A Manual of Abhidhamma

by Nārada Thera | 80,494 words | ISBN-13: 9789380336510

In the Abhidhammattha Sangaha there is a brief exposition of the Law of Dependent Origination, followed by a descriptive account of the Causal Relations that finds no parallel in any other philosophy. Edited in the original Pali Text with English Translation and Explanatory Notes by Narada Maha Thera....

18 Types of Rootless Consciousness

ahetuka cittāni

(akusala vipāka cittāni)

§ 5

  1. Upekkhāsahagatam Cakkhuviññānam; tathā
  2. Sotaviññānam,
  3. Ghānaviññānam,
  4. Jivhāviññānam,
  5. Dukkhasahagatam, Kāyaviññānam,
  6. Upekkhāsahagatam Sampaticchanacittam,
  7. Upekkhāsahagatam Santîranacittañ c'āti.

Imani satta'pi Akusala Vipaka Cittani nāma.

(kusala vipāk'āhetuka cittāni)

  1. Upekkhāsahagatam kusalavipākam Cakkhuviññānam; tathā
  2. Sotaviññānam,
  3. Ghānaviññānam
  4. Jivhaviññānam,
  5. Sukhasahagatam Kāyaviññānam,
  6. Upekkhāsahagatam Sampaticchanacittam,
  7. Somanassasahagatam Santîranacittam
  8. Upekkhāsahagatam Santîranacittam c'ati.

Imāni attha' pi Kusalavipāk'āhetukacittāni nāma.

(ahetuka kiriya cittāni)

  1. Upekkhāsahagatam Pañcadvārāvajjanacittam; tathā
  2. Manodvārāvajjanacittam,
  3. Somanassasahagatam Hasituppādacîttañ c'ati.

Imāni tîni' pi ahetuka-kiriya cittāni nāma.
Icc'evamsabbathā'pi atthārasāhetukacittāni samattāni.

Sattākusalapākāani - puññāpākāni atthadhā
Kiriyācittāni tîni'ti - atthārasa Ahetukā.



(Immoral Resultant Consciousness without Roots)

§ 5.

  1. Eye-consciousness, accompanied by indifference. So are
  2. Ear-consciousness,
  3. Nose-consciousness,
  4. Tongue consciousness,
  5. Body-consciousness, accompanied by pain,
  6. Receiving consciousness, accompanied by indifference,
  7. Investigating consciousness, accompanied by indifference.

These seven are the immoral resultant types of consciousness.

 (Moral Resultant Consciousness without Roots)

  1. Moral resultant Eye-consciousness, accompanied by indifference. So are
  2. Ear-consciousness,
  3. Nose-consciousness,
  4. Tongue-consciousness,
  5. Body-consciousness, accompanied by happiness,
  6. Receiving consciousness, accompanied by indifference,
  7. Investigating consciousness, accompanied by pleasure,
  8. Investigating consciousness, accompanied by indifference.

These eight are the moral resultant types of consciousness without Hetu.

(Functional Consciousness without Roots)

  1. Five Sense-door adverting consciousness, accompanied by indifference.
  2. So is mind-door adverting consciousness.
  3. Smile-producing consciousness, accompanied by pleasure.

These three are the functional types of consciousness without Hetu.

Thus end, in all, the eighteen types of consciousness without Hetu.


Seven are immoral resultants. Moral resultants are Eightfold.

Three are functionals. Ahetukas are eighteen.



23. Hetu is usually rendered by 'causal condition'. In the Suttas we often come across such phrases as 'ko hetu, ko paccayo', - 'what cause, what reason'. In the Abhidhamma both hetu and paccaya are differentiated and are used in specific senses. The term hetu is applied to the six roots explained above. Paccaya is an aiding condition (upakāraka dhamma). Like the root of a tree is hetu. Paccaya is like water, manure, etc.

The aforesaid eighteen classes of consciousness are called 'a-hetuka' because they are devoid of 'concomitant hetus' (sampayuttaka hetu). It must be understood that even ahetuka cittas are not devoid of an efficient cause (nibbattaka hetu). The remaining 71 classes of consciousness are called Sa-hetuka, with Roots. In two there is only one Root, in sixty nine there are two or three Roots.

24. Dvipañcaviññāna - Five pairs of moral and immoral resultant consciousness are enumerated here. They are so called because they are dependent on the five senses. As they are comparatively weak they are accompanied by neutral feeling, with the exception of body-consciousness which is accompanied by either pain or happiness. It should be noted that, in the Abhidhamma, these five pairs of consciousness are sometimes referred to as 'dvipancaviññāna', the two sampaticchana cittas and pañca-dvārāvajjana citta as 'mano dhātu' (mind-element), the rest (76) as 'mano viññāna dhātu' (mind-consciousness element).

25. Sampaticchana is that moment of consciousness which accepts or receives an object. Santīrana is that which investigates an object. That moment of consciousness which turns towards one of the five sense-objects is called the pañca-dvārāvajjana. Mano-dvārāvajjana is that moment of consciousness which turns the mind towards a mental object. Pañca-dvārāvajjana and mano-dvārāvajjana are the only two moments of kiriya cittas experienced by those who are not Arahats. All the other kiriya cittas are experienced only by Buddhas and Arahats. It is this mano-dvārāvajjana citta that performs the function of votthapana (deciding) which will be dealt with later.

26. Hasituppāda is a citta peculiar to Arahats. Smiling is caused by a pleasurable feeling. There are thirteen classes of consciousness by which one may smile according to the type of the person. An ordinary worldling (puthujjana) may laugh with either one of the four types of cittas rooted in attachment, accompanied by pleasure, or one of the four kusala cittas, accompanied by pleasure.

Sotāpannas, Sakadāgāmīs, and Anāgāmīs may smile with one of the two akusala cittas, disconnected with false view, accompanied by pleasure, or with one of the four kusala cittas.

Arahats and Pacceka Buddhas may smile with one of the four sobhana kiriya cittas or hasituppāda.

Sammā Sambuddhas smile with one of the two sobhana kiriya cittas, accompanied by wisdom and pleasure.

There is nothing but mere mirth in the hasituppāda consciousness.

The Compendium of Philosophy states: "There are six classes of laughter recognized in Buddhist works:

  1. sita: - a smile manifesting itself in expression and countenance;
  2. hasita: - a smile consisting in the slight movements of the lips just enough to reveal the tips of the teeth;
  3. vihasita: - laughter giving out a light sound;
  4. upahasita: - laughter accompanied by the movement of the head, shoulders, and arms;
  5. apahasita: - laughter accompanied by the shedding of tears;

and (6) atihasita: - an outburst of laughter accompanied by the forward and backward movements of the entire body from head to foot. Laughter is thus a form of bodily expression (kāya-viññatti), which may or may not be accompanied by vocal expression (vacī-viññatti). Of these, the first two classes are indulged in by cultured persons, the next two by the average man, and the last two by the lower classes of being.

27. Thought-Process

The subject, the consciousness, receives objects from within and without. When a person is in a state of profound sleep his mind is said to be vacant, or, in other words, in a state of bhavanga. We always experience such a passive state when our minds do not respond to external objects. This flow of bhavanga is interrupted when objects enter the mind. Then the bhavanga consciousness vibrates for one thought-moment and passes away. Thereupon the sense-door consciousness (pañca-dvārāvajjana) arises and ceases. At this stage the natural flow is checked and is turned towards the object. Immediately after there arises and ceases the eye consciousness[1] (cakkhu viññāna), but yet knows no more about it. This sense operation is followed by a moment of reception of the object so seen (sampaticchana). Next comes the investigating faculty (santīrana) or a momentary examination of the object so received. After this comes that stage of representative cognition termed the determining consciousness (votthapana). Discrimination is exercised at this stage. Freewill plays its part here. Immediately after there arises the psychologically most important stage - Impulsion or javana. It is at this stage that an action is judged whether moral or immoral. Kamma is performed at this stage; if viewed rightly (yoniso manasikāra), the javana becomes moral; if viewed wrongly (ayoniso manasikāra), it becomes immoral. In the case of an Arahat this javana is neither moral nor immoral, but merely functional (kiriya). This javana stage usually lasts for seven thought moments, or, at times of death, five. The whole process which happens in an infinitesimal part of time ends with the registering consciousness (tadālambana), lasting for two thought-moments - thus completing one thought-process at the expiration of seventeen thought-moments.

The three kinds of bhavanga consciousness are vipāka. They are either one of the two santīrana cittas, accompanied by indifference, mentioned above, or one of the eight sobhana vipāka cittas, described in section 6. Pañca-dvārāvajjana is a kriyā citta. Pañca viññāna is one of the ten moral and immoral vipāka cittas. Sampaticchana and santīrana are also vipāka cittas. The mano-dvārāvajjana (mind-door consciousness), a kriyā citta, functions as the votthapana consciousness. One can use one's freewill at this stage. The seven javana thought-moments constitute kamma. The tadālambana is a vipāka citta which is one of the three santīrana cittas or one of the eight sobhana vipāka cittas.

Thus in a particular thought-process there arise various thought-moments which may be kamma, vipāka, or kriyā.

*[A detailed exposition of this subject will appear in Chapter IV.]

THOUGHT PROCESS: According to Abhidhamma when an object is presented to the mind through one of the five doors a thought process runs as follows:-

  • 1 Atīta Bhavanga            Past Bhavanga
  • 2 Bhavanga Calana        Vibrating Bhavanga
  • 3 Bhavanga-upaccheda   Arrest Bhavanga
  • 4 Pañca-dvārāvajjana    Sense-door Consciousness
  • 5 Pañca Viññāna             Sense-consciousness
  • 6 Sampaticchana             Receiving Consciousness
  • 7 Santīrana                      Investigating Consciousness
  • 8 Votthapana                   Determining Consciousness
  • 9-15 Javana                    Impulsion
  • 16-17 Tadālambana        Registering Consciousness

Footnotes and references:


i.e., if the object is a form (rūpa). This consciousness depends on the five objects of sense.

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