The nature of this book is a matter of some disagreement among scholars. The translator, supported by Professor George Bond of Northwestern University, holds it is a guide to those who understand the teaching in presenting it to others. However, A. K. Warder, Professor Emeritus of Sanskrit in the University of Toronto, maintains that it covers all aspects of interpretation, not just that.
According to the chapter colophons, the book was composed by the Buddha's disciple Kaccana (or Kaccayana). Scholars do not take this literally, though the translator mentions that the methods may go back to him. Scholars tend to give dates around the beginning of the common era.
The text of the book as handed down in manuscript is very corrupt.
This book was regarded as canonical by the head of the Burmese sangha about two centuries ago. It is included in the inscriptions of the Canon approved by the Burmese Fifth Council and in the printed edition of the Sixth Council text.
There are 8 sections as follows:
- Ariyasacca Pakasana (display of the Noble Truths)
- Sãsana patthãna (pattern of the dispensation)
- Suttãdhitthãna (terms of expression in the thread)
- Suttavicaya (investigation of threads)
- Hãravibhanga (modes of conveying in separate treatment)
- Suttatthasamuccaya (compendium of the thread's meaning)
- Hãrasampãta (modes of conveying in combined treatment)
- Sutta vibhangiya (Analyses of Suttas)
However, the translator says this last title is a mistake for "moulding of the guidelines", the title given at the end.
- See his article in Buddhist Studies in Honour of Walpola Rahula, pub Gordon Fraser, London, 1980
- Indian Buddhism,3rd edn, Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 2000
- Journal of the Pali Text Society, volume XXVIII
- Bollée in Pratidanam (Kuiper Festshcrift), pub Mouton, the Hague/Paris, 1968
- The Guide, Pali Text Society