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Kasiṇa (Pali; Skt. *kṛtsna; T. zad par gyi skye mched; C. bianchu), in Pali literature, is a "visualization device" that is used in meditation practice to focus the "totality" of the mind's attention on a specific object of concentration.[1]

Ten kasiṇa are commonly enumerated:[1][2]

  • The four great elements:
    1. earth (paṭhavī)
    2. water (āpo)
    3. fire (tejo)
    4. air/wind (vāyo)
  • The colors of:
    5. blue (nīla)
    6. yellow (pīta)
    7. red (lohita)
    8. white (odāta)
  • Two additional:
      9. light
    10. empty space

In meditating on these devices:

The earth device, for example, might be constructed from a circle of clay of even texture, the water device from a tub of water, and the red device from a piece of red cloth or a painted red disc.[1]

One begins the meditation by looking at the physical object. The meditator memorizes the object and then focuses on a mental image of the object. After gaining stability with the mental image, the meditator is able to focus on the abstract qualities of the image. This type of meditation allows one to progress through stages of meditative absorption.[1]

According to the Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism, this type of meditation is rarely used in the modern Theravada tradition.[1]

This type of meditation appears to have been more widely known among various Buddhist schools in India at one time. Asanga makes reference to kasiṇas in the Samāhitabhūmi section of his Yogācārabhūmi.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. kasiṇa.
  2. Ten kasina are described in the Visuddhimagga, and also mentioned in the following texts of the Pali Canon: A.v.36, A.v.46-60, M.ii.14; D.iii.268, 290; Nett.89, 112; Dhs.202; Ps.i.6, 95
  3. Buddhist Insight: Essays by Alex Wayman. Motilal Banarsidass: 1984 ISBN 0-89581-041-7 pg 76