Samjna

Definition - What does Samjna mean?

In many Buddhist traditions, samjna is one of the five skandhas, or aggregate states of existence, also known as the five impermanent states. Samjna is also one of the universal mental factors in the Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist doctrine, although the number of factors differs in each school.

Samjna is a Sanskrit word meaning “perception” or “cognition.” It is also known by the Pali term, sanna. Samjna refers to recognizing something by associating it with something else, thereby ensuring it will be recognized again. This perception is limited by the individual's experience and prejudiced by his/her beliefs.

Yogapedia explains Samjna

The Buddha taught that samjna is a reflex that results from the processing of form and sensory information, creating a recognition of both objects and concepts. Samjna, like all physical and mental existence in Buddhist philosophy, is temporary and attachment to samjna and the other skandhas is the cause of suffering. This differs from Hindu and many yogic traditions, which assert that life has both permanent and impermanent aspects.

The five aggregate states described by the Buddha are:

  • Rupa (the body or form)
  • Vedana (feelings and sensations)
  • Samjna (perceptions)
  • Samskara (voluntary mental formations including desires and beliefs)
  • Vijnana (awareness or consciousness)
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