For something which is supposedly so crucial to enlightenment, it's rather odd that there is no mention of the paramita category in original teachings of the Buddha.
The Theravādin teachings on pāramitās can be found in canonical books (Jataka, Apadana, Buddhavamsa, Cariyapitaka), and post-canonical commentaries which were written to supplement the Pali Canon at a later time, and thus they are not an original part of the Theravādin teachings.The oldest parts of the Sutta Pitaka (for example, Majjhima Nikaya, Digha Nikaya, Samyutta Nikaya and the Anguttara Nikaya) do not have any mention of the pāramitās as a category.
Quoted from Wikipedia, but fully referenced to citations from "Buddhist Sects in India" by Nalinaksha Dutt - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C4%81ram ... a_Buddhism
However, in the original teachings the Buddha did foresee that "the work of outsiders", "elegant in rhetoric" would be regarded as worth knowing, over what the Buddha actually taught.
Staying at Savatthi. "Monks, there once was a time when the Dasarahas had a large drum called 'Summoner.' Whenever Summoner was split, the Dasarahas inserted another peg in it, until the time came when Summoner's original wooden body had disappeared and only a conglomeration of pegs remained.
"In the same way, in the course of the future there will be monks who won't listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. They won't lend ear, won't set their hearts on knowing them, won't regard these teachings as worth grasping or mastering. But they will listen when discourses that are literary works — the works of poets, elegant in sound, elegant in rhetoric, the work of outsiders, words of disciples — are recited. They will lend ear and set their hearts on knowing them. They will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.
"In this way the disappearance of the discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — will come about.
"Thus you should train yourselves: 'We will listen when discourses that are words of the Tathagata — deep, deep in their meaning, transcendent, connected with emptiness — are being recited. We will lend ear, will set our hearts on knowing them, will regard these teachings as worth grasping & mastering.' That's how you should train yourselves."
According to Bhikkhu Bodhi...
Within all the early schools, thinkers and poets alike attempted to fill in the background history to the three enlightened persons, composing stories of their past lives in which they prepared the foundations for their future achievements. Since it was the figure of the Buddha, as the founder of the Dispensation, who commanded the greatest awe and veneration, gradually a literature began to emerge depicting the evolution of the bodhisattva or "Buddha-to-be" along the arduous path of his development. In this way the figure of the bodhisattva,* the aspirant to Buddhahood, came to claim an increasingly prominent place in the popular Buddhist religious life. The culmination of these innovations was the, appearance, in about the first century B.C., of the Mahayana, the self-styled "Great Vehicle," which proclaimed that of the three vehicles to enlightenment the bodhisattva-vehicle was alone ultimate, the other two being only expedients devised by the Buddha to lead his less competent disciples to perfect Buddhahood, which they held to be the only valid spiritual ideal.
Source: http://www.what-buddha-taught.net/Books ... aramis.htm
Alas, the masses had to be appeased... (same source)
As time passed, however, perhaps partly through the influence of the Mahayana, the bodhisattva ideal must have come to acquire an increasing appeal for the minds of the Buddhist populace, and the need became felt for a work explaining in a practical manner the factors and phases of the paramita path without deviating from the established doctrinal position of the Theravada. Works expounding the bodhisattva career abounded in the Mahayana schools, since this was their axial concern, but a comparable work was lacking in Theravada circles. To meet this need, apparently, Acariya Dhammapala composed his "Treatise on the Paramis," which is found in at least two places in the Pali exegetical literature, in a complete version in the Cariyapitaka Atthakatha, and in an abridged version in the tika or subcommentary to the Brahmajala Sutta.
I finish this post with the following words from the Buddha...SN 56.31: Simsapa Suttahttp://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .wlsh.html
At one time the Blessed One was staying at Kosambii in Si.msapaa Grove.1 Then the Blessed One, taking a few Si.msapaa leaves in his hand, said to the monks: "What do you think, monks? Which are the more numerous, the few leaves I have here in my hand, or those up in the trees of the grove?"
"Lord, the Blessed One is holding only a few leaves: those up in the trees are far more numerous."
"In the same way, monks, there are many more things that I have found out, but not revealed to you.2 What I have revealed to you is only a little. And why, monks, have I not revealed it?
"Because, monks, it is not related to the goal, it is not fundamental to the holy life, does not conduce to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, tranquillity, higher knowledge, enlightenment or Nibbaana. That is why I have not revealed it. And what, monks, have I revealed?
"What I have revealed is: 'This is Suffering, this is the Arising of Suffering, this is the Cessation of Suffering, and this is the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering.' And why, monks, have I revealed it?
"Because this is related to the goal, fundamental to the holy life, conduces to disenchantment, dispassion, cessation, tranquillity, higher knowledge, enlightenment and Nibbaana, therefore I have revealed it.
"Therefore, monks, your task is to learn: 'This is Suffering, this is the Arising of Suffering, this is the Cessation of Suffering, this is the Path that leads to the Cessation of Suffering.' That is your task."
If it comes down to the words of the Buddha, or "the works of poets, elegant in sound, elegant in rhetoric, the work of outsiders, words of disciples"... I know which Sammasambuddha I'll be taking guidance from.