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Grāhya-grāhaka (T. gzung 'dzin གཟུང་འཛིན་) - the object of perception (grāhya) and the agent of perception (grāhaka), as presented within the Yogacara tradition.

Brief explanation

Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso explains meditation based on contemplating grahya ("an outer perceived object") and grahaka ("an inner perceiving mind") as follows:

...the meditator realizes that the division of each moment of awareness into an inner perceiving mind and a separate outer perceived object is a conceptual invention. In a dream one experiences, moment by moment, inner perceiving moments of consciousness aware of seemingly outer perceived objects and yet, when one wakes up, one realizes there were no outer perceived objects other than the mind itself. Both the inner perceiving moments of consciousness and the outer perceived objects were different manifestations of mind. This shows that the mere appearance of seemingly outer perceived objects is no proof that such things exist in absolute terms. In fact, there is no proof that there is any substance other than mind anywhere. Furthermore, the Buddha Himself taught, ‘The three realms of existence are merely mind’.[1]


Mattia Salvini states:

Such point of reference, the object of consciousness, is also called grāhya— the object of apprehension, the object of perception. Hence now we have the pair of the object of perception (grāhya) and the agent of perception (grāhaka), that is, a point of reference and the consciousness that arises based on that. The category “agent” is used in the flexible and specific sense derived from the conventions of Sanskrit syntactical analysis, which requires nothing more than causal prominence: no continuation through time, no sentience, no further specification is required for something to be called “agent” (kartṛ). Hence, one impersonal moment of consciousness can very well fit into the category “agent of perception” (grāhaka).
Any student of Yogācāra quickly comes to notice that both the object and the agent of perception are considered to be unreal aspects. First the point of reference is shown to be nonexistent; then the moment of vijñāna that apprehends it also is understood to be impossible. Both grāhya and grāhaka do not exist (upalabdhiṁ samāśritya nopalabdhiḥ prajāyate | upalabdhiṁ samāśrityanopalabdhiḥprajāyate||Madhyāntavibhāga 1.6)[2]

Alternate translations

  • object of perception and the agent of perception (Salvini)
  • apprehended and apprehender (Dharmachakra Translation Committe, Dharmadharmata-vibhaga)
  • an outer perceived object and an inner perceiving mind (Shenpen Hookham, Progressive Stages of Meditation on Emptiness)
  • apprehendable object and apprehending subject (Jim Valby: RY dict)
  • percept and percipient (Jim Valby: RY dict)
  • graspable object and grasping subject (RY: RY dict)
  • grasping and fixation, dualistic fixation, the grasper and the grasped, perceiver and the perceived (RY: RY dict)


  1. Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Stage Two: Chittamatra, Mind Only.
  2. Salvini 2015, pp. 29-71.


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