Properly speaking, the Vinaya Pitaka, or that portion of the Buddhist canon regulating the monastic life of the monks and nuns, is composed of three parts: the (1) Sutravibhanga, (2) Skandhaka, and (3) Appendices. However, a consideration of Buddhist monastic discipline must be taken in broad perspective, focusing not only on that portion of monastic law which was canonized, but on Vinaya literature in general, thus affording us an opportunity to view the developmental process going on within the early Indian Buddhist community in the first few centuries following Buddha's death. Consequently, we can include the Pratimok$a and the Karmavacanas, although not considered to be canonical in the strictest sense, under the heading of Paracanonical Vinaya Literature, 1 and the commentaries and miscellaneous texts under the heading of Non-Canonical Vinaya Literature. Thus we arrive at the following arrangement:
I. Paracanonical Vinaya Literature
A. Pratimok$a B. Karmavacana
II. Canonical Vinaya Literature
A. Sutravibhanga B. Skandhaka C. Appendices
ill. Non-Canonical Vinaya Literature
A. Commentaries B. Miscellaneous Texts
We can now proceed to an examination of these categories.