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Viṃśatikā (T. Nyi shu pa; C. Weishi ershi lun 唯識二十), or the Twenty, also known as Viṃśatikāvijñaptimātratāsiddhikārikā (“Twenty Stanzas of Consciousness-Only”) is one of the most important works of the Indian scholar Vasubandhu, in which he defends Yogacara from objections by Realists.

Contemporary scholar Dan Lusthaus states:

Vasubandhu's most original and philosophically interesting treatise is his Twenty Verses (Vimśatikā). In it he defends Yogācāra from objections by Realists. Yogācāra claims that what we think are external objects are nothing more than mental projections. This has been mistaken for an Idealist position because interpreters focus on the word "object" instead of "external". Vasubandhu does not deny that cognitive objects (viṣaya, ālambana, etc.) exist; what he denies is that they appear anywhere else than in the very act of consciousness which apprehends them. He denies that such cognitive objects have external referents (bahya-artha). What Vasubandhu means is that cognition never takes place anywhere except in consciousness. Everything we know we have acquired through sensory experience (in Buddhism the mind is considered a special type of sense). We are fooled by consciousness into believing that those things which we perceive and appropriate within consciousness are actually outside our cognitive sphere. Put another way, we mistake our interpretations of things for the things themselves. Consciousness is driven by karmic intentionalities (the habitual tendencies produced by past actions), and how we perceive is shaped by that conditioning. The goal of Yogācāra is to break out of this cognitive narcissism and finally wake up to things as they are, devoid of erroneous conceptual projections.[1]


In English

  • Stefan Anacker, Seven Works of Vasubandhu: The Buddhist Psychological Doctor, Motilal Banarsidass, 2nd Edition, 2002, pp. 157-179, ISBN ISBN 978-8120802032
  • Thomas A. Kochumuttom, A Buddhist Doctrine of Experience: A New Translation and Interpretation of the Works of Vasubandhu the Yogacarin ( Motilal Banarsidass Publishers of India; 2017 edition (January 1, 2008))
  • Thomas E. Wood, Mind Only (A Philosophical And Doctrinal Analysis Of The Vijnanavada), Motilal Banarsidass; New Ed edition (January 1, 2009), pp. 97-105

In French

  • Philippe Cornu, Vasubandhu, Cinq traités sur l'esprit seulement (Paris: Fayard, 2008)


  1. Lusthaus, Dan (n.d.). "Vasubandhu". Source: [1] (accessed: Thursday August 1, 2019)

External links