Pali Term: Ārammaṇa

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Pali Term: Ārammaṇa

Postby Dmytro » Sun May 27, 2012 10:53 am

Hello Pali friends,

First the essential part of article from Margaret Cone's dictionary:

ārammaṇa, n. (and mfn.) [cf S. ārambhaṇa, BHS ārambaṇa; cf also S., BHS ālambana] (pl. nom. ~āni, ~ā; acc. ~āni and perhaps ~e),
1. (n.) basis, starting-point (for producing or initiating activity), footing; basis of meditation; object, object of concentration, sense-object; ...
2. (mfn.) being a basis or object; ? ...

And now some suttas where one can see both 'footing' and 'starting-point' meanings:

"One attached is unreleased; one unattached is released. Should consciousness, when standing, stand attached to (a physical) form, supported by form (as its object), landing on form, watered with delight, it would exhibit growth, increase, & proliferation.

Upayo bhikkhave, avimutto, anupayo vimutto, rūpūpayaṃ vā bhikkhave, viññāṇaṃ tiṭṭhamānaṃ tiṭṭheyya, rūpārammaṇaṃ rūpappatiṭṭhaṃ nandūpasecanaṃ vuddhiṃ virūḷahiṃ vepullaṃ āpajjeyya,

(similarly with other aggregates)

"Were someone to say, 'I will describe a coming, a going, a passing away, an arising, a growth, an increase, or a proliferation of consciousness apart from form, from feeling, from perception, from fabrications,' that would be impossible.

Yo bhikkhave evaṃ vadeyya: ahamaññatra rūpā aññatra vedanāya aññatra saññāya aññatra saṃkhārehi viññāṇassa āgatiṃ vā gatiṃ vā cutiṃ vā uppattiṃ vā vuddhiṃ vā virūḷhiṃ vā vepullaṃ vā paññāpessāmīti netaṃ ṭhānaṃ vijjati.

"If a monk abandons passion for the property of form, ... feeling, ... perception, ... fabrications, ...
consciousness, then owing to the abandonment of passion, the support is cut off, and there is no landing of consciousness. Consciousness, thus not having landed, not increasing, not concocting, is released. Owing to its release, it is steady. Owing to its steadiness, it is contented. Owing to its contentment, it is not agitated. Not agitated, he (the monk) is totally unbound right within. He discerns that 'Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.'"

Rūpadhātuyā ce bhikkhave, bhikkhuno rāgo pahīno hoti, rāgassa pahānā vocchijjatārammaṇaṃ, patiṭṭhā viññāṇassa na hoti, vedanādhātuyā ce bhikkhave bhikkhuno rāgo pahīno hoti, rāgassa pahānā vocchijjatārammaṇaṃ, patiṭṭhā viññāṇassa na hoti, saññādhātuyā ce bhikkhave bhikkhuno rāgo pahīno hoti, rāgassa pahānā vocchijjatārammaṇaṃ, patiṭṭhā viññāṇassa na hoti, saṃkhāradhātuyā ce bhikkhave bhikkhuno rāgassa pahino hoti. Rāgassa pahānā vocchijjatārammaṇaṃ patiṭṭhā viññāṇassa na hoti. Viññāṇadhātuyā ce bhikkhave, bhikkhunā rāgo pahīno hoti. Rāgassa pahānā vocchijjatārammaṇaṃ, patiṭṭhā viññāṇassa na hoti, tadappatiṭṭaṭhitaṃ viññāṇaṃ avirūḷhaṃ anabhi saṅkhacca vimuttaṃ, vimuttattā ṭhitaṃ ṭhitattā santusitaṃ, santusitattā na paritassati aparitassaṃ paccattaṃ yeva parinibbāyati. 'Khīṇā jāti, vusitaṃ brahmacariyaṃ, kataṃ karaṇīyaṃ, nāparaṃ itthattāyā'ti pajānātīti. ... .than.html

So, when used in conjunction with 'viññāṇā', 'ārammaṇa' means some element of 'nama-rupa' (which contains four other aggregates), on which consciousness lands and proliferates.

Dhammasangani lists types of 'ārammaṇa' according to sense door:

1. Katame dhammā kusalā? Yasmiṃ samaye kāmāvacaraṃ kusalaṃ cittaṃ uppannaṃ hoti somanassasahagataṃ ñāṇasampayuttaṃ rūpārammaṇaṃ vā saddārammaṇaṃ vā gandhārammaṇaṃ vā rasārammaṇaṃ vā phoṭṭhabbārammaṇaṃ vā dhammārammaṇaṃ vā yaṃ yaṃ vā panārabbha, tasmiṃ samaye phasso hoti, vedanā hoti, saññā hoti, cetanā hoti, cittaṃ hoti, vitakko hoti, vicāro hoti, pīti hoti, sukhaṃ hoti, cittassekaggatā hoti, ...

And 'dhammā' as an objects of intellect (mano) are explained as 'dhamma-arammana':

Dhammāti nibbānaṃ muñcitvā avasesā dhammārammaṇadhammā.

Culaniddesa-atthakatha 72
Last edited by Dmytro on Sun May 27, 2012 11:07 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Pali Term: Ārammaṇa

Postby Dmytro » Sun May 27, 2012 11:03 am

And the later texts list the types of 'dhamma-arammana' as either citta, cetasika, rupa (sukhuma and pasada), pannatti and Nibbana.


48. Ālambaṇasaṅgahe ārammaṇāni nāma rūpārammaṇaṃ saddārammaṇaṃ gandhārammaṇaṃ rasārammaṇaṃ phoṭṭhabbārammaṇaṃ dhammārammaṇañceti chabbidhāni bhavanti.

49. Tattha rūpameva rūpārammaṇaṃ, tathā saddādayo saddārammaṇādīni.

50. Dhammārammaṇaṃ pana pasāda-sukhuma-rūpa-citta-cetasika-nibbāna-paññatti-vasena chadhā saṅgayhati.

Abhidhamma-sangaha 19

Sabbepi cittacetasikā dhammā sabbepi rūpadhammā sabbaṃpi nibbānaṃ sabbāpi paññattiyo ārammaṇa paccayo.

Patthanuddesadipanipatha 467

Or in another classification:

Atītānantara cutito pana paṭṭhāya atītā khandhā khandhupani bandhā nāma gottakasiṇa nimittādikā paññattiyo nibbānañca pubbenivāsañāṇassa ārammaṇaṃ hoti.

Paramatthadipani Sangaha-mahatika-patha 429

'Nimitta' is usually included in 'pannatti'.

‘‘Ārammaṇantare’’ti kasiṇa nimittādito aññasmiṃ ārammaṇe.

Anudipani-patha 170

Paññatti visesāni nāma pathavīkasiṇa nimittādīni.

Anudipani-patha 106

There's also another classification:

Etāni hi pañca sabbatthapādakākāsāloka-kasiṇa-catutthānaṃ kasiṇārammaṇattā, brahmavihāracatutthassa paññattiārammaṇattā, ānāpānacatutthassa nimittārammaṇattā bahiddhārammaṇānīti. Sakāyacittānanti sakakāyacittānaṃ, tena payojanaṃ natthi, tasmā na taṃ ajjhattārammaṇanti attho.

Dhammasangani-mulatika 200

Metta, Dmytro

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Re: Pali Term: Ārammaṇa

Postby Dmytro » Sun May 21, 2017 8:01 am

Gabriel writes:

Translations of ārammaṇa


The PED suggests “foundation” as a primary meaning. Derived from this the nominal meanings
1. support, help, footing...
2. condition, ground, cause...
3. a basis for the working of the mind & intellect; i.e. sense-object, object of thought or consciousness... closely connected with āyatana+ (in compounds, adjective meaning) being supported by, depending on
Finally the derivation: Sk. ālambana, lamb, but in meaning confounded with rambh

Vedic / Sanskrit

Monier Williams has for ālamb / ālambate: to lay hold of, seize, cling to; to rest or lean upon, to support, hold; to take up, to appropriate, to bring near, to get. ālambana: foundation, base

I doubt that this is the correct derivation for the Pāli ārammaṇa though, for it is not to be found in the Vedas, Brahmanas, or early Upanishads. Much more probable is ārambhaṇa / ārambaṇa

ārambha: beginning, origin, commencement
ārambhaṇa: the act of taking hold of; the place of seizing, a handle
ārambaṇa: support

ārambhaṇa / ārambaṇa in pre-Buddhist texts

● Rigveda RV 1.116.5: Then you two acted as heroes upon the unsupporting (anārambhaṇe) sea, which has no place to stand (anāsthāna) and nothing to grasp (agrabhaṇa)
● RV 182.6: The son of Tugra, thrust down within the waters, thrust forth into darkness that offered nothing to grab onto (anārambhaṇe)
● RV 7.104.3: Indra and Soma, spear the evil-doers within their hole out into darkness that offers nothing to hold onto (anārambhaṇe)
● RV 10.81.2: What was the resting place (adhiṣṭhānam)? Which one was providing support (ārambhaṇaṃ)?
● Atharvaveda 8.4.3 (same as RV 7.104.3)
● Satapatha Brahmana Where they draw that cup then that is like having a hold (tadārambhaṇavat)
● Brhadaranyaka-Upanisad 3.1.6: ...when this intermediate region provides no support (anārambaṇam) of any kind, how does the patron of a sacrifice climb up to heaven?
● Chandogya-Upanisad CU 2.9.4: Birds, therefore, fly about in the intermediate region holding themselves up without any support (nārambhaṇāny) ...
● CU 6.1.4: By means of just one lump of clay one would perceive everything made of clay - the transformation is a verbal handle (vācārambhaṇaṃ), a name - while the reality is just this: 'It's clay.' (same 6.1.5, 6.1.6, 6.4.1, 6.4.2, 6.4.3, 6.4.4)
[transl. RV Brereton, Brahmana Eggeling, Upanishads Olivelle]

Luckily the images are clear and concrete enough: ārambhaṇa / ārambaṇa is a support, a handle, a grip - but not quite a fixed or established place to stand, rather a stepping stone, a rung

ārammaṇa in the suttas

As the PED suggests ārammaṇa is translated as 2.condition 3.object
All three have very different connotations. While a 'support' is helpful, a 'condition' is essential. A translation as 'object' is not justified by the pre-Buddhist texts - and as I'll try to show - creates an unnecessary confusion.
[transl. DN Walshe, MN SN AN B.Bodhi, Snp Norman]

... in a concrete meaning

● MN 119: Bhikkhus, when anyone has not developed and cultivated mindfulness of the body, Māra finds an opportunity and a support (ārammaṇaṃ) in him. [same context with Māra in DN 26, SN 20.8, SN 35.243, SN 47.6, SN 47.7]
● SN 20.8: King Ajatasattu of Magadha, the Videhan son, does not gain access to them; he does not get a hold (ārammaṇaṃ) on them.

meaning as 'base', 'based on', 'founded on'

● AN 1.345: those beings are few who gain concentration, one-pointedness of mind, based on release (vavassaggārammaṇaṃ, lit. ‘determined letting-go’)…
● AN 2.74: happiness based on the absence of rapture (nippītikārammaṇaṃ sukha)
● AN 2.75: The happiness based on pleasure (sātārammaṇañca) and the happiness based on equanimity (upekkhārammaṇaṃ sukha)
● AN 2.76: happiness based on the formless (arūpārammaṇaṃ sukha)
● AN 6.25; ‘Greed,’ bhikkhus, is a designation for the five objects of sensual pleasure. Having made this [understanding] a basis (ārammaṇa), some beings here are purified in such a way.
● SN 12.38, SN 12.39, SN 12.40: what one intends (ceteti), and what one plans (pakappeti), and whatever one has a tendency towards (anuseti): this becomes a basis (ārammaṇametaṃ)for the maintenance of consciousness (viññāṇassa).
● SN 47.10: While he is contemplating the body in the body, there arises in him, based on the body (kāyārammaṇo)...
● Snp 3.4, v.474: … the Tathagata of whom there are no bases (ārammaṇā) [for rebirth] (Mills v.479 translates "… in whom are no conditions found at all")
● Snp 3.5, v.506: For one sacrificing, sacrifice is the basis (ārammaṇā).

... in the clear meaning of 'condition'

● SN 22.53: if a bhikkhu has abandoned lust for the form element, with the abandoning of lust the-basis-is-cut-off (vocchijjatārammaṇaṃ)
● AN 2.86: Bad unwholesome qualities arise based on the conditioned (saṅkhatārammaṇā), not without a basis in the conditioned (no asaṅkhatārammaṇā).
● AN 9.14: On what basis (kimārammaṇā), Samiddhi, do intentions and thoughts (saṅkappavitakkā) arise (uppajjantī) in a person?” “On the basis of name-and-form (nāmarūpārammaṇā), Bhante.”

ārammaṇa (as base, condition), contrasted with patiṭṭhā (as solid foundation)

● SN 12.38: When there is a basis (ārammaṇe) there is a support (patiṭṭhā) for the establishing of consciousness.
● SN 22.53: Consciousness, bhikkhus, while standing, might stand engaged with form; based upon form (rūpārammaṇaṃ), established upon form (rūpappatiṭṭhaṃ)...
● DN 33: Consciousness gains a footing either in relation to materiality, with materiality as object (rūpārammaṇaṃ, better would be 'base', 'condition') and basis (rūpappatiṭṭhaṃ, better would be 'foundation')…

(unnecessary) translation as 'object' - solvable as 'base', 'based on'

● MN 20: We shall abide pervading that person with a mind imbued with lovingkindness, and starting with him (tadārammaṇañca, B.Bodhi comments “with him as the object”), we shall abide pervading the all-encompassing world with a mind imbued with lovingkindness…
● MN 28: And his mind, having made an element its objective support (dhātārammaṇameva), enters into [that new objective support] and acquires confidence, steadiness, and resolution.
● SN 48.9: And what, bhikkhus, is the faculty of concentration? Here, bhikkhus, the noble disciple gains concentration, gains onepointedness of mind, having made release the object (vossaggārammaṇaṃ).
● Snp 4.15, v.945: I call greed “the great flood”. I call desire “the current”. The objects of sense (ārammaṇaṃ) are the movement. Sensual pleasure is the mud which is hard to cross over.
This is a difficult passage with which Norman was obviously struggling as well. It brings to mind the metaphor of RV 1.116.5, and I think we can resolve it without the contrived 'objects of sense', rather like 'trembling (of the water) is the support (of the current)'
● Snp 5.7, v.1069: ...tell me an object (of meditation), supported by which I may cross over this flood.
Can also be resolved more elegantly with 'tell me a support, practicing which I may cross...'


ārammaṇa has a limited range of meanings, yet there are subtle differences. In a few cases it is the vedic 'hold', 'grasp', but mostly it's the functional (immaterial) 'base', 'foundation' and finally 'condition'.

With ārammaṇa we have a nice example for a term that had a concrete meaning in the Rigveda, became more abstract and metaphorical in the Upanishads, and was finally incorporated in the EBT under the probably single overarching theme of early Buddhism, conditionality. ... ntext/5353

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Re: Pali Term: Ārammaṇa

Postby Dhamma_Basti » Sun May 21, 2017 10:05 am

One note on the root: According to Mayrhofer the root in old indo-aryan language for rambha 'pillar' is rabh, labh being a later variant (with a slight change in semantic meaning, but not a dramatic one).
Prefix ā should not change too much here, maybe emphasizing the 'support'-aspect.
Generally speaking r and l are in not a few times in old indo-aryan languages exchangeable, or at least form words with a very close relationship in meaning.
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