Pāḷi; √ abhijānāti
alt. sp.: IPA: əbʰɪd͡ʒɑːn̪ɑːt̪ɪ, Velthuis: abhijaanaati, redable: abhijaanaati, simple: abhijanati
translation ~: …
abhijānāti: Description welcome. Info can be removed after imput.
by late Ven. Nyanalokita Thera:
by the Pali Text Society:
by Ven. Thanissaro Maha Thera:
by Ven. Varado Maha Thera:
Distinguished levels of understanding
Abhijānāti is often paired with parijānāti in contexts which, for both words, imply distinguished levels of understanding by arahants and other noble disciples. The words are here called ‘full understanding’ and ‘profound understanding.’
Parijānāti more sublime
Profound understanding is more sublime than full understanding because it is usually restricted to arahants. Rarely it is applied to non-returners (e.g. pañcakāmaguṇike rāge pariññate natthi taṁ saṁyojanaṁ yena saṁyojanena saṁyutto ariyasāvako puna imaṁ lokaṁ āgaccheyya, SN ii 99).
Pariññā and nibbāna
The noun of parijānāti is pariññā, which shares the definition of nibbāna (rāgakkhayo dosakkhayo mohakkhayo ayaṁ vuccati bhikkhave pariññā ti SN iii 26; rāgakkhayo dosakkhayo mohakkhayo idaṁ vuccati nibbānan ti SN iv 251).
Nābhijānāti: not understand, not recall
When abhijānāti occurs in the negative it means either:
• This world, the world hereafter, the brahmā world, and the deva world. I do not know the celebrated Gotama’s view of these.
Ayaṁ loko paro loko brahmaloko sadevako
Diṭṭhiṁ te nābhijānāmi gotamassa yasassino. (Snp 1117)
• We do not know what you are meditating upon.
Yassa te nābhijānāma yampi nissāya jhāyasi. (Tha 1084)
• Many in the world, being ignorant, are truly bound to the mud of sensuous pleasure. They do not [come to] know the end of birth and death.
Kāmapaṅkena sattā hi bahū loke aviddasū
Pariyantaṁ nābhijānanti jātiyā maraṇassa ca. (Thi 354)
• We do not understand those things though we have come like hair-splitting [archers].
Ye mayaṁ nābhijānāma vālavedhisamāgatā. (Tha 1084)
• I do not recall a sensuous thought having ever arisen in me.
nābhijānāmi kāmavitakkaṁ uppannapubbaṁ. (MN iii 125)
• I do not recall any Ājīvaka ascetic who went to heaven.
nābhijānāmi kañci ājīvakaṁ saggūpagaṁ. (MN i 483)
• I do not recall indulging in sexual intercourse even in a dream.
nābhijānāmi supinantenapi methunaṁ dhammaṁ paṭisevitā. (Vin.2.79)
When a bhikkhu has heard that all things are unsuited to stubborn attachment he fully understands the whole teaching.
evañcetaṁ bhikkhu bhikkhuno sutaṁ hoti sabbe dhammā nālaṁ abhinivesāyāti so sabbaṁ dhammaṁ abhijānāti
Through fully understanding the whole teaching, he profoundly understands the whole teaching.
sabbaṁ dhammaṁ abhiññāya sabbaṁ dhammaṁ parijānāti
Through profoundly understanding the whole teaching, he perceives all phenomena differently.
sabbaṁ dhammaṁ pariññāya sabbanimittāni aññato passati. (SN iv 50)
A bhikkhu who is a disciple in training… fully understands solidness to be solidness
yopi so bhikkhave bhikkhu sekho… sopi paṭhaviṁ paṭhavito abhijānāti
Fully understanding solidness to be solidness
paṭhaviṁ paṭhavito abhiññāya
may he not think of solidness in personal terms
paṭhaviṁ mā maññi
… For what reason? So that he may profoundly understand it, I declare
Pariññeyyaṁ tassā ti vadāmi. (MN i 4)
The arahant, too, fully understands solidness to be solidness (arahaṁ… so pi paṭhaviṁ paṭhavito abhijānāti)
Fully understanding solidness to be solidness
paṭhaviṁ paṭhavito abhiññāya
he does not think of solidness in personal terms
paṭhaviṁ na maññati
…For what reason? He profoundly understands it, I declare
Taṁ kissa hetu? Pariññātaṁ tassā ti vadāmi. (MN i 4)
Illustration: abhijānāsi, recall
Do you recall having asked other ascetics and Brahmanists this question?
abhijānāsi no tvaṁ devānaminda ime pañhe aññe samaṇabrāhmaṇe pucchitā ti. (DN ii 284)
Illustration: abhijānāmi, recall
When my husband died, he rose amongst the deities and he revealed himself to me in his former bodily form (purimena attabhāvena uddassesi); but I do not recall any inward disquiet on that account.
na kho panāhaṁ bhante abhijānāmi tatonidānaṁ cittassa aññathattan ti. (AN iv 66)
Illustration: anabhijānaṁ, recall
If a bhikkhu, though not recalling it, should claim with reference to himself a superhuman attainment of knowledge and vision that is worthy of the Noble Ones, saying “Thus I know; thus I see;” then, whether or not he is later interrogated about it, fallen and seeking purification, he says “Friends, though not knowing, I said ‘I know’; though not seeing, I said ‘I see.’ I boasted vainly and falsely”; unless it was from over-estimation, he is pārājika, no longer in communion.
yo pana bhikkhu anabhijānaṁ uttarimanussadhammaṁ attūpanāyikaṁ alamariyañāṇadassanaṁ samudācareyya Iti jānāmi iti passāmī ti tato aparena samayena samanuggāhiyamāno vā asamanuggāhiyamāno vā āpanno visuddhāpekkho evaṁ vadeyya ajānam evaṁ āvuso avacaṁ jānāmi; apassaṁ passāmi. Tucchaṁ musā vilapin ti. Aññatra adhimānā ayampi pārājiko hoti asaṁvāso. (Vin.3.91)
• ‘Interrogated means: when a matter (i.e. a claim to have attained a superhuman attainment) is acknowledged, he is asked: What was attained by you? How was it attained? When was it attained? Where was it attained? Which spiritual defilements have you abandoned? Which states have you gained?
Samanuggāhīyamāno ti yaṁ vatthu paṭiññātaṁ hoti tasmiṁ vatthusmiṁ samanuggāhīyamāno kinte adhigataṁ kinti te adhigataṁ kadā te adhigataṁ kattha te adhigataṁ katame te kilesā pahīnā katamesaṁ tvaṁ dhammānaṁ lābhī ti.
The correct answer to these questions would logically be ‘I do not recall attaining any superhuman attainment’ rather than ‘I do not know any superhuman attainment.’ Nonetheless, anabhijānaṁ in this rule is usually rendered ‘not knowing.’ This produces stilted results:
Illustration: abhiññāya, full understanding
One is the path to worldly gain, another the path leading to the Untroubled. Fully understanding this, the bhikkhu, the disciple of the Buddha, should not take delight in worldly honour.
Aññā hi lābhūpanisā aññā nibbānagāminī
Evametaṁ abhiññāya bhikkhu buddhassa sāvako
Sakkāraṁ nābhinandeyya. (Dhp 75)
The noble eightfold path should be developed for the full understanding of the five aggregates.
Imesaṁ kho bhikkhave pañcannaṁ upādānakkhandhānaṁ abhiññāya ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo bhāvetabbo. (SN v 61)
There are these four spiritual shackles:
• the spiritual shackle of greed
• the spiritual shackle of ill will
• the spiritual shackle of adherence to observances and practices
• the spiritual shackle of stubborn attachment to dogmatic opinions
• For the full understanding of these four spiritual shackles the noble eightfold path should be developed
imesaṁ kho bhikkhave catunnaṁ ganthānaṁ abhiññāya ariyo aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo bhāvetabbo. (SN v 59)
Illustration: abhiññāya, supernormal attainment
The Buddha told Baka the Brahmā that he knew of three groups of devas that Baka was ignorant of: the Ābhassarā, Subhakiṇṇā and Vehapphalā devas.
‘Thus, Brahmā,’ he concluded, ‘in regard to supernormal attainment I do not stand merely at the same level as you, so how could I be lower? Rather, I am above you.
evampi kho ahaṁ brahme neva te samasamo abhiññāya kuto nīceyyaṁ. Atha kho ahameva tayā bhiyyo. (MN i 329)
Illustration: abhiññeyyo, fully understood
The ascetic Vacchagotta said that most religious teachers declared the place of rebirth of even their best disciples, whereas the Buddha only declared this of some disciples. The ascetic Vacchagotta said that because of this:
‘There was unsureness and uncertainty in me: How is the teaching of the Ascetic Gotama’s to be fully understood?’
Tassa mayhaṁ bho gotama ahudeva kaṅkhā ahu vicikicchā kathannāma samaṇassa gotamassa dhammo abhiññeyyo. (SN iv 399)
Sāriputta, friend, it is through seeing and fully understanding the ending of the visual sense, the visual field of sensation, and things known through the visual field of sensation, that I regard these things as “not [in reality] mine,” “not [in reality] what I am,” “not my [absolute] Selfhood.”
Cakkhusmiṁ āvuso sāriputta cakkhuviññāṇe cakkhuviññāṇaviññātabbesu dhammesu nirodhaṁ disvā nirodhaṁ abhiññāya cakkhuṁ cakkhuviññāṇaṁ cakkhuviññāṇaviññātabbe dhamme n’etaṁ mama n’eso’hamasmi na me so attā ti samanupassāmi. (MN iii 265)
Bhikkhus, one who has not fully and profoundly understood the visual sense and discarded and abandoned it, is incapable of destroying suffering
Cakkhuṁ bhikkhave anabhijānaṁ aparijānaṁ avirājayaṁ appajahaṁ abhabbo dukkhakkhayāya. (SN iv 89)
Illustration: abbhaññāsiṁ, fully understand
Bhikkhus, in the world [of beings] with its devas, māras, and brahmās, in the world of mankind with its ascetics and Brahmanists, its royalty and commoners, whatsoever is seen, heard, sensed, cognised, attained, searched into, pondered over by the mind, I fully understand it.
Yaṁ bhikkhave sadevakassa lokassa samārakassa sabrahmakassa sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiyā pajāya sadevamanussāya diṭṭhaṁ sutaṁ mutaṁ viññātaṁ pattaṁ pariyesitaṁ anuvicaritaṁ manasā tamahaṁ abbhaññāsiṁ. (AN ii 25)
Illustration: abhiññā, transcendent insight
There are ascetics and Brahmanists conducting and applying themselves rightly in the world who, having realised this world and the world hereafter for themselves through transcendent insight, make them known to others.
atthi loke samaṇabrāhmaṇā sammaggatā sammāpaṭipannā ye imañca lokaṁ parañca lokaṁ sayaṁ abhiññā sacchikatvā pavedentī ti. (MN iii 72)
I claim to have reached the consummation and perfection of transcendent insight into profound truths not heard before
pubbāhaṁ bhikkhave ananussutesu dhammesu abhiññāvosānapāramippatto paṭijānāmi. (AN iii 9)
Bhikkhus, I explain the teaching with transcendent insight, not without transcendent insight.
abhiññāyā'haṁ bhikkhave dhammaṁ desemi no anabhiññāya. (AN i 276)
Illustration: abhiññā, supernormal attainments
One might just as well think that a bull elephant seven or seven and a half cubits could be hidden by a palm leaf as think that my six supernormal attainments could be eclipsed [by the Venerable Ānanda’s attainments].
Sattaratanaṁ vā so āvuso nāgaṁ aḍḍhaṭṭharatanaṁ vā tālapattikāya chādetabbaṁ maññeyya yo me cha abhiññā chādetabbaṁ maññeyyā ti. (SN ii 217)
Six supernormal attainments (cha abhiññā)
Bodhi says: ‘This is one of the rare texts in the Nikāyas where the word abhiññā is used collectively to designate the six higher knowledges.’
Illustration: pariññā, profound understanding
What things should be profoundly understood?
Katame ca bhikkhave pariññeyyā dhammā:
The five aggregates
Rūpaṁ bhikkhave pariññeyyo dhammo… viññāṇaṁ pariññeyyo dhammo
What is profound understanding?
Katamā ca bhikkhave pariññā?
The destruction of attachment, hatred, and undiscernment of reality
Yo bhikkhave rāgakkhayo dosakkhayo mohakkhayo. (SN iii 26)
Illustration: pariññāya, profoundly understanding
Recognising this danger, that suffering arises dependent on existential nourishment, profoundly understanding all existential nourishment, one is free of attachment to all existential nourishment.
Etamādīnavaṁ ñatvā dukkhaṁ āhārapaccayā
Sabbāhāraṁ pariññāya sabbāhāramanissito. (Snp 747-9)
Suttas and Dhammadesanā