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Concept of Bh£ta in Early Buddhist Philosophy

Mahesh Tiwary

Early Buddhist Philosophy, generally understood as Abhidhamma philosophy, is a well-integrated system of thought which accepts the existence of thirtyone world-systems, situated in vacuum in an ascending order.  They are broadly divided in three main spheres, namely k”ma-dh”tu, r£pa-dh”tu, and ar£pa-dh”tu. There are eleven world-systems in the k”ma-dh”tu, sixteen in r£pa-dh”tu, and four in ar£pa-dh”tu, making the total number thirtyone. According to Buddhist thought, the beings of the k”ma-dh”tu and r£pa-dh”tu are the psycho-physical manifestations and those of the ar£pa-dh”tu are in possession of the psychic personality alone.

The structural exposition of the beings has been made with two reals, namely,  n”ma and r£pa. The term n”ma stands for the inner personality, expressing itself through the citta (consciousness) and cetasika (psychic factors). R£pa refers to the physical personality, within and without, gross in nature and material in character with all its varieties of manifestations. The concept of bh£tas in Abhidhamma philosophy is thus closely related to the notion of r£pa, for it is the generic name for material elements.

Many insights have been thrown on both the n”ma and r£pa in canonical (Pi¶aka), non-canonical (Aøu-pi¶aka), commentarial (A¶¶hakath”), sub-commentarial (¶¢k”) and miscellaneous (Pakiøna) P”li literature in general, and in all the seven texts of the Abhidhamma-Pi¶aka in particular. The issue has further been taken up in the philosophical treatises, appearing as independent texts, commentaries and manuals like Visuddhimagga, A¶¶has”lin¢, Sammoha-vinodini, Paµcapakaraøa-A¶¶hakath”, Abhidhamm”vat”ra, Abhidhammatthasa“gaha, N”mar£pa-pariccheda, Paramattha-vinicchaya etc.

There is detailed discussion on the concept of r£pa in the second chapter of the Dhammasangan¢, the first book of the Abhidhamma-pi¶aka, in a catechetical way. The question has been raised such as - "What is that which is called r£pa in totality?"1 The answer follows that "The four mah”bh£tas (basic material elements) and the up”d”-r£pas (generated material elements) constitute the r£pa in totality."

According to early Buddhist thought, mah”bh£tas are four in number. They are: pa¶hav¢-dh”tu (earth-element), ”po-dh”tu (water-element), tejo-dh”tu (fire element) and v”yo-dh”tu (air-element). They form the basic material elements or the primary non-psychic Real (paramatha). The material creations related to beings, internal (ajjhatika) and external (bahira), and the surroundings all around them in both the spheres of k”ma-dh”tu and r£pa-dh”tu are their creations and manifestations. They take variegated forms in the process of evolution and play a vital role in smooth functioning of the universal psycho-physical order. They are vital components in creation in the k”ma-dh”tu and r£pa-dh”tu. It is for this reson that they are called mah”bh£ta.

Early Buddhist heritage attributes five basic reasons for referring to the basic material elements as mah”bh£tas.  These reasons, which also provide a broad understanding of the concept of bh£tas are enumerated as follows:

Mahantap”tubh”vato (Manifestation of Greatness)

They are called mah”bh£ta because of manifestation of greatness. It means they manifest with immense vastness with respect to phenomena 'grasped at' (up”dinnasantati) and to those of un-grasped at (ana-up”dinna-santati). In case of the former, they appear as the material forms, as the bodies of various kinds of beings like men, gods, demons, animals, birds, etc. In latter case, they appear into a world system, tremendously vast, traditionally calculated as 1203450 yojanas in circumference containing big waters, mountains (like Sineru, Isadhara, Karav¢ka, Sudassana, Nemidhara, Vinataka, Himav” etc.), as well as the grandeurous trees like jambu-tree in the Jambu-d¢pa, citta-p”tal¢- tree (trumpet flower) in the kingdom of demon; simbal¢-tree (silk-cotton) in the land of Garulas, kadambas-tree in Aparagoy”na, <kappa-tree in Uttarakura, and sirisa-tree (acacis) in pubba-videha and the paricchattaka-tree (coral) in the divine kingdom of T”vati]msa etc.2


Mah”bh£ta-s”maµµato (Showing illusory Resemblances in Phenomena)

They are called mah”bh£ta because of their appearance as illusory resemblances in variegated forms of deceitful manifestations. They are not in their being, possessing any colour but they manifest as blue, yellow, red, white, black etc. They are illusory objects appearing as real and continuing to develop the impression of being real, just like the juggler showing water which is not water, a gem, stone or gold which is not real. Marking their such illusory resemblances to the juggler's counterfeiting, they are called mah”bh£tas.

They are again explained with the simile of ogresses. As ogresses seductively transform their external appearances, and hide their own terrible forms, so the mah”bh£tas conceal their true nature and present an illusion to the people. This characteristic of concealing  the true identity being a similar trait they share with ogresses, they are called mah”bh£tas.


Mah”-pariharato (Immensity of their Maintenance)

They are called mah”bh£ta because of immensity of their maintenance. It has its reference to the moment to moment generational changes in material structure of the beings due to fourfold food (”h”ra) and factors like kamma, citta, utu and ”h”ra. Thus, it is said that - "these mateial forms, being daily maintained occur as essentials through abundance of food, covering etc., hence there is the name mah”bh£ta".


Maha-vik”rato (Immensity of Metamorphoses)

Again they are called mah”bh£ta because of the immensity of their metamorphoses. It refers to the tremendous changes undergone by the elements in material forms, both in derived and 'un-derived' phenomena. Of these, the vastness of changes in the  'underived' is manifested on the occasion of the destruction of the world-cycle. Similar changes are manifested with respect to 'derived ones', when there is the disturbance of the elements within.

At the time of the destruction of the world-cycle, all the four basic material elements become furious and manifest in their devastating forms. The Fire-element turns into blazing flames embracing the world system up to the Brahmaloka, consuming the entire phenomena and turning the universe as the heap of ash. The water-element, on such occasions, also take the form of over-whelming watery uproar and the world of ten myriad ko¶is is made overpowered and reduced to nothing within it. Similar becomes the form of air-element which blows away the entire phenomena and reduce them to the dust particles.

Vast changes are brought when there is the disturbance of the element in the 'derived phenomena'. When there is disturbance in the earth-element, the bodies become stiff as if they enter the mouth of ka¶¶hamuka. Due to the disturbance in the water-element, the bodies go putrid and become rotten as  if entered into the mouth of p£timukha. The bodies become hot and turn into wax as entered in the mouth of aggimukha due to disturbance in the fire-element. Further, when there is the disturbance in the air-element, the bodies are turned into pieces as if they have entered the mouth of the satthamukha. Such mighty and devastating changes take place in the basic material elements with reference to 'underived' and 'derived' phenomena and as such they are called mah”-bh£ta.3


Mahanta-bh£tata (Vast elementality)

They are called mah”bh£ta because of their vast elementality. It means that they exist as very powerful force and do not come under the process of dassana or bh”van” for their elimination. Mighty efforts are required to cope with them. Specially in k”ma-dh”tu, where there is the existence of a being, there is the existence of the mah”bh£tas. One cannot have even the idea of the beings without them.

In this way, a set of five reasons are seen in the tradition to explain the name mah”bh£ta.

Depending on these four basic material elements, there arise the up”d”-r£pa. Up”d” means generated, derived, dependent etc. The material elements which come into being depending upon the four mah”bh£tas are called up”d”-r£pa. This may be understood with the simile of the earth and tree. Like the earth are the mah”bh£tas, and the up”d”-r£pas are just like trees which spring therefrom. It is for this reason they are called 'derived material elements'. They have been stated to be twenty=-three in earlier texts. Later on, their number becomes twenty-four with the inclusion of the hadaya-vatthu.

A number of attributes have been introduced to unfold the intrinsic nature of the material elements as a  whole. Firstly, they are unconscious. They are neither the consciousness (citta) nor the psychic factors (cetasika), nor the roots (hetu).They are devoid of both the moral (kusala-hetu) and immoral (akusala-hetu) roots. They are aby”kata, neither moral or immoral in character. They come into being depending upon some causes of conditions (sapaccaya), and stand as composite (sankhata), made of other elements. Thus, they themselves are not the defiling forces but become the object of pollution (s”sava). They are knowable by the six types of consciousness, namely, eye-consciousness (cakhu-viµµ”øa), ear-consciousness (sata-viµµ”øa), nose-consciousness (gh”na-viµµ”øa), tongue-consciousness (jihv”-viµµ”øa), body-consciousness (k”ya-viµµ”øa) and Mind-consciousness (mano-viµµ”øa). They, by nature, are impermanent (anicca) and subject of destruction (jar”bhibh£ta).

The material elements are grasped in the form of Qualities or the Qualitative energies. A piece of stone in our hand is heavy, hard, rough, brown and of triangular shape. Apart from these qualities like - heaviness, hardness, roughness, brownness and triangularness, there is nothing like stone. Analysis of other similar material object also reveal the same truth. In this background the term r£pa may correctly be rendered into English as Material qualities and not the matter or material elements.

Reaching this stage, it seems desirable to append a brief note on each of the twenty-eight types of material qualities. For the sake of their easy communication, they are studied under eleven heads in later Abhidhammic texts. The same is being followed here too.4



They are the pa¶hav¢-dh”tu (earth-element), ”po-dh”tu (water element), tejo-dh”tu (fire-element) and v”yo-dh”tu (air-element).



The term pa¶hav¢ is derived from the root puttha which means 'to expand' to 'extend', to 'grant support' etc. Dh”tu means that which bears its own characteristic marks - (attano sabh”va]m dh”retiti dh”tu). Thus the literal  as well as nearer meaning of the term is - "the element of Extension".

Intrinsically, the earth-element is that - "which is hard (kakkhala]m), rough (khara-gata]m), hardness (kakkhalatta]m), rigidity  (kakkhal abh”vo) both internal and external.

It has the characteristic of hardness; its function is to become the base of co-existing elements; and receiving them is its manifestation. In this way, it is understood by touch, appearing as a tangible object of the body-sense-organ (k”ya). It provides base for the existence of co-existing material elements and it is due to that are received as such and such.  The various objects occupy space for existence due to presence of this element. Finally, it is the material energy of extension, manifesting as amalgam of a number of qualities.



The derivation of the term ”po is traced from the root apa, which means 'to arrive' or from paya means to grow, to increase, to hold, to bind together etc. In this sense, it is called 'the element of cohesion'. It makes the different material particles cohere and prevents them from being  scattered. It acts as a binding force of the material elements. The Dhammasangan¢ explains it as fluid (”po) belonging to fluid (”pogatam), viscid (sineho) belonging to what is viscid (sinehagata]m) and the cohesiveness of matter (bandhanatta]m r£passa). It is further analysed in the commentary as - "the water-element has trickling as its characteristic (paggharaøa-lakkhaøa), breeding of co-existing states as function (br£haøa-rasa) and gathering them together as manifestation (sa“gahapaccupa¶¶h”na). In short, it is a material energy which manifest in binding the things together. The formations of any kind is possible by its association.



It is generally rendered as the element of heat or 'Fire element'. Literally, it is derived from the root tija which means to sharpen, to 'mature'. From it, vivacity and maturity are understood due to its presence. In reality it is the 'heat' itself or the material energy of heat or Fruition. Or it may be said that the fire-element is that which is flame (tejo) belonging to flame (tejogatam), heat (usm”) belonging to heat (usmagata]m) hot (usuma]m), belonging to what is hot (usumagata]m).

Further, the fire-element has the characteristic of heat, maturing as function, and the gift of softening of co-existing states as manifestation. Both heat and cold are its properties. It means the intense tejo is heat and the mild tejo is cold. It helps the maturity and fruition of the things within and without.



It is understood as the air-element or the element of motion. The word v”yo is formed from the root v”ya which means to move, to vibrate. In this word, it is understood as motion, vibration, oscillation and pressure. It is a material energy to keep the things in a particular position by generating pressure all around.

It is defined as the air (v”ya), that which belongs to air (v”yogata]m), fluctuation; and the inflation of form (thambhitatta]m r£passa). Its characteristic is strengthening (vitthambana), impelling as function (samud¢raøa) and bringing near and over as manifestations (abhinih”ra).5 The things get motion because of its presence. It is the universal carrier of the subtle material elements.

These four basic material elements are studied separately simply for the sake of understanding. Really speaking they are inseparable. One cannot identify and exhibit in idividually as earth, water, fire and air. They exist depending upon each other by the force created by the relation known as Aµµamaµµapaccaya. They  serve as the originating ground of the generated material qualities.



It is the name of sensitive material qualitites, generated by the four basic material elements. It refers to the five sense-organs, namely; Cakkhu (eye), Sota (ear), Gh”øa (nose), Jivh” (tongue) and K”ya (body). Each one of them is a sensitive material quality, functioning as reflecting the object which appear in their respective ranges (ap”tha). They also serve as the base (vatthu) of the five viµµ”øas.

It should be clarified here the five sense-organs, as referred to above, do not signify the perceptible organs. They refer to the sensitive part of each of them. It means that each sense-organ should be understood in its two forms; the perceptible form (Sasambh”ra-r£pa) and sensitive form (pas”da-r£pa). The external form is the manifested mode of appearance (santth”na) and within it, there is the sensitive part, known as the Pas”da-r£pa. Such Pas”da-r£pa are the six senses.

For instance, the perceptible eye-ball, eye-brow, etc. are not the eye but the sensitive part which is within, in the centre of the retina, which enables one to see the visible objects, is the cakkhu-pas”da, the real eye. It is a type of sensitive material energy which has the capacity of reflecting the object, may meaningfully be called Dassana-samatthat”. Similarly the ear is the sota-pas”da, having potentiality to hear the audible objects (savana-samatthat”); nose is the gh”na-pas”da, to smell the odorous objects; (gh”yana-samatthat”); tongue is the jihv”-pas”sa to relish the sapid objects (s”yana-samatthat”), and the body is the k”ya-pas”da to touch the tangible objects (phusana-samatthat”). Each of them serves as the base of respective consciousness (viµµ”øa) in maintaining the thought-processes (citta-v¢thi) at different doors.



Literally, the word gocara means a place where there is the smooth way-faring of the senses. Technically, it stands for the object. The material qualities which function as the object of the senses are called Gocara-r£pa. They are four in number namely; R£pa (visible object), Sadda (audible object), Gandha (odorous object) and Rasa (sapid object). The object of K”ya (phatabha) has been included in pa¶hav¢, tejo and v”yo and, therefore, with a view to avoid duplications, not included here in the present context:


(a)      R£pa, the object of the eye, stands for the colour and shape. It manifests as red, blue, white, black, etc. in colour, and triangular, rectangular, square, circular etc. in shape. It is visible (sannidassana) and impinging (sapa¶igha).


(b)     Sadda means sound. The sounds of the drum (bheri-sadda), conches (sa“kha), song (g¢ta), cymbals, clapping hands, of the people, of the non-human beings, of splitting bamboos, tearing of the clothes etc. are included here. Each of them is audible and impinging (sapa¶igha).

(c)     Gandha refers to odour. It includes the odours of roots, barks, vegitables, fish, shell fish, stale butter, flowers, fruits etc. It appears as desirable smell (sugandha) or  undesirable smell (dugandha). All the odours have the characteristic of striking the sense of smell.

(d)     Rasa is the taste. It includes all the various types of tastes like sour, sweet, bitter, pungent, alkaline, acid etc. They have the characteristics of striking the tongue.



It expresses the sense of the material qualities of sex. It is   of two types, namely; femininity (itthindriya) and masculinity (purisindriya). It is due to these two types of material qualities, the distinction between the physical structure of a male and that of a female is marked. With the presence of itthindriya, there is a different type of development in the body of a woman. She is markedly different from a man in respect of her appearance, occupation, deportment and other feminine conditions. She is in possession of different types of physical properties which distinguish her from those of a man. It is not the object of visual cognition alone but can be understood by mind-cognition also. It has the characteristic of knowing the state of a woman, the function of showing 'this is woman', and the manifestation is the cause of femininity in feature, mark, occupation as well as deportment.

Again the purisindriya (masculinity) is a material quality due to which there is a different type of physical development of the body of a man. In generic sense, masculine features, mark, occupation, deportment etc. should be understood as the opposite of the feminine. The shape of the hands, feet, neck, breast etc. of a man is unlike the shape of those of a woman. It is also not the object of mere vision. It can be understood through mind alone. Expressing the state of a man, is its charactersitic, and showing 'this is a man' is its function. Its manifestation is the cause of masculinity in features, mark, occupation, deportment etc.



It is the name of the base of consciousness, technically called hadaya-vatthu. Like the base of functioning of other senses, the base of mind has also been indicated through it. It is said that at the time of Pa¶isandhi (birth) of a human being, the viµµ”øa enters into the womb of a mother. Simultaneously, there is the appearance of the hadaya-vatthu as a material base, on which the conscious stream rests. It is very small in size, perhaps, the subtlest particle of material qualities.



It is the name of vitality or the life-force of material qualities, J¢vitindriya by its name. A material form remains sound, compact, solid etc., due to its presence. A thing becomes old because of relative loss of j¢vitindriya. The body of a man receives expressions like young, adult, old, extremely broken due to relative appearance and disappearance of this force. Here the term j¢vita is qualified by indriya because it exercises dominating influence over other co-existing material qualities in vivifying them from the moment of patisandhi.



It literally means the food material qualities. In technical sense, it refers to the nourishing quality or the nutritive essence which sustains the body. In generic sense, it is the name of the Kabal¢k”ra-”h”ra or the gross food that one takes morsel by morsel. They are the rice (odana), curry (kumm”sa), fish (maccha), meat (mansa), gram powder (sattu) etc.



It is the name of Ėk”sa-dh”tu or space-material quality. Here it should be understood that ”v”sa has been included in the mah”bh£tas in some of the systems of Indian philosophy. They are commonly known as paµca mah”bh£ta. In the Buddhist system, it is a generated material quality, basically dependent on the four mah”bh£tas. The reason is obvious that it has relative existence.

Ėk”sa means space which provides place for existence of other material qualities. Thus the space-element is that which is not 'scratched', 'not scratched off', not possible to break or cut. At the same time, it takes shape according to the existence of the material qualities. It has the characteristic of delimiting material objects. Its function is the showing of their boundaries and the manifestation is marked as showing their limits.



It is the name of intimating material qualities. It is through this medium that an idea is intimated, conveyed and understood by others. It is done by actions and speech. Accordingly, the intimation through the physical actions is k”ya-viµµatti and that through the speech is vac¢-viµµatti. To be more clear, it may be said that each physical as well as the vocal action has the peculiarity of its own, and such peculiarity, distinguishes one action from the other. For instance, sitting has its own peculiarity due to which it is sitting and it is not understood, as standing, running, etc. Similarly, standing, running, lying down have their own peculiarities existing with each of them and due to which one is distinguished from the other. Such peculiarities, associated with physical actions are collectively called k”ya-viµµatti or physical intimation. As regards the vocal actions, it is marked in day-to-day life, like teaching, singing, rebuking, crying etc. which are distinct from one another. These distinct actions associated with vocal action are v”ci-viµµatti. Thus it may be stated that the "intimating material quality is that due to which an idea related to a particular action is rightly communicated and understood by others with full background of awareness of various types of physical and vocal actions".



It means the material qualities of changing modes in material elements. They are of three types, namely; lightness (lahut”), mildness (mudut”) and adaptability (kammaµµat”) associated with material qualities. On experiential base, the lightness existing with the physical body is lahut”, mildness existing with it is mudut”, and the adaptability of the body towards the action in the moment is kammaµµat”. In absence of lahut”, one feels heaviness in discharging the physical performances. In absence of mudut” there is disinterestedness and in the state of non-presence of kammaµµat”, there is no lively leaning towards the activities to be performed in a particular unit of time. The three material qualities are experienced with body within and also may be understood with reference to the material surroundings.


It is material quality or rather the natural characteristics of material elements in general, manifesting in four ways as upacaya (coming into being), santati (continuity), jarat” (decay) and aniccat” (destruction). It is seen that a thing comes to exist, it continues, gradually starts growing old and in the end suffers destruction. A seed comes to be a sprout, continues to exist as a plant, gradually starts decaying and in one fine moment turns into the dust particles. The coming into being, existing, decaying and finally destroying are the natural characteristics of things existing within and without. Because of their such a nature, they are called lakkhana-r£pa.

In this way, the four mah”bh£tas and the twenty-four types of the up”d”-r£pas have briefly been presented. Collectively they are called r£pa or the bh£ta in early Buddhist tradition.

The Buddhist philosophy does not believe in a Creating Agency as the first in the beginning of creation. It proceeds with the statement that the beginning of the sans”ra is not known. It is not known whether it started during the reign of such and such a king, in the s”sana of such and such a Buddha - anamataggo, aya]m saĘs”ro, purim”ko¶i assa na paµµ”yati. Nevertheless the processes of sans”ra is an ongoing one. If it is so, then there should be some Law governing it. As answer to this, it may be said that there is Law of Dependent Origination (Paticca-samupp”da)taking care of the systematic revolving of the Sa]ms”ra with the help of twelve links, known as nid”nas. The coming into existence of n”ma and r£pa has meaningfully been illustrated therein.

In the process of explaining the generation of the material elements, a set of four factors are systematically at work. They are kamma, citta, utu and ”h”ra.

The first factor is kamma. It refers to the resultants of the moral and immoral actions done in the past. Here the action should be understood in the sense of consciousness. There are the twenty-five types of consciousness of the k”m”vac”ra and r£p”vac”ra spheres. They are the twelve types of kamavacara - immoral consciousness, eight types of k”m”vac”ra - moral consciousness and five types of r£p”vac”ra - moral consciousness. They arise in different units of time in our practical life and we exp[ress as performance of moral and immoral actions. These twenty-five types of consciousness yield their resultants. Such resultants are technically called kamma. It has its bearing in generating the material elements. The process of generation starts from the moment of the beginning of life known as pa¶isandhi.

The second factor is citta or consciousness. It refers to the seventy-five types of consciousness as - k”m”vac”ra-akusala-citta (12), ahetuka-citta (8), k”m”vacara-sahehana-citta (24), r£p”vac”ra-sobhana-citta (15), ar£p”vac”ra-sobhana citta (8), lokuttara-sobhana-citta (8). They start generating material elements from the moment of beginning of the life process of the life of the being. The moment of starting the process is called bhava“ga.

Utu is the third generating factor. It means weather. It manifests as hot or cold - and effects the material elements accordingly. Its heating or cooling effect starts from the moment the being comes into existence and being experienced accordingly in the process of life.

The fourth factor in this  context is ”h”ra. The literal meaning of the term is food. In a generic sense, it refers to the food taken by one in morsels. But it also signifies of the nutritive quality of food. It has its effect on the body, internally and externally, from the moment one starts taking food.

Those four factors are the four types of generating forces  acting continuously with the life of beings as well as with the things associated with the life-process remaining within or without. They function individually or in association. Some material elements are generated by one particular factor and some are generated with their collective efforts. It may be illustrated firstly as which types of material elements are generated by which types of generating forces and secondly as which type of generating factor individually or collectively generates which types of material elements.

In the former case, it is stated as below:

(a)         The eight types of indriya-r£pas and the hadaya-vatthu are directly generated by kamma. Here the five types of sensitive material elments (cakkhu, sota, gh”na, j¢hv”, and k”ya), the two types of sex material elements (itthindriya and purisindriya) and one type of life-force material element (j¢vitindriya) are the eight indriya-r£pas, while hadaya-vatthu is the seat of consciouseness. These nine material elements are the products of the kamma as an individual force. It also functions in association with other forces and produce nine more material elements. They  are the eight types of inseparable material elements (abbinibhoga-r£pa) and one space-material elements (”k”sa-dh”tu). Pa¶hav¢, apo, tejo, v”yo, yaøøa, gandha, rasa, and oja are always available as one inseparable unit and, therefore, they are called 'Inseparable material element'. These nine are the collective products.


(b)    The two type of viµµatti-r£pas, namely, k”ya-viµµatti (physical intimation) and vac¢-viµµatti (vocal intimation) are produced by citta (consciousness).

(c)    Sadda (sound) is produced by the joint effort of citta and utu.

(d)    The three material elements, namely, lahut”, mudut” and kammaµµat” are produced by the three factors, namely, citta, utu and ”h”ra.

(e)    The eight types of abbinibhoga-r£pas and ”k”sa-dh”tus are produced  by the combined efforts of all the four factors: kamma, citta, utu and ”h”ra.

(f)    The four types of lakkhaøa-r£pas, namely,  upasaya, santati, jarat” and aniccat”  are not produced by any factors. The reason is obvious that they are the nature of material elements.

In this way, the twenty-eight types of material elements are produced by the four generating factors.

Further, analysing the generation of material elements as stated above, the role of each generating factor may be illustrated as below:


     (i)  Kamma generates nine material elements individually and nine in association with the other factors.  It makes a total of eighteen material elements which are understood as kamma-products.

     (ii)  Citta generates two material elements individually and thirteen in association with others.  In this way, there are fifteen material elements which are regarded as citta-products.

     (iii) Utu has no independent generation of material elements. It functions in association with others and generates thirteen material elements. They are the utu-products.

(iv) Ėh”ra has also its collective but important role in generating the material elements which are thirteen in number. It is in this way, that the four generating factors are seen at work in producing the natural elements in the process of existence in the fluxional nature of existence.6

Coming to this stage, now, it seems desirable to state how the different material elements come to be in the process of life and how they disappear when the life-continuum comes to an end in the present state.

The first moment in the present state of existence is called pa¶isandhi. It is rather the rising of a pa¶isandhi-citta or the birth consciousness. From the moment of its existence there starts the function of kamma, and with this, kammaja-r£pas appear.

The second moment in this process is called bhava“ga. It is also the rising of a consciousness which functions as preparing a base of the present state of existence with the accumulation of the resultants of all the past activities done by a particular being. With the rising of this consciousness there starts the generation of material elements by the citta.

Gradually the being has its initial physio-psychic amalgam which in common parlance is stated as "coming into existence". From this moment there is the generation of material elements produced by utu.

Further, ”h”raja-r£pas start coming into being from  the moment one starts taking food and it is assimilated. The process continues till the being exists.

There is also a process of degeneration or disappearance of the material elements when the life-process has a state of conventional cessation which we name death. It is the rising of a cuti-citta or death consciousness. From the moment of its rising the process of the material elements produced by kamma has a stop. Thereafter, there is the cutting off between the cittaja and ”h”raja-r£pas. The utuja-r£pas, in some form or other, continues till the dead body exists. With gradual disappearance of the dead body they also disappear.



    1.   katama]m sabbam r£pa]m iti? catt”ro ca mah”bh£t”, catunnam ca mah”bh£t”nam up”d”ya r£pa]m, ida]m vuccati sabba]m r£pam.

                                                    -  D.S., 147.

    2.   p”tal¢-simbali-jambu, dev”na]m p”ricchattako.

      kadambo kapparukkhoca, sirisena bhavati sattamo.

                                            -  A.S., 242.

    3.   bh£mi to vitthit” y”va, brahma-lok” vidhavati,

          acci, accimato loke, dayhamanamhi tejaso.

      kotisatsahassekam, cakkhvala]m viteyuti,

      kupitena yad” loko, salilena vinassati.

      ko¶isatasahassekam, cakkavala]m vikirati,

      v”yodh”tuppakopena, yad”loko vinassati.


      patthaddho bhavati k”yo, da¶tho ka¶¶hamukhene va,

      pa¶havidhatukopena, hoti ka¶¶hamukhe va so.

          putiko bhavati k”yo, da¶¶ho putimukhene v”,

      apodh”tuppakopena, hoti putimukhe va so.

      santatto bhavati k”yo. da¶¶ho aggimukhena v”.

          tejo-dh”tuppakopena, hoti aggimukhe va so.

      sanchinnobhavati k”yo, dattho sa¶¶hamukhena v”.

          v”yo-dhatuppakopena, hoti satthamukhe vaso.

                                        - A.S., 243

    4. bh£tappas”davisay”, bh”vo hadayamiccapi,

      j¢vitah”rar£pehi, a¶¶h”rasavidha]m tath”,

      paricchedo ca viµµatti, vik”ro lakhaøamti ca,

      anipphanna desa cuti, a¶¶havisa vidham bhava.

                                     - A. San., 286.

    5.   D.S., 256; A.S., 267.

    6. atth”vasa pannarasa, terasa dvadas”ti ca,

      kammacittotuk”har”ja]m honti yathakkama]m.

                                - A. San., 174.

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