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Three Baskets

  • Published: 

Black and white brush-style illustration of the centaur-gandharva Kanthaka holding a basket of fruit. He looks down at hamster-like Little Yì, who is sitting on the centaur's back with the fabric of the latter's robe covering and wrapping around it. It is holding a tiny basket. Kanthaka is striding past a basket of flowers. Behind them are the billowing silhouettes of a weeping willow, and petals or leaves blowing gently about them. One leaf or petal has landed on Little Yì's head.

Detail of KanthakaDetail of Little Yì

Tripiṭaka (Sanskrit: "Three Baskets") refers to the classic collection of Buddhist scriptures - or rather, collections, because there is no single definitive list across all traditions. The baskets are generally considered to be categories: Sutras (teachings in the form of stories/recollections), Vinaya (monastic code/rules/precepts), and Abhidhamma ("higher" teachings in scholarly doctrine form). The Chinese rendition of tripitaka, 三藏 Sānzàng can also be used as a title for a monk who has mastered the collection.