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Pradhānacitta (P. padhānacitta; T. gtso sems གཙོ་སེམས་) is translated as "main mind," "primary mind," "chief mind," etc. This term is used in Buddhist epistemology in the context of mind (citta) and mental factors (caitasika).

Pradhānacitta (main mind) refers to any instance of the six consciousnesses. Each instance of the "main mind" is accompanied by various mental factors.[1]

Hence, the term pradhānacitta (main mind), is a way to distinguish the six consciousness from the mental factors.

According to Buddhist scholars, pradhānacitta (main mind) and mental factors have five aspects in common:[1][2]

The relationship between the main mind and the mental factors can be described with the following metaphors:[2]

  • The main mind is like the screen in a cinema, and the mental factors are like the images projected on the screen. In this analogy, we typically do not notice the screen because we are so caught up on the images.
  • The main mind is like a king who sits passively on a throne, and the mental factors are like the king's busy ministers.

Alternate translations

English translations:

  • main mind
  • primary mind
  • chief mind (Buswell)
  • main minds (Geshe Tashi Tsering)
  • principle awareness (Berzin)


  • The main minds are also sometimes referred to as citta (Skt.) or sems (Tibetan).


  1. 1.0 1.1 Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. pradhānacitta.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Geshe Tashi Tsering 2006, s.v. Main minds and mental factors.


Further reading

External links: