My security program says stay away from the download site. But I happen to have a scanned copy myself. So here is the first page of Pruden's Introduction, minus the notes.
1. Origin and Growth of abhidharma.
Today the word abhidharma signifies the third of the Three Pitakas (Skt:
Tripitaka) or collections of scriptures that go to make up the full Buddhist Canon.
These three Pitakas, or collections, are: 1) the Sutras or Agamas, the words of the
Buddha, directed to both laymen and clerics, dealing with a host of different topics:
ethics, philosophical questions, legends and tales, etc.; 2) the Vinaya, directed to the
monks and nuns of the Buddhist Sangha, spelling out the prohibitions to be
followed by the clerics and injunctions on the carrying out of various seasonal
events, adjudicating disputes, the distribution of property, etc.; and 3) the
Abhidharma Pitaka, a number of texts later in compilation than either the Sutra
Pitaka or the Vinaya Pitaka.
If the word abhidharma does not signify the Third Pitaka in its totality, then the
word signifies the contents of this Third Pitaka, its style of thinking and writing,
and thus a certain type of commentarial literature, the Sastras or commentaries on
the Sutras of the Buddha.
Since the Sutras and Vinaya, it is believed, took their essential form before the
Third Pitaka was given its final form, the word abhidharma as used in the Sutras
and in the Vinaya, was a word that did not signify the Third Pitaka. What then did
the word abhidharma signify when it was first used in the Sutras and Vinaya, in the
reputed words of the Buddha?
There are two meanings to the word abhidharma: 1) referring to the Dharma;
and 2) the higher, or superior Dharma.
The first person interested in the etymology of the term abhi-dharma was
N.W. Geiger, in his work, Pali Dhamma (1921), where he states, "abhidhamma
originally mean the highest Dhamma; such is the interpretation of later
commentators, that is, abhidhamma as uttaradhamma." The earliest meaning of
the word abhidhamma, he held, is "concerning the dhamma, or referring to the
dhamma," In the Sutras, indeed,this word always appears in the locative case, as
abhidhamme, ("with respect to Dhamma") and in this manner parallels the form
abhivinaye ("concerningthe Vinaya').
This definition ("concerning the dhamma") was adopted by the Critical Pali
Dictionary (1935,1st edition) where this form was termed (p. 350) a prepositional
compound, and the word itself defined as: "as regards the dhamma."
Only consider helping others and forget yourself. Master Hsuan Hua