The Visuddhimagga ("The path to purity") is a Theravada Buddhist commentary written by Buddhaghosa approximately in 430 CE in Sri Lanka. It is considered the most important Theravada text outside of the Tipitaka canon of scriptures. [See, for instance, Upatissa "et al". (1995), p. xliii: "The "Visuddhimagga" is a household word in all "Theravāda" lands. No scholar of Buddhism whether of "Theravāda" or of "Mahāyāna" is unacquainted with it."] The Visuddhimagga's structure is based on the "Ratha-vinita Sutta" ("Relay Chariots Discourse," MN 24), which describes the progression from the purity of discipline to the nibbana, considering seven steps. [See [ Thanissaro (1999)] for a translation of the Ratha-vinita Sutta. See the various Visuddhimagga printings listed below to see the manner in which this sutta is explicitly integrated into the work.]


It is composed of four parts, which discuss: 1) "Sila" (discipline); 2) "Samadhi" (meditative concentration); 3) The land of wisdom; and 4) "Prajna" (wisdom).
* The first part explains the rules of discipline, and the method for finding a correct temple to practice, or how to meet a good teacher.
* The second part describes samatha's practice, object by object (see Kammatthana for the list of the forty traditional objects). It mentions different stages of concentration.
* The third part is a precious description of the five skandhas (aggregates), ayatanas, the Four Noble Truths and the dependent origination (see: Pratitya-samutpada). This part shows a great analytical effort specific to Buddhist philosophy.
* The fourth part describes the practice of vipassana through the development of wisdom. It emphasizes different forms of knowledge emerging because of the practice.

even steps

This comparison between practice and "seven relay chariots" points at the goal. Each purity is needed to attain the next.
* Purity in terms of virtue
* Purity in terms of mind (that is, concentration)
* Purity in terms of view
* Purity in terms of the overcoming of perplexity
* Purity in terms of knowledge and vision of what is and what is not the path
* Purity in terms of knowledge and vision of the way
* Purity in terms of knowledge and vision
* Unbinding through lack of clinging

ee also

* Buddhaghosa
* Sila
* Samatha
* Vipassana



Printed Pali editions

* Hewavitarne Bequest edition, Colombo, Sri Lanka (Sinhalese script)
* Hanthawaddy Press edition, Rangoon, Myanmar (Burmese script)
* Royal Siamese edition, Bangkok, Thailand (Thai script)
* Pali Text Society edition, London, England (Roman script)
* Harvard University Press edition, Harvard Oriental Studies, Vol. 41, Cambridge, Mass., 1950 (Roman script)

English translations

* "The Path of Purity", Pe Maung (trans.), Pali Text Society, London, 3 vols., 1922-31
* Bhadantacariya Buddhaghosa, Bhikkhu Nanamoli (trans.), The Path of Purification, BPS-Pariyatti Editions, Onalaska, WA (Buddhist Publication Society), 1999. ISBN 1-928706-01-0.
* "Buddhist Meditation", Edward Conze (trans.), NB: Partial translation, 2002, ISBN 81-215-0781-2

Other translations

* "der Weg zur Reinheit", Nyanatiloka & Verlag Christiani (trans.), Konstanz, 1952 (German)
* "Sinhala Visuddhimargaya", Pandita Matara Sri Dharmavamsa Sthavira, Matara, Sri Lanka, 1953 (Sinhalese)
* "Le chemin de la pureté", Christian Maës, Fayard 2002 (Français)

Other references

* Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (1999). "Ratha-vinita Sutta: Relay Chariots" (MN 24). Available at
* Upatissa, Arahant and N.R.M. Ehara (trans.), Soma Thera (trans.) and Kheminda Thera (trans.) (1995). "The Path of Freedom (Vimuttimagga)". Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society. ISBN 955-24-0054-6.

External links

* [ The Path of Purification, Translated from the Pali by Bhikkhu Nanamoli] - first 90 pages.

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