Elements Of these, the first is the elements. This has five parts: 1 the homage and pledge to compose, 2 an explanation of Abhidharma, 3 a statement concerning the necessity of explaining these points, 4 a brief statement of the topics to be explained, and 5 a detailed explanation. In the explanation itself, there are two main sections: the unconditioned and conditioned. The conditioned has four parts: 1 explanation by means of names, 2 identification of essences, 3 presentation, and 4 divisions of the elements. The identification of essences has two subdivisions: 1 explanation of each of the five aggregates, and 2 how they relate to the elements and sources. The presentation has four subdivisions: 1 summary, 2 literal definition, 3 set number and so on, and 4 how other named categories such as the [Dharma] sections are included here.
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Its author, Vasubandhu , who lived in the 4th or 5th century in the northwestern part of India, wrote the work while he was still a monk of the Sarvastivada Doctrine That All Is Real order, before he embraced Mahayana , on whose texts he was later to write a number of commentaries.
As a Sarvastivada work the Abhidharmakosha is one of few surviving treatments of scholasticism not written in Pali and not produced by Theravadins, who follow the Pali canon.
The product of both great erudition and considerable independence of thought, the Abhidharmakosha authoritatively completed the systematization of Sarvastivada doctrine. Translated into Chinese within a century or two of its creation, the Abhidharmakosha has been used in China, Japan, and Tibet both as a standard introduction to Hinayana Buddhism and as a great authority in matters of doctrine. The work has inspired numerous commentaries. It also provides scholars with a unique amount of information on the doctrinal differences between ancient Buddhist schools.
The text is composed of stanzas of poetry plus the equivalent of 8, stanzas of prose commentary supplied by the author himself. As an introduction to the seven Abhidharma treatises in the Sarvastivada canon and a systematic digest of their contents, the Abhidharmakosha deals with a wide range of philosophical, cosmological, ethical , and salvational doctrine. Get exclusive access to content from our First Edition with your subscription.
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This includes a potent acting causes, such as a seed for a sprout, and b impotent acting causes, such as the space that allows a sprout to grow and the mother or the clothes of the farmer who planted the seed. Simultaneously arising causes [note 5] — causes that arise simultaneously with their results. This would include, for instance, characteristics together with whatever it is that possesses the characteristics. Congruent causes [note 6] — a subcategory of simultaneously arising causes, it includes causes share the same focal object, mental aspect, cognitive sensor, time, and slant with their causes—primarily referring to the primary consciousness and its congruent mental factors. Equal status cause [note 7] — causes for which the results are later moments in the same category of phenomena.
Abhidharma: its origins and texts The early history of Buddhism in India is remarkably little known and the attempt to construct a consistent chronology of that history still engrosses the minds of contemporary scholars. The number eighteen, though, became conventional in Buddhist historiography for symbolic and mnemonic reasons Obeyesekere and, in fact, different Buddhist sources preserve divergent lists of schools which sum up to more than eighteen. These seven texts survive in full only in their ancient Chinese translations. These seven texts are preserved in Pali and all but the Yamaka have been translated into English. Later generations composed commentaries on the canonical Abhidharma and introduced a variety of exegetical manuals that expound the essentials of the canonical systems. These post-canonical texts are the products of single authors and display fully developed polemical stances and sectarian worldviews of their respective schools.
Abhidharmic thought also extends beyond the sutras to cover new philosophical and psychological ground which is only implicit in sutras or not present at all. There are certain doctrines which were developed or even invented by the Abhidharmikas and these became grounds for the debates among the different Early Buddhist schools. This concept has been variously translated as "factors" Collett Cox , "psychic characteristics" Bronkhorst ,  "phenomena" Nyanaponika and "psycho-physical events" Ronkin. The early Buddhist scriptures give various lists of the constituents of the person such as the five skandhas, the six or 18 dhatus , and the twelve sense bases. The idea was to create an exhaustive list of all possible phenomena that make up the world. Perception and thinking is then seen as a combination of various dhammas.
Main article: Eighteen dhatus The eighteen dhatus also include all validly knowable phenomena. The eighteen dhatus are an extension of the twelve ayatanas. These dhatus include the twelve ayatanas, and add to them the six types of consciousness that arise when there is contact between a sense organ and an object. It is distinguished from the mental factors or processes, usually listed as fifty-one or fifty-two, which are said to perceive the features of objects, while main mind perceives only their basic identity. Elements of ultimate reality The Abhidharma traditions define the basic elements or building blocks, or mental and emotional factors of ultimate reality.