KNOWLEDGE OF KNOWLEDGE
Of the fourfold analytical knowledge, the first threefold analytical knowledge of result, cause and language has been respectively discussed. The analytical knowledge being under discussion is the last one in the intended sequence, and is entitled the analytical knowledge of knowledge (paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā). Like the three preceding chapters in which the first threefold knowledge has been represented, the present chapter in which the analytical knowledge of knowledge is being portrayed will be treated with a similar structure of representation. Accordingly, a general survey of meanings of ‘paṭibhāna’ is conducted to bring about a clear picture of ‘paṭibhāna’ as a whole, next follows a particular examination of significances of ‘paṭibhāna’ within the scope of paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā, and then come salient features of paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā as a cornerstone of this chapter.
5. 1. General Meanings of ‘Paṭibhāna’
‘Paṭibhāna’ is etymologically a combination of the prefix ‘paṭi’ meaning ‘directly’ (paṭimukhaṃ), the root √bhā meaning ‘to shine’ (dittiyaṃ), and the neuter noun-forming suffix ‘ana’. In view of that, a Pāḷi definition found in the Abhidhānappadīpikā Ṭīkā reads: “Paṭimukhaṃ bhanti upaṭṭhahanti ñeyyā etenāti paṭibhānaṃ”, i.e. “that by which people discern, understand and comprehend (things) face to face”, that is to say ‘intuition’ or ‘direct insight’. Nevertheless, this is just an etymological definition; it cannot give an entire range of meaning to the word.
One of the well known Pali-English Dictionaries, perhaps the best one, compiles several meanings for the technical term ‘paṭibhāna’ as follows: “understanding, illumination, intelligence, readiness or confidence of speech, promptitude, wit”. Yet, the term ‘paṭibhāna’ used in different contexts found in the Pāḷi Canon certainly has a wider range of meaning. The following scan through the Pāḷi Canonical Texts will precisely pinpoint a specific implication in each context.
(1) ‘Knowledge of craft’, as in “Tassa dve dārakā honti, mañjukā paṭibhāneyyakā, dakkhā...” [V. III. 347] i.e. “His two boys are handsome, possessed of their own knowledge of craft, diligent...”
(2) ‘Knowledge of art’, as in “Cīvaraṃ sibbitvā surattaṃ suparikammakataṃ katvā majjhe paṭibhānacittaṃ vuṭṭhāpetvā...” [V. II. 84] i.e. “Having sewn a robe, dyed it, done primary work on it, and drawn a painting at the middle of it by his knowledge of art...”
(3) ‘Mere speculation’, as in “Idha, bhikkhave, ekacco samaṇo vā brāhmaṇo vā takkī hoti vīmaṃsī, so takkapariyāhataṃ vīmaṃsānucaritaṃ sayaṃ paṭibhānaṃ evamāha—‘Sassato attā ca loko ca...’” [D. I. 15] i.e. “Here, Monks, a certain ascetic or Brahmin is a logician, a speculator; hammering out by argumentation, following the imagination, and creating his own speculation, he assumes thus: ‘eternal is the self, so is the world...’”
(4) ‘Witted reply’, as in “Api cāhaṃ imāni vicitrāni pañhāpaṭibhānāni sotukāmo evāhaṃ bhavantaṃ Kassapaṃ paccanīkaṃ kātabbaṃ amaññissaṃ” [D. II. 253] i.e. “And I wanted to hear his eloquent witted replies to questions, because I thought Venerable Kassapa was a worthy opponent”.
(5) ‘Inspiration or ideal’, as in “Evaṃ vutte āyasmā Sāriputto āyasmantaṃ Revataṃ etadavoca ‘Byākataṃ kho āvuso Revata āyasmatā Ānandena yathāsakaṃ paṭibhānaṃ’” [M. I. 275] i.e. ‘When this was said, the venerable Sāriputta addressed the venerable Revata thus: “Friend Revata, the venerable Ānanda has spoken according to his own inspiration”’.
(6) ‘Prompt knowledge of eloquence’, as in “Etadaggaṃ, bhikkhave, mama sāvakānaṃ bhikkhūnaṃ paṭibhānavantānaṃ yadidaṃ Vaṅgīso” [A. I. 25] i.e. “Monks, among my noble bhikkhu disciples who are endowed with prompt knowledge of eloquence, Vaṅgīsa is foremost”.
(7) ‘Intuition’, as in “Cattārome bhikkhave kavī. Katame cattāro? Cintākavi sutakavi atthakavi paṭibhānakavi” [A. I. 553] i.e. “Monks, these are four kinds of poet. What are the four? Poet who composes a poem after thinking, poet who composes a poem after listening, poet who composes a poem after considering a meaning, and poet who composes a poem by intuition”.
(8) ‘Knowledge connected and not connected with cause-and-effect’, as in “Bhojanaṃ bhikkhave dadamāno dāyako paṭiggāhakānaṃ pañca ṭhānāni deti. Katamāni pañca? Āyuṃ deti, vaṇṇaṃ deti, sukhaṃ deti, bhalaṃ deti, paṭibhānaṃ deti” [A. II. 36] i.e. “Monks, a giver who gives food to those who receive it gives five things to them. What are the five things? He gives life, he gives beauty, he gives happiness, he gives strength and he gives knowledge”.
(9) ‘Desire to talk’, as in “...uppanno moho duppaṭivinodayo, uppannaṃ paṭibhānaṃ duppaṭivinodayaṃ, uppannaṃ gamikacittaṃ duppaṭivinodayaṃ...” [A. II. 162-163; V. V. 231] i.e. “...delusion arisen is difficult to dispel, desire to talk arisen is difficult to dispel, intention to travel arisen is difficult to dispel...”
(10) ‘Threefold knowledge: knowledge by learning, knowledge by inquiry and knowledge by attainment’, as in “Paṭibhānavāti tayo paṭibhānavanto patiyattipaṭibhānavā, paripucchāpaṭibhānavā adhigamapaṭibhānavā” [MNd. 180-181] i.e. “Possessor of knowledge means threefold possessor of knowledge, namely, one possessed of knowledge by learning, one possessed of knowledge by inquiry and one possessed of knowledge by attainment”.
(11) ‘Threefold analytical knowledge: analytical knowledge of result, analytical knowledge of cause, and analytical knowledge of language’, as in “Ñāṇesu ñāṇaṃ paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā” i.e. “knowledge of threefold analytical knowledge is the analytical knowledge of knowledge”.
(12) As an adjective, ‘paṭibhāna’ means ‘evident, easily seen’, as in “Imehi kho, Puṇṇiya, aṭṭhahi dhammehi samannāgatā ekantapaṭibhānā Tathāgataṃ dhammadesanā hotīti” [A. III. 152] i.e. “Endowed with these eight factors, Puṇṇiya, the Tathāgata’s Word is absolutely evident”.
We have just come across the investigation of the meaning of the term ‘paṭibhāna’. The investigation thus informs us that ‘paṭibhāna’ is not only used as a noun, but also as an adjective. Of the connotations seen above, some viz. the number (3) ‘mere speculation’, the number (9) ‘desire to talk’ and the number (12) ‘evident’ are not found in the Pali-English Dictionary by T.W. Rhys Davids & William Stede; the rest are comparatively identical in one way or the other with those found therein, though the former are specifically applied while the latter more generally. The number (5) ‘inspiration or ideal’ is not explained in the corresponding commentary, but in accordance with the context mentioned, ‘paṭibhāna’ also can mean ‘intuition, ideal or capacity’.
The investigation also informs us that the term ‘paṭibhāna’ is sometimes used as ‘paṭibhāṇa’ (with a dot under ‘n’) in other versions rather than Myanmar version. In number (8), for example, ‘paṭibhānaṃ’ is found as ‘paṭibhāṇaṃ’ in Sinhalese version. In other references rather than those given above, ‘paṭibhānavā’ [Khp. 412, verse 859] is seen as ‘paṭibhāṇavā’ in Thai and Roman versions, ‘paṭibhānena’ [MNd. 52] as ‘paṭibhāṇena’ in Sinhalese, Thai and Cambodian versions, and ‘yuttappaṭibhāno’ [P. 147] as ‘yuttappaṭibhāṇo’ in Thai version.
5. 2. ‘Paṭibhāna’ in the Scope of Paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā
As seen above, ‘paṭibhāna’, in some cases, is synonymous with ‘ñāṇa’ (paṭibhānaṃ vuccati ñāṇampi). This meaning also holds good for ‘paṭibhāna’ in the case of paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā.
Obviously, ‘paṭibhāna’, in the scope of paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā, signifies ‘the knowledge’ taken as object by paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā, the analytical knowledge of knowledge. As we have come across, it is said: “ñāṇesu ñāṇaṃ paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā” i.e. “the knowledge of the threefold knowledge of attha, dhamma and nirutti is the analytical knowledge of knowledge”. The Pāḷi sentence is so-rendered, because ‘ñāṇesu’ here is identical with ‘imesu tīsu ñāṇesu’ found in the Mahāniddesa (p. 181), which is further explained in the Mahāniddesa Aṭṭhakathā (p. 298) as ‘atthadhammaniruttīsu imesu tīsu’. Thus, ‘paṭibhāna’ here means the threefold analytical knowledge of attha, dhamma and nirutti, which is taken as object by the analytical knowledge of knowledge.
Furthermore, the commentaries offer another interpretation to ‘ñānesu’, which stands for ‘paṭibhāna’. According to this interpretation, ‘paṭibhāna’ embraces the fourfold knowledge including the aforesaid threefold and the analytical knowledge of knowledge itself. The fourth knowledge viz. the analytical knowledge of knowledge is included, because, according to Venerable Jānakābhivaṃsa, the analytical knowledge of knowledge, which arises later, is able to comprehend the analytical knowledge of knowledge, which arises earlier. In other words, the earlier analytical knowledge of knowledge can become an object of the later one. Nevertheless, only the threefold knowledge of attha, dhamma and nirutti, is intended here due to that the analytical knowledge of knowledge arises solely in the four kinds of wholesome consciousness and in the four kinds of inoperative consciousness, which is associated with knowledge and belongs to the sense-sphere. In addition, when the threefold knowledge of attha, dhamma and nirutti, is said, their respective functions (kicca), characteristics (lakkhaṇa), manifestations (paccupaṭṭhāna), proximate causes (padaṭṭhāna) and so on, are also included. In brief, ‘paṭibhāna’, in the scope of paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā, means the threefold analytical knowledge of attha, dhamma and nirutti, and their respective function, characteristic, manifestation and proximate cause.
5. 3. Salient Features of Paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā
As mentioned above, ‘paṭibhāna’ means the threefold knowledge of dhamma, attha and nirutti, together with their respective functions, characteristics, manifestations and proximate causes; therefore, the knowledge of the threefold knowledge and their respective functions, characteristic, etc., is called the analytical knowledge of knowledge (paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā). With reference to this, it is said: “it is the knowing that knows thus: ‘this knowledge arises taking such object by such function’” (‘Idaṃ ñāṇaṃ idaṃ nāma ārammaṇā katvā pavattaṃ iminā nāma kiccena’ jānanaṃ). This statement clearly suggests two significant actions undertaken by the analytical knowledge of knowledge—one is to make the threefold knowledge of attha, dhamma and nirutti as its objects, and the other to know their corresponding functions, characteristics, and so on.
Taking Other Kinds of Knowledge as Objects
Concerning the first function, the Mahāniddesa Aṭṭhakathā provides a comprehensible passage as follows:
“Atthadhammaniruttīsu imesu tīsu sabbatthakañāṇamārammaṇaṃ katvā paccavekkhantassa tesu tīsu ñāṇesu pabhedagataṃ ñāṇaṃ paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā”
“When one is reviewing by making the threefold knowledge of attha, dhamma and nirutti, as objects, then the knowledge that falls into the category of this threefold knowledge is the analytical knowledge of knowledge”.
It is this function that the analytical knowledge of knowledge is called ‘the knowledge which has knowledge as its object’, ‘ñāṇārammaṇaṃ ñāṇaṃ’. Thus, any one of the threefold analytical knowledge of attha, dhamma and nirutti, which arises comprehending its respective phenomenon, becomes an object of the analytical knowledge of knowledge spontaneously. In other words, the analytical knowledge of knowledge occurs penetrating its object, whether the analytical knowledge of attha, dhamma or nirutti, by way of non-delusion (asammohavasena).
Knowing the Functions of Other Kinds of Knowledge
Concerning the second function, the function of knowing the function of the threefold analytical knowledge of attha, dhamma and nirutti, the Vibhaṅga states: “Yena ñāṇena tāni ñāṇāni jānāti—“imāni ñāṇāni idamatthajotakānī”ti” i.e. “the analytical knowledge of knowledge knows the threefold analytical knowledge of attha, dhamma and nirutti, thus: ‘this threefold analytical knowledge decides such and such meaning”. Accurately, the analytical knowledge of knowledge is able to know the function of another threefold analytical knowledge in this way: ‘such is the function of such knowledge; such is the function of such knowledge’. In spite of knowing very well their functions, the analytical knowledge of knowledge is just not able to perform those functions itself. The following story, which compares the analytical knowledge of knowledge to the leaned preacher with poor voice, could make clear the sense.
It was said that there were two bhikkhus, one learnt much (bahussuto), and the other didn’t (appassuto). Both of them were taught the method of preaching the Dhamma, and of course, they knew each other very well. The one who learnt much had a poor voice (mandassaro), whereas the other was endowed with a fine voice (sarasampanno). The former could not preach the Dhamma very well due to his poor voice, while the latter could drew great attention of the audience wherever he preached the Dhamma owing to his excellent voice. The audience was so satisfied that they said delightedly: ‘According to the way he preached the Dhamma, he will surely be one who knows the Tipiṭika by heart’. But, the former argued: ‘It is through hearing the Dhamma that you will know whether he knows the Tipiṭaka by heart or not’. Despite whatever the former might argue, he was unable to preach the Dhamma to draw great attention of the audience as his counterpart was. Even so, the analytical knowledge of knowledge knows the functions of the threefold knowledge of attha, dhamma and nirutti very well, but it cannot perform those functions.
Other Salient Characteristics of Paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā
Another aspect of the analytical knowledge of knowledge is that it is, like its preceding knowledge, endowed with various modes of comprehension. For that reason, it is capable of effecting the discerning, the explaining and the defining of the category of the threefold analytical knowledge—the analytical knowledge of attha, dhamma and nirutti, respectively. Additionally, the Paṭisambhidāmagga gives more modes of comprehension such as seeing diversely, seeing keenly and so on as mentioned in the chapter two. For illustration, the Paṭisambhidāmagga, after explaining the threefold analytical knowledge of attha, dhamma and nirutti, with reference to the five faculties (pañca indriyāni), makes clear the analytical knowledge of knowledge as follows:
“Pañcasu dhammesu ñāṇāni, pañcasu atthesu ñāṇāni, dasasu niruttīsu ñāṇāni. Aññāni dhammesu ñāṇāni, aññāni atthesu ñāṇāni, aññāni niruttīsu ñāṇāni. Yena ñāṇena ime nānā ñāṇā ñātā, teneva ñāṇena ime nānā ñāṇā ñātā paṭividitāti. Tena vuccati—‘paṭibhānanānatte paññā paṭibhānapaṭisambhide ñāṇaṃ’”.
“There are knowledges of five instances of dhamma, there are knowledges of five instances of attha, and there are knowledges of ten instances of language. Knowledges of dhammas are one, knowledges of atthas are another, and knowledges of languages are still another. The knowledge which knows these various knowledges knows them penetratingly. Hence it is said: ‘the understanding of various knowledges is the analytical knowledge of knowledge”.
As a matter of fact, paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā, like its two preceding kinds of knowledge—dhammapaṭisambhidā and niruttipaṭisambhidā—is mundane (lokiya) and pertaining to the sense-sphere. The reason is that it arises in the four types of sense-sphere wholesome consciousness associated with knowledge (kāmāvacarakusalato catūsu ñāṇasampayuttesu cittuppādesu) and in the four types of sense-sphere inoperative consciousness associated with knowledge (kāmāvacarakiriyato catūsu ñāṇasampayuttesu cittuppādesu).
Alternatively, paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā occurs to both Trainers (sekkha) and Non-trainers (asekkha). To Trainers, it happens in the four types of sense-sphere wholesome consciousness associated with knowledge, taking another threefold analytical knowledge as objects, when they review such and such knowledge (ñāṇaṃ paccavekkhaṇakāle). To Non-trainers, however, it arises in the four types of sense-sphere inoperative consciousness, taking another threefold analytical knowledge as objects, when they review such and such knowledge.
With respect to conditional relations, paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā has the Path as predominance condition (maggādhipati) by way of object predominance (ārammaṇādhipativasena) when a Noble One reviews dhammapaṭisambhidā that takes the Path as object (maggañāṇaṃ paccavekkhaṇakāle). When a Noble One reviews other two kinds of knowledge—atthapaṭisambhidā and niruttipaṭisambhidā—and dhammapaṭisambhidā that takes other phenomena rather than the Path as objects, then paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā is not said to have the Path as predominance condition by way of object predominance.
With reference to the quality of its object, paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā is said to take inferior object (parittārammaṇa) if a Noble One reviews the knowledge that has as objects the wholesome, resultant and inoperative phenomena pertaining to the sense-sphere. Paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā takes lofty object (mahaggatārammaṇa), however, if a Noble One reviews the knowledge that has as objects the wholesome, resultant and inoperative phenomena pertaining to the fine-material and immaterial sphere. Paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā takes boundless object (appamāṇārammaṇa), though, if a Noble One reviews the knowledge that has Nibbāna, and the wholesome and resultant phenomena pertaining to the supra-mundane sphere, as objects.
Concerning the time of its object, paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā is said to take a past object if a Noble One reviews the knowledge that has as object the wholesome, resultant and inoperative phenomena belonging to the past. Similarly, it takes a future object or a present object if a Noble One reviews the knowledge that has as objects the wholesome, resultant and inoperative phenomena belonging to the future or the present respectively.
In connection with the space of its object, paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā is said to take external object (bahiddhārammaṇa) when a Noble One reviews the knowledge that has as objects the wholesome, resultant and inoperative phenomena externally. Likewise, it takes internal object when he reviews the knowledge that has as object the wholesome, resultant and inoperative phenomena internally; it takes internal-and-external object when he reviews the knowledge that has as objects the wholesome, resultant and inoperative phenomena internally-and-externally.
 T.W. Rhys Davids & Williams Stede, Pali-English Dictionary, p. 397
 “Paṭibhāneyyakāti sake sippe paṭibhānasampannā” [VA. III. 384]
 “Paṭibhānacittanti attano paṭibhānena katacittaṃ” [VA. III. 71]
 “Sayaṃ paṭibhānanti attano paṭibhānamattasañjātaṃ” [DA. I. 99]
 “Pañhāpaṭibhānānīti pañhupaṭṭhānāni” [DA. II. 401]; “Pañhupaṭṭhānānīti pañhesu upaṭṭhānāni mayā pucchitatthesu tumhākaṃ vissajjanavasena ñāṇupaṭṭhānāni” [DṬ. II. 355]
 Bhikkhu Ñāṇmoli (trans.) & Bhikkhu Bodhi (ed.), The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, p. 308
 “Yo taṅkhaṇaññeva Vaṅgīsatthero viya attano paṭibhānena karoti, ayaṃ paṭibhānakavi nāmāti” [AA. II. 390]
 “Paṭibhānanti yuttamuttapaṭibhānaṃ” [AA. III. 21]; “Atthayuttaṃ kāraṇayuttañca paṭibhānassāti yuttappaṭibhāno” [AbhA. III. 74]
 “Paṭibhānanti kathetukāmatā vuccati” [AA. III. 55]; “Ettha paṭibhānanti kathetukamyatā vuccati” [V. IV. 174]
 “Paṭibhānavāti pariyattiparipucchādhigamapaṭibhānena samannāgato” [MNdA. 296]
 “...tīsu ñāṇesu ñāṇaṃ paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā nāma” [VbhA. 375]
 “Ekantapaṭibhānā Tathāgataṃ dhammadesanā hotīti Tathāgatassa ekantapaṭibhānā dhammadesanā hoti, ekanteneva paṭibhāti upatthātīti attho” [AA. III. 252]
 Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli (trans.) & Bhikkhu Bodhi (ed.), op. cit., p. 1224, Note. 358
 AṬ. II. 334
 Vbh. 307ff
 VsmA. II. 283; VbhMlṭ. 193; VbhAnuṭ. 194
 Ashin Jānakābhivaṃsa, Sammohavinodanī Bhāsāṭīkā (Myanmar word-to-word translation of Vibhaṅga Pāḷi, Vibhaṅga Aṭṭhakathā and Vibhaṅga Mūlaṭīkā), Vol. III, p. 508
 “Kusalakiriyābhūtāya paṭibhānapaṭisambhidāya dhammatthabhāvato tīsu eva” [VsmṬ. II. 83; VbhMlṭ. 193]
 VsmṬ. II. 83
 MNdA. 298
 Vsm. II. 72
 AbhpaṬ. II. 302
 “Idamatthajotakānīti imassa atthassa jotakāni pakāsakāni; imaṃ nāma atthaṃ jotenti pakāsenti paricchindantīti attho” [VbhA. 375]
 “‘Imissā idaṃ kiccaṃ, imissā idaṃ kiccan’ti itarāsaṃ paṭisambhidānaṃ kiccaṃ jānāti” [VbhA. 376]
 “Sayaṃ pana tāsaṃ kiccaṃ kātuṃ na sakkoti” [VbhA. 376]
 Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli (trans.), The Dispeller of Delusion, Part II, p. 134
 VbhA. 376
 “Paṭibhānappabhedassa sallakkhaṇavibhāvanavavatthānakaraṇasamatthaṃ paṭibhāne pabhedagataṃ ñāṇaṃ paṭibhānapaṭisambhidā” [VsmṬ. II. 81]
 Psm. 85–88
 Vbh. 318–319
 VbhA. 376
 Ibid., p. 377
 Ibid., p. 378
Sincere thanks to Bhikkhu Kusalagunna for making this digital version available (Binh Anson, December 2005)
last updated: 303-12-2005