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The Vipassanā-ñāṇas (Pali, Sanskrit: Vipaśyanā-jñāna) or insight knowledges are various stages that a practitioner of Buddhist Vipassanā ("insight", "clear-seeing") meditation is said to pass through on the way to nibbana.[1] This "progress of insight" (Visuddhiñana-katha) is outlined in various traditional Theravada Buddhist commentary texts such as the Patisambhidamagga, the Vimuttimagga and the Visuddhimagga.


The Vimuttimagga (Path to liberation, 解脫道論) is an early meditation manual by the arahant Upatissa preserved only in a sixth century Chinese translation. The stages of insight outlined by the Vimuttimagga are:[2]

  1. Comprehension (廣觀)
  2. Rise and fall (起滅)
  3. Dissolution (滅)
  4. Fear & disadvantage & disenchantment (畏 & 過患 & 厭離)
  5. Delight in deliverance & equanimity (樂解脫 & 捨)
  6. Conformity (相似)

A similar presentation of these stages can be found in the Patisambhidamagga (dated between the 3rd century BC to 2nd century AC), an Abhidhamma work included in the fifth Nikāya of the Pāli Canon. In the Patisambhidamagga, there are only 5 stages presented. The first three stages are the same and the last two are "fear & disadvantage" (bhaya & ādīnava) and "wish for deliverance & equanimity towards formations" (muñcitukamyatā & saṅkhārupekkhā).[3]


Buddhagosa's Visuddhimagga (Path of purification) (C. 430 CE), while seemingly influenced by the Vimuttimagga, divides the insight knowledges further into sixteen stages:[4]

  1. Namarupa pariccheda ñana - Knowledge of mental and physical states, analytical knowledge of body and mind.
  2. Paccaya pariggaha ñana - Discerning Conditionality, knowledge of cause and effect between mental and physical states.
  3. Sammasana ñana - Knowledge of the three characteristics of mental and physical processes.
  4. Udayabbaya ñana - Knowledge of arising and passing away. Accompanied by possible mental images/lights, rapture, happiness, tranquility and strong mindfulness so that "there is no body-and-mind process in which mindfulness fails to engage." [5]
  5. Bhanga ñana - Knowledge of the dissolution of formations, only the "vanishing," or "passing away" is discernible.
  6. Bhaya ñana - Knowledge of the fearful nature of mental and physical states. The meditator's mind "is gripped by fear and seems helpless."[6]
  7. Adinava ñana - Knowledge of mental and physical states as dukkha. "So he sees, at that time, only suffering, only unsatisfactoriness, only misery." [7]
  8. Nibbida ñana - Knowledge of disenchantment/disgust with conditioned states.
  9. Muncitukamayata ñana - Knowledge of Desire for Deliverance, the desire to abandon the worldly state (for nibbana) arises.
  10. Patisankha ñana - Knowledge of re-investigation of the path. This instills a decision to practice further.
  11. Sankharupekha ñana - Knowledge which regards mental and physical states with equanimity.
  12. Anuloma ñana - Knowledge in conformity with the Four Noble Truths.
  13. Gotrabhu ñana- Knowledge which is void of conditioned formations, "maturity Knowledge".
  14. Magga ñana - Knowledge by which defilements are abandoned and are overcome by destruction.
  15. Phala ñana - Knowledge which realizes the fruit of the path (nibbana).
  16. Paccavekkhana ñana - Knowledge which reviews the defilements still remaining.


In the Abhidhammattha-sangaha (11th to 12th century), another widely used Buddhist commentarial text, there are only ten insight knowledges.[8]

  1. Comprehension - sammasana
  2. Rise and fall - udayabbaya
  3. Dissolution - bhaṅga
  4. Fear - bhaya
  5. Disadvantage - ādīnava
  6. Disenchantment - nibbidā
  7. Wish for deliverance - muñcitukamyatā
  8. Reflection - paṭisaṅkhā
  9. Equanimity towards formations - saṅkhārupekkhā
  10. Conformity - anuloma


  1. Mahasi Sayadaw, the Progress of insight
  2. Analayo, The Dynamics of Theravāda Insight Meditation.
  3. Analayo, The Dynamics of Theravāda Insight Meditation.
  4. Vipassanadhura meditation society
  5. Mahasi Sayadaw, the Progress of insight
  6. Mahasi Sayadaw, the Progress of insight
  7. Mahasi Sayadaw, the Progress of insight
  8. Analayo, The Dynamics of Theravāda Insight Meditation.
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