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....

Procedure with Regard to Decease and Rebirth


§ 11.

āyukkhayena, kammakkhayena, ubhayakkhayena upacchedakakammunā c'āti catudhā maranuppatti nāma. Tathā ca marantānam pana maranakāle yathāraham abhimukhībhutam bhavantare patisandhijanakam kammam, vā tam kammakaranakāle rūpadikamupaladdhapubbamupakaranabhutañ ca kammanimittam vā anantaram uppajjamānabhave upalabhitabbam upabhogabhūtañ ca gatinimittam vā kammabalena channam dvārānam aññatarasmim paccupatthāti. Tato param tameva tatho'patthitam ālambanam ārabbha vipaccamānakakammānurūpam parisuddham upakkilittham vā upalabhitabbabhāvanurūpam tatth' onatam vā cittasantānam abhinham pavattati bāhullena. Tam eva vā pana janakabhūtam kamrnam abhinavakaranavasena dvārappatam hoti.

§ 12.

Paccāsannamaranassa tassa vīthicittāvasāne bhavangakkhaye vā cavanavasena paccuppannabhavapariyosānabhūtam cuticittam uppajjitvā nirujjhati. Tasmim niruddhāvasāne tass' ānantaram eva tathā gahitam ālambanam ārabbha savatthukam avatthukam eva vā yathāraham avijjānusayaparikkhittena tanhānusayamūlakena sankhārena janīyamānam sampayuttehi pariggayhamānam sahajātānam adhitthānabhāvena pubbangamabhūtam bhavantarapatisandhānavasena patisandhisankhātam mānasam uppajjamānam eva patitthāti bhavantare.

§ 13.

Maranāsannavīthiyam pan' ettha mandappavattāni pañc' eva javanāni pātikankhitabbāni. Tasmā yadi paccuppannālambanesu āpāthamāgatesu dharantesv' eva maranam hoti. Tadā patisandhibhavangānam pi paccuppannālambanatā labbhatī' ti katvā kāmāvacarapatisandhiyā chadvāragahitam kammanimittam gatinimittañ ca paccuppannam atītamālambanam vā upalabbhati. Kammam pana atītam eva. Tañ ca manodvāragahitam. Tāni pana sabbāni pi parittadhammabhūta n'evālambanānī' ti veditabbam.

Rūpāvacarapatisandhiyā pana paññattibhūtam kammanimittam evālambanam hoti. Tathā āruppapatisandhiyā ca Mahāggatabhūtam paññattibhūtañ ca kammanimittam eva yathāraham ālambanam hoti.

Asaññasattānam pana jīvitanavakam eva patisandhibhāvena patitthāti. Tasmā te rūpapatisandhikā nāma. āruppā āruppapatisandhikā. Sesā rūpārūpapatisandhikā.

§ 14.

āruppacutiyā honti hetthimāruppavaijjtā Paramāruppasandhi ca tathā kāame tihetukā.

Rūpāvacaracutiyā aheturahitā siyum
Sabba kāmatihetumhā kāmes' v' eva pan' etarā.

Ayam'ettha cutipatisandhikkamo.



§ 11.

The advent of death (51) is fourfold, namely,

  1. through the expiration of the age-limit (52),
  2. through the expiration of the (Reproductive) Kammic force (53)
  3. through the (simultaneous) expiration of both (54), and
  4. through (the intervention of a) Destructive Kamma (55).

Now, to those who are about to die, at the moment of death, by the power of Kamma, one of the following presents itself through any of the six doors:

  1. a Kamma that produces rebirth in the subsequent birth enters (the mind-door) according to circumstances (56);
  2. an object (51) such as a pre-perceived form and the like, or anything that was instrumental in the performance of the Kamma.
  3. a symbolic destiny sign (58) that should be got and experienced in the subsequent birth-place.

Thereafter attending to that object thus presented (59), the stream of consciousness, in accordance with the Kamma that is to be matured, whether pure or corrupted, and in conformity with the place where one is to be born, continually flows, inclining mostly towards that state. Or that birth-reproductive Kamma presents itself to a sense-door in the way of renewing.

§ 12.

To one who is nearing death, either at the end of a thought-process or at the dissolution of bhavanga, the decease-consciousness, the consummation of the present life, arises and ceases in the way of death.

Immediately after that (death-consciousness) has ceased, a rebirth consciousness arises and is established in the subsequent existence, based on the object thus obtained, either with or without the heart-base (60) as is appropriate, generated by Kamma (sankhāra) that is enveloped by latent ignorance and rooted in latent craving. That rebirth (or relinking) consciousness, so called because it links together the two consecutive existences, is conjoined with its mental co-adjuncts, and acts as the fore-runner to the conascent states as their locus (or foundation - adhitthānabhāvena).

§ 13.

Herein in the dying thought-process only five feeble moments (normally seven thought-moments), of javana should be expected.

Therefore when death occurs while the present object is being presented to the avenues (i.e., kamma nimitta to one of the five sense-doors or gati nimitta to the mind-door) then the rebirth-consciousness and the bhavanga-consciousness take a present object.

Thus in rebirth in a Sense-Sphere the kamma nimitta taken by (any of) the six doors, or the gati nimitta, may be past or present.

But Kamma is perceived by the mind-door only as a past object.

All these should be regarded as lesser objects (i.e., belonging to the kāma-sphere).

In rebirth in the Realms of Forms the Kamma symbol which is a concept (such as earth device, etc.) becomes the object.

So, too, in rebirth in Formless Realms, only a Kamma symbol which is a sublimated concept (such as a visualized space) becomes an object, according to circumstances.

To the mindless beings only the vital nonad[1] establishes itself in the way of rebirth. Hence they are called materially reborn. Those born in Formless Realms are called mentally reborn. The rest are called materially and mentally reborn.

§ 14.

After one passes away from a Formless Realm, one is similarly born in a Formless Realm, but not in a lower Formless plane, and also in the Sense-Sphere with three roots.

When one passes from a Realm of Form, one is not born without the three roots. After a birth with the three roots one seeks rebirth in all states. The rest (namely those with two roots and no roots) are reborn in the Sense-Spheres.

Herein this is the procedure with regard to decease and rebirth.



51. "Death is the temporary end of a temporary phenomenon." By death is meant the extinction of psychic life (jīvitindriya), heat (usma = tejodhātu), and consciousness (viññāna), of one individual in a particular existence. Death is not the complete annihilation of a being. Death in one place means birth in another place, just as, in conventional terms, the rising of the sun in one place means the setting of the sun in another place.

52. What are commonly understood to be natural deaths due to old age may be classed under this category.

To each of the various planes of existence is naturally assigned a definite age-limit, irrespective of the potential energy of the Reproductive Kamma that has yet to run. One must, however, succumb to death when the maximum age-limit is reached. It may also be said that if the Reproductive Kamma is extremely powerful, the Karmic energy rematerializes itself on the same plane, or on some higher plane as in the case of the devas.

53. As a rule the thought, volition, or desire, which was extremely strong during lifetime becomes predominant at the moment of death, and conditions the subsequent birth. In this last thought-moment is present a special potentiality. When the potential energy of this Reproductive Kamma is exhausted, the organic activities of the material form, in which is corporealized the life-force, cease even before the approach of old age.

54. If a person is born at a time when the age-limit is 80 years, and he dies at 80 owing to the exhaustion of the potential force of his Reproductive Kamma, his death is due to the simultaneous expiration of both age and Kamma.

55. There are powerful actions which suddenly cut off the force of the Reproductive Kamma, even before the expiration of the life-term. A more powerful opposing force, for instance, can check the path of a flying arrow and bring it down to the ground. Similarly, a very powerful Kammic force of the past is capable of nullifying the potential energy of the dying reproductive (janaka) thought-moment, and thus destroy the life of a being. The death of Devadatta was due to an upacchedaka kamma which he committed during his lifetime.

The first three types of death are collectively called kālamarana (timely death), and the last one is known as akālamarana (untimely death).

An oil lamp, for instance, may be extinguished owing to any of the following four causes, namely, the exhaustion of the wick, the exhaustion of oil, simultaneous exhaustion of both wick and oil, and some extraneous cause like the gust of a wind. Death of a person may similarly be caused by any of the aforesaid four ways.

56. As a person is about to die, a good or bad action may present itself before his mind's eye. It may be either a meritorious or a demeritorious Weighty action (garuka kamma), such as jhānas (ecstasies), or parricide etc. They are so powerful that they totally eclipse all other actions, and appear very vividly before the mental eye. If there is no Weighty action, he may take for his object of the dying thought a Kamma done or remembered immediately before death (āsanna kamma).

If it is a past action, strictly speaking, it is the good or bad thought experienced at the moment of performing the action, that recurs at the death-moment.

57. Kamma nimitta is any sight, sound, smell, taste, touch or idea which was obtained at the time of the commission of the Kamma, such as knives in the case of a butcher, patients in the case of a physician, flowers in the case of a devotee, etc.

58. By gati nimitta is meant some sign of the place where he is to take birth, an event which invariably happens to dying persons. When these indications of the future birth occur, and if they are bad, they can be turned into good. This is done by influencing the thoughts of the dying person, so that his good thoughts may now act as the Proximate Kamma and counteract the influence of the Reproductive Kamma which would otherwise affect his subsequent birth.

These symbols of one's destiny may be hellish fires, forests, mountainous regions, mother's womb, celestial mansions, etc.

The Kamma is presented to the mind-door. Kamma nimitta may be presented to any of the six doors according to circumstances. Gati nimitta, being always a physical sight, is presented to the mind-door as a dream.

59. Taking one of the aforesaid objects, a thought-process runs its course even if the death be an instantaneous one. It is said that even the fly which is crushed by a hammer on the anvil also experiences such a thought-process before it actually dies.

Let us imagine for the sake of convenience that the dying person is to be reborn in the human plane and that his object is some good Kamma.

His bhavanga consciousness, interrupted, vibrates for one thought-moment and passes away. Thereafter the mind-door apprehending consciousness (manodvārāvajjana) arises and passes away. Then comes the psychologically important stage - the javana process - which here runs only for five thought-moments by reason of its weakness, instead of the normal seven. As such it lacks all reproductive power; its main function being the mere regulation of the new existence - abhinavakarana. The object in the present case being desirable, the consciousness he experiences is a moral one - automatic or prompted, accompanied by pleasure, and associated with wisdom or as the case may be. The tadālambana consciousness which has for its function a registering or identifying for two moments of the object so perceived, may or may not follow. After this occurs death consciousness (cuti citta), the last thought-moment to be experienced in this present life. (See Diagram XI).

There is a misconception amongst some that the subsequent birth is conditioned by this last decease-thought. What actually conditions rebirth is not this decease-thought, which in itself has no special function to perform, but that which is experienced during the javana process.

With the ceasing of the decease-consciousness death actually occurs. Then no material qualities born of mind and food (cittaja and āhāraja rūpa) are produced. Only series of material qualities born of heat (utuja) goes on till the corpse is reduced to dust.

Now, immediately after the dissolution of the decease consciousness (cuti citta) there arises in a fresh existence the re-linking consciousness (patisandhi viññāna). This is followed by sixteen bhavanga thought-moments. Thereafter the mind-door apprehending consciousness (manodvārāvajjana) arises, to be followed by seven javana thought-moments, developing a liking to the fresh existence (bhavanikanti javana). Then the bhavanga consciousness arises and perishes, and the stream of consciousness flows on ceaselessly (see Diagram XII).

60. In the case of Formless Realms there is no heart-base (hadayavatthu).

Footnotes and references:


Namely, the four elements of extension, cohesion, heat, motion (pathavi, āpo, tejo, vāyo), the four derivatives - colour, odour, taste, nutritive essence (vanna, gandha, rasa, ojā), and physical life principle (jīvitindriya)

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