This dissertation entitled “Abhidhamma debate: A comparative study of selected points of controversy between the Abhidhammatthavibhāvinīṭīkā and the Paramatthadīpanīṭīkā” has four objectives: 1) to introduce Abhidhamma debate and related texts that contribute to the debate in Myanmar, 2) to comparatively study the different ways of explaining two dissenting Abhidhamma sub-commentaries, 3) to comprehend the nature of controversial points that had scarcely been touched in the field of Buddhist studies, and 4) to study scholars’ different opinions on the selected controversy points. Regardless of the well-known debate about the origin of Abhidhamma, here, the Abhidhamma debate refers to arguments between two Abhidhamma sub-commentaries, Abhidhammatthavibhāvinīṭīkā and Paramatthadīpanīṭīkā. Both ṭīkās are commenting on the same root text, the Abhidhammatthasaṅgaha; all are henceforth referred to as Vibhāvinī, Dīpanī and Saṅgaha respectively. The Saṅgaha was written approximately in the eleventh century, the Vibhāvinī in the twelfth and the Dīpanī in the late nineteenth. Both tīkās make an exposition on all nine chapters of the Saṅgaha. The Dīpanī criticizes the Vibhāvinī on 245 points in all nine chapters: (70) points in the compendium of consciousness (cittasaṅgaha), (12) points in the compendium of mental factors (cetasikasaṅgaha), (32) points in the compendium of miscellaneous (pakiṇṇakasaṅgaha), (26) points in the compendium of cognitive process (vīthisaṅgaha), (34) points in the compendium of the process-freed (vīthimuttasaṅgaha), (29) points in the compendium of matter (rūpasaṅgaha), (20) points in the compendium of categories (samuccayasaṅgaha), (19) in the compendium of conditionality (paccayasaṅgaha) and (3) points in the compendium of meditation subjects (kammaṭṭhānasaṅgaha). These points are called here controversy points.
As for the first objective, it introduces the background and history of Abhidhamma debate, the cause of the debate and the contributing texts etc. As for the second objective, it studies the explanations (saṃvaṇṇanā) of two Abhidhamma sub-commentaries on the same root passage (saṃvaṇṇetabba) of Saṅgaha, with the help of their key texts, Maṇisāramañjūsāṭīkā for Vinīṭīkā and Anudīpanīṭīkā for Dīpanī. The second verse of Saṅgaha is chosen as root passage which mentions the four ultimate truths (paramatthadhamma) and contains (8) controversial points. As for the third objective, it explains the meaning of a statement of Saṅgaha, an exposition on the statement by the Vibhāvinī and the Dīpanī respectively and highlights the points on which the Dīpanī criticizes. Then, chapter four selects two controversial points and studies them comparatively, consulting with scholarly works which have contributed to the Abhidhamma debate. This is qualitative research entirely based on Pāḷi literature, such Pāḷi Cannon, the Commentaries, the Sub-commentaries, the Pāḷi key-texts, Myanmar Nissayas and so on.
The results of this research will benefit those who are interested in Pāḷi literature and Abhidhamma subjects because this research explores the clear picture of Abhidhamma debate, the controversy points, different opinions of scholars and the Roman transliteration and English translations of some selected passages from the texts which contributed to the debate. The suggestion made from this research shows that there are many problematic issues and many aspects of Pāli literature that are waiting for further research which is vitally important to preserve the Theravāda tradition.