Indriya

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Indriya (P. indriya; T. dbang po; C. gen. J. kon) is typically translated as "faculty" and is used in the following contexts:

  • the five or six sensory faculties
  • the five spiritual faculties
  • the twenty-two phenomenological faculties

Five sense faculties

Five sense faculties are enumerted within rupa-skandha (the aggregate for form). See:

Six sense faculties

In the scheme of the eighteen dhatus, six sense faculties are identified:

  1. eye faculty (cakkh-indriya)
  2. ear faculty (sot-indriya)
  3. nose faculty (ghān-indriya)
  4. tounge faculty (jivh-indriya)
  5. body faculty (kāy-indriya)
  6. mind faculty (man-indriya)

Five spiritual faculties

The five spiritual faculties (Pali: pañca indriyāni) are:

  1. faith or conviction or belief (saddhā)
  2. energy or persistence or perseverance (viriya)
  3. mindfulness or memory (sati)
  4. concentration or focus (samādhi)
  5. wisdom or understanding or comprehension (pañña).

This set of five faculties is one of the seven sets of the thirty-seven factors of enlightenment.

Twenty-two phenomenological faculties

In the Abhidharma literature, the notion of indriya is expanded to the twenty-two "phenomenological faculties" or "controlling powers" (Pali: bāvīsati indriyāni)[1] which are:

  • six sensory faculties
  1. eye/vision faculty (cakkh-undriya)
  2. ear/hearing faculty (sot-indriya)
  3. nose/smell faculty (ghān-indriya)
  4. tongue/taste faculty (jivh-indriya)
  5. body/sensibility faculty (kāy-indriya)
  6. mind faculty (man-indriya)
  • three physical faculties
  1. femininity (itth-indriya)
  2. masculinity (puris-indriya)
  3. life or vitality (jīvit-indriya)
  • five feeling faculties[2]
  1. physical pleasure (sukh-indriya)
  2. physical pain (dukkh-indriya)
  3. mental joy (somanasa-indriya)
  4. mental grief (domanass-indriya)
  5. equanimity (upekhha-indriya)
  • five spiritual faculties
  1. faith (saddh-indriya)
  2. energy (viriy-indriya)
  3. mindfulness (sat-indriya)
  4. concentration (samādhi-indriya)
  5. wisdom (paññ-indriya)
  • three final-knowledge faculties
  1. thinking "I shall know the unknown" (anaññāta-ñassāmīt-indriya)
  2. gnosis (aññ-indriya)
  3. one who knows (aññātā-vindriya)

According to the Visuddhimagga, the 22 faculties along with such constructs as the aggregates, sense bases, Four Noble Truths and Dependent Origination are the "soil" of wisdom (paññā).[3]

Other faculty groupings

At times in the Pali Canon, different discourses or Abhidhammic passages will refer to different subsets of the 22 phenomenological faculties. Thus, for instance, in the Abhidhamma there are references to the "eightfold form-faculty" (aṭṭhavidhaṃ indriya-rūpaṃ) which includes the first five sensory faculties (eye, ear, nose, tongue and body faculties) plus the three physical faculties (femininity, masculinity and vitality).[4]

Etymology

Indriya literally means "belonging to Indra,[5] hence connoting supremacy, dominance and control, attested in the general meaning of "power, strength" from the Rigveda.[6]

The term is generally translated as "faculty" or, in specific contexts, as "spiritual faculty" or "controlling principle."[7]

See also

Notes

  1. Bodhi (2000), pp. 1508-1509, refers to these 22 faculties as "phenomenological faculties"; while Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 122-3, entry on "indriya" refers to these 22 faculties as "controlling powers."
  2. The five feeling faculties are essentially an expanded scale of the three vedana, where pleasant and unpleasant feelings/sensations are divided between physical and mental experiences (see, e.g., Bodhi, 2000, p. 1510).
  3. Buddhaghosa & Ñāṇamoli (1999), pp. 442-443.
  4. See, for instance, Dhs. 709-717, 971-973 (Rhys Davids, 2003, pp. 215-217, 247); and, Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), pp. 122-123.
  5. Indra is known as Sakka in the Pali Canon.
  6. Bodhi (2000), p. 1509; Conze (1993), n. 1; Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 122, entry "indriya"; and, Thanissaro (1998), Part II, sec. E, "The Five Faculties."
  7. Bodhi (2000) translates indriya as "spiritual faculty" and, at times (particularly when referring to Abhidhammic sources), "faculty." Buddhaghosa & Ñāṇamoli (1999) consistently translate indriya simply as "faculty" both in the context of the five spiritual faculties (e.g., pp. 128-9) and the 22 phenomenological faculties (Ch. XVI). Conze (1993) mentions and uses translations of "faculty," "controlling faculty" and "spiritual faculty," and refers to the five indriya as "cardinal virtues." Thanissaro (1998) uses "faculty." Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), p. 122-123, entry for "Indriya," (retrieved 2007-05-27) defines it as: "Indriya is one of the most comprehensive & important categories of Buddhist psychological philosophy & ethics, meaning 'controlling principle, directive force, élan, dynamis'...: (a) with reference to sense-perceptibility 'faculty, function'...."

Sources

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