Buddhist Dictionary By Nyanatiloka Mahathera – Aw, Ay

Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines,
By Nyanatiloka Mahathera


awakenment: s. bodhi.

āyatana: 1. ‘spheres’, is a name for the four immaterial absorptions; s. jhāna (5-8). 2. The 12 ‘bases’ or ‘sources’ on which depend the mental processes, consist of five physical sense-organs and consciousness, being the six personal (ajjhattika) bases; and the six objects, the so-called external (bāhira) bases – namely:

eye, or visual organ visible object

ear, or auditory organ sound, or audible object

nose, or olfactory organ odour, or olfactive object

tongue, or gustatory organ taste, or gustative object

body, or tactile organ body-impression, or tactile object

mind-base, or consciousness mind-object

(manāyatana) (dhammāyatana)

“By the visual organ (cakkhāyatana) is meant the sensitive part of the eye (cakkhu-pasāda) built up of the four elements … responding to sense-stimuli” (sa-ppaṭigha)…. (Vibh. II). Similar is the explanation of the four remaining physical sense-organs.

Mind-base (manāyatana) is a collective term for all consciousness whatever, and should therefore not be confounded with the mind-element (mano-dhātu; s. dhātu II, 16), which latter performs only the functions of adverting (āvajjana) to the sense-object, and of receiving (sampaṭicchana) the sense-object. On the functions of the mind, s. viññāṇa-kicca.

The visible object (rūpāyatana) is described in Vibh. II as “that phenomenon which is built up of the four physical elements and appears as color, etc.” What is’ seen by-visual perception, i.e. by eye-consciousness (cakkhu-viññāṇa) are colors and differences of light, but not three dimensional bodily things.

‘Mind-object-base’ (dhammāyatana) is identical with ‘mind-object-element’ (dhamma-dhātu; s. dhātu II) and dhammārammaṇa (s. ārammaṇa). It may be physical or mental, past, present or future, real or imaginary.

The 5 physical sense-organs are also called faculties (indriya, q.v.), and of these faculties it is said in M. 43: “Each of the five faculties owns a different sphere, and none of them partakes of the sphere of another one; … they have mind as their support… are conditioned by vitality, … but vitality again is conditioned by heat, heat again by vitality, just as the light and flame of a burning lamp are mutually conditioned.”

The 12 bases are fully discussed in Vis.M. XV. In Yam III (s Guide, p 98f) the 12 terms are subjected to a logical investigation The six personal bases form the 5th link of dependent origination (paṭiccasamuppāda 5, q.v.).


āyūhana: (kammic) ‘accumulation’, is a name used in the commentarial literature for the wholesome and unwholesome volitional activities (kamma, q.v.) or kamma-formations (saṅkhāra; s. paṭiccasamuppāda), being the bases of future rebirth. ” ‘Accumulation’, is a name for the kamma-formations, and signifies those volitions (cetanā) which arise at the performance of a kamma, first while thinking ‘I will give alms’, and then while actually giving alms (e.g.) for one month or a year. The volition, however, at the time when one is handing the alms over to the recipient; is called kamma-process (kamma-bhava, s. Vis.M. XVII, IX, X). Or, the volitions during the first six impulsive-moments (javana, q.v.) depending on one and the same state of advertence (āvajjana, s. viññāṇa-kicca), these are called the kamma-formations, whilst the 7th impulsive moment is called the kamma-process (kamma-bhava)…. Or, each volition is called ‘kamma-process’ and the accumulation connected with it, ‘kamma-formation’. ” (Vis.M. XVII). Cf. paṭiccasamuppāda (2, 10) – (App.).

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