Guide to Tipitaka

Canonical Pâli Buddhist Literature of the Theravâda School

by U Ko Lay | 48,543 words

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Part I - The Dhammasangani Pali

The Dhammasangani, the first book of the Abhidhamma, and the Pattkana, the last book, are the most important of the seven treatises of Abhidhamma, providing as they do the quintessence of the entire Abhidhamma.

Scheme of classification in the Dhammasangani:

(1) The Matika

The Dhammasangani enumerates all the dhammas (phenomena) i e , all categories of nama, namely, consciousness and mental con- comitant, and rupa, corporeality. Having enumerated the phenomena, they are arranged under different heads to bring out their exact nature, function and mutual relationship both internally (in our own being) and with the outside world The Dhammasangani begins with a complete list of heads called the Matika The Matika serves as a classified table of mental constituents treated not only in the Dham- masangani but in the entire system of the Abhidhamma

The Matika consists altogether of one hundred and twenty-two groups, of which the first twenty-two are called the Tikas or Triads, those that are divided under three heads; and the remaining one hun- dred are called the Dukas or Dyads, those that are divided under two heads

Examples of Triads are:

(a) KusalaTika, dhammas that are:

  1. moral, kusala,
  2. immoral, akusala,
  3. indeterminate, abyakata

(b) VedanaTika, dhammas that are associated with.

  1. pleasant feeling,
  2. painful feeling,
  3. neutral feeling


Example of Dyads are:

(a) Hetu Duka, dhammas that are:

  1. roots, hetus
  2. not roots, na-hetu.

(b) Sahetuka Duka, dhammas that are.

  1. associated with the hetus.
  2. not associated with the hetus.

The Matika concludes with a list of the categories of dhamma entitled Suttantika Matika made up of forty-two groups of dhamma found in the suttas

(2) The four Divisions

Based on these Mafakas of Tikas and Dukas, the Dhammasangani is divided into four Divisions.

  1. Cittuppada Kanda, Division on the arising of consciousness and mental concomitants
  2. Rupa Kanda, Division concerning corporeality,
  3. Nikkhepa Kanda, Division that avoids elaboration,
  4. Atthakathd Kanda, Division of Supplementary Digest

Of the four divisions, the first two, namely, Ctttuppada Kanda and Rupa Kanda form the main and essential portion of the book. They set the model of thorough investigation into the nature, properties, function and interrelationship of each of the dhammas listed in the Matika, by providing a sample analysis and review of the first Tika, namely, the Kussala Ttka of Kusala, Akusala and Abyakata Dhamma. Cittuppada Kanda deals with a complete enumeration of all the states of mind that come under the headings of Kusala and Akusala; the Rupa Kanda is concerned with all states of matter that come under the heading of Abyakata; mention is also made of Asankhata Dkatu (Nibbana) without discussing it

The Nikkhepa Kanda, the third division, gives, not too elaborate- ly nor too briefly, the summary of distribution of all the Tikas and Dukas, so that their full contents and significance will become com- prehensible and fully covered.


Atihakathd Kanda, the last division of the book, is of the same nature as the third division, giving a summary of the dhammas under the different heads of the Tika and the Duka groups But it provides it in a more condensed manner, thus forming a supplementary digest of the first book of the Abhidhamma for easy memorizing

(3) Order and classification of the types of Consciousness as discussed in Cittuppada Kanda

The Cittuppada Kanda first gives a statement of the types of Consciousness arranged under the three heads of the first Tika, namely, (i) Kusala Dhamma i e , Mentonous Consciousness and its concomitants (ii) Akusala Dhamma i e , Demeritorious Consciousness and its concomitants (lii) Abyakata Dhamma i e , Indeterminate Con- sciousness and its concomitants The list of mental concomitants for each dhamma is fairly long and repetitive

The statement of the types of Consciousness is followed by iden- tification of the particular type e g Kusala Dhamma, in the form of question and answer, with regard to the plane or sphere (bhumi) of Consciousness: Kamdvacara, sensuous plane, Rupavacara, plane of form, Arupavacara, plane of no-form; Tebhumaka, pertaining to all the three planes, or Lokuttara, supramundane, not pertaining to the three planes

The type of Consciousness for each plane is further divided into various kinds e.g , there are eight kinds of Kusala Dhamma for the sensuous plane: first Kusala Citta, second Kusala Citta etc, twelve kinds ofAkusala Citta; eight kinds ofAhetuka Kusala Vipaka Cttta and eight kinds of Sahetuka Vipaka Citta under the heading of Abyakata Dhamma.

Then these various kinds are further analysed according to:


  1. Dhamma Vavatthdna Vara e.g , the particular quality, whether accompanied by joy etc. Le, somanassa, domanassa, sukha, dukkha, or upekkhd.
  2. Kotthdsa Vara, the grouping of dhammas There are twenty- three categories of dhammas which result from synthetical grouping of dhammas into separate categories such as khan- dhas, ayatanas, dhatus etc.
  3. Sumdta Vara, which lays stress on the fact that there is no 'self (atta) or jiva behind all these dhammas; they are only composites, causally formed and conditioned, devoid of any abiding substance

The same method of treatment is adopted for the akusala and abyakata types of Consciousness

(4) Rupa Kanda

Because Dhammasangani treats all the dhammas (ndmas as well as rupas) m the same uniform system of classification, Rupa Kanda is only a continuation of the distribution of the Dhamma under the heads of the first Tika, which begins m the first division, Cittupada Kanda In the Ctttuppada Kanda, the enumeration of the Dhamma under the head 'Abyakata' has been only partially done, because abyakata type of Dhamma includes not only all the states of mind which are neither meritorious nor demeritorious but also all states of matter and the Asankhata Dhatu or Nibbdna The portion of Dhamma under the heading of Abyakata, which has been left out from Cittuppada Kanda is attended to m this kanda.

The method of treatment here is similar, with the difference that instead of mental concomitants, the constituents of matter, namely, the four primary elements and the material qualities derived from them with their properties and their relationships are analysed and classified  

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