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Cariyapitaka

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The Cariyapitaka (cariyāpiṭaka; where cariya is Pali for "conduct" or "proper conduct" and pitaka is usually translated as "basket"; abbrev. Cp) is a Buddhist scripture, part of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism. It is included there in the Sutta Pitaka's Khuddaka Nikaya, usually as the last of fifteen books. It is a short verse work that includes thirty-five accounts of the Buddha's former lives (similar to Jataka tales) when he as a bodhisattva exhibited behaviors known as "perfections," prerequisites to buddhahood. This canonical text, along with the Apadana and Buddhavamsa, is believed to be a late addition to the Pali Canon and has been described as "hagiographical."

In the first story (Cp. I), the Buddha says he will illustrate his practice of the perfections (Pali, pāramitā or pārami) by stories of his past lives in this current age. The text contains 35 such stories, spanning 356 to 371 verses.

The body of the Cariyapitaka is broken into three divisions (vagga), with titles correlated to the first three of the ten Theravada pāramitā:

  • Division I (dāna pāramitā): 10 stories for the perfection of offering (dāna)
  • Division II (sīla pāramitā): 10 stories for the perfection of conduct (sīla)
  • Division III (nekkhamma pāramitā): 15 stories distributed among five other perfections, as follows:
  • renunciation (nekkhamma pāramitā): five stories
  • resolute determination (adhiṭṭhāna pāramitā): one story
  • truth (sacca pāramitā): six stories
  • loving-kindness (mettā pāramitā): two stories
  • equanimity (upekkhā pāramitā): one story
  • The three remaining Theravada perfections — wisdom (paññā), energy (viriya), patience (khanti) — are mentioned in a closing stanza but no related Cariyapitaka stories have come down to us. Horner suggests that these latter three perfections are "implicit in the collection," referenced in both story titles and contexts.

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