Definition - What does Vijnana mean?

Vijnana is a Sanskrit word that is usually translated as “consciousness,” “awareness” or “mind.” In Buddhist philosophy, it is one of the five skandhas, or aggregate states of existence. The other four skandhas are: rupa (physical body or form), vedana (sensations), samjna (perceptions and reasoning) and samskara (mental activity). Vijnana is the awareness of and trigger for vedana, samjna and samskara.

In Thai Buddhism, vijnana (vinnana in Pali) specifically refers to the individual's life force or consciousness.

Yogapedia explains Vijnana

The Buddha said that vijnana is necessary for tanha, which is the craving for sensual pleasure, for existence and for non-existence. He also said that to eliminate suffering, attachment to vijnana should be avoided.

There are six types of vijnana:

  • Eye consciousness
  • Ear consciousness
  • Nose consciousness
  • Tongue consciousness
  • Body consciousness
  • Mind consciousness

Some schools of Buddhism include two additional forms of vijnana: klistamanas, which collects the formations of karma, and alayavijnana, which is “store house” consciousness, a higher consciousness on which everything is based and is related to reincarnation.

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