Kathavatthu (Pāli), literally “Points of Controversy”, is one of the seven books in the Theravada Abhidhamma Pitaka. This work was compiled sometime in the 3rd Century BCE, its authorship traditionally attributed to the venerable Moggaliputta Tissa in his role as leader of the Third Council.
The Kathavatthu was compiled in order to clarify the various points of controversy regarding Dhamma that had arisen among the schools of Nikaya Buddhism. These disputes had provided the rationale for the convening of the 3rd Buddhist Council by King Ashoka, and recorded the answers that were deemed orthodox by the assembled senior monks. There are 23 chapters dealing with some 216 controversies in the form of dialogues in a logical method. Each chapter contains questions and answers by means of which the most diverse false views are presented, refuted and rejected.
The inclusion of the Kathavatthu in the Abhidhamma Pitaka is something of an anomaly. First, the book is not regarded as being the words of the Buddha himself- its authorship is traditionally attributed to Moggaliputta Tissa. Second, the subject matter of the Kathavatthu differs substantially from that of the other texts in the Abhidhamma. Scholars sometimes point to the inclusion of the Kathavatthu in the Tipitaka as an indication that the Pāli Canon was more ‘open’ than orthodox Theravadin tradition has indicated, and as illustrative of the process of codifying new texts as canonical.