The earliest and most authoritative Buddhist texts. The term is a Sanskrit one meaning triple basket and in most Buddhist traditions the Tripitaka consists of three baskets of wisdom. The Vinaya Pitaka, thought to be the oldest, consists of rules for monks and monastic orders. The Sutta Pitaka, the largest, contains the teachings attributed to the original Buddha as well as those of some of his followers; it includes the Buddha's first sermons.
The Abhidamma Pitaka is primarily a further examination of the Sutta Pitaka, although various versions of it have appeared. The Tripitaka was compiled in India in the last few centuries B.C. The authoritative versions of the texts are in Pali, although they appeared originally in Sanskrit as well.
The Tripitaka forms the entire textual canon of the Theravada school of Buddhism and provides much of the basis of the school's claim to pure form of Buddhism. In Mahayana and Tibetan Buddhism, the Tripitaka is often extended to include numerous other texts considered authoritative.