Jim and Dmytro provided me with the Pali texts.
The Meaning of Dhamma 1
One of the meanings of dhamma is gu.na, virtue or good quality. In different commentaries this is explained as kusala kamma different from akusala kamma. Kusala kamma is denoted as dhamma and akusala kamma is denoted as adhamma. We read in the Atthasaalinii, 38:
adhammo niraya.m neti, dhammo paapeti suggatin"ti, adhamma leads to hell, dhamma causes one to reach heaven,(theragaa. 304; jaa. 1.15.386).
The Saddaniti explains dhamma as gu.na, merit, virtue:
The Meaning of Dhamma 2.
The second meaning given of dhamma is pariyatti: the wording of the teachings as contained in the Tipiìaka.
We read in the "Dhammapada Atthakataa 1.22:
I shall teach you, monks, Dhamma that is beautiful in the beginning (middle and end), this is the dhamma of teaching.’
We read in the ‘Majjhima Nikaaya’ about the classification of the Tipi.taka as nine divisions:
The word of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Vinaya as taught by him, consists of nine divisions which are: Sutta, Geyya, Veyyåkaraùa, Gåthå, Udåna, Itivuttaka, Jåtaka, Abbhuta and Vedalla. The “Expositor”, Atthasåliní, Introductory Discourse, 26, gives a further explanation of this. The teachings as compiled (not yet written) literature are thus enumerated in the scriptures as nine divisions, for example in the “Middle Length Sayings” I, no. 22.
Sutta includes all Discourses, such as the “Mangala sutta” (”Good Omen Discourse “, Minor Readings, V), and also the Vinaya Piìaka and the Niddesa. In this classification the Vinaya is in the section of Sutta. The “Atthasåliní” mentions in this section on Sutta the Sutta-Vibha.nga and Parivaara, which belong to the Vinaya. Geyya includes all suttas with verses (gåthå), such as the Sagåthå-vagga of the Sa.myutta Nikåya or “Kindred Sayings”. Veyyåkaraùa or “Exposition” includes the Abhidhamma Pi.taka, the suttas without verses, and the words of the Buddha which are not included in the other eight divisions. Gåthå or “Verses”, include the Dhammapada, Theragaathaa, Theriigaathaa (Psalms of the Brothers and Sisters) and those parts of the Sutta-Nipaata not called Sutta and entirely in verse. Udaana or “Verses of Uplift” include eightytwo suttas connected with verses recited by the Buddha, inspired by knowledge and joy. Itivuttaka or “As it was said” includes hundred and ten suttas beginning with “Thus it was said by the Blessed One”. Jaataka or Birth Stories include fivehundred and fifty stories of the past lives of the Buddha and his disciples, beginning with the “Apa.n.naka Jaataka”.
Abbhuta, “Marvellous”, includes suttas connected with wonderful and marvellous things (dhammas with extraordinary qualities, which are amazing). Vedalla includes suttas with questions and answers which have as result understanding and delight, such as the “Cullavedallasutta”.
There are different ways of classifying the Tipi.taka. In the “Baahiranidaana” (Introductory chapter of the Commentary to the Vinaya, by Buddhaghosa), it is explained that the teachings as a whole have been laid down as:
Thus, whenever the Dhamma and the Vinaya are referred to, the Abhidhamma is included in “Dhamma”.
The following meaning of dhamma explained in the Dhammapada-Atthakata, is dhamma as an entity without a living soul (nissatta, nijjiva):
"Tasmi.m khopana samaye dhammaa honti, khandhaa hontii"ti (dha. sa. 121)
Then, at that time dhammas occur, khandhas occur.
aya.mnissattadhammo naama, nijjiivadhammotipi eso eva.
this is dhamma without living being (non-substantial), it is also merely dhamma without life.
Tesu imasmi.m .thaane nissattanijjiivadhammo adhippeto.
As to these, dhamma devoid of a living soul is meant in this case.
So atthato tayo aruupino khandhaa vedanaakkhandho sa~n~naakkhandho sa'nkhaarakkhandhoti.
As to the meaning of this, there are the three mental aggregates of feeling, remembrance and formations (all cetasikas apart from feeling and remembrance).
N: Remark: the text quoted from the Dhammasangani (first Book of the Abhidhamma) states:
[quote] “At the time of consciousness coming into existence, there occur dhammas.” Thus, the aggregate of consciousness (vi~n`naa.nakkhandha) which is also a mental aggregate, is mentioned first, and then the other three mental aggregates denoted as dhammas are explained. If we do not see the whole context we may not understand why three mental aggregates are mentioned separately. All five khandhas are devoid of a living being
The “Atthasaalinii” (38, Co. to the Dhammasangani) summarizes different meanings of the word dhamma:
Dhammasaddo panaaya.m pariyatti-hetu-gu.na-nissatta-nijjiivata-adiisu dissati.
And the word dhamma is used in the sense of scriptural text (pariyatti), virtue (gu.na), absence of an entity, living thing (nissatta, nijjiva), etc.