Classical Indian Philosophy Vaibhasika School of Hinayana Buddhism for Competitive Exams

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Vaibhasika School of Hinayana Buddhism

Complete Video at - Vaibhasika School of Hinayana Buddhism: Classical Indian Philosophy (Philosophy)


  • Vaibhasika school belongs to Hinayana Buddhism.
  • Another name for Vaibhasika is Sarvastivada.
  • So, the two names, Vaibhasika and Sarvastivada can be interchangeably used.
  • The school is believed to be formed around the 3rd century B. C.
  • It expounds the philosophy of sarvam Asti or ‘everything exists’ . This is because the name Sarvasti literally means, “all exists” or “all dharmas of the past, present and the future exist.”

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  • The Abhidhamma treatise formed the general foundation of the philosophy of the Vaisbhasikas.
  • The followers of the school religiously follow a particular commentary called Vibhasha or Abhidhamma-mahavibhasha on the Abhidhamma treatise.
  • Hence, the school is named as Vaibhasika school.
  • Simply put, our knowledge regarding the teachings of Buddha is dependent upon the three baskets or tripitakas.
  • The three baskets or the tripitakas are in the Pali dialect. The three baskets are;
    • Vinayapitaka: It deals with the rules of conduct for the congregation or sangha.
    • Suttapitaka: It deals with Buddha՚s sermons and dialogues.
    • Abhidhammapitaka: It contains the expositions of philosophical theories.
  • In other words, out of the three baskets or the tri-pitakas, Vaibhasika school follows the Abhidhamma pitaka.

The Philosophy of Vaibhasika & the Similarity and Difference between Sautantrika and Vaibhasika School of Hinayana Buddhism

  • Both the two major schools of Hinayana Buddhism share some similarity and difference.
  • Both, Sautantrika and Vaibhasika accept that both, the mental and the non-mental are real. In other words, they accept the reality of both mind and the external objects in the material world.
  • Vaibhasika points out that the reason why we know of the existence of the external objects is because we perceive them in our everyday life.
  • But, unlike the Sautantrikas, the Vaibhasikas accept that the external objects are directly known in perception and are not inferred.
  • Simply put, Sautantrika accepts the doctrine that different external objects exist outside our consciousness, depending upon these objects՚ different forms or representations of consciousness arise.
  • So, from these forms or representations of the objects in the mind, we can infer the existence of the objects outside the mind. Hence, the objects outside the mind can be inferred from their mental ideas.
  • But, Vaibhasikas reject this view.
  • According to them, the external objects are directly known or perceived by us.
  • For example, the inference of fire from the smoke is possible only because we have in the past experienced that both smoke and fire go together.
  • Or, where there is smoke, there is fire.
  • If a person has not perceived this scenario previously then that person can never infer fire from at the smoke.
  • So, if the external objects were never seen or perceived, then they can never be inferred.
  • In simpler words, according to Vaibhasikas, the objects need to be perceived, before they can be inferred.
  • As a result, Vaibhasika or Sarvastivada is known to be a realist school of Hinayana Buddhism.
  • According to them, the external objects are directly known by us via perception.
  • So, they propound the philosophy of direct realism via their doctrines and teachings.
  • Hence, the school is also called bahya-pratyaksha-vada and their followers Bahya-pratyaksha-vadins.
  • Note: Sautantrika school of Hinayana Buddhism is also known as a school which expounds critical realism. Another name for them is bahyanumeya-vada. Whereas, Vaibhasika school of Hinayana Buddhism is also known as a school which expounds direct realism. Another name for them is bahya-pratyaksha-vada.


1. Vaibhasika school belongs to

A. Hinayana

B. Mahayana

C. Both

D. Independent school

Answer: A

2. Sarvastivada school accepts the

A. Doctrine of Elders

B. Doctrine that everything exists

C. Doctrine of Nothing-ness

D. Doctrine of Bahyanumeya-vada

Answer: B

3. Vaibhasika school accepts which pitaka

A. Abhidhamma

B. Sutta

C. Vinaya

D. Both A and C

Answer: A

4. According to Vaibhasika and Sauntantrika school;

A. Only the mental is real

B. Only the non-mental is real

C. Both A and B

D. None of these

Answer: C

5. Another name for Vaibhasika school is

A. Bahyanumeya-vada

B. Bahya-pratyaksha-vada

C. Bahyanumeya-anumana-vada

D. None of these

Answer: B




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