Saturday, 26 March 2011

Samkhatā dhammā asamkhatā dhammā

The term Dhamma is used for all dispositions (saMkhatA) and the non-disposition (asaGkhatA). Whatever is subjected to causality is called dispositions or formations. Nibbāna the only thing that is not subject to causality is called non-disposition of non-formation. The ∂hAtukAthaprakaraNa defines the samkhatā dhammās in the following way.

ßaMkhatA dhammA paJcahi khandhehi dvAdasAyatanehi aTThArasahi dhAtUhi saGgahIta.

=Dispositions comprise with five aggregates, twelve faculties and eighteen elements.”

According to the same source, the nibbāna is the only non-formed Dhamma and it comprises with one faculty (dhammāyatana) and one element (dhammadhAtu).

åsaGkhatadhamma no kenaci khandhehi ekenAyatanena ekAya dhAtuyA saGgahIta.”

=The non-formed Dhamma comprises no with any aggregate but with one faculty and one element.”

As we saw above the term dhamma has been used to give many meanings in the Tipitaka, all such meanings are not given here. As Professor Wilhelm Geiger noted once there is no any other word in Pāli like the term dhamma into which giving a specific meaning is very difficult. 

Manañcapaticca dhamme ca uppajjati mano viññāNam

At some occasions, the term Dhamma is used in the sense of objects of mind. According to the sentence above the term Dhamma here stands for experiences of all spheres (bhava). All that is the object of mind is mentioned as ‘sabbe dhammA’ for all they are psychologically born. The KiMmUlakasutta of AN says the following.

ChandamUlakA Avuso sabbe dhammA
manasikAra sambhavA sabbe dhammA.

=All mental factors are will-based,
All mental factors are one-pointedness-based.

Therefore when all the mental states are clean there are no any debates or misunderstanding in worldly things.
ßabbesu dhammesu samUhatesu,
samUhatA vAdapathApi sabbe.


The ability to see the arising and the cessation of things is called the eye of truth. The ∂hammacakkapavattanasutta of SN says the following.

îmasmiM ca pana veyyAkaraNasmiM bhaJjamAne Ayasmato kondaJJassa virajaM vItamalaM dhammacakkhuM udapAdi yaM kiJci samudaya dhammaM sabbaM taM nirodha dhammanti.

=When this analysis was made the eye of Dhamma freed from dust and stain as whatever is of the nature of arising all they are of the nature of ceasing.”

A special kind of understanding is meant by the term ∂hammacakkhu here


 At some occasions the term Dhamma has been used in the sense of reasonable; µahAvaggapAli explains the reasonable and suitable monk who is apt for granting higher ordination and giving advices to others. He should be able to do away with any wrong view born, in reasonable way (PaTibalo hoti uppannaM diTThigataM dhammato vivecetuM).


To know the uniqueness of Buddhism it’s compulsory to know the Buddhist teachings on the existence of things. In the world of formation there are causally conditioned things although there are no creator God and transmigrating soul. The causally conditioned things are five aggregates and thirteen limbs of existence, avijja etc. The knowledge of this existence is necessary to know the reality, so the term Dhamma has been used here in epistemological sense. The Buddha says in the ßusImasutta of SN “Pubbe kho ßusIma dhammaTThitiJANaM, pacchA nibbAne JANaM (O Susīma! first there is the knowledge of existence of things later the knowledge of Nibbāna).”

Kusalā Dhammā & Akusalā Dhammā

The term Dhamma is used in ethical sense at the some occasions, there are many examples in the AN for this the following is from Kodhavagga.

∂ve me bhikkhave dhammA akusalA; kodho ca upanAho ca.
Dve me bhikkhave dhammA kusalA; akkodho ca anupanAho ca.

The ßAleyyakasutta of MN analyzes the thought in ethical sense using the term Dhamma; it names the ten unwholesome factors as ådhammacariyA and VisamacariyA and ten wholesome factors as ∂hammacariyA and ßamacariyA.

PāNātipatā veramani
adinnadānā veramani
Kāmesumicchacārā veramani
musāvādā veramani
Pisunāvācā veramani
Pharusāvācā veramani
sampapphalāpā veramani
sammā DiTThi


∂hammatA in early Buddhism means the unique characteristics of things or persons. The µahApadAnasutta of DN records some characteristics that are unique to the aspirant Buddha.

∂hammatA esA bhikkhave, yadA bodhisatto mAtukucchiM okkanto hoti, no bodhisattamAtA ko cideva AbAdho uppajjati.

=When the aspirant Buddha enters into the womb of the mother than no any element arise in the mother, O monks! This is an unique characteristic.”
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