Yamaka

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The Yamaka (Pali for "pairs") is part of the Pali Canon, the scriptures of Theravada Buddhism. It is included in the Abhidhamma Pitaka, which according to the scriptures themselves was taught by the Buddha himself. Scholars do not take this literally, though some have suggested that some central ideas of the Abhidhamma may go back to him.

The book is in ten chapters, each dealing with a particular topic of Buddhist doctrine: roots, aggregates and so on. The treatment is by way of questions and answers: Is X Y? But is Y X? This pairing of converse questions gives the book its name, which means "pair" in Pali. In addition to the identity questions above, the main types are:

  • For a person (and/or in a place) that X arises/arose/will arise/cease, does/did/will Y ... ?
  • Does a person who understands X understand Y?

A translation has been published in Malaysia but is probably unobtainable. A detailed outline can be found in Guide through the Abhidhammapitaka, by Nyanatiloka.