The teaching of the Buddha are classified into three major parts, viz ,.the Vinaya, the Sutta (also Suttanta) and the Abhidhamma. They are collectively called the Tipitaka or the “Three Baskets”.
Tipitaka is a Pali term and in Sanskrit it is Tripitaka, Tri means three and Pitaka means a basket. Just a basket is used to contains articles for use when needed, even so each of the three pitakas contains various discourse of the Buddha delivered during the forty five years of his mission plus a few authored by his prominent disciples and endorsed by him. The work thus has its beginning in the first sermon the Buddha gave at the deer park two month after hi enlightenment.
When the Buddha was living, he was the ultimate authority who gave the last words for all problems in the Uposathagara (Uposatha Hall) and to whom all controversies were referred for final verdict.
Before the Great Demise, however, he did not appoint anyone to succeed him, but indicated, instead, to is followers that the doctrine (Dhamma) and the Discipline (Vinaya) he had propounded continue to be their”Teacher”.
The Doctrine and the Discipline are all there in the Tipitaka and as such the Tipitaka should be regarded as the highest authority for reference. We pay respect to the Tipitaka because it contains the words of our great Teacher and is itself the most reliable guide in religious matters available to use now.
As Buddhist, we should therefore try to acquaint ourselves with the Tipitaka and consider it our guide in religious understand it, and put its wisdoms into practice in our daily life.
A person can benefit from the teaching of the Buddha only when he practices it. The Buddha had discovered the way and had shown it to us, but it is up to us whether to walk the path or not. If we are wise and good, we would choose to believe and follow him. It would be a great loss if we ignore his words of wisdom and choose to go the wrong way, as do some unwise people who do not know what is good for themselves.
If someone has shown the right direction, but you refuse to go, how can you arrive at you destination? If you hungry and someone gives you food, but you refuse to eat, how can you hunger be satisfied? If you are sick but refuse to take medicine given by physician, how can you get well and become healthy?
The Buddha is an experiences wayfarer who shows us the way. He is a loving father who gives us food. He is a kind physician who gives us medicine. He is everything to us as far as our spiritual needs are concerned. Those who believe in him and follow his teaching will be free from suffering and attain true happiness.
The Dhamma is timeless, ie,. Always relevant to our day to day life. It teaches us to avoid evil, to do good, and to purify our mind. It shows us the way to individual and world peace. Everything we should know about spiritual matter is contained in the Tipitaka and, if we are wise enough, we should have a proper insight into the most important and richest treasure of spiritual knowledge and practical wisdom.
The Vinaya Pitaka or the Basket of the Discipline deals with those rules and regulation formulated by the Buddha for the orders of Bhikkhu and Bhikkhunis. They are divided into five mayor sections and provide a detailed outline for monastic conduct, rites, and ceremonies. Broadly speaking, this can be compared to the laws and social norms in secular society.
The Sutta Pitaka or the Basket of the Discourse contains those discourses concerning various subjects of wide ranged significance, social, moral, philosophical, and spiritual, and is divided into five major sections. This is, perhaps, the most popular Pitaka, since it does not deal in particular with any specific types of human concern or confine to any social groups, but extends into all social layers and all spheres of human activities.