Perhaps it is best to start with the Sarvastivadins? It is interesting, is it not, that the triumphalist perspective - which is principally a 'triumph' over the Sarvastivadin ontology - has no living exponents, few if any scholarly defenders, few if any scholars who really 'get it.'
Almost everyone who reads the Sarvastivadins are already committed Madhyamikas....which is hardly a fair philosophical or hermeneutical strategy. Myself included, probably you included!
I think it is hard to understand without being a specialist in Abhidharma. There are some good journal articles though - Williams, P.M.; 'On the Abhidharma Ontology' in Journal of Indian Philosophy is an excellent starting place.
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