Buddhaghosa and his commentaries

Ven. Buddhagosa being very famous in the history of Pāli literature was one of the great
commentators. His commentaries must be regarded as a massive store-house of which
is the great value for Theravada Buddhist tradition.
According to Culavamsa he was born as a Brahmin in orth !ndia within the vicinity of
Buddhagaya. He was the son of "esa and #esini of $hosagama and within seven years he
ac%uired mastery over the Vedas and well-versed in Vedas before his conversion to
Buddhism. He met a Buddhist bhi##hu& 'evata. He was instructed the Buddha(s teaching
)Ti*ita#a+ and become a bhi##hu. Having s*ecialised in Ti*ita#a& he wrote the
commentaries in Pali version such as ÏAnodaya& AtthasAlini and Paritta Attha#atthA.
,hen com*osing a Paritta Attha#atthA& he was advised to go to -ri .an#a where
commentarial tradition was well *reserved.
However& in the /a00hima Attha#atha& it is states that Buddhaghosa formerly stayed with
Buddhamitta bhi##hu at /ayura*ura and again in the Anguttara Attha#atha& it is
mentioned that he had stayed with 1oti*ala at "anci*ura.2 3urthermore& Buddhaghosa
mentioned his *lace in the Visuddhimagga that he stayed in /orandaceta#a& in -outh
!ndia. .ater he came to -ri .an#a during the reign of #ing /ahānāma& 4
th
A 5.
6f his wor#s mentioned by Culavamsa& AtthasAlini& ÏAnodaya and Paritta Attha#atthA&
the latter two are un#nown& su**osed to have been lost. ,hen he arrived in -ri .an#a& he
stayed at the /ahavihara where he announced his wish to ma#e translation from -inhala
Attha#atha to Pali and as#ed for the sources. They gave some verses contained in the
-amyutta i#aya to comment& as a result& he com*iled the Visuddhimagga.
Culavamsa states Visuddhimagga was written three times as 5evadas too# it away to test
his ability. Afterwards he& historically& wrote7 -amanda*asadi#a& "an#hāvitarani&
5ighani#aya A& /a00hima A& -amyutta A& Anguttara A. "hudda#a*atha A& 5hamma*ada
A& -uttani*ada A& 1āta#a A& A*adana A& Buddhavamsa A& Vibhanga A and Pa8ca**a#arana
Attha#atha are traditionally attributed to him& though scholars have not come to definite
conclusion regarding these boo#s.
Professor 9ndo is of the o*inion that Buddhaghosa s*ent only :
th
or ;
th
years in -ri .an#a
and returned to !ndia in <=> A5. Buddhaghosa also a**eared in Chinese translation of
-amanta*āsādi#ā& which was rendered into Chinese by -anghabhadra. He went to
-outhern China by shi*& but as he was seriously ill& he went bac# without going ashore.
Burmese tradition u*holds that he came to Burma and later de*arted his life there.
!n conclusion& Buddhaghosa was a great commentator while e?amining his life and wor#s.
'egarding his birth and dead *lace& scholars are of the different views on him. However&
his great wor#s for Theravada tradition could be remar#able achievement.