From The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen translated by Michael H. Kohn; © 1991 by Shambhala Publications, Inc. Reprinted by arrangement with Shambhala Publications, Inc., www.shambhala.com
Skt. (Pali, Tipitaka), lit., “Three Baskets”; canon of Buddhist scriptures, consisting of three parts: the Vinaya-Pitaka, the Sūtra-pitaka, and the Abhidharma-pitaka. The first “basket” contains accounts of the origins of the Buddhist sangha as well as the rules of discipline regulating the lives of monks and nuns. The second is composed of discourses said to have come from the mouth of Buddha or his immediate disciples and is arranged into five “collections”: Dīgha-nikāya, Majjhima-nikāya, Samyutta-nikāya, Anguttara-nikāya, Khuddaka-nikāya. The third part is a compendium of Buddhist psychology and philosophy.
The Vinaya-Pitaka contains some of the oldest parts of the canon, which originated in the first decades after the death of the Buddha. After the split into individual schools, the Abhidharma-pitaka, which differs from school to school, was added.