Buddhist Dictionary



kabalinkáráhára: lit. 'food formed into balls', i.e. food formed into mouthfuls for eating (according to Indian custom); it denotes 'material food' and belongs, together with the three mental nutriments, to the group of four nutriments (s. áhára).

kalápa, 'group', 'unit': 1. 'corporeal unit' (s. rúpa-kalápa); 2. It has the meaning of 'group of existence' (khandha) in kalápasammasana (s. sammasana), i.e. 'comprehension by groups', which is the application of 'methodical (or inductive) insight' (naya-vipassaná) to the comprehension of the 5 aggregates (khandha) as impermanent, painful and not-self. It is a process of methodical summarization, or generalization, from one's own meditative experience that is applied to each of the 5 aggregates, viewed as past, present, future, as internal and external, etc. In Vis.M. XX, where the 'comprehension by groups' is treated in detail, it is said to constitute 'the beginning of insight' as it leads to the 'knowledge of rise and fall', being the first of the 8 insightknowledges (s. visuddhi VI). It is necessary for accomplishing the 5th purification (s. visuddhi V; Vis.M. XX, 2, 6ff.).

kalpa: (Skr) = kappa (q.v.).

kalyána-mitta: 'noble (or good) friend', is called a senior monk who is the mentor and friend of his pupil, "wishing for his welfare and concerned with his progress", guiding his meditation; in particular, the meditation teacher (kammatthánácariya) is so called. For details see Vis.M. III, 28,57ff. The Buddha said that "noble friendship is the entire holy life" (S. III, 18; XLV, 2), and he himself is the good friend par excellence: "Ananda, it is owing to my being a good friend to them that living beings subject to birth are freed from birth" (S. III, 18).

káma may denote: 1. subjective sensuality, 'sense-desire'; 2. objective sensuality, the five sense-objects.

1. Subjective sensuality, or sense-desire, is directed to all five sense-objects, and is synonymous with káma-cchanda, 'sensuous desire', one of the 5 hindrances (nívarana, q.v.); káma-rága, sensuous lust', one of the ten fetters (samyojana, q.v.); káma-tanhá, 'sensuous craving', one of the 3 cravings (tanhá, q.v.); káma-vitakka, 'sensuous thought', one of the 3 wrong thoughts (micchá-sankappa; s. vitakka). - Sense-desire is also one of the cankers (ásava, q.v.) and clingings (upádána, q.v.).

2. Objective sensuality is, in the canonical texts, mostly called káma-guna, 'cords (or strands) of sensuality'.

"There are 5 cords of sensuality: the visible objects, cognizable by eye-consciousness, that are desirable, cherished, pleasant, lovely, sensuous and alluring; the sounds ... smells ... tastes ... bodily impressions cognizable by body-consciousness, that are desirable .... " (D. 33; M. 13, 26, 59, 66).

These two kinds of káma are called 1. kilesa-káma, i.e. káma as a mental defilement, 2. vatthu-káma, i.e. káma as the object-base of sensuality; first in MNid.. I, p. 1, and frequently in the commentaries.

Sense-desire is finally eliminated at the stage of the Non-Returner (Anágámi; s. ariya-puggala, samyojana).

The peril and misery of sense-desire is often described in the texts, e.g. in stirring similes at M. 22, 54, and in the 'gradual instruction' (s. ánupubbí-kathá). See further M. 13, 45, 75; Sn. v. 766ff.; Dhp. 186, 215.

The texts often stress the fact that what fetters man to the world of the senses are not the sense-organs nor the sense-objects but lustful desire (chandarága). On this see A. VI, 63; S. XXXV, 122, 191. - (App.).

káma-bhava: 'sensuous existence'; s. bhava.

káma-cchanda: 'sensuous desire', s. nívarana, chanda.

káma-guna: s. káma.

káma-loka: 'sensuous world', s. loka.

káma-rága: 'sensuous lust', is one of the 10 fetters (samyojana, q .v .) .

kámásava: s: ásava.

káma-sukh'allikánuyoga: 'being addicted to sensual pleasures', is one of the 2 extremes to be avoided by the monk; s. majjhima-patipadá.

káma-tanhá: 'sensuous craving'; s. tanhá.

kámávacara: 'sensuous sphere'; s. avacara.

kámesu-micchácára: lit. 'wrong or evil conduct with regard to sensual things'; 'unlawful sexual intercourse' refers to adultery, and to intercourse with minors or other persons under guardianship. The abstaining from this unlawful act is one of the 5 moral rules (s. sikkhápada) binding upon all Buddhists. Through any other sexual act one does not become guilty of the above transgression, which is considered a great crime. The monk, however, has to observe perfect chastity.

In many Suttas (e.g. A.X., 176) we find the following explanation: "He avoids unlawful sexual intercourse, abstains from it. He has no intercourse with girls who are still under the protection of father or mother, brother, sister or relatives, nor with married women, nor female convicts, nor, lastly, with betrothed girls."

kamma: (wholesome or unwholesome) action; s. karma.

kamma-bhava: s. bhava, paticcasamuppáda.

kammaja-rúpa: 'karma-produced corporeality'; s. samutthána.

kammańńatá: 'adaptability', i.e. of corporeality (rúpassa; s. khandha, Summary I), mental factors (káya), and of consciousness (citta); cf. Tab. II.

kammanta, sammá-: 'right action'; s. magga.

kamma-paccaya: 'karma as condition'; s. paccaya (13).

kamma-patha: 'course of action', is a name for the group of 10 kinds of either unwholesome or wholesome actions, viz.

I. The tenfold unwholesome courses of action (akusala-kamma-patha):

3 bodily actions: killing, stealing, unlawful sexual intercourse;

4 verbal actions: lying, slandering, rude speech, foolish babble;

3 mental actions: covetousness, ill-will, evil views.

Unwholesome mental courses of action comprise only extreme forms of defiled thought: the greedy wish to appropriate others' property, the hateful thought of harming others, and pernicious views. Milder forms of mental defilement are also unwholesome, but do not constitute 'courses of action'.

II. The tenfold wholesome course of action (kusala-kamma-patha):

3 bodily actions: avoidance of killing, stealing, unlawful sexual intercourse;

4 verbal actions: avoidance of lying, slandering, rude speech, foolish babble; i.e. true, conciliatory, mild, and wise speech;

3 mental actions: unselfishness, good-will, right views.

Both lists occur repeatedly, e.g. in A. X, 28, 176; M. 9; they are explained in detail in M. 114, and in Com. to M. 9 (R. Und., p. 14), Atthasálini Tr. I, 126ff.

kamma-samutthána-rúpa: 'corporeality produced through karma'; s. samutthána.

kammatthána: lit. 'working-ground' (i.e. for meditation), is the term in the Com. for 'subjects of meditation'; s. bhávaná.

kamma-vatta: 'karma-round'; s. vatta.

kammáyúhana: s. áyúhana.

kámupádána: 'sensuous clinging', is one of the 4 kinds of clinging (upádána, q.v.).

kankhá: 'doubt', may be either an intellectual, critical doubt or an ethically and psychologically detrimental doubt. The latter may either be a persistent negative skepticism or wavering indecision. Only the detrimental doubt (identical with vicikicchá, q.v.) is to be rejected as karmically unwholesome, as it paralyses thinking and hinders the inner development of man. Reasoned, critical doubt in dubious matters is thereby not discouraged.

The 16 doubts enumerated in the Suttas (e.g. M. 2) are the following: "Have I been in the past? Or, have I not been in the past? What have I been in the past? How have I been in the past? From what state into what state did I change in the past? - Shall I be in the future? Or, shall I not be in the future? What shall I be in the future? How shall I be in the future? From what state into what state shall I change in the future? - Am I? Or, am I not? What am I? How am I? Whence has this being come? Whither will it go?"

kankhá-vitarana-visuddhi: 'purification by overcoming doubt', is the 4th of the 7 stages of purification (visuddhi, q.v.).

kappa (Sanskrit kalpa): 'world-period', an inconceivably long space of time, an aeon. This again is subdivided into 4 sections: world-dissolution (samvatta-kappa) dissolving world), continuation of the chaos (samvatta-ttháyí), world-formation (vivatta-kappa), continuation of the formed world (vivatta-ttháyí).

"How long a world-dissolution will continue, how long the chaos, how long the formation, how long the continuation of the formed world, of these things; o monks, one hardly can say that it will be so many years, or so many centuries, or so many millennia, or so many hundred thousands of years" (A. IV, 156)

A detailed description of the 4 world-periods is given in that stirring discourse on the all-embracing impermanence in A. VII, 62.

The beautiful simile in S. XV, 5 may be mentioned here: "Suppose, o monks, there was a huge rock of one solid mass, one mile long, one mile wide, one mile high, without split or flaw. And at the end of every hundred years a man should come and rub against it once with a silken cloth. Then that huge rock would wear off and disappear quicker than a world-period. But of such world-periods, o monks, many have passed away, many hundreds, many thousands, many hundred thousands. And how is this possible? Inconceivable, o monks, is this samsára (q.v.), not to be discovered is any first beginning of beings, who obstructed by ignorance and ensnared by craving, are hurrying and hastening through this round of rebirths."

Compare here Grimm's German fairy-tale of the little shepherdboy: 'In Farther Pommerania there is the diamond-mountain, one hour high, one hour wide, one hour deep. There every hundred years a little bird comes and whets its little beak on it. And when the whole mountain is ground off, then the first second of eternity has passed."

karma (Sanskrit), Páli: kamma: 'action', correctly speaking denotes the wholesome and unwholesome volitions (kusala- and akusala-cetaná) and their concomitant mental factors, causing rebirth and shaping the destiny of beings. These karmical volitions (kamma cetaná) become manifest as wholesome or unwholesome actions by body (káya-kamma), speech (vací-kamma) and mind (mano-kamma). Thus the Buddhist term 'karma' by no means signifies the result of actions, and quite certainly not the fate of man, or perhaps even of whole nations (the so-called wholesale or mass-karma), misconceptions which, through the influence of theosophy, have become widely spread in the West.

"Volition (cetaná), o monks, is what I call action (cetanáham bhikkhave kammam vadámi), for through volition one performs the action by body, speech or mind. . There is karma (action), o monks, that ripens in hell.... Karma that ripens in the animal world.. Karma that ripens in the world of men.... Karma that ripens in the heavenly world.... Threefold, however, is the fruit of karma: ripening during the life-time (dittha-dhamma-vedaníya-kamma), ripening in the next birth (upapajja-vedaníya-kamma), ripening in later births (aparápariya-vedaníya kamma) ...." (A.VI, 63).

The 3 conditions or roots (múla, q.v.) of unwholesome karma (actions) are greed, hatred, delusion (lobha, dosa, moha); those of wholesome karma are: unselfishness (alobha), hatelessness (adosa = mettá, good-will), undeludedness (amoha = pańńá, knowledge) .

"Greed, o monks, is a condition for the arising of karma; hatred is a condition for the arising of karma; delusion is a condition for the arising of karma ...." (A. III, 109).

"The unwholesome actions are of 3 kinds, conditioned by greed, or hate, or delusion.

"Killing ... stealing ... unlawful sexual intercourse ... lying ... slandering ... rude speech ... foolish babble, if practised, carried on, and frequently cultivated, leads to rebirth in hell, or amongst the animals, or amongst the ghosts" (A. III, 40). "He who kills and is cruel goes either to hell or, if reborn as man, will be short-lived. He who torments others will be afflicted with disease. The angry one will look ugly, the envious one will be without influence, the stingy one will be poor, the stubborn one will be of low descent, the indolent one will be without knowledge. In the contrary case, man will be reborn in heaven or reborn as man, he will be long-lived, possessed of beauty, influence, noble descent and knowledge" (cf. M. 135).

For the above 10-fold wholesome and unwholesome course of action, see kamma-patha. For the 5 heinous crimes with immediate result, s. ánantarika-kamma.

"Owners of their karma are the beings, heirs of their karma, their karma is their womb from which they are born, their karma is their friend, their refuge. Whatever karma they perform, good or bad, thereof they will be the heirs" (M. 135).

With regard to the time of the taking place of the karma-result (vipáka), one distinguishes, as mentioned above, 3 kinds of karma:

1. karma ripening during the life-time (dittha-dhamma-vedaníya kamma);

2. karma ripening in the next birth (upapajja-vedaníya-kamma);

3. karma ripening in later births (aparápariya-vedaníya-kamma).

The first two kinds of karma may be without karma-result (vipáka), if the circumstances required for the taking place of the karma-result are missing, or if, through the preponderance of counteractive karma and their being too weak, they are unable to produce any result. In this case they are called ahosi-kamma, lit. 'karma that has been', in other words, ineffectual karma.

The third type of karma, however, which bears fruit in later lives, will, whenever and wherever there is an opportunity, be productive of karma-result. Before its result has ripened, it will never become ineffective as long as the life-process is kept going by craving and ignorance.

According to the Com., e.g. Vis.M. XIX, the 1st of the 7 karmical impulsive-moments (kamma javana; s. javana) is considered as 'karma ripening during the life-time', the 7th moment as 'karma ripening in the next birth', the remaining 5 moments as 'karma ripening in later births'.

With regard to their functions one distinguishes:

1. regenerative (or productive) karma (janaka-kamma),

2. supportive (or consolidating) karma (upatthambhaka-kamma),

3. counteractive (suppressive or frustrating) karma (upapílaka-kamma),

4. destructive (or supplanting) karma (upaghátaka- or upacchedaka-kamma).

(1) produces the 5 groups of existence (corporeality, feeling, perception, mental formations, consciousness) at rebirth as well as during life-continuity.

(2) does not produce karma-results but is only able to maintain the already produced karma-results.

(3) counteracts or suppresses the karma-results.

(4) destroys the influence of a weaker karma and effects only its own result.

With regard to the priority of their result one distinguishes:

1. weighty karma (garuka-kamma),

2. habitual karma (ácinnaka- or bahula-kamma),

3. death-proximate karma (maranásanna-kamma),

4. stored-up karma (katattá-kamma).

(1, 2) The weighty (garuka) and the habitual (bahula) wholesome or unwholesome karma are ripening earlier than the light and rarely performed karma. (3) The death-proximate (maranásanna) karma - i.e. the wholesome or unwholesome volition present immediately before death, which often may be the reflex of some previously performed good or evil action (kamma), or of a sign of it (kamma-nimitta), or of a sign of the future existence (gati-nimitta) - produces rebirth. (4) In the absence of any of these three actions at the moment before death, the stored-up (katattá) karma will produce rebirth.

A real, and in the ultimate sense true, understanding of Buddhist karma doctrine is possible only through a deep insight into the impersonality (s. anattá) and conditionality (s. paticcasamuppáda, paccaya) of all phenomena of existence. "Everywhere, in all the forms of existence ... such a one is beholding merely mental and physical phenomena kept going by their being bound up through causes and effects.

"No doer does he see behind the deeds, no recipient apart from the karma-fruit. And with full insight he clearly understands that the wise ones are using merely conventional terms when, with regard to the taking place of any action, they speak of a doer, or when they speak of a receiver of the karma-results at their arising. Therefore the ancient masters have said:

'No doer of the deeds is found,

No one who ever reaps their fruits;

Empty phenomena roll on:

This view alone is right and true.


'And whilst the deeds and their results

Roll on, based on conditions all,

There no beginning can be seen,

Just as it is with seed and tree.' " (Vis.M. XIX)


Karma (kamma-paccaya) is one of the 24 conditions (paccaya, q.v.) (App.: Kamma).

Literature: Karma and Rebirth, by Nyanatiloka (WHEEL 9); Survival and Karma in Buddhist Perspective, by K.N. Jayatilleke (WHEEL 141/143); Kamma and its Fruit (WHEEL 221/224).

karma-accumulation: áyúhana (q.v.).

karma-formations: sankhára, i.e. wholesome or unwholesome volitions (cetaná) manifested as actions of body, speech or mind, form the 2nd link of the formula of dependent origination (paticca-samuppáda, q.v.).

karma-process: s. bhava, paticcasamuppáda.

karma-produced corporeality: s. samutthána.

karma-result: vipáka (q.v.).

karma-round: kamma vatta (s. vatta).

karmically acquired corporeality: upádinnarúpa (q.v.).

karmically wholesome, unwholesome, neutral: kusala (q.v.), akusala (q.v.) avyákata (q.v.); cf. Tab. I.. .

karuná: 'compassion', is one of the 4 sublime abodes (brahma-vihára, q.v.).

kasina: (perhaps related to Sanskrit krtsna, 'all, complete, whole'), is the name for a purely external device to produce and develop concentration of mind and attain the 4 absorptions (jhána q.v.). It consists in concentrating one's full and undivided attention on one visible object as preparatory image (parikamma-nimitta), e.g. a colored spot or disc, or a piece of earth, or a pond at some distance, etc., until at last one perceives, even with the eyes closed, a mental reflex, the acquired image (uggaha-nimitta). Now, while continuing to direct one's attention to this image, there may arise the spotless and immovable counter-image (patibhága-nimitta), and together with it the neighbourhood-concentration (upacára-samádhi) will have been reached. While still persevering in the concentration on the object, one finally will reach a state of mind where all sense-activity is suspended, where there is no more seeing and hearing, no more perception of bodily impression and feeling, i.e. the state of the 1st mental absorption (jhána, q.v.).

The 10 kasinas mentioned in the Suttas are: earth-kasina, water, fire, wind, blue, yellow, red, white, space, and consciousness. "There are 10 kasina-spheres: someone sees the earth kasina, above, below, on all sides, undivided, unbounded .... someone see the water-kasina, above, below, etc." (M. 77; D. 33) Cf. abhibháyatan, bhávaná; further s. Fund. IV.

For space and consciousness-kasina we find in Vis.M. V the names limited space-kasina (paricchinnákása-kasina; . . . s. App. ) and light-kasina (áloka-kasina).

For full description see Vis.M. IV-V; also Atthasálini Tr. I, 248.

katattá-kamma: 'stored-up karma'; s. karma.

káya (lit: accumulation): 'group', 'body', may either refer to the physical body (rúpa-káya) or to the mental body (náma-káya). In the latter case it is either a collective name for the mental groups (feeling, perception, mental formations, consciousness; s. khandha), or merely for feeling, perception and a few of the mental formations (s. náma), e.g. in káya-lahutá, etc. (cf. Tab. II). Káya has this same meaning in the standard description of the 3rd absorption (jhána, q.v.) "and he feels joy in his mind or his mental constitution (káya)", and (e.g. Pug. 1-8) of the attainment of the 8 deliverances (vimokkha, q.v.); "having attained the 8 deliverances in his mind, or his person (káya)." - Káya is also the 5th sense-organ, the body-organ; s. áyatana, dhátu, indriya.

káya-gatá-sati: 'mindfulness with regard to the body', refers sometimes (e.g. Vis.M. VIII, 2) only to the contemplation on the 32 parts of the body, sometimes (e.g. M. 119) to all the various meditations comprised under the 'contemplation of the body' (káyánupassaná), the 1st of the 4 'foundations of mindfulness' (satipatthána, q.v.), consisting partly in concentration (samádhi) exercises, partly in insight (vipassaná) exercises. On the other hand, the cemetery meditations (sívathika, q.v.) mentioned in the Satipatthána S.(M. 10) are nearly the same as the 10 contemplations of loathsomeness (asubha-bhávaná, q.v.). of Vis.M. VI, whereas elsewhere the contemplation on the 32 parts of the body is called the 'reflection on impurity' (patikkúla-sańńá).

In such texts as: 'One thing, o monks, developed and repeatedly practised, leads to the attainment of wisdom. It is the contemplation on the body' (A.I), the reference is to all exercises mentioned in the 1st Satipatthána.

Vis.M. VIII, 2 gives a detailed description and explanation of the method of developing the contemplation on the 32 parts of the body. This exercise can produce the 1st absorption only (jhána, q.v.) The stereotype text given in the Satipatthána Sutta and elsewhere - but leaving out the brain - runs as follows:

"And further, o monks, the monk contemplates this body from the soles of the feet upward, and from the tops of the hairs downward, with skin stretched over it, and filled with manifold impurities: 'This body has hairs of the head, hairs of the body, nails, teeth, skin, flesh, sinews, bones, marrow, kidneys, heart, liver, diaphragm, spleen, lungs, intestines, bowels, stomach, excrement, bile, phlegm, pus, blood, sweat, fat, tears, skin grease, spittle, nasal mucus, oil of the joints, and urine ...."

Vis.M. VIII, 2 says "By repeating the words of this exercise one will become well acquainted with the wording, the mind will not rush here and there, the different parts will become distinct and appear like a row of fingers, or a row of hedge-poles. Now, just as one repeats the exercise in words, one should do it also in mind. The repeating in mind forms the condition for the penetration of the characteristic marks.... He who thus has examined the parts of the body as to colour, shape, region, locality and limits, and considers them one by one, and not too hurriedly, as something loathsome, to such a one, while contemplating the body, all these things at the same time are appearing distinctly clear. But also when keeping one's attention fixed outwardly (i.e. to the bodies of other beings), and when all the parts appear distinctly, then all men and animals moving about lose the appearance of living beings and appear like heaps of many different things. And it looks as if those foods and drinks, being swallowed by them, were being inserted into this heap of things. Now, while again and again one is conceiving the idea 'Disgusting! Disgusting!' - omitting in due course several parts - gradually the attainment - concentration (appaná-samádhi, i.e. the concentration of the jhána) will be reached. In this connection, the appearing of forms ... is called the acquired image (uggaha-nimitta), the arising of loathsomeness, however, the counter-image (patibháganimitta)."

káya-kamma: 'bodily action'; s. karma, kammapatha.

káya-kammańńatá, k.-lahutá, k.-mudutá, k.-páguńńatá, k.-passaddhi, k.-ujukatá; s. Tab. II. For passaddhi, s. further bojjhanga.

káya-lahutá: agility or lightness of mental factors (s. lahutá).

káyánupassaná: 'contemplation of the body', is one of the 4 foundations of mindfulness; s. satipatthána.

káya-passaddhi: tranquillity of mental factors, s. bojjhanga.

káya-sakkhi: 'body-witness', is one of the 7 noble disciples (s. ariya-puggala, B.). He is one who "in his own person (lit. body) has attained the 8 deliverances (vimokkha, q.v.), and after wisely understanding the phenomena, the cankers have partly come to extinction" (Pug. 32). In A. IX, 44 it is said: "A monk, o brother, attains the 1st absorption (jhána, q.v.), and as far as this domain reaches,- so far he has realized it in his own person. Thus the Blessed One calls such a person a body-witness in certain respects. (The same is then repeated with regard to the 7 higher absorptions). Further again, o brother, the monk attains the extinction of perception and feeling (s. nirodha-samápatti), and after wisely understanding the phenomena, all the cankers come to extinction. Thus, o brother, the Blessed One calls such a person a body-witness in all respects."

káya-vińńatti: s. vińńatti.

khalu-pacchá-bhattik'anga: s. dhutanga.

khana: 'moment'; s. citta-kkhana.

khandha: the 5 'groups (of existence)' or 'groups of clinging' (upádánakkhandha); alternative renderings: aggregates, categories of clinging's objects. These are the 5 aspects in which the Buddha has summed up all the physical and mental phenomena of existence, and which appear to the ignorant man as his ego, or personality, to wit:

(1) the corporeality group (rúpa-kkhandha),

(2) the feeling group (vedaná-kkhandha),

(3) the perception group (sańńá-kkhandha),

(4) the mental-formation group (sankhára-kkhandha),

(5) the consciousness-group (vińńána-kkhandha).

"Whatever there exists of corporeal things, whether past, present or future, one's own or external, gross or subtle, lofty or low, far or near, all that belongs to the corporeality group. Whatever there exists of feeling ... of perception ... of mental formations ... of consciousness ... all that belongs to the consciousness-group" (S. XXII, 48). - Another division is that into the 2 groups: mind (2-5) and corporeality (1) (náma-rúpa), whilst in Dhamma Sanganí, the first book of the Abhidhamma, all the phenomena are treated by way of 3 groups: consciousness (5), mental factors (2-4), corporeality (1), in Páli citta, cetasika, rúpa. Cf. Guide I.

What is called individual existence is in reality nothing but a mere process of those mental and physical phenomena, a process that since time immemorial has been going on, and that also after death will still continue for unthinkably long periods of time. These 5 groups, however, neither singly nor collectively constitute any self-dependent real ego-entity, or personality (attá), nor is there to be found any such entity apart from them. Hence the belief in such an ego-entity or personality, as real in the ultimate sense, proves a mere illusion.

"When all constituent parts are there,

The designation 'cart' is used;

Just so, where the five groups exist,

Of 'living being' do we speak." (S. V. 10).

The fact ought to be emphasized here that these 5 groups, correctly speaking, merely form an abstract classification by the Buddha, but that they as such, i.e. as just these 5 complete groups, have no real existence, since only single representatives of these groups, mostly variable, can arise with any state of consciousness. For example, with one and the same unit of consciousness only one single kind of feeling, say joy or sorrow, can be associated and never more than one. Similarly, two different perceptions cannot arise at the same moment. Also, of the various kinds of sense-cognition or consciousness, only one can be present at a time, for example, seeing, hearing or inner consciousness, etc. Of the 50 mental formations, however, a smaller or larger number are always associated with every state of consciousness, as we shall see later on.

Some writers on Buddhism who have not understood that the five khandha are just classificatory groupings, have conceived them as compact entities ('heaps', 'bundles'), while actually, as stated above, the groups never exist as such, i.e. they never occur in a simultaneous totality of all their constituents. Also those single constituents of a group which are present in any given body- and -mind process, are of an evanescent nature, and so also their varying combinations. Feeling, perception and mental formations are only different aspects and functions of a single unit of consciousness. They are to consciousness what redness, softness, sweetness, etc. are to an apple and have as little separate existence as those qualities.

In S. XXII, 56, there is the following short definition of these 5 groups:

"What, o monks, is the corporeality-group? The 4 primary elements (mahá-bhúta or dhátu) and corporeality depending thereon, this is called the corporeality-group.

"What, o monks, is the feeling-group? There are 6 classes of feeling: due to visual impression, to sound impression, to odour impression, to taste impression, to bodily impression, and to mind impression....

"What, o monks, is the perception-group? There are 6 classes of perception: perception of visual objects, of sounds, of odours, of tastes, of bodily impressions, and of mental impressions....

"What, o monks, is the group of mental formations? There are 6 classes of volitional states (cetaná): with regard to visual objects, to sounds, to odours, to tastes, to bodily impressions and to mind objects....

"What, o monks, is the consciousness-group? There are 6 classes of consciousness: eye-consciousness, ear-consciousness, nose-consciousness, tongue-consciousness, body-consciousness, and mind-consciousness."

About the inseparability of the groups it is said:

''Whatever, o brother, there exists of feeling, of perception and of mental formations, these things are associated, not dissociated, and it is impossible to separate one from the other and show their difference. For whatever one feels, one perceives; and whatever one perceives, of this one is conscious" (M. 43).

Further: "Impossible is it for anyone to explain the passing out of one existence and the entering into a new existence, or the growth, increase and development of consciousness independent of corporeality, feeling, perception and mental formations" (S. XII, 53)

For the inseparability and mutual conditionality of the 4 mental groups s. paccaya (6, 7).

Regarding the impersonality (anattá) and emptiness (suńńatá) of the 5 groups, it is said in S. XXII, 49:

"Whatever there is of corporeality, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness, whether past, present or future, one's own or external, gross or subtle, lofty or low, far or near, this one should understand according to reality and true wisdom: 'This does not belong to me, this am I not, this is not my Ego.' "

Further in S. XXII, 95: "Suppose that a man who is not blind were to behold the many bubbles on the Ganges as they are driving along; and he should watch them and carefully examine them. After carefully examining them, however, they will appear to him empty, unreal and unsubstantial. In exactly the same way does the monk behold all the corporeal phenomena ... feelings ... perceptions ... mental formations ... states of consciousness, whether they be of the past, present or future ... far or near. And he watches them and examines them carefully; and after carefully examining them, they appear to him empty, unreal and unsubstantial."

The 5 groups are compared, respectively, to a lump of froth, a bubble, a mirage, a coreless plantain stem, and a conjuring trick (S. XXII, 95).

See the Khandha Samyutta (S. XXII); Vis.M. XIV.




I. Corporeality Group



A. Underived (no-upádá): 4 elements


the solid, or earth-element (pathaví-dhátu)

the liquid, or water-element (ápo-dhátu)

heat, or fire-element (tejo-dhátu)

motion, or wind-element (váyo-dhátu)


B. Derived (upádá): 24 secondary phenomena


Physical sense-organs of: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, body

Physical sense-objects: form, sound, odour, taste, (bodily impacts)

'Bodily impacts' (photthabba) are generally omitted in this list, because these physical objects of body-sensitivity are identical with the afore-mentioned solid element, heat and motion element. Hence their inclusion under 'derived corporeality' would be a duplication.


femininity (itthindriya)

virility (purisindriya)

physical base of mind (hadaya-vatthu, q.v.)

bodily expression (káya-vińńatti; s. vińńatti)

verbal expression (vací-vińńatti)

physical life (rúpa jívita; s. jívita)

space element (ákása-dhátu, q.v.)

physical agility (rúpassa lahutá)

physical elasticity (rúpassa mudutá)

physical adaptability (rúpassa kammańńatá)

physical growth (rúpassa upacaya)

physical continuity (rúpassa santati; s. santána)

decay (jará, q.v.)

impermanence (aniccatá)

nutriment (áhára, q.v.)


II. Feeling Group



All feelings may, according to their nature, be classified as 5 kinds:

bodily agreeable feeling sukha = káyiká sukhá vedaná

bodily painful feeling dukkha = káyiká dukkhá vedaná

mentally agreeable feeling somanassa = cetasiká sukhá vedaná

mentally painful feeling domanassa = cetasiká dukkhá vedaná

indifferent feeling upekkhá = adukkha-m-asukhá vedaná


III. Perception Group



All perceptions are divided into 6 classes: perception of form, sound, odour, taste, bodily impression, and mental impression.


IV. Group of Mental Formations



This group comprises 50 mental phenomena, of which 11 are general psychological elements, 25 lofty (sobhana) qualities, 14 karmically unwholesome qualities. Cf. Tab. 11.


V. Consciousness Group



The Suttas divide consciousness, according to the senses, into 6 classes: eye-, ear-, nose-, tongue-, body-, mind-consciousness.

The Abhidhamma and commentaries, however, distinguish, from the karmical or moral viewpoint, 89 classes of consciousness. Cf. vińńána and Tab. 1.

The moral quality of feeling, perception and consciousness is determined by the mental formations.


khandha-parinibbána: s. nibbána.

khandha-santána: s. santána.

khanti: 'patience', forbearance', is one of the 10 perfections (páramí, q.v.).

khayánupassaná: 'contemplation of dissolution', is one of the 18 chief kinds of insight (s. vipassaná).

khidda-padosiká devá: 'the celestial beings corruptible by pleasures', are a class of devas (q.v.) of the sensuous sphere. They waste their time in merriment, play and enjoyment, and thereby become thoughtless, and in their thoughtlessness they fall from that world (D. 1; 24).

khínásava: 'the one in whom all cankers are destroyed' is a name for the Arahat, or Holy One; s. ásava.

kicca 'function'. Regarding the 14 functions of consciousness, s. vińńána-kicca.

kilesa: 'defilements', are mind-defiling, unwholesome qualities. Vis.M. XXII, 49, 65: "There are 10 defilements, thus called because they are themselves defiled, and because they defile the mental factors associated with them. They are: (1) greed (lobha), (2) hate (dosa), (3) delusion (moha), (4) conceit (mána), (5) speculative views (ditthi), (6) skeptical doubt (vicikicchá), (7) mental torpor (thína), (8) restlessness (uddhacca); (9) shamelessness (ahirika), (10) lack of moral dread or unconscientiousness (anottappa)." For 1-3, s. múla; 4, s. mána; 5, s. ditthi; 6-8, s. nívarana; 9 and 10, s. ahirika-anottappa.

The ten are explained in Dhs. 1229f and enumerated in Vibh. XII. No classification of the k. is found in the Suttas, though the term occurs quite often in them. For the related term, upakkilesa (q.v.; 'impurities') different lists are given - (App.).

kilesa-káma: 'sensuality considered as defilement' (s. kilesa) might well be called 'subjective sensuality', in contradistinction to 'objective sensuality' (vatthu-káma), i.e. the sensuous objects (káma-guna). Cf. káma.

kilesa-parinibbána: s. nibbána (1).

killing: s. karma, kammapatha, sikkhápada.

kińcana: 'something', i.e. something evil that sticks or adheres to character. 'Evil appendant', is a name for the 3 unwholesome roots (múla). "There are 3 appendants: greed (lobha) is an appendant, hate (dosa) is an appendant, delusion (moha) is an appendant" (D. 33). 'Freed from appendants' (akińcana) is a term for the perfectly Holy One (Arahat).

kiriya (or kriya)-citta: 'functional consciousness' or 'karmically inoperative consciousness', is a name for such states of consciousness as are neither karmically wholesome (kusala), nor unwholesome (akusala), nor karma-results (vipáka); that is, they function independently of karma. Thus are also called all those worldly mental states in the Arahat which are accompanied by 2 or 3 noble roots (greedlessness, hatelessness, undeludedness), being in the Arahat karmically neutral and corresponding to the karmically wholesome states of a non-Arahat (s. Tab. 1-8 and 73-89), as well as the rootless mirth-producing (hasituppáda) mind-consciousness-element of the Arahat (Tab. 72); further, that mind-element (mano-dhátu) which performs the function of advertence (ávajjana) to the sense object (Tab. 70), and that mind-consciousness-element (manovińńána-dhátu) which performs the functions of deciding (votthapana) and advertence to the mental object (Tab. 71). The last-named 2 elements, of course, occur in all beings.

Together with karma-resultant consciousness (vipáka) it belongs to the group of 'karmically neutral consciousness' (avyákata). See Tab. I (last column). - (App.).

knowledge: cf. pańńá, ńána, vijjá, vipassaná, abhińńá.

kolankola: 'passing from one noble family to another', is the name for one of the 3 kinds of Sotápanna (q.v.).

kriya-citta = kiriya (q.v.).

kukkucca: lit. 'wrongly-performed-ness' (ku+krta+ya), i.e. scruples, remorse, uneasiness of conscience, worry, is one of the karmically unwholesome (akusala) mental faculties (Tab. II) which, whenever it arises, is associated with hateful (discontented) consciousness (Tab. I and III, 30, 31). It is the 'repentance over wrong things done, and right things neglected' (Com. to A. I). Restlessness and scruples (uddhacca-kukkucca), combined, are counted as one of the 5 mental hindrances (nívarana, q.v.).

kuppa-dhamma 'liable to perturbation', is one who has not yet attained full mastery over the absorptions. In Pug. 3 it is said: "What person is liable to perturbation? Such a person gains the attainments of the fine-material and immaterial sphere (s. avacara). But he does not gain them at his wish, nor without toil and exertion; and not at his wish as regards place, object and duration, does he enter them or arise from them. Thus it is well possible that in case of such a person, through negligence, the attainments will become perturbed. This person is liable to perturbation."

kusala: 'karmically wholesome' or 'profitable', salutary, morally good, (skillful) Connotations of the term, according to Com. (Atthasálini), are: of good health, blameless, productive of favourable karma-result, skillful. It should be noted that Com. excludes the meaning 'skillful', when the term is applied to states of consciousness.

It is defined in M. 9 as the 10 wholesome courses of action (s. kammapatha). In psychological terms, 'karmically wholesome' are all those karmical volitions (kamma-cetaná) and the consciousness and mental factors associated therewith, which are accompanied by 2 or 3 wholesome roots (s. múla), i.e. by greedlessness (alobha) and hatelessness (adosa), and in some cases also by non-delusion (amoha: wisdom, understanding). Such states of consciousness are regarded as 'karmically wholesome' as they are causes of favourable karma results and contain the seeds of a happy destiny or rebirth. From this explanation, two facts should be noted: (1) it is volition that makes a state of consciousness, or an act, 'good' or 'bad'; (2) the moral criterion in Buddhism is the presence or absence of the 3 wholesome or moral roots (s. múla).

The above explanations refer to mundane (lokiya, q.v.) wholesome consciousness. Supermundane wholesome (lokuttara-kusala) states, i.e. the four paths of sanctity (s. ariyapuggala), have as results only the corresponding four fruitions; they do not constitute karma, nor do they lead to rebirth, and this applies also to the good actions of an Arahat (Tab. I, 73-80) and his meditative states (Tab. 1, 81-89), which are all karmically inoperative (functional; s. kiriya).

Kusala belongs to a threefold division of all consciousness, as found in the Abhidhamma (Dhs.), into wholesome (kusala), unwholesome (akusala) and karmically neutral (avyákata), which is the first of the triads (tika) in the Abhidhamma schedule (mátiká); s. Guide, pp. 4ff., 12ff; Vis.M. XIV, 83ff.

kusala-kammapatha: 'wholesome course of action'; s. kammapatha.

kusala-múla: the 'wholesome roots' or 'roots of wholesome action', are greedlessness (alobha), hatelessness (adosa), and non-delusion (amoha; s. múla). They are identical with kusala-hetu (s . paccaya, 1).

kusala-vipáka: the (mental) 'karma-result of wholesome karma' (s. karma).