Elacqua, Joseph, et. al. "Commentaries on the Tipitaka." Faithology.com. Faithology, 12 March 2013. Web. 6 October 2015.

Elacqua, J., et. al. (2013, Mar 12). Commentaries on the Tipitaka. Faithology. Retrieved from http://faithology.com/texts/commentaries-on-the-tipitaka

Elacqua, Joseph, et. al"Commentaries on the Tipitaka" Faithology, LLC. Last modified March 12, 2013. http://faithology.com/texts/commentaries-on-the-tipitaka

Elacqua, Joseph, et. alCommentaries on the Tipitaka. Faithology, LLC, 2012. http://faithology.com/texts/commentaries-on-the-tipitaka (Accessed Oct 6, 2015).

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  • Last Updated: March 12, 2013
  • Originally Published: July 16, 2012
  • Commentaries on the Tipitaka


According to Buddhist tradition, the Tipitaka and its commentary, the Atthakatha, were transmitted to Sri Lanka in writing by Indian Buddhist monks during the 3rd century CE. The extant version of the Atthakatha is most likely a revision of this original commentary.

Commentaries on The Tipitaka

These companion texts are thought to comprise an explanation of Siddhartha Gautama’s original teachings; here, Gautama is depicted with his mother, Queen Maya

During the 5th century CE, a man named Buddhaghosa composed a handbook of orthodox regulations for Theravada monks called the Visuddhi Magga, Four other commentaries (on the four Nikayas) by Buddhaghosa, when combined with this text, are often thought to comprise a full explanation of the Buddha’s original teachings. Other commentaries exist on the Vinaya Pitaka, the Abhidhamma Pitaka, and part of the Khuddaka Nikaya. These commentaries are anonymous, but Theravada tradition ascribes these also to Buddhaghosa. Another commentary, attributed to a man named Dhammapala, on seven sections of the Khuddaka Nikaya is also extant. This text likely dates between 450 and 600 CE.

Subcommentaries—that is, commentaries written on commentaries—form another part of the Pali textual tradition. Several subcommentaries exist, most notably those written on Buddhaghosa’s original commentaries, while others were written during the 12th century. Many subcommentaries put a great deal of weight on the explanation of the Vinaya Pitaka.