It is a biographical work containing the life stories (past and present) of the Buddha and his Arahat disciples. It is divided into two divisions: the Theræpadæna giving the life stories of the Buddha, of forty-one Paccekabuddhas and of five hundred and fifty-nine Arahats from the Venerable Særiputta to the Venerable Ra¥¥hapæla; and Therøpadæna with the life stories of forty therø Arahats from Sumedhæ Therø to Pesalæ Therø.
Apadæna here means a biography or a life story of a particularly accomplished person, who has made a firm resolution to strive for the goal he desires, and who has ultimately achieved his goal, namely, Buddhahood for an Enlightened One, Arahatship for his disciples. Whereas the Thera Gæthæ and the Therø Gæthæ depict generally the triumphant moment of achievements of the theras and therøs, the Apadæna describes the up-hill work they have to undertake to reach the summit of their ambition. The Gæthæs and the Apadænas supplement one another to unfold the inspiring tales of hard struggles and final conquests.