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The Puggala-Pannatti is the fourth work of the AbhidhammaPitaka. Dr. Rhys Davids, in his Buddhist India(p. 188),considers this work to be probably the earliest of the Abhidhamma books. The title consists of two words: puggalaand panfiatti. The word ‘ puggala ’ means an individualor a person, as opposed to a multitude or class, a creature,a being, a man (Childers’ Pali Dictionary). Buddhism distinguishes altogether twelve classes of intelligent beings orpuggala— viz., four of the average ordinary class (puthujjana)and eight of the elect class (ariya).
According to the Buddhists, the individual has no realexistence. The term ‘ puggala ’ does not mean anythingreal. It is only sammutisacca (apparent truth) as opposed toparamatthasacca (real truth). “ Just as it is by the condition precedent of the co-existence of its various parts that theword ‘ chariot ’ is used, just so is it that when the khandhasare there, we talk of a ‘ being ’ ” (The Questions of KingMilinda, S.B.E.,vol. xxxv., p. 45, quoting Saifyuttai, 135).
A Puggalavadin’s view is that the person is known in thesense of a real and ultimate fact, but he is not known inthe same way as other real and ultimate facts are known.*“ He or she is known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact,and his material quality is also known in the sense of areal and ultimate fact. But it cannot truly be said thatthe material quality is one thing and the person another; nor can it be truly predicated that the person is related or absolute, conditioned or unconditioned, eternal or temporal, or whether the person has external features or whether he is without anyJ One who has material quality in the sphere of matter is a person, but it cannot be said that one who experiences desires of sense in the sphere of sense-desire is a person.® The genesis of the person is apparent, his passing away and duration are also distinctively apparent, but it caimot be said that the person is conditioned.