GUIDE TO TIPITAKA – CHAPTER 10: ABHIDHAMMA PITAKA
1. The Dhammasangani Pali
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 Dhammasangani
(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 associated
(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 the hetus
(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 concerning corporeality.
(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 covered.
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 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 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 etc.
(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:
|(i) Khandha||(x) Bojjhanga|
|(ii) Ayatana||(xi) Magga|
|(iii) Dhatu||(xii) Jhana|
|(iv) Sacca||(xiii) Appammanna|
|(v) Indriya||(xiv) Sikkhapada|
|(vi) Paticcasamuppada||(xv) Patisambhida|
|(vii) Satipatthana||(xvi) Nana|
|(viii) Sammappadhana||(xvii) Khuddhaka vatthu|
|(ix) Iddhipada||(xviii) Dhammahadaya|
Each category is analysed and discussed in two or all the three of the following methods of analysis:
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.
III. Dhatukatha Pali
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.
2. Puggalapannatti Pali
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 thoughts.
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.
3. Kathavatthu Pali
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 Buddha.
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 Order.
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.
4. Yamaka Pali
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.
VII. Patthana Pali
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 and unfathomable.
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 divisions, namely:
(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 exist.
The twenty four paccayas relations are applied to these four great divisions in the following six ways:
(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 one another.
— 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.