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The Abhidhammattha-sangaha (The Compendium of Things contained in the Abhidhamma) is a Pali Buddhist instructional manual or compendium of the Abhidhamma (meta-teaching, higher doctrine) of the Theravada tradition.[1] Because of the complexity and volume of the Abhidhamma texts, there arose a need for concise summaries for teaching Abhidhamma to novices. The Sangaha is one such manual from the 11th or 12th century that is widely used as a novice's first Abhidhamma textbook.[2]

Also known asA Manual of Abhidhamma Pitaka
Date11th or 12th century
Place of originIndia or Burma
Author(s)Acariya Anuruddha[1]

According to Bhikkhu Bodhi, the Abhidhammattha-sangaha is one of the most important texts in the Theravada Abhidhamma tradition. Bhikkhu Bodhi writes:

In nine short chapters occupying about fifty pages in print, the author provides a masterly summary of that abstruse body of Buddhist doctrine called the Abhidhamma. Such is his skill in capturing the essentials of that system, and in arranging them in a format suitable for easy comprehension, that his work has become the standard primer for Abhidhamma studies throughout the Theravada Buddhist countries of South and Southeast Asia. In these countries, particularly in Burma where the study of Abhidhamma is pursued most assiduously, the Abhidhammattha Sangaha is regarded as the indispensable key to unlock this great treasure-store of Buddhist wisdom.[3]



The Abhidhammattha-sangaha consists of the following chapters:[2]

  • Chapter I - Compendium of consciousness (citta-sangaha-vibhāgo). Defines and classifies the 89 and 121 cittas or types of consciousness.
  • Chapter II - Compendium of mental factors (cetasika) or concomitants of consciousness. This chapter enumerates fifty-two mental factors (Pali: cetasikas) or concomitants of consciousness, divided into four classes: universals, occasionals, unwholesome factors, and beautiful factors.[3] It also delves into 89 classes of consciousness, the qualities of matter, rebirth, meditative exercises and relationships between phenomena.[1]
  • Chapter III - Miscellaneous, classifies cittas and cetasikas with respect to six categories: root (hetu), feeling (vedana), function (kicca), door (dvara), object (arammana), and base (vatthu).
  • Chapter IV - Analysis of the cognitive process
  • Chapter V - Process-Freed
  • Chapter VI - Compendium of Matter (rupa), enumerates and classifies material phenomena and explains their modes of origination.
  • Chapter VII - Compendium of Categories. This arranges the dhammas outlined in the previous chapters into four broad headings: a compendium of defilements; a compendium of mixed categories; a compendium of the requisites for enlightenment; a compendium of the whole.
  • Chapter VIII - Compendium Of Relations or Conditionality. It analyzes the relationships between dhammas in terms of dependent origination as well as the 24 conditional relations outlined in the Patthana.
  • Chapter IX - Compendium of meditation subjects, drawing on the Visuddhimagga, deals with the forty subjects of meditation and the stages of progress.


Because of its short length, this text has been difficult to understand, and therefore various commentaries have been written on it:[2]

  • Abhidhammattha-sangaha-Tika, also known as the Porana-Tika, "the Old Commentary." A 12th century Sri Lankan commentary by an elder named Acariya Navavimalabuddhi.
  • Abhidhammattha-vibhavini-Tika, written by Acariya Sumangalasami, 12th century. The most famous and widely used commentary.
  • Ledi Sayadaw's (1846-1923) Paramattha-dipani-tika, which criticizes the Vibhavini-tika on 325 points and aroused much debate.
  • Ankura-Tika, by Vimala Sayadaw, defends the opinions of the Vibhavini against Ledi Sayadaw's criticisms.
  • Navanita-Tika, by the Indian scholar Dhammananda Kosambi, 1933. Titled "The Butter Commentary," because it explains the Sangaha in a smooth and simple manner, avoiding philosophical controversy.
  • "A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma" by Narada Thera, Bhikkhu Bodhi and U Rewata Dhamma includes an English language introduction and explanatory commentary as well as numerous tables by U Silananda. It draws from both the Vibhavini-Tika and the Paramattha-dipani-tika, focusing on their convergences and complementary contributions instead of their conflicting points. It also draws from the Visuddhimagga.


The Abhidhammatthasangaha was first translated into English by Shwe Zan Aung (between 1895 and 1905), and this was revised and edited by Mrs. C.A.F Rhys Davids and first printed in 1910.

The Sangaha was also translated into English by Narada Maha Thera, with explanatory notes. The American monk Bhikkhu Bodhi released an updated version with the title "A comprehensive manual of Abhidhamma", with explanations of each section by Ven. U Rewata Dhamma and numerous charts and tables provided by Ven. U Silananada. A supplement to this text is 'Process of Consciousness and Matter by Ven. Dr. Rewata Dhamma'.

Another translation of the Sangaha by Rupert Gethin and RP Wijeratne includes the Abhidhammattha-vibhavini commentary by Sumangala and was published in 2002 by the Pali Text Society.


  1. ^ a b c Hoiberg, Dale H., ed. (2010). "Abhidhammattha-sangaha". Encyclopædia Britannica. I: A-ak Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8.
  2. ^ a b c Bhikkhu Bodhi; A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, p. 18.
  3. ^ a b A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma