Xuanzang and other translators. Their main
thesis can be described as the existence of all dharmas in the past, present and future.
The Abhidharma Koa-bhya, a later text, retrospectively defines it as:
25c-d. He who affirms the existence of the dharmas of the three time
periods [past, present and future] is held to be a Sarvstivdin.
2


1
See Willemen, Dessein & Cox: Sarvstivda Buddhist Scholasticism, Brill, 1998. pg. 16.
2
de la Vallee Poussin, Pruden: Abhidharma-koa-bhym, Asian Humanities Press, 1988. Pg. 807.
2
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
Although the Sarvstivda themselves would state that their teaching of all exists is
a direct teaching of the Buddha himself, as shown by their attributing the earliest
Abhidharma texts to direct disciples of the Buddha, and constant reference to the
stras throughout, the school in its entirety is more rightly to be considered as part of
the age of scholastic Buddhism. In this time frame, they take their name in
contradistinction to the Vaibhajyavda the theory of distinction ie. the a
distinction is to be made as to what dharmas do and do not exist, in the past, present
and future. The Abhidharma Koa-bhya also states:
Those who affirm the existence of the present [dharmas] and a part of the
past, namely the existence of action which has not given forth its result;
and the non-existence of the future and a part of the past, namely the
non-existence of action which has given forth its result, are regarded as
Vibhajyavdins; [they do not belong to the Sarvstivdin School].
3

Although united with regards to their central thesis of sarvsti, there were different
theories on how this was actually to be explained and understood. The
Abhidharma Koa-bhya describes four main theses on sarvsti:
25d. There are four types of Sarvstivdins accordingly as they teach a
difference in existence (bhvnyathtva), a difference in characteristic
(lakanyathtva), a difference in condition (avasthnyathtva), and mutual
difference (anyonyathtva).
4

Later Sarvstivda takes a combination of the first and third theses as its model,
rejecting the others. It was on this basis, that the schools doctrines were defended
in the face of growing external, and sometimes even internal, criticism.
There were also many other subsidiary doctinres and issues, all inextricably related,
that different Sarvstivda leaders and scholars, debated and discussed with earnest
intent. Their doctrines were not confined to all exists, but also include the theory
of momentariness (knika), conjoining (saprayukta) and simultaneity (sahabh),
conditionality (hetu and pratyaya), the culmination of the spiritual path (marga), and
others. These doctrines are all inter-connected however, and it is the principle of all
exist that is the axial doctrine holding the larger movement together when the
precise details of other doctrines are at stake.

3
de la Vallee Poussin, Pruden: Abhidharma-koa-bhym, Asian Humanities Press, 1988. Pg. 807.
4
de la Vallee Poussin, Pruden: Abhidharma-koa-bhym, Asian Humanities Press, 1988. Pg. 808.
3
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
The Sarvstivda was also known by other names.
5
In particular, Hetuvda and
Yuktivda. Hetuvda comes from hetu cause, which indicates their emphasis on
causation and conditionality. They proposed their own system of six conditions
and five results, which aided their explanation of conjoining and simultaneous
causation. Yuktivda comes yukti reason or even logic, which shows their use
of rational argument, and syllogism. A study of the various texts reveals the
development of increasingly sophisticated systems of argument, which in turn
became influential on later, formal, Buddhist logic and reasoning. They even take
up the name nyavda when confronting the Pudgalavda personalists, which
refers to their standpoint of being devoid of a pudgala, and should not be confused
with later Mahyna nyavda.
Abhidharma:
The term abhidharma is comprised of two terms, each with several meanings: abhi
towards or higher + dharma phenomena or truth. It is translated in Chinese
both phonetically and literally, depending on circumstance. Although many
defintions are given, two basic meanings are predominant: The first is clear,
decisive discernment and ascertainment. The second that of being direct, and face
to face, with dharmas (as phenomena) and nirva (as the truth) in particular.
6
This
is expressed clearly in the text known as the Koa:
A dharma is that [phenomena] which is able to sustain its own
characteristic. If this dharma is able to face towards, or able to have direct
observation of the paramartha-dharma that is nirva, the [true]
characteristics of dharma, and realization of the four noble truths this is
known as abhidharma.
7

The doctrines and tenets of the Sarvstivda school were presented in the
Abhidharma literature, which is a separate tradition from the Pali Abhidhamma
tradition. From study of those surviving texts, they appear to have been written
mainly in Sanskrit. However, the most complete source for the study of this
Abhidharma literature at present is those texts that were translated into Chinese.
In general, the Sarvstivda were considered bhidhrmikas, ie. those who uphold
the Abhidharma as the criteria [for understanding the stras], and thus the Buddha

5
Bhikkhu Kuala Lumpur Dhammajoti: Sarvstivda Abhidharma, Center for Buddhist Studies, r
Lanka, 2002. pg. 33~35.
6
Bhikkhu Kuala Lumpur Dhammajoti: Sarvstivda Abhidharma, Center for Buddhist Studies, r
Lanka, 2002. pg. 10.
7
Abhidharma Koa-bhya: T29n1558_p0001b09~b11
4
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
Dharma. However, the Abhidharma text themselves were still considered as a
collation of of the words of the Buddha. This is expressed in the Koa as:
Without the exposition of the abhidharma, the pupil is unable to examine
the dharma-s. However, it was spoken by the Fortunate One in a
scattered manner. The Venerable Ktyyanputra and others, having
collected it, established it [as the abhidharma] just as the Venerable
Dharmatrta made the Udna-varga [by collecting the scattered sayings of
the Buddha].
8

As the Sarvstivda and their Abhidharma developed, the reliance on the authority
of the Abhidharma over that of stra became an important issue. It was this that
became the dividing point for the later Sautrntika movement, ie. those who rely on
stra as authoritative. This was firstly a movement within the Sarvstivda, and
later as distinct from it.
Whether based on the stras or the Abhidharma, all participants in the discussion
recorded within the texts still maintain the basic premises of the Buddha Dharma.
Great efforts were made to elucidate without error the doctrines of the middle way,
karma as moral cause and its effect, the spiritual path, and so forth. As such, the
primary emphasis was soteriological, the holy path leading to liberation and bliss.
The actual amount of the Abhidharma literature of the Sarvstivda school is quite
staggering in size. It contains nearly 600 fascicles in the Taisho,
9
over four
volumes T26b ~ T29. Studies of these texts in English have barely scratched the
surface at present. Although this paper makes an attempt to investigate these texts
with as much reference to the Chinese translations as possible, it is recognized that a
huge amount of material is left uncovered. It is admitted that this is a major short
coming of this paper, and conclusions drawn should be considered in this light.

8
P Pradhan, ed.: Abhidharmakoabhya of Vasubandhu, 2
nd
Edition, Patna, 1975. As quoted in:
Bhikkhu Kuala Lumpur Dhammajoti: Sarvstivda Abhidharma, Center for Buddhist Studies, r
Lanka, 2002. pg. 6.
9
With approximately 10,000 Chinese characters per fascicle, this is a total of approximately six million
characters.
5
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
A BRIEF SURVEY OF
SARVSTIVDA ABHIDHARMA LITERATURE
The Treatises of the Earliest Period
The first three texts are traditionally regarded as being composed by direct disciples
of the Buddha. The specific authors are different for the various traditions in which
these texts survive, but through their contents and format, they are seen to be the
oldest of the Abhidharma scriptures. They deal mainly with spiritual practice, with
explanations of excerpts from the stras.
Before these are discussed, it is worthwhile mentioning the riputra Abhidharma,
(T28, No. 1548, , of 30 fascicles in Chinese translation). Although
not included as part of the Sarvstivda Abhidharma per se, this text is considered as
a kind of model text, which has exerted considerable influence over both the Sanskrit
Abhidharma and Pali Abhidhamma traditions, in terms of structure and content.
10

Dharma-skandha-stra, by riputra / Maudgalyyana
The collection of dharmas, composed by riputra according to the Sanskrit and
Tibetan, or Maudgalyyana according to Chinese sources. The Chinese edition
was translated by Xuanzang, and appears as: T26, No. 1537, ,
, , in 12 fascicles.
It begins with a mtk as a summary of the topics, showing its antiquity, as these
were supposedly only assigned by the Buddha himself. It presents 21 subjects, the
first 15 of which concern the practice of the spiritual path, and the realization of its
fruits. The 16
th
deals with various issues. Subjects 17 to 20 deal with the
enumeration of the yatanas, dhtus and skandhas as encompassing all dharmas. The
21
st
is regards dependent origination.
Frauwallner concludes that the Dhtuskandha is from a period before then split
between the Sanskrit and Pli Abhidharma traditions, based on its correlation with
the Pli Vibhaga. He thus dates it to pre-Aoka Buddhism.
11
Venerable Yinshun

10
Venerable Yinshun: Study of the Abhidharma, Texts and Commentators of the Sarvstivda, (
), Zhengwen Publishing, 1968. pg. 66.
11
According to Willemen, Dessein & Cox: Sarvstivda Buddhist Scholasticism, Brill, 1998. pg. 69.
6
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
notes it being mentioned in the Mlasarvstivda Vinaya-vykaraa,
12
indicating its
early inclusion in the Sarvstivda canon. These two combined, would suggest the
Mlasarvstivda having its own canon at quite an early date.
Venerable Yinshun also cites three points for considering this text to be sourced in a
pre-sectarian Abhidharma: 1. It similar analysis of rpa to the riputta Abhidhamma
and the Dhammapariyya (considered to be the oldest Abhidharma texts of any
tradition); 2. No mention of avijapti-rpa, as per the riputta Abhidhamma; and 3.
The emphasis on the five indriya and five bla, as paramount in the spiritual path.
13

Sagti-paryya-stra, by Mahkauhila / riputra
The recitation together, composed by Mahkauhila according to the Sanskrit and
Tibetan, or riputra according to the Chinese sources. The Chinese recension
was translated by Xuanzang: T26, No. 1536, , ,
, in 20 fascicles.
Structurally, the Sagti-paryya is similar to the Dharma-skandha, though earlier,
as the latter is mentioned in the former. It is basically a mtk on the early
teachings, arranged in groups of dharmas by number, similar to the Ekottarikgama.
This text, as the name implies, is essentially a commentary on the Sagti-stra (T 9,
Digha-nikya no. 33). This also indicates that the contents are more a gathering
together and assemblage of the Buddhas Dharma, than any new theory or
discussion. The background to the first recital of the Sagti-stra, as the Jainas fell
into disarray after the death of the Mahvra, and the Buddhist Sagha gathered
together to recite the core teachings of the Dharma to prevent such a split in their
own religion, perhaps indicates the fear of present or impending schism arising in
the Sagha on the part of those who compiled this Abhidharma work, some time
later. The Sagti-stra is also the basis of a commentarial work, in the later
Yogcara-bhmi-stra, some several hundred years later.
Venerable Yinshun notes it being mentioned in the Mlasarvstivda
Vinaya-vykaraa, indicating its early inclusion in the Sarvstivda canon. As this
text has some 14 references to the Dhtu-skandha, as the Dhtu-skandha states,

12
Mlasarvstivda Vinaya-vykhya: T24n1451_p0408b03, as indicated by Venerable Yinshun: Study
of the Abhidharma, Texts and Commentators of the Sarvstivda, (),
Zhengwen Publishing, 1968. pg. 124.
13
Venerable Yinshun: Study of the Abhidharma, Texts and Commentators of the Sarvstivda, (
), Zhengwen Publishing, 1968. pg. 131.
7
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
it is also clear that this is post-Dhtu-skandha in composition. The Chinese Taisho
reverses the order of the two. Obviously they are very closely related.
14

Prajapti-stra, by Maudgalyyana / Mahktyyna
The designation [of dharmas] by Maudgalyyana according to the Sanskrit, Tibetan
and MPPU, or Mahktyyna according to Puguang. The Chinese translation is
by Dharma-rakita: T26, No. 1538, , ,
, , in a somewhat shorter 7 fascicles.
The importance of this text is shown in its being quoted 135 times by the MVS,
15

though these references are not exclusively Sarvstivda in nature. The format is of
mtk, followed by question and answer explanations, with references to the stras
for orthodoxy.
Venerable Yin Shun relates the name prajapti through the Chinese and to
the riputra Abhidharma in regards the false designation of the bonds (sayojana),
contact (spara) and mind (citta),
16
thus indicating that it is a very early text.
Willemen, Dessein & Cox assign this text to the next period,
17
based on its abstract
principles of organization and complexity of doctrinal analysis. However,
though the content is different from the Sagti and Dharma-skandha, one could
scarcely consider it more abstract in nature. It simply reflects the nature of the
stras upon which it is based. In fact, it has relatively more direct references to the
stras for its overall size than many of the developed texts, and a similar use of
questions and answers as the Sagta.
The Later, More Developed Texts
It is at this point that more specifically Sarvstivda doctrines appear, demonstrated
by the composers themselves, and also their references to their contemporaries. The
structure of the texts moves away from the mtk format above, and tends to follow
systematized but non-stric classifications.

14
the collated dharmas of the Dharma-skandha in Mlasarvstivda Vinaya-vykhya:
T24n1451_p0408b11 as indicated by Venerable Yinshun: Study of the Abhidharma, Texts and
Commentators of the Sarvstivda, (), Zhengwen Publishing, 1968.
pg. 134.
15
Bhikkhu Kuala Lumpur Dhammajoti: Sarvstivda Abhidharma, Center for Buddhist Studies, r
Lanka, 2002. pg. 59.
16
Venerable Yinshun: Study of the Abhidharma, Texts and Commentators of the Sarvstivda, (
), Zhengwen Publishing, 1968. pg. 136.
17
Willemen, Dessein & Cox: Sarvstivda Buddhist Scholasticism, Brill, 1998. pg. 18 & 70.
8
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
Jnaprasthna-stra, by Ktyyanputra
The establishment of knowledge, composed by Ktyyanputra, with the Chinese
translated by Xuanzang, T26, No. 1544, , ,
, in 20 fascicles. It also appears under the name Aaskandha-stra
in the Taisho, with the translation by Saghadeva, Zhu-fonian and Dharmapriya:
T26, No. 1543 , , , , in
a slightly larger 30 fascicles. There is a slight difference in format of the two,
perhaps indicating that they are different recensions from various sub-schools of the
Sarvstivda.
18

The tradition of the Mahvibh states that it was taught by the Buddha himself, but
differs as to the circumstances. It was later Ktyyanputra who was responsible for
the compilation thereof. The Mahprajpramitopadea (which actually refers to
the Aaskandha) states that a 100 years after the Buddhas demise, there arose
doctrinal disputes among the great masters giving rise to distinctly named schools.
19

Xuanzang maintains that it was written some three centuries after the Buddha, which
would be c. 150 BCE.
The orthodox Vibha takes this as the root Abhidharma, though references are
sometimes made to the Prakaraapda in the same terms. It became known as the
body of the Abhidharma, with the six remaining texts of the early period known as
the legs or supports. This is based on textual authority, and not a temporal
defintion, given the respective historical order of these seven treatises. Ie. the
Jnaprasthna is not sourced from the six legs, but neither is it directly sourced from
the stras. This is also a reminder that these texts were all probably in a state of
constant revision and update, for possibly several hundred years. There are thus
mutual reference and borrowing of format and content, that cannot be summarily
described by a simply sequential order.
The outline of the text more closely approximates that earliest of models, the
riputra Abhidharma, than those specifically Sarvstivda treatises. This is
evidenced in its use of the sayojanas, praj, karma, indrya, mahbhta, dhyna and
di as main divisions. A similar system is later continued through into the Koa,

18
See Willemen, Dessein & Cox: Sarvstivda Buddhist Scholasticism, Brill, 1998. pg. 155~158, for more
on this debate.
19
Mahprajpramitopadea: T25n1509_p0070a06
9
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
and Hdaya texts. Prior to this is a division of assorted issues. The analysis is of
three main types, according to Venerable Yinshun:
20

1. Analysis of the stras themselves in order to find the actual underlying principle,
rather than acceptance of the content at face value, which could lead to apparent
contradiction. This indicates the bhidhrmika standpoint of taking the
Abhidharma as pramana in understanding the doctrine.
2. Analysis of the nature, or characteristics, of individual dharmas. Rather than the
use of stra categories pertaining to spiritual praxis, the tendency here is to group by
type. Thus, dharmas are assigned as either rpa, citta, caitasika or citta-viprayukta
the conditioned dharmas, and also the unconditioned dharmas. Specifics as to each
type are given, as well as detailed discussions of related dharmas. These are then
again categorized according to their being with or without outflows; visible or
non-visible; past, present or future; as to realm; and so forth.
3. Analysis of the relationship between various dharmas. As the preceding analysis
lends itself to plurality, and the possibility of falling into independent Sakhya-type
realities, this analysis completes the Buddhist teaching of dependent origination,
preventing such an error. Using kanika theory, it establishes the six-fold
conditionality theory, that would later be a special feature of the Sarvstivda.
21

This is the earliest text in which the theory appears. It also includes some detail on
citta-viprayukta-dharmas.
The influence of the Vijnaprasthna is seen strongly in the Vibha, and this
influenced the subsequent Hdaya texts, and also the Koa and commentaries.
More about this below.
Vijnakya-stra, by Devaarman
This is the group of consciousness was composed by Devaarman according to
both Sanskrit and Chinese sources, with the Chinese translated by Xuanzang: T26,
No. 1539, , , , in 16
fascicles.
This is the first Abhidharma text that is not attritubted to a direct disciple of the
Buddha, but written some 100 years after the Buddhas parinirva, according to
Xuanzangs disciple Puguang. Venerable Yinshun however, concludes it was

20
Venerable Yinshun: Study of the Abhidharma, Texts and Commentators of the Sarvstivda, (
), Zhengwen Publishing, 1968. pg. 184.
21
Jnaprasthna stra: T26n1544_p0920c06
10
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
composed around the first century CE, and was influenced by the Jnaprasthna,
though differs in several aspects. In this regard, he likens it to the Prakaraapda,
which is also a different position on the Sarvstivda as a whole.
This is an esteemed Sarvstivda text wherein the Sarvstivda is upheld against
Vibhajyavda objections, in the first of its six sections. It is here that the theory of
sarvstivda, the existence of all dharmas through past, present and future, is first
presented.
22
Interestingly, the issue is only brought up when Moggaliputta-tissa
makes the standard claim of the Vibhajyavda, past and future [dharmas] do not
exist, [only] present and unconditioned [dharmas] do exist. The Vijna-kya has
four main theses to refute this: 1. The impossibility of two simultaneous cittas; 2. The
impossibility of karma and vipka being simultaneous; 3. That vijna only arises with
an object; and 4. Attainments are not necessarily present.
In addition to refuting the Vibhajyavda view, the second section is a refutation of
the Vatsiputriya Pudgalavda claim of: the paramartha of the rya [truths] can be
attained, can be realized by the pudgala, present and complete, therefore it is
certainly [the case] that the pudgala exists.
23
The Sarvstivda take the title
nyavda in order to refute this claim, though this is obviously meaning empty of
pudgala, rather than the later nyavda of the Mahyna, ie. the Madhyamaka.
The first refutation centers around the two extremes of absolute identity and
absolute difference. The second hinges on the continuity of the existence of the
skandhas in the past, present and future sarvstivda proper.
24

The third and fourth sections concern the causal condition, and the conditioning
object of vijna respectively. The fifth includes the two other conditions, the
immediate condition and predominant condition. These conditions are discussed in
terms of their realm, nature, temporal location, etc. in a format that came to be
standard for the Sarvstivda Abhidharma. Such a system also appears in
Abhidharma type analysis of dharmas in the Mah-prajpramit-stra and its
Upadea.
25

The remaining five sections are doctrinal elaborations of the Sarvstivda school,
including issues regarding perception, dependent origination and conditionality.

22
Vijna-kya stra: T26n1539_p0531a27
23
Vijna-kya stra: T26n1539_p0537b03
24
Venerable Yinshun: Study of the Abhidharma, Texts and Commentators of the Sarvstivda, (
), Zhengwen Publishing, 1968. pg. 168.
25
See Mahprajpramitopadea: T25n1509_p0493a~b.
11
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
Prakaraapda-stra, by Vasumitra
All traditions agree on Vasumitra being the composer of this text, the classified by
group. The Chinese was translated by Xuanzang as: T26, No. 1542,
, , , in 18 fascicles; with another partial
translation by Guabhadra and Bodhiyaa: T26, No. 1541, ,
, , , in 12 fascicles. Its commentary the
Paca- vastu- vibh ( T 1555) by Dharmatrta, was also translated by
Xuanzang.
This is the major text of the central Abhidharma period. It influenced other
non-Sarvstivda schools, though not in the polarizing manner that the later
Jnaprasthna and Vibha texts did. Its format for dharma analysis is used, for
example, by the Mahprajnpramitopadea, which also states that the first four
chapters where composed by Vasumitra, with the other four chapters by Kmra
arhats.
26
Yinshun considers this Vasumitra to be the same Vasumitra who appears
in the Mahvibh later.
27

This seems to indicate that before the later formalization of Sarvstivda doctrines,
the Vijna-kya and Prakaraapda were perhaps representative of several
differing lines of thought, though were only later over-shadowed by the Vibha and
its orthodoxy. It would be interesting to perhaps trace some of these differences
through the likes of Buddhadeva and Dharmatrta, as they are presented in the
Vibha.
It contains two systems of dharma classification, one five-fold, the other seven-fold.
It was the former five-fold system that later became the standard format, and was
important for the establishment of the respective characteristics, nature and functions
of the various dharmas, especially the caitasika and citta-viprayukta-dharmas. The
seven-fold system bears some similarities to Pli Abhidhamma, and seems to made
of categories of dharmas that are all stra based.
It also expands on the traditional four-fold theory of conditionality, by introducing
some 20 types of condition, in paired dharmas. Although these are not the later
six-fold classification, this may have opened the door for later innovation.

26
Mahprajpramitopadea: T25n1509_p0070a16~19.
27
Venerable Yinshun: Study of the Abhidharma, Texts and Commentators of the Sarvstivda, (
), Zhengwen Publishing, 1968. pg. 148.
12
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
Dhtukya-stra, by Pra / Vasumitra
The group of elements, was written by Pra according to Sanskrit and Tibetan
sources, or Vasumitra according to Chinese sources. Again, the Chinese
translated by Xuanzang: T26, No. 1540, , ,
, in a short 3 fascicles.
This comparatively short text bears similarities with the Pli Sthaviravda text, the
Dhtu-kath, in style and format, though it uses a different mtk. It also bears a
close connection with the Prakaraapda, through several items common to both.
In its seven-fold division of dharmas in particular, it does provide, a closer look at the
various divisions of dharmas, in particular citta and caitasika, with its conjoined and
non-conjoined aspects. As it is not mentioned in the Mahvibh, this also
suggests it is either a later text, or originally a fragment removed from an earlier
text.
28

The above seven texts comprise the seven-fold Sarvstivda Abhidharma proper, in
its body and six legs. The texts and development of thought do not end here,
however, but continue to grow and expand.
The Vibha Compendia
Vibh is a term meaning compendium, treatise or simply explanation, derived
from vi + bha, to speak or to explain. Evidence strongly indicates that there
were originally many different Vibha texts, mainly commenting on the
Jnaprasthna, but also commenting on other Abhidharma texts too. The
relationship between all these texts is very complex, as there is mutual influence, and
the texts underwent some development from initial inception to completion. The
Taisho has three, however, which are compendiums on the Jnaprasthna, and its
six legs: the Abhidharma Mahvibh stra (T1545), the Abhidharma Vibh
stra (T1546) and the Vibh stra (T1547).
Abhidharma Mahvibh stra, by Katyyniputra
Of these three, the Abhidharma Mahvibha stra is considered prominent. Its
authorship is traditionally attributed to five hundred arhats, some 600 years after the
parinirva of the Buddha.
29
Its compilation, however, is attributed to a certain
Katyyniputra. This date and authorship is based on the Chinese translation, also

28
Venerable Yinshun: Study of the Abhidharma, Texts and Commentators of the Sarvstivda, (
), Zhengwen Publishing, 1968. pg. 162
29
Abhidharma Mahvibha: T27n1545_p0001a12 and Abhidharma Vibha: T25n1546_p0001a9~b11
13
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
of Xuanzang, and also other historical considerations.
30
It appears in the Taisho in
its own volume, due to its huge size: T27, No. 1545, ,
, , in a massive 200 fasc. which is larger the the
previous Abhidharma texts combined, and a third of the total Abhidharma literature!
The Vibha stra is an older translation, translated by Buddhavarman and Daotai:
T28, No. 1546, , , ,
.
As such an immense text, it contains a huge array of material. This includes the
discussion of basically every doctrinal issue of the day, as presented by not only
non-Sarvstivda views, such as the Vaibhajyavda, Pudgalavda, Mahsaghika,
and others; but also non-Buddhist systems, such as the Sakhya, the Vaieika, and
others; and finally of the Sarvstivda itself, as represented by its various learned
and venerable leaders.
With regards the former two, their unorthodox and incorrect doctrines are taken to
task from the perspective of the Buddhist Sarvstivda. With regards the latter,
several views are often expressed as more detailed descriptions of Sarvstivda
doctrines. These are often open ended, with no particular explanation favored over
another, though sometimes a particular explanation is extolled as being particularly
clear and in harmony with the teachings.
Due to both of the above reasons, the Vibha literature is particularly useful in not
only understanding this school, but in also getting a good perspective on the general
state of the Buddha Dharma, and other other non-Buddhist religions at the time.
The Sarvstivda of Kmra held the Mahvibh as authoritative, and thus were
given the moniker of being Vaibhikas those [upholders] of the Vibha. Some
scholars feel that some of the Vibha texts that are now lost, possibly represented a
similar authoritative text as held by the Gandhra Sarvstivda, or other centers of
orthodoxy.
31
It was due to the predominance of this text and its teachings at the
time, that Vasubandhu engaged in the study thereof, as a compendium that
encompassed all the essential teachings.
Development of the Sarvstivda Manuals
Following the Vibha were a series of smaller manual, or summary digests, from
various authors. With the tenets of the school being set out clearly, it now became a

30
Venerable Yinshun: Study of the Abhidharma, Texts and Commentators of the Sarvstivda, (
), Zhengwen Publishing, 1968. pg. 212.
31
Willemen, Dessein & Cox: Sarvstivda Buddhist Scholasticism, Brill, 1998. pg. 236.
14
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
priority to present the key points in a way suitable for ease of study and practice. It
is interesting that the trend of texts of ever increasing size, followed by a series of
shorter, more concise texts, also appeared later in the Prajpramit Stras of the
Mahyna.
32

Although the later Abhidharma Koa and its commentaries include active discussion,
elaboration, and polemics, the shorter Hdaya texts and the like, tend to be more in
the way of summaries. The texts themselves are:
Abhidharmmta(-rasa)-stra, by Ghoaka
The Chinese translation is , T28, T1553, 2 folios, of unknown
translator. Bhikkhu Dhammajoti considers this is an introduction to the
Jnaprasthna and the Mahvibh, though Venerable Yinshun places it before
these. In doctrinal matters, it inclines towards the Prakaraa and Gndhra schools,
which were less conservative. The author Ghoaka is not the Ghoaka mentioned in
the Mahvibh and the Ko.
The sequence of the contents indicates a return to the progressive dharmas of the
spiritual path, rather than elucidation of dharmas by category. Such a method is also
used in the Satya-siddhi-stra, and other later non-Sarvstivda treatises that have
Abhidharma style formats. Progressing through the practices of merit, to the
process of sasaric existence, it ends with meditative absorption, wisdom and the
fruits of the path.
Abhidharmahdaya, by Dharmar (or Dharmareh)
The Chinese translation is , T28, T1550, 4 folios, translated by Sagadeva
and others. This is a short set of summary verses, and thus a popular beginners
manual. Its content is sympathetic to Gndhra, Sarvstivda and even some
Vibhajyavda notions.
Using verses followed by a brief commentary, it harkens back to earlier use of maka
in the earliest Abhidharma texts. This is also seen in the categories of each chapter ,
which are only slightly adjusted from the Amta-rasa. The ten chapters can be
viewed in two parts: The first seven chapters cover the Four Noble Truths dhtu
and saskra being the Truth of Suffering; karma and sayojana being the Truth of the
Origin; rya-pudgala and jna being the Truth of Cessation; and dhyna the Truth of
the Path. The last three chapters cover sundry issues, the stras, and points of

32
Conze: The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines & Its Verse Summary, San Francisco: Four
Seasons Foundation, 1973. pg. iv.
15
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
discussion. This is much more systematic than the larger Abhidharma texts, with
much bulk arranged around doctrine rather than praxis.
The Hdaya is considered to be a predecessor of the Koa, due to its general
similarity of layout and presentation. Perhaps it was only due to being
contemporary with the orthodox Vibha, that this text did not enjoy greater fame
and use.
Abhidharmahdaya-stra, by Upanta
The Chinese translation is , T28, T1551, 6 folios, translated by
Narendrayaas. This text is very similar in layout and content to the Hdaya, in use
of verse and commentary. It has exactly the same chapter headings, both regards
the Noble Truths, and also the three miscellaneous chapters.
Abhidharmahdayavykhy, by Dharmatrta
The Chinese translation is , T28, T1552, 11 folios, translated by
Sanghabti. The third and last of the Hdaya continues similarly in terms of format
and presentation, though is somewhat larger. The chapter headings are the same as
the earlier two Hdaya texts, with the addition of a chapter entitled vinicaya
determinations. It brings back orthodox Kmri Vaibhika views, yet is tolerant of
other positions.
33
Many scholars say it is the immediate source of the Koa.
The Abhidharma Koa, its Bhya and Commentaries:
Abhidharma Koa-[mla-]krik, by Vasubandhu
In Chinese translation as: , T29, T1560, 1 folio, trans. Xuanzang.
It is claimed that these verses (krik) from Vasubandhu were originally written in a
manner that supported orthodox Vaibhika tenets, and were thus accepted by them.
It was only with the subsequent Koa-bhya that criticism of the school appeared.
However, there are various views as to Vasubandhus study of the Vibha, and his
position vis--vis the Kamra school. The Koa is the root verses of the
Koa-bhyam, see below.

33
Bhikkhu Kuala Lumpur Dhammajoti: Sarvstivda Abhidharma, Center for Buddhist Studies, r
Lanka, 2004. pg. 73.
16
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
Abhidharma Koa-bhyam, by Vasubandhu
In Chinese translation as: , T29, T1558, 30 folios, translated by
Xuanzang; and also: , T29, T1559, 22 folios, translated by
Paramrtha.
With the addition of the Bhyam commentary to the original Krik verses,
Vasubandhu set this text somewhat outside the sphere of orthodoxy, with the
addition of what became known as Sautrntika views, in addition to personal
viewpoints. The format is similar to the Hdaya texts, and can also be viewed as
taking the form of the Four Noble Truths. The miscellany at the end is not-present,
and doctrinal discussions are contained within the respective chapter itself. A tenth
chapter on refuting the pudgala, obviously aimed at the Pudgalavda with its self
neither identical with, nor different from, the skandhas, is appended at the end.
Most scholars agree that this is originally a separate work, for several reasons,
including its lack of verse outline.
This is a very important text, as a culmination of the new development of
Abhidharma as presented in the above texts. It is an excellent look into the late
Sarvstivda through its several sub-schools, at a time when the Sautrntika was
recognized as distinct from the Sarvstivda. It contains developed theses of
several issues of the Sautrntika, in opposition to the Sarvstivda. These include
views on karma, viprayukta-caitasika-dharmas, spiritual attainment, and perception.
Known in India as the Treatise of Intelligence, it had a profound influence not only
at the time, but also in the later Mahyna schools which took this text as its own
form of Abhidharma, along with Asagas Abhidharma Samuccaya.
Abhidharma Koa-stra-tattvrth-tk, by Sthiramati
Appearing in the Chinese as: , T29, T1561, 5 folios, translator unknown.
This is a later commentary on the Koa-bhya, which appears in partial translation
in the Chinese.
Abhidharma Nyynusr, by Saghabhadra
Known in Chinese as: , T29, T1562, 80 folios, translator Xuanzang.
This text appeared after 12 years preparation by the author a prominent Vaibhika
leader, as a direct response to the Koa (though it itself is over twice the size of the
Koa-bhya!) Saghabhadra takes Vasubandhu to task where he is found to be
misrepresenting the orthodox Vaibha school, using the same Krik verses as the
Koa, and parts of the Bhya.
17
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
Abhidharma Samayapradpik, by Saghabhadra
In Chinese as: , T29, T1563, 40 folios, translated by Xuanzang.
This is a further defense of the Nyynusr, by the same author, and also uses the
Koa-krik. It is a further presentation of orthodox Vaibhika Sarvstivda tenets.
Both of these two texts by Saghabhadra show the Sarvstivda doctrine taking
dogmatic turns, as more sophisticated arguments are used to maintain the theories of
all exists, momentariness, simultaneous causation and conjoining, and other key
doctrines. Strong foundations for Buddhist logic are seen throughout, in every
point of discussion.
Abhidharmvatra, by Skandhila
In Chinese as: , T28, T1554, 2 folios, translation by Xuanzang. The last
of the Sarvstivda Abhidharma texts in Chinese. Turning away from large
compendia and polemical discussion, this text which is aimed at beginners, is a
summary of all fundamental Sarvstivda doctrines. This demonstrates a
culmination of these doctrines of the day. The author, Skandhila, was a western or
foreign master, ie. not from Kamr, though with Vaibhika views. As a
somewhat less ultra-orthodox bhidhrmika, he was not hostile to other
Sarvstivda positions, though critical of Sautrntika.
Abhidharmadpa with Vibhprabhvtti, by Vimalamitra
No Chinese version of this text exists. There are varying opinions as to its
authorship, possibly Saghabhadras pupil, or the stri Ivra. It generally
supports a Vaibhika stance on doctrinal mattes.
18
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
SUMMARY:
Sarvstivda Abhidharma:
From this vast array of texts, one can begin to see the complexity of the Sarvstivda
as an entire movement within Buddhism, from the early to medieval periods.
Closer examination of each text, in terms of its own contents, and relation to the other
texts, is required, lest gross generalizations blur correct understanding of the reasons
and implications of the movement as a whole.
The first Abhidharma texts followed formats similar to the riputra Abhidharma, an
ancient root-text that can neither be considered exclusively Sarvstivda nor
Vibhajyavda. This, along with the Sagti-pariyya and Dhtu-skandha-pda,
were rehearsals of key teachings from the stras. These teachings were arranged
either by number, or by their place within the practice of the Buddhist path to
liberation.
Following these are texts which begin to arrange by dharma type, and give further
categorization of dharmas. Beginnings of different views as to these appear, as do
doctrines regarding the existence of dharmas in past, present and future; the pudgala;
and whether caitasika and citta-viprayukta dharmas are distinct entities or not. The
Sarvstivda appears as a loose group based on the common acceptance of the theory
of sarvsti all [dharmas] exist [in past, present and future], as opposed to vibhajja
discrminating [what dharmas exist and do not exist]. Abhidharma becomes the
authority for understanding the Buddhas Dharma, as a means of explicating the
Buddhas teachings which were strewn throughout the stras. Seven texts, the
body and the six legs are the seven key Abhidharma scriptures.
Larger texts develop, culminating in the various Vibha compendia. These contain
all the various Sarvstivda doctrines within the seven Abhidharma texts, and form
basis of Kmri Vaibhika orthodoxy. Various forms of logical argument and
reasoning become more formalized, and more widely used, as the school introduces
more ideas not seen in the stras to support their notions of sarvsti, momentariness,
conditionality, and the like. Well presented smaller texts also begin to appear at this
time, refuting some of the orthodox position, or at least more liberal in perspective.
These smaller texts involve less polemical discussion and rhetoric, and return to the
use of Abhidharma as a guide to spiritual praxis. Taking a format conforming to
the Four Noble Truths, key points are presented in a concise verse, followed by
commentary. The most acclaimed of these was the Abhidharma Koa and
subsequent Bhya. It drew criticism from the Vaibhika orthodoxy, on the
grounds of misrepresentation and upholding Sautrntika views. Enduring such
criticism, this remained as a key text during a very important and exciting time for
19
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
the development of Buddhist thought, for the Sarvstivda and other schools
besides.
Beyond:
Although the above survey focuses on the key texts of Sarvstivda Abhidharma
throughout several periods, these are by no means the last word on the subject.
Such a powerful movement obviously exerted a very strong influence on the
Buddhism of the day, and its subsequent development. Later Abhidharma-type
texts of other schools, notably the nyavda and Yogcara Mahyna, had to
delineate their tenets in terms of these texts. They were particularly influenced by
the Koa-bhya, with its somewhat anti-Abhidharma stand at times. The later
writings of Ngrjuna, Vasubandhu, Asaga and others, show many influences. It
is only perhaps the Mahyna compendia of the Mahprajpramitopadea and
Yogcara-bhmi-stra that rival the large Abhidharma works in terms of size and
scope, though many smaller texts also became well studied and important doctrinal
sources.
As studies of Buddhism and the Buddhist scriptures progress in the English
language, it may be found that a greater understanding of the Sarvstivda
Abhidharma is of great help in unlocking hitherto unfathomed secrets and
mysteries within the doctrines and scriptures of later schools.
20
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
BIBLIOGRAPHY
Original Texts (Taisho):
T24n1451: Mlasarvstivda Vinaya-vykhya
T25n1509: Mahprajpramitopadea
T25n1536: Abhidharma Sagtiparyya stra
T25n1537: Abhidharma Dharma-skandha-pda stra
T25n1538: Abhidharma Prajpti stra
T25n1539: Abhidharma Vijna-kya stra
T25n1540: Abhidharma Dhtu-kya stra
T25n1541: Paca-vastu Abhidharma
T25n1542: Abhidharma Prakaraa-pda stra
T26n1543: Abhidharma Astaga-khanda stra
T26n1544: Abhidharma Jnaprasthna stra
T26n1545: Abhidharma Mahvibh stra
T26n1546: Abhidharma Vibh stra
T26n1547: Vibh stra
T26n1548: riputra Abhidharma stra
T26n1550: Abhidharma Hdaya stra
T26n1551: Abhidharma Hdaya-stra stra
T26n1552: Abhidharma Hdaya-vykhya stra
T26n1553: Abhidharma Amta-rasa stra
T26n1554: Abhidharma Avatra stra
T25n1558: Abhidharma Koa Bhyam
T25n1560: Abhidharma Koa Krik
T25n1562: Abhidharma Nynnusr stra
T25n1563: Abhidharma Samayapradpik stra
21
Sarvastivada Abhidharma
Secondary Sources:
Conze, Eduard:
The Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines & Its Verse Summary, San
Francisco: Four Seasons Foundation, 1973.
Dhammajoti, Bhikkhu Kuala Lumpur:
Sarvstivda Abhidharma, Center for Buddhist Studies, r Lanka, 2002 & 2004.
Abhidharma Doctrine and Controversy on Perception, Center for Buddhist Studies,
r Lanka, 2004.
Abhidharma and Upadea, in Journal of Buddhist Studies, Center for Buddhist
Studies, r Lanka, Vol. III, August 2005.
Sarvstivda, Dntika, Sautrntika and Yogcra, in Journal of Buddhist
Studies, Center for Buddhist Studies, r Lanka, Vol. IV, August 2006.
Pradhan, P. ed.:
Abhidharmakoabhya of Vasubandhu, 2nd Edition, Patna, 1975.
de la Vallee Poussin, Pruden:
Abhidharma-koa-bhym, Volumes I, II, III & IV, Asian Humanities Press, 1988.
Willemen, Dessein & Cox:
Sarvstivda Buddhist Scholasticism, Brill, 1998.
Yinshun, Venerable:
Study of the Abhidharma, Texts and Commentators of the Sarvstivda, (
), Zhengwen Publishing, 1968.


22