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Buddhaghosa

1. Buddhaghosa Thera.– The greatest of Commentators on the Tipiṭaka. He was a Brahmin. The Sās. (p.29) says his father was a chief priest (purohita), named Kesa, his mother being Kesī. Gv.66 says his father was the chief priest of King Saṅgāma. He was born in a village near Buddhagayā and became proficient in the Vedas and allied branches of knowledge. One day he met a monk, named Revata, and on being defeated by him in controversy, entered the Order to learn the Buddha’s teachings. Because his speech was profound, like that of the Buddha, and because his words spread throughout the world (like those of the Buddha), he came to be called Buddhaghosa. While dwelling with Revata, he wrote the Ñāṇodaya and the Aṭṭhasālinī, and also began to write a Parittaṭṭhakathā (a concise commentary) on the Tipiṭaka. In order to complete his task, he came over to Sri Lanka at the suggestion of Revata (Sās.p.29, says he was sent to Sri Lanka as punishment for thinking himself wiser than his teachers) and studied the Singhalese Commentaries at the Mahāvihāra, under Saṅghapāla. When his studies were ended he wrote the Visuddhimagga, and having thereby won the approval of the Elders of the Mahāvihāra, he rendered the Singhalese Commentaries into Pāḷi. During this period he lived in the Ganthākaravihāra, and on the accomplishment of his task he returned to Jambudīpa. (Burmese tradition says he obtained his copy of the Tipiṭaka and the Commentaries from the Āloka-vihāra. However, see P.L.C. 83, n.1.4).

Besides the above mentioned works of Buddhaghosa, we have also the Samantapāsādikā and the Kaṅkhāvitaraṇī on the Vinaya Piṭaka; the Sumaṅgalavilāsinī, the Papañcasūdanī, the Sāratthappakāsinī and the Manorathapūranī on the Sutta Piṭaka. He is also said to have compiled Commentaries on the Khuddakapāṭha and the Suttanipāta (called the Paramatthajotikā) and on the Dhammapada. He also wrote a series of Commentaries on the Abhidhamma Piṭaka (the Aṭṭhasālinī, the Sammohavinodanī and the Pañcappakaraṇaṭṭhakathā). Some ascribe to him the Jātakaṭṭhakathā. For further particulars relating to Buddhaghosa, see Law’s “Life and work of Buddhaghosa” and P.L.C.79 f. The account of his life given here is taken from Cv.xxxvii.215 ff . For a list of works ascribed to Buddhaghosa see Gv., pp.59 and 68.

2. Buddhaghosa.– Called Culla Buddhaghosa to distinguish him from the greater. He was a native of Sri Lanka (Gv.67), and two works are ascribed to him (Gv.63) — the Jātattagīnidāna and the Sotattagīnidāna. The former probably refers to the Jātakaṭṭhakathā (P.L.C.126). It was at his request that Buddhaghosa (1) wrote his Commentaries to the Abhidhamma. Gv.68.

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