(The Path of Purification, By Buddhaghosa, Translated by Bhikku Nanamoli) )
The Visuddhimagga, is the 'great treatise' on Theravada Buddhist doctrine written by Buddhaghosa approximately in 430 CE in Sri Lanka. It is a comprehensive manual condensing and systematizing the theoretical and practical teachings of the Buddha as they were understood by the elders of the Mahavihara Monastery in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka. It is described as "the hub of a complete and coherent method of exegesis of the Tipitaka, using the ‘Abhidhamma method' as it is called. And it sets out detailed practical instructions for developing purification of mind." It is considered the most important Theravada text outside of the Tipitaka canon of scriptures.
The Visuddhimagga′s structure is based on the Ratha-vinita Sutta ("Relay Chariots Discourse," MN 24), which describes the progression from the purity of discipline to the final destination of nibbana in seven steps.
It is composed of three sections, which discuss: 1) Sīla (ethics or discipline); 2) Samādhi (meditative concentration); 3) Pañña (understanding or wisdom).
- The first section (part 1) explains the rules of discipline, and the method for finding a correct temple to practice, or how to meet a good teacher.
- The second section (part 2) describes samatha's practice, object by object (see Kammatthana for the list of the forty traditional objects). It mentions different stages of concentration.
- The third section (part 3-7) is a description of the five skandhas (aggregates), ayatanas, the Four Noble Truths, dependent origination (Pratitya-samutpada), and the practice of vipassana through the development of wisdom. It emphasizes different forms of knowledge emerging because of the practice. This part shows a great analytical effort specific to Buddhist philosophy.
Seven Stages of Purification
This comparison between practice and "seven relay chariots" points at the goal. Each purity is needed to attain the next. They are often referred to as the "Seven Stages of Purification" (satta-visuddhi):
- .Purification of Conduct (sīla-visuddhi)
- .Purification of Mind (citta-visuddhi)
- .Purification of View (ditthi-visuddhi)
- .Purification by Overcoming Doubt (kankha-vitarana-visuddhi)
- .Purification by Knowledge and Vision of What Is Path and Not Path (maggamagga-ñanadassana-visuddhi)
- .Purification by Knowledge and Vision of the Course of Practice (patipada-ñanadassana-visuddhi)
- Knowledge of contemplation of rise and fall (udayabbayanupassana-nana)
- Knowledge of contemplation of dissolution (bhanganupassana-nana)
- Knowledge of appearance as terror (bhayatupatthana-nana)
- Knowledge of contemplation of danger (adinavanupassana-nana)
- Knowledge of contemplation of dispassion (nibbidanupassana-nana)
- Knowledge of desire for deliverance (muncitukamyata-nana)
- Knowledge of contemplation of reflection (patisankhanupassana-nana)
- Knowledge of equanimity about formations (sankharupekka-nana)
- Conformity knowledge (anuloma-nana)
- Purification by Knowledge and Vision (ñanadassana-visuddhi)
- Change of lineage
- The first path and fruit
- The second path and fruit
- The third path and fruit
- The fourth path and fruit
The "Purification by Knowledge and Vision" is the culmination of the practice, in four stages leading to liberation and Nirvana.
The emphasis in this system is on understanding the three marks of existence, dukkha, anatta, anicca. This emphasis is recognizable in the value that is given to vipassana over samatha, especially in the contemporary vipassana movement.
Download/View English TranslationEdit
Visuddhimagga is available in a file of .pdf type here, click to open then save :
Original Pali Version Edit
The following freely available .PDF files were taken from www.tipitaka.org. These are from Vipassana Research Institute. These contain the original words in Pali language.
The translation of original Pali words can never convey exact meaning, hence these are being provided for research & comparison. The www.tipitaka.org website also contains files in many other languages.
It is also to be mentioned that in original Pali language Buddha is referred as Bhagava(God), Bhagvanta(God), Sattha/Satthu(Teacher).