Professor Ko Lay
distribution only, as a gift of Dhamma
The Dhammasangani, the first book
of the Abhidhamma, and the Patthana, 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
(1) The Matika
The Dhammasangani enumerates all
the dhammas (phenomena) i.e., all categories of nama, namely,
Consciousness and mental concomitant, 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
Dhammasangani 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 hundred are called the Dukas
or Dyads, those that are divided under two heads.
Examples of Triads are:
(a) Kusala Tika: dhammas
(i) that are moral, kusala,
(ii) that are immoral, akusala,
(iii) that are inderterminate, abyakata.
(b) Vedana Tika: dhammas that are
(i) with pleasant feeling,
(ii) with painful feeling,
(iii) with neutral feeling.
Examples of Dyads are:
(a) Hetu Duka: dhammas
(i) that are roots, hetus
(ii) that are not roots, ne-hetu.
(b) Sahetuka Duka: dhammas
(i) that are associated with
(ii) that are 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 Matikas of Tikas
and Dukas, the Dhammasangani is divided into four Divisions:
(i) Cittuppada Kanda. Division
on the arising of consciousness and mental concomitants.
(ii) Rupa Kanda, Division
(iii) Nikkhepa Kanda, Division
that avoids elaboration.
(iv) Atthakatha Kanda,
Division of Supplementary Digest
Of the four divisions, the first
two, namely, Cittuppada Kanda and Rupa Kanda form the main and
the 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 simple analysis and review of the first Tika, namely,
the Kusala Tika 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 Dhatu (Nibbana) without discussing it.
The Nikkhepa Kanda, the third
division, gives, not too elaborately nor too briefly, the summary
of distribution of all the Tikas and Dukas, so that their full
contents and significance will become comprehensible and fully
Atthakatha 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.,
Meritorious Consciousness and its concomitants (ii) Akusala
Dhamma i.e., Demeritorious Consciousness and its concomitants
(iii) Abyakata Dhamma i.e., Indeterminate Consciousness 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 identification 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:
Kamavacara, 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
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 of Akusala Citta;
eight kinds of Ahetuka Kusala Vipaka Citta and eight kinds of
Sahetuka Vipaka Citta under the heading of Abyakata Dhamma.
Then these various kinds are
further analysed according to:
(i) Dhamma Vavatthana Vara
e.g., the particular quality, whether accompanied by joy etc.
i.e., somanassa, domannassa, sukha, dukkha or upekkha.
(ii) Kotthgsa Vara, the
grouping of dhammas. There are twenty three categories of
dhammas which result from synthetical grouping of dhammas
into separate categories such as khandhas, ayatanas, dhatus
(iii) Sunnata 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 (namas as well as rupas) in the same uniform system
of classification, Rupa Kanda is only a continuation of the
distribution of the Dhamma under the heads of the first Tiks
which begins in the first division, Cittuppada Kanda. In the
Cittuppada 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 Nibbana. The portion of Dhamma under the
heading of Abyakata, which has been left out from cittuppada
Kanda is attended to in 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.
Vibhanga Pali: Book of Analysis
The second book of the Abhidhamma
Pitaka, Vibhanga, together with the first book Dhammasangani and
the third book Dhatukatha, forms a closely related foundation for
the proper and deep understanding of the Buddha's Dhamma. Whereas
Dhammasangani provides a bird's eye view of the whole of the Tika
and Duka groups with further systematic arrangements under
classified heads, Vibhanga and Dhatukatha give a closer view of
selected portions of those groups bringing out minute details.
Thus, Kotthasa Vara in
Dhammasangani explains what and how many khandha, ayatana, dhatu,
ahara, indriya, jhanange etc. are included in the Tika and Duka
groups. But it does not furnish complete information about these
dhammas. It is Vibhanga which provides full knowledge concerning
them, stating the exact nature of each dhamma. Its constituents
and its relationship to other dhammas.
The Vibhanga is divided into
eighteen Chapters each dealing with a particular aspect of the
Dhamma; its full analysis and investigation into each
constituesn. The arrangement and classification into groups and
heads follow the same system as in the Dhammasangani. Vibhanga
may therefore be regarded as complementary to Dhammasangani.
Vibhanga explains comprehensively
the following categories of Dhamma:
||(xvii) Khuddhaka vatthu
Each category is analysed and
discussed in two or all the three of the following methods of
Suttanta bhajaniya - the meaning
of the terms and the classification of the dhammas determined
according to the Suttanta methods; Abhidhamma bhijaniya - the
meaning of the terms and the classification of the dhammas
determined according to the Abhidhamma method; Panha pucchaka,
discussions in the form of questions and answers.
It may be seen from the above list
of the eighteen categories that they may be divided into three
separate groups. The first group containing numbers (i)-(vi)
deals with mental and corporeal constituents of beings and two
laws of nature to which they are constantly subjected viz: the
Law of Impermanence and the Law of Dependent Origination. The
second group containing numbers (vii)-(xii) is concerned with the
practice of the holy life which will take beings out of suffering
and rounds of existence. The remaining six categories serve as a
supplement to the first two groups, supplying fuller information
and details where necessary.
Although this third book of
Abhidhamma Pitaka is a small treatise, it ranks with the first
two books forming an important trilogy, which must be thoroughly
digested for the complete understanding of the Abhidhamma.
Vibhanga, the second book, has one complete chapter devoted to
the analysis of dhatus, but the subject matter of dhatu is so
important that this separate treatise is devoted to it for a
thorough consideration. The method of analysis here is different
from that employed in the Vibhanga.
Dhatukatha studies how the dhammas
listed in the Tikas and Dukas of the Matika are related to the
three categories of khandha, ayatana and dhatu in their complete
distribution i.e., five khandhas, twelve ayatana and eighteen
dhatus. These are discussed in fourteen ways of analytical
investigations which constitute the fourteen chapters of Dhatukatha.
Abhidhamma is mainly concerned
with the study of abstract truths in absolute terms. But in
describing the dhammas in their various aspects, it is not
possible to keep to absolute terms only. Inevitably, conventional
terms of every day language have to be employed in order to keep
the lines of communication open all. Abhidhamma states that there
are two main types of conventional usage; the first type is
concerned with terms which express things that actually exist in
reality and the second type describes things which have no
existence in reality.
The first three books of the
Abhidhamma investigate the absolute Truth of Dhamma in a planned
system of detailed analysis employing such terms as Khandha,
Ayatana, Dhatu, Sacca and Indriya. These terms are mere
designations which express things that exist in reality and are
therefore classed as the conventional usage of the first type. To
the second type of conventional usage belong such expressions as
man, woman, deva, individual etc., which have no existence in
reality, but nevertheless are essential for communication of
It becomes necessary therefore to
distinguish between these two types of apparent truths. But as
the terms Khandha, Ayatana, Dhatu, Sacca and Indriya have been
elaborately dealt with in the first three books, they are dealt
with here only briefly. The terms used in the second type
concerning individuals are given more weight and space in the
treatise, hence its title Puggalapannatti, designation of
individuals. Different types of individuals are classified, in
ten chapters of the book, after the manner of enumeration
employed in Anguttara Nikaya.
Kathavatthu, like Puggalapannatti,
falls outside the regular system of the Abhidhamma. It does not
directly deal with the abstruse nature of the Dhamma. It is
mainly concerned with wrong views such as "Person exists;
Self exists; Jiva exists" which were prevalent even in the
Buddha's time, or wrong views such as "Arahat falls away
from Arahatship" which arose after the Parinibbana of the
About two hundred and eighteen
years after the Parinibbana of the Buddha there were altogether
eighteen Sects, all claiming to be followers of the Buddha's
Teaching. Of these only the Theravadins were truly orthodox,
while the rest were all schismatic. The Emperor Asoka set about
removing the impure elements from the Order with the guidance and
assistance of the Elder Moggaliputtatissa who was an accomplished
Arahat. Under his direction, the Order held in concord the
Uposatha ceremony which had not been held for seven years be
cause of dissensions and the presence of false bhikkhus in the
At that assembly, the Venerable
Moggaliputtatissa expounded on points of views, made up of five
hundred orthodox statements and five hundred statements of other
views, in order to refute the wrong views that had crept into the
Samgha and that might in the future arise. He followed the heads
of discourses, Matika, outlined by the Buddha himself and
analysed them in detail into one thousand statements of views.
This collection of statements of views was recited by one
thousand selected theras who formed the Third Great Synod, to be
incorporated in the Abhidhamma Pitaka.
The style of compilation of this
treatise is quite different from that of other treatises, writter
as it is in the form of dialogue between two imaginary debators,
one holding the heterodox views of different sects and the other
representing the orthodox views.
The Dhammasangani, the Vibhanga
and the Dhatu katha examine the Dhamma and their classifications
as they exist in the world of reality, named Sankharaloka.
Puggalapannatti and Kathavatthu deal with beings and individuals
which also exist in their own world of apparent reality, known as
Sattaloka. Where the dhamma of Sankharaloka and beings of the
Sattaloka co-exist is termed the Okasaloka. Yamaka sets out to
define and analyse the interrelationship of dhammas and puggalas
as they exist in these three worlds.
This is accomplished in the form
of pairs of questions, which gives it the title of Yamaka. The
logical process of conversion (anuloma) and complete inversion
(patiloma) is applied to determine the complete import and limit
of a term in its relationship with the others. An equivocal
nature of a term (samsaya) is avoided by showing through such
arrangement of questions how other meanings of the term do not
fit for a particular consideration.
The following pairs of questions
may be taken as an example:
To the question "May all rupa
be called Rupakkhandha?" the answer is 'Rupa is also used in
such expressions as piva rupa (loveable nature), eva rupa (of
such nature), but there it does not mean Rupakkhandha.'
But to the question 'May all
Rupakkhandha be called rupa?' the answer is 'yes', because
Rupakkhandha be is a very wide term and includes such terms as
piya rupa. eva rupa etc.
Patthana Pali, the seventh and
last book of the Abhidhamma, is called the Haha Pakarana. the
'Great Book' announcing the supreme position it occupies and the
height of excellence it has reached in its investigations into
the ultimate nature of all the dhammas in the Universe.
The Dhammasangani gives an
enumeration of these dhammas classifying them under the Tika and
Duke groups. Vibhanga analyses them to show what dhammas are
contained in the major categories of khandhas, ayatanas, dhatus
etc. Dhatukatha studies the relationship of dhammas listed in the
Matika with each component of these major categories of khandhas,
ayatanas and dhatus. Yamaka resolves ambiguity in the internal
and external relationship of each dhamma. Patthana forming the
last book of the Abhidhamma brings together all such relationship
in a co-ordinated form to show that the dhammas do not exist as
isolated entities but they constitute a well ordered system in
which the smallest unit conditions the rest of it and is also
being conditioned in return. The arrangement of the system is so
very intricate, complex, highly thorough and complete that it
earns for this treatise the reputation of being deep, profound
An outline of the Patthana
system of relations
Patthana, made up of the
words"pa and thana", means a system of relations. The
Great Treatise of Patthana arranges all conditioned things,
(twenty-two Tikas and one hundred Dukas of the Matika), under
twenty-four kinds of relations, describes and classifies them
into a complete system for understanding the mechanics of the
universe of Dhamma. The whole work is divided into four great
(i) Anuloma Patthana which studies
the instances in which paccaya relations do exist between the dhammas.
(ii) Paccaniya Patthana which
studies the in stances in which paccaya relations do not exist
between the dhammas.
(iii) Anuloma Paccaniya Patthana
which studies the instances in which some of the paccaya
relations do exist between the dhammas but the others do not.
(iv) Paccaniya Anuloma Patthana
which studies the instances in which some of the paccaya
relations do not exist between the dhammas, but the others do
The twenty four paccayas relations
are applied to these four great divisions in the following six
(i) Tika Patthana
(ii) Duka Patthana
(iii) Duka-Tika Patthana
(iv) Tika-Duka Patthana
(v) Tika-Tika Patthana
(vi) Duka-Duka Patthana
-- The twenty four paccayas are
applied to the dhammas in their twenty four Tika groups
-- The twenty four paccayas are
applied to the dhammas in their one hundred Duka groups.
-- The twenty four paccayas
applied to the dhammas in their one hundred Dukes mixed with
twenty two Tika groups.
-- The twenty four paccayas
applied to the dhammas in their twenty two Tikas mixed with one
hundred Duke groups.
-- The twenty four paccayas
applied to the dhammas in the twenty two Tika groups mixed with
-- The twenty four paccayes
applied to the dhammas in their one hundred Duke groups mixed
with one another.
The four patthanas of the four
great divisions when permuted with the six patthanas of the six
ways result in twenty four treatises which constitute the
gigantic compilation of abstract Abhidhamma known as the
Mahapakarana or as the commentary and subcommentary name it
"Anantanaya Samanta Fatthana" to denote its profundity
and fathomless depth.