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Translations of
English life faculty,
Pali jīvitindriya
Sanskrit jīvitindriya
Chinese 命根

Jīvitindriya (Sanskrit and Pali) is a Buddhist term translated as "life faculty" or "vitality". Jīvitindriya is identified as one of the seven universal mental factors within the Theravada abhidharma teachings. In this context, jīvitindriya is defined as a mental factor that sustains the life of the citta (mind) and other mental factors it accompanies. The characteristic of jīvitindriya is said to be “ceaseless watching”.[1]



Bhikkhu Bodhi states:

There are two kinds of life faculty, the mental, which vitalizes the associated mental states, and the physical, which vitalizes material phenomena. The mental life faculty alone is intended as a cetasika. It has the characteristic of maintaining the associated mental states, the function of making them occur, manifestation as the establishing of their presence, and its proximate cause is the mental states to be maintained. [2]

Nina von Gorkom states:

As regards jivitindriya (jivitam means "life", and indriya means "controlling faculty"), this cetasika sustains the life of the citta and cetasikas it accompanies. According to the Atthasalini (part IV, Chapter I, 123, 124) (2 See also Dhammasangani19.) the characteristic of jivitindriya is "ceaseless watching", its function is to maintain the life of the accompanying dhammas, its manifestation the establishment of them, and the proximate cause are the dhamas which have to be sustained.[1]


Within the Mahayana Buddhist teachings, there are a variety of definitions for jīvitindriya. The Dharmaskandhapadashastra (an early Abhidharma work of the Savastivadin school) defines jīvitindriya as: a faculty that persists, continues, maintains, animates, and operates what we called sentient beings.[3]


Jīvitaṃ means “life”, and indriya means “controlling faculty”.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Gorkom (2010), Vitality (jivitindriya) and Attention (manasikara)
  2. Bhikkhu Bodhi 2012, Kindle Locations 2222-2224.
  3. Soonil Hwang (2006), p. 80


  • Bhikkhu Bodhi (2012), A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma: The Abhidhammattha Sangaha (Vipassana Meditation and the Buddha's Teachings), Independent Publishers Group Kindle Edition 
  • Nina van Gorkom (2010), Abhidhamma Vipassana icon.png Cetasikas by Nina van Gorkom
  • Soonil Hwang (2006), Metaphor and Literalism in Buddhism: The Doctrinal History of Nirvana, Routledge

External links

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