Pali canon dating
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More than two millennia ago, some of the oldest scriptures of Buddhism were gathered into a mighty collection. The collection was called in Sanskrit " Tripitaka ," or in Pali "Tipitaka," which means "three baskets," because it is organized into three major sections. This particular collection of scriptures also is called the "Pali Canon" because it is preserved in a language called Pali, which is a variation of Sanskrit. Note that there are actually three primary canons of Buddhist scripture, called after the languages in which they were preserved -- the Pali Canon, the Chinese Canon , and the Tibetan Canon , and many of the same texts are preserved in more than one canon. The Pali Canon or Pali Tipitaka is the doctrinal foundation of Theravada Buddhism , and much of it is believed to be the recorded words of the historical Buddha.
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Dating the Metta Sutta
By Dr. Bimala Churn Law, Ph. History of Pali Literature. London, Kegan Paul.
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Chronology Of The Pali Canon
The Arhats present accepted the recitations and henceforth the teachings were preserved orally by the Sangha. The Tipitaka that was transmitted to Sri Lanka during the reign of King Asoka were initially preserved orally and were later written down during the Fourth Buddhist Council in 29 BCE , approximately years after the death of Gautama Buddha. They were however written down in various Prakrits other than Pali as well as Sanskrit. Some of those were later translated into Chinese earliest dating to the late 4th century CE. The surviving Sri Lankan version is the most complete,  but one that was extensively redacted about 1, years after Buddha's death, in the 5th or 6th century CE.