Vinnana, Viññāṇa: 9 definitions


Vinnana means something in Buddhism, Pali, Jainism, Prakrit. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

Source: Access to Insight: A Glossary of Pali and Buddhist Terms

Consciousness; cognizance; the act of taking note of sense data and ideas as they occur. There is also a type of consciousness that lies outside of the khandhas - called consciousness without feature (vinnanam anidassanam) - which is not related to the six senses at all. See khandha.

Source: Dhamma Dana: Pali English Glossary

N (Consciousness that knows). Knowledge.

Source: Journey to Nibbana: Patthana Dhama


Vinnana is made of vi and nana. So vinnana are special knowledge. When a citta arise at eye while seeing a colour, that citta particularly knows the colour. No other citta can know the colour. So it is a form of vinnana citta.

Source: Pali Kanon: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines

1) Viññāna ('consciousness'), is one of the 5 groups of existence (aggregates; khandha); one of the 4 nutriments (āhāra); the 3rd link of the dependent origination (paticcasamuppāda); the 5th in the sixfold division of elements (dhātu).

Viewed as one of the 5 groups (khandha), it is inseparably linked with the 3 other mental groups (feeling, perception and formations) and furnishes the bare cognition of the object, while the other 3 contribute more specific functions. Its ethical and karmic character, and its greater or lesser degree of intensity and clarity, are chiefly determined by the mental formations associated with it.

Just like the other groups of existence, consciousness is a flux (viññāna-sotā, 'stream of c.') and does not constitute an abiding mind-substance; nor is it a transmigrating entity or soul. The 3 characteristics (s. ti-lakkhana), impermanence, suffering and no-self, are frequently applied to it in the texts (e.g., in the Anattalakkhana Sutta, S.XXII, 59). The Buddha often stressed that "apart from conditions, there is no arising of consciousness' (M 38); and all these statements about its nature hold good for the entire range of consciousness, be it "past, future or presently arisen, gross or subtle, in oneself or external, inferior or lofty, far or near" (S. XXII, 59).

According to the 6 senses it divides into 6 kinds, viz. eye- (or visual) consciousness (cakkhu-v.), etc. About the dependent arising of these 6 kinds of consciousness, Vis.M. XV, 39 says: 'Conditioned through the eye, the visible object, light and attention, eye-consciousness arises. Conditioned through the ear, the audible object, the ear-passage and attention, ear-consciousness arises. Conditioned, through the nose, the olfactive object, air and attention, nose-consciousness arises. Conditioned through the tongue, the gustative object, humidity and attention, tongue-consciousness arises. Conditioned through the body, bodily impression, the earth-element and attention, body-consciousness arises. Conditioned through the subconscious mind (bhavanga-mano), the mind-object and attention, mind-consciousness arises."

The Abhidhamma literature distinguishes 89 classes of consciousness, being either karmically wholesome, unwholesome or neutral, and belonging either to the sense-sphere, the fine-material or the immaterial sphere, or to supermundane consciousness. See Table I.

2) Consciousness (viññāna) [one of the four kinds of āhāra, food] feeds mind and corporeality (nāma-rūpa; ib., 2) at the moment of conception" (Vis.M. XI).

context information

Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

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General definition (in Buddhism)

Source: Wisdom Library: Buddhism

Vinnana:—Sensory consciousness.

Source: WikiPedia: Buddhism

Vijñāna or viññāṇa is translated as "consciousness," "life force," "mind," or "discernment." Throughout Pali literature, viññāṇa can be found as one of a handful of synonyms for the mental force that animates the otherwise inert material body. In a number of Pali texts though, the term has a more nuanced and context-specific (or "technical") meaning.

Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

[«previous next»] — Vinnana in Pali glossary
Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

viññāṇa : (nt.) animation; consciousness.

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary

Viññāṇa, (nt.) (fr. vi+jñā; cp. Vedic vijñāna cognition) (as special term in Buddhist metaphysics) a mental quality as a constituent of individuality, the bearer of (individual) life, life-force (as extending also over rebirths), principle of conscious life, general consciousness (as function of mind and matter), regenerative force, animation, mind as transmigrant, as transforming (according to individual kamma) one individual life (after death) into the next. (See also below, c & d). In this (fundamental) application it may be characterized as the sensory and perceptive activity commonly expressed by “mind. ” It is difficult to give any one word for v. because there is much difference between the old Buddhist and our modern points of view, and there is a varying use of the term in the Canon itself. In what may be a very old Sutta S. II, 95 v. is given as a synonym of citta (q. v.) and mano (q. v.), in opposition to kāya used to mean body. This simpler unecclesiastical, unscholastic popular meaning is met with in other suttas. E. g. the body (kāya) is when animated called sa-viññāṇaka (q. v. and cp. viññāṇatta). Again, v. was supposed, at the body’s death, to pass over into another body (S. I, 122; III, 124) and so find a support or platform (patiṭṭhā). It was also held to be an immutable, persistent substance, a view strongly condemned (M. I, 258). Since, however, the persistence of v. from life to life is declared (D. II, 68; S. III, 54), we must judge that it is only the immutable persistence that is condemned. V, was justly conceived more as “minding” than as “mind. ” Its form is participial. For later variants of the foregoing cp. Miln. 86; PvA. 63, 219.

Ecclesiastical scholastic dogmatic considers v. under the categories of (a) khandha; (b) dhātu; (c) paṭiccasamuppāda; (d) āhāra; (e) kāya. (a) V. as fifth of the five khandhas (q. v.) is never properly described or defined. It is an ultimate. But as a factor of animate existence it is said to be the discriminating (vijānāti) of e.g. tastes or sapid things (S. III, 87), or, again, of pleasant or painful feeling (M. I, 292). It is in no wise considered as a condition, or a climax of the other incorporeal khandhās. It is just one phase among others of mental life. In mediæval dogmatic it appears rather as the bare phenomenon of aroused attention, the other khandhās having been reduced to adjuncts or concomitants brought to pass by the arousing of v. (Cpd. 13), and as such classed under cetasikā, the older saṅkhārakkhandha.—(b) as dhātu, v. occurs only in the category of the four elements with space as a sixth element, and also where dhātu is substituted for khandha (S. III, 10). -(c) In the chain of causation (Paṭicca-samuppāda) v. is conditioned by the saṅkhāras and is itself a necessary condition of nāma-rūpa (individuality). See e.g. S. II, 4, 6, 8, 12 etc.; Vin. I, 1; Vism. 545 sq. =VbhA. 150; Vism. 558 sq.; VbhA. 169 sq.; 192.—At S. II, 4=III, 61 viññāṇa (in the Paṭicca-samuppāda) is defined in a similar way to the definition under v. -ṭṭhiti (see c), viz. as a quality peculiar to (& underlying) each of the 6 senses: “katamaṃ viññāṇaṃ? cha-y-ime viññāṇa-kāyā (groups of v.), viz. cakkhu° sota° etc. ” which means that viññāṇa is the apperceptional or energizing principle, so to speak the soul or life (substratum, animator, lifepotency) of the sensory side of individuality. It arises through the mutual relation of sense and sense-object (M. III, 281, where also the 6 v. -kāyā). As such it forms a factor of rebirth, as it is grouped under upadhi (q. v.). Translations of S. II, 4: Mrs. Rh. D. (K. S. II. 4) “consciousness”; Geiger (in Z. f. B. IV. 62) “Erkennen. ”‹-› (d) As one of the four āhāras (q. v.) v. is considered as the material, food or cause, through which comes rebirth (S. II, 13; cp. B. Psy. p. 62). As such it is likened to seed in the field of action (kamma) A. I, 223, and as entering (a body) at rebirth the phrase viññāṇassa avakkanti is used (D. II, 63; S. II, 91). In this connection the expression paṭisandhi-viññāṇa first appears in Ps. I, 52, and then in the Commentaries (VbhA. 192; cf. Vism. 548, 659 paṭisandhicitta); in Vism. 554=VbhA. 163, the v. here said to be located in the heart, is made out, at bodily death, “to quit its former “support” and proceed (pavattati) to another by way of its mental object and other conditions. ” Another scholastic expression, both early and late, is abhisaṅkhāra-v. or “endowment consciousness, ” viz. the individual transmigrant or transmitted function (viññāṇa) which supplies the next life with the accumulation of individual merit or demerit or indifference, as it is expressed at Nd2 569a in definition of v. (on Sn. 1055: yaṃ kiñci sampajānāsi ... panujja viññāṇaṃ bhave na tiṭṭhe): puññ’âbhisaṅkhāra-sahagata-viññāṇaṃ, apuññ’... ānejj’. . .—Under the same heading at Nd2 569b we find abhisaṅkhāra v. with ref. to the sotāpatti-stage, i.e. the beginning of salvation, where it is said that by the gradual disappearance of abhis. -v. there are still 7 existences left before nāma-rūpa (individuality) entirely disappears. The climax of this development is “anupādi-sesa nibbāna-dhatu, ” or the nibbāna stage without a remainder (parinibbāna), which is characterized not by an abhisaṅkhāra-v. but by the carimaka-v. or the final vital spark, which is now going to be extinct. This passage is referred to at DhsA. 357, where the first half is quoted literally. -(e) As kāya i.e. group, v. is considered psycho-physically, as a factor in senseperception (D. III, 243, M. III, 281, etc.), namely, the contact between sense-organ and object (medium, metazu/ was not taken into account) produces v. of sight, hearing etc. The three factors constitute the v. -kāya of the given sense. And the v. is thus bound to bodily process as a catseye is threaded on a string (D. II, 76). Cp. above c.

Other applications of the term v. both Canonical and mediæval: on details as to attributes and functions, see Vin. I, 13 (as one of the khandhas in its quality of anattā, cp. S. IV, 166 sq.); D. III, 223 (as khandha); S. II, 101 sq. (°assa avakkanti); III, 53 sq. (°assa gati, āgati, cuti etc.); A. I, 223 sq.; III, 40; Sn. 734 (yaṃ kiñci dukkhaṃ sambhoti, sabbaṃ viññāṇa-paccayā), 1037 (nāma-rūpa destroyed in consequence of v. destruction), 1073 (cavetha v. (so read for bhavetha); v. at this passage explained as “punappaṭisandhi-v. ” at Nd2 569c); 1110 (uparujjhati); Ps. I, 53 sq. 153 sq.; II, 102; Vbh. 9 sq. 53 sq. 86; Nett 15 (nāma-rūpa v. -sampayutta), 16 (v. -hetuka n. -r.), 17 (nirodha), 28, 79, 116 (as khandha); Vism. 529 (as simple, twofold, fourfold etc.), 545=VbhA. 150 sq. (in detail as product of saṅkhāras & in 32 groups); VbhA. 172 (twofold: vipāka & avipāka); DhA. IV, 100.

Pali book cover
context information

Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

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Prakrit-English dictionary

Source: DDSA: Paia-sadda-mahannavo; a comprehensive Prakrit Hindi dictionary

1) Viṇṇāṇa (विण्णाण) in the Prakrit language is related to the Sanskrit word: Vijñāna.

2) Vinnāṇa (विन्नाण) also relates to the Sanskrit word: Vijñāna.

context information

Prakrit is an ancient language closely associated with both Pali and Sanskrit. Jain literature is often composed in this language or sub-dialects, such as the Agamas and their commentaries which are written in Ardhamagadhi and Maharashtri Prakrit. The earliest extant texts can be dated to as early as the 4th century BCE although core portions might be older.

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Kannada-English dictionary

Source: Alar: Kannada-English corpus

Vinnāṇa (ವಿನ್ನಾಣ):—

1) [noun] wide knowledge; scholarship.

2) [noun] skill; adroitness; adeptness.

3) [noun] that which is got by magic or super human power.

4) [noun] beauty; charm.

5) [noun] the behaviour of a woman intended to excite admiration or love in men sex merely for the sake of vanity or mischief; flirtation; coquetry.

6) [noun] something done mocking, deriding or scornfully.

7) [noun] surpassing goodness, merit, etc.; excellence.

8) [noun] something that deceives by producing a false or misleading impression of reality; illusion.

context information

Kannada is a Dravidian language (as opposed to the Indo-European language family) mainly spoken in the southwestern region of India.

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