Kathævatthu, like Puggalapaññatti, falls outside the regular system of the Abhidhamma . It does not directly deal with the abstruse nature of the Dhamma. It is mainly concerned with wrong views such as “Person exists; Self exists; Jøva exists” which were prevalent even in the Buddha’s time, or wrong views such as “Arahat falls away from Arahatship” which arose after the Parinibbæna of the Buddha.
About two hundred and eighteen years after the Parinibbæna of the Buddha there were altogether Eighteen Sects, all claiming to be followers of the Buddha’s Teaching. Of these only the Theravædins were truly orthodox, while the rest were all schismatic. The Emperor Asoka set about removing the impure elements from the Order with the guidance and assistance of the Elder Moggaliputtatissa who was an accomplished Arahat. Under his direction, the Order held in concord the Uposatha ceremony which had not been held for seven years because of dissensions and the presence of false bhikkhus in the Order.
At that assembly, the Venerable Moggaliputtatissa expounded on points of views, made up of five hundred orthodox statements and five hundred statements of other views, in order to refute the wrong views that had crept into the Saµgha and that might in the future arise. He followed the heads of discourses, Mætikæ, outlined by the Buddha himself and analysed them in detail into one thousand statements of views. This collection of statements of views was recited by one thousand selected theras who formed the Third Great Synod, to be incorporated into the Abhidhamma Pi¥aka.
The style of compilation of this treatise is quite different from that of other treatises, written as it is in the form of dialogue between two imaginary debators, one holding the heterodox views of different sects and the other representing the orthodox views.