Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Rachelle Scott

Committee Members

James Fitzgerald, Johanna Stiebert


This study centers on a close analysis of the Abhidhammattha-Sangaha-- a compendium of Abhidhamma philosophy written by a Sri Lankan monk named Acariya Anuruddha Mahathera sometime between the eighth and twelfth centuries. Through a detailed comparison of the Abhidhammattha-Sangaha to its sources, I am able to demonstrate that the text represents an important innovation in the Abhidhamma tradition. First of all, in the Sangaha, the building blocks of its primary source are rearranged by degrees of meditative attainment. We will see that the Sangaha's author systematized the prior material into a clearly stratified map of meditative states. Also, in his compendium Anuruddha included sections of Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga, a text that is not part of the canonical or commentarial corpus of Abhidhamma literature. Anuruddha chose this source precisely because it complimented his conception of Abhidhamma as a guide to the practice of Theravada meditation. In the second half of my study, I examine the influence that Anuruddha's innovations had on future representations of both the Abhidhamma tradition and Theravada in general. Several Abhidhamma specialists characterize Abhidhamma activity in ancient India as an effort to construct a guide for the practice of meditation. I challenge these characterizations, arguing that they are the result of Anuruddha's far reaching influence.

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