(Chapter IV, cont.)
4.32 – 4.325
4.32 Pāli Works After The Piṭakas –
The credit for the composition of the Pāli Buddhist works other than the Piṭakas, except Milindapraśna goes to the Buddhist monks from Ceylon or Śrī Laṅka.
4.321 Milindapraśna –
This work is of an exceptional quality as far as its style is concerned. Its author is unknown but it is believed that he must be from somewhere in the North–Western part of India. In the Buddhist lore it is the Greek emperor Minander “Circa 1st century BC” who is known as Milinda. Milindapraśna is a compilation of the dialogue between him and the Buddhist monk Nāgasena in which the former raised some questions and the latter answered them. The authenticity of this work is proven by the fact that Ācārya Buddhaghoṣa considered it as authentic as the Piṭakas. The original volume of Milindapraśna was enhanced from time to time by the later Ācāryas.i
In this work an effort has been made to untangle the most complex questions of the Buddhist philosophy like karma “action and fruit thereof”, rebirth “Punarjanma”, salvation“nirvāṇa” very logically along with the theories of non–existence of the soul “Anātma– vāda”, momentary nature and constant destruction of entire existence “Kṣaṇabhaṅgavāda” by giving suitable similes and examples.
4.322 Nettipakaraṇa And Peṭakopadeśa –
Just like Milindapraśna, Nettipakaraṇa is also an ancient composition. It is believed to have been composed by Mahākāccāna. It contains a well–organised essence of the teachings of Lord Buddha. It is a desirable reading for the curious desirous of initiation into the Piṭakas. Peṭakop[adeśa is yet another composition, believed to have been composed by Mahākaccāna, which falls in the same category as Nettipakaraṇa.
4.323 Aṭṭhakathā –
Buddhaghoṣa “circa 4–5th century AD” had written commentaries on Vinayapiṭaka, Dīghnikāya, Majjhimanikāya, Aṅguttaranikāya and Saṁyuttanikāya based on the aṭṭhakathā “explanatory stories” by the Ceylonese Buddhist monks. He also wrote the complete commentary on the Abhidhammapiṭaka. These commentaries are called the Aṭṭ<hakathā “Artha–kathā or the exposition of the meaning”. It is traditionally believed that the Aṭṭhakathās on the Dhammapada and the Jātakas are also by Buddhaghoṣa.
4.324 Visuddhimaggo –
As directed by the venerable senior monks “Sthaviras” at the great retreat “Mahā–vihāra” of Anurādhāpur, Buddhaghoṣa also wrote a treatise known as Visuddhimaggo. This treatise is like a key to almost all the Piṭaka volumes and hence it is also known as the Tipiṭka–Aṭṭhakathā. In its twenty–three chapters it deals with the subjects like righteousness “Śīla”, equanimity “Samādhi” and enlightened intellect “Prajñā”, in great detail. In the 5th century AD, Dhammapāla sthavira had written a commentary entitled ‘Paramatthamañjūṣā’on this work.
4.325 Miscellaneous Other Works –
Dharmapāla sthavira had also written commentaries on Theragāthā, Therīgāthā, Vimānavatthu etc from the Kuddakanikāya. After him Aniruddha Ācārya had written a volume entitled ‘Abhidhammasaṅgaho’ It is incomparable as a preliminary to the study of Abhidhamma–piṭaka. Many commentaries have been written on this volume as well.