Recording The Pali Canon


The Talipot Tree


USB Flash drive keychain












There is no”Buddhist Bible”, no linearly organized book of Buddhist teachings and history. After his nibbana ( “unbinding”, “liberation from suffering”, “awakening”, “nirvana”, “enlightenment” ) Siddhartha Gautama became known as “The Buddha” ( the awakened one ) and spent the rest of his life wandering ancient India giving talks wherever he stopped. These talks were preserved in an oral tradition by memorization and eventually written down into what became known as the Pali Canon.

For much of history the Pali Canon has been written down with an iron stylus on ola leaves, from the talipot tree. The talipot tree  may live as long as 75 years before it flowers and bears fruit, only once. It can grow to be 80 feet tall. Its sap is used to make palm wine. Its leaves have been used for thousands of years as paper and for thatching.

Today, the entire Pali Canon has been put online. Such digitized copies can probably fit on to a USB drive used as a keychain ( pictured to the right ) or be put on a portable phone.

In Sri Lanka, the tradition of writing the Pali Canon down on ola leaves continues.

The power point presentation below contains pictures of this process and an introduction to the organization of the Pali Canon. If you do not have a copy of Microsoft Office or Microsoft PowerPoint you can view the presentation in Open Office which is available for free. Open Office will run on Microsoft WIndows, Apple Macintosh, Linux and other Unix systems.

The Tipitaka

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