The Pali Canon is the standard collection of scriptures in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, as preserved in the Pali language. The Canon was written down, transcribed from the oral tradition, during the Fourth Buddhist Council (in the usual Theravada numbering), in the 1st century BCE, in Sri Lanka on ola (palm) leaves. Passed down in writing and to other Theravadin countries, this originally largely North Indian Canon is the most complete surviving early Buddhist canon and one of the first to be written down.
The Canon was not printed until the nineteenth century, and is now also available in electronic form.
The Pali Canon falls into three general categories, called pitaka (piṭaka, basket) in Pali. Because of this, the canon is traditionally known as the Tipitaka (Tipiṭaka; three baskets).The three pitakas are as follows:
Vinaya Pitaka, dealing with rules for monks and nuns
Sutta Pitaka, discourses, mostly ascribed to the Buddha, but some to disciples
Abhidhamma Pitaka, variously described as philosophy, psychology, metaphysics etc.