Research Home

Points of Controversy or Subjects of Discourse

compiled by Magathera Tissa son of Moggali
trans by Shwe Zan Aung and Mrs Rhys Davids.
originally published in 1915, second edition 1960
Book 5 of the Abhidhamma

  • Completed at Asoka's Counsil of Patna(third great council, circa B.C. 246).
  • Not taught in the Burmese Viharas, but only read by Theras (according to trans.)

Table of secession according to Bhavya
(much much controversy over this division)

  1. Mahasangika
    1. Ekavyavaharikas
    2. Lokottaravadins
    3. Bahusrutiya
    4. Prajnaptivadins
    5. Caityikas
    6. Purvasaila
    7. Avarasaila
  2. Sthavira or Haimavata
    1. Sarvastivadin
    2. Uttariyas
    3. Vaibadtavadins
    4. Hetuvidyas
    5. Vatsiputriyas
    6. Dharmottariyas
    7. Bhadrayaniyas
    8. Sammatiyas
    9. Mahisasakas
    10. Dharmaguptakas
    11. Saddharmavarsaka or Kasyapiya
  • Buddhaghosa has a very different system of exegesis, as does everyone else it seems...

List of the Schools contained in the Katha-Vatthu

O. Theravadin, The orthodox view

X. The Heterodox schools:

    1. Vajjiputtakas (iyas?)
    2. Sammitiyas
    3. Sabbatthivadins
      1. the Kassapikas
    4. Mahasanghikas
    5. The Andhakas
      1. pubbaseliyas
      2. aparaseliyas
      3. rajagirikas
      4. siddhatthikas
    6. Gokulikas
    7. Bhadrayanikas
    8. Mahinsasakas
    9. Uttarapathakas
    10. Hetuvadins
    11. Vetulyakas (of the Mahasunnavadins)

Points of Controversy
Book One

1. Of the existence of a personal entity

  1. formula: Is the person known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact?
    1. Is the person known in the same way as a real and ultimate fact is known?
    2. Is the person not known in the same way as a real and ultimate fact?
    3. Is the person known everywhere in that sense
    4. Is the person known always in that sense
    5. Is the person known in everything in that sense
    6. ...not known everywhere
    7. ...not known always
    8. ...not known in everything
    • answers should be yes and yes or no and no
    • controversies are the self taken in space, time, and against things in general.
    • In the affirmative, the self is taken absolutely, or merely in-itself.

  2. Comparative Inquiry
    • "Is the person known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact, and is material quality also known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact?" yes. (no)
      "Is material quality one thing and the person another?" no. (yes)
      "Acknowlege the refutation: ...if the person and the material quality each be known in the sense of real and ultimate facts, then indeed you should also have admitted that they are distinct things... if the latter cannot be admitted, neither should the former..." (14-15)
    • the table below contains all the terms to be related in this way. (material quality and feeling..., etc)
    1. feeling
    2. perception
    3. coefficiencts (sankharas)
    4. consciousness

    The 4 aggregates

    eye, ear, nose, toungue, organ of touch, visible object, sound, odour, taste, tangible object, mind, cognizible object
    the twelve Sense factors
    eye as subjective element (eye contact), ear contact, nose contact, toungue contact, body as subjective element

    [+ 12 sense factors]
    eighteen elements

    Sight as objective element (eye consciousness) sounds, odours, tastes, touches as objective element.
    visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, cognition as subjective element,
    mind as subjective element, mind cognizing as subjective element, cognizibles as objective element...

    eye, ear nose, tongue, body, mind as controlling powers

    the twenty-two controlling powers (Indriya)

    female sex, male sex, life as controlling power
    pleasure, pain, joy, grief, hedonic indifference as controlling power
    the controlling powers: faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration,understanding
    the controlling powers as known: 'I shall come to know the unknown', 'the coming to know', 'the having known'
    ( table from lines 18-73, page 15-16)
  • This table of terms is used next in the formula:
  • Puggalavadin: "Is the person known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact?"
    Theravadin: "No, it is not"
    P:  "Did the exalted one say: 'There is the person who works for his own good? [from 3 nikayas, etc, minus "there is" ].  And is material quality known in the sense of a real and ultimate fact?"
    T:  "Yes"
    P:  "Is material quality one thing and the person another?"
    T:  "Nay, that cannot be said."
    P:  "Acknowlege this rejoinder: If the Exalted one said: 'there...good,' and if material quality... fact, then you should also have admitted material quality and the person are two distinct things...."

  • Now, substitute lines 18-73 (table above) in turn for "material quality."
  • Theravadin holds that material quality and feelings are real and ultimate facts, but that they are distinct things, then by analogy, person and material quality could be so...
  • P does not admit that soul and body are different, yet physical frame is different than personal entity; soul is identical to personal entity, likewise physical frame is the same as the body...
  • The term puggalo = the person, or personal entity, or "soul." 
  • various arguments on the transmigration of the soul, which recollect appropriate suttanta as defense to say that there is a soul, it transmigrates bodies,
  • Interesting:
    T: Is there any soul who after being human becomes a deva?"
    P: yes.
    T: Is the identical man the deva?
    P: nay, that cannot be said
    T: I repeat my question.
    P: yes.
  • . The commentary says of this that he answers no the first time since a mere person could not be a god, yet the second time assents because the Buddha says  things like "I at that time was Sunetta, a teacher..."
  • Thera retorts with notion of Karma, whereby the transmigrating soul is neither same nor different, but rather the resultant of the Karma acts of that life.
  • several reformations of this same controversy follow.
  • such arguments as: "If he has lost a hand or foot..."  "has leperosy..." "Does he transmigrate with feelings, perception, mental coefficients, consciousness..." (30-1) 
  • The argument revolves around if the without five agregates there is no individual, material frame (clearly) does not accompany the soul in transmigration, body and soul are different (soul meaning "the person")
  • Puggalavadins claim the self, the soul, is eternal...
  • lots of occurrances of Thera repeating the question and without elaboration on either part, Puggala reverses the answer, as if this were a known practice of taking a statement first in a limited way, and then in a more unlimited... e.g. "good" feeling vs. "good" feeling. 
  • [Thus far this is actually readable... worthy of intermediate study]
  • Answers recurr such as "Yes, neither the same, nor two different..."
  • okay, so the refutations are basically just explications of the Dhamma as presented in the Suttanta;  No new information is added. In every case, It is held up as the authority, and refution comes in either understanding the doctrine or not... Thus, not really philosophy...
  • T: "Is it the person (self) who contemplates?"
    P: "yes"
    T: "Does he contemplate when he has gone within or without.
    P: "from within."
    T: "Is the self the body?" (i prefer self to soul)
    P: "No"
    T: "Supposing he contemplates from without, is the sould one thing and the body another?"
    P: "nay, that cannot be said." (elseware I put simply no, but its written this way most everywhere)
  • They battle on page 60 trading sutras:
    • "There is a person who works for his own good..." hence, the person is known in the sense of a real or ultimate fact.
    • "There is one person, bikkhus, who, being reborn in the world, is born for the good, for the happiness of many, to show compassion on the world, for the advantage, the good, the happiness of the devas and men (Anguttara Nikaya i, 22)" same conclusion...
    • THERA:  "granting that... 'all things are without soul [an-atta].'...hence surely it is wrong to say..."
    • and again... "he does not doubt that misery arises, comes to pass, that misery ceases, passes away, nor is he perplexed thereat.  And thereupon independent insight [aparapaccayanana] comes herein to him.  Now this, Kaccanan, thus far is right views." (samyut. nik. ii. 17, iii. 135) hence is it wrong to say a persion is known... etc.
    • moreover... "the world is void, the world is void"
  • this is truly an ancient conflict.  One resoundingly resolved on the side of the Theras

2. Of Falling Away

  • The point: whether an arahant can fall away from enlightenment. And therefore:
    1. he can fall away from arahantship
    2. any time
    3. ...that all arahants can fall away
    4. ...from Arahantship and all four path-fruitions
    5. ...would still be "partially" enlightened, as one who loses "one lakh in four" would still be rich.
  • Holy exegesis Batman!  Sacrilege!  This book is not Truly Translated!  footnote 4, pg 64.
  • "We have, for the remainder of the dialogue as such, with its abundant repetitions of the point controverted, and have endevoured to reproduce all the stages of argument and the matter adduced therein..."

  • um.  well, actually it does make it actually READABLE... which is a pleasant change... But its not REAL! It therefore has a different effect on the STUDENT.  Its not INSCRUTIBLE as it is SUPPOSED to be... I was going to COP-OUT and SKIM it for this info for chrissake! Fine! just give me 350 pages on a platter!
  • So the answer is "no" while those who have not reached Arahantship can fall away, the Arahant cannot.  They have completely extingished (here I adduce) all karma-production, so are free from rebirth, suffering, self-ness.
  • furthermore, nowhere can you give an example of an Arahant who has fallen away...
  • ...And here's a bunch of sutras that say as much.
  1. Of the Higher Life

    • "that there is no higher life among the devas."  (71)
    • [here stops the reading, starts the skimming]
  2. Purification Piecemeal (put an of in front of each)
  3. Renouncing Evil
  4. Every as Permanently Existing
  5. what does my Past consist?
  6. Some of the past and future still existing
  7. applications of mindfulness
    • centers around logical error of if all oranges are fruit, then all fruit are oranges
    • all objects of mindfulness are therefore held to be mindfulness itself.
  8. of existence in Immutable Modes

Book Two


  1. Conveyance by another
  2. the knowlege of the Arahant
  3. Doubt in the Arahant
  4. the Arahant being Excelled by Others
  5. Articulate Utterance during Jnana-state (specifically that one utters 'dukkha')
  6. Inducing Insight by saying 'Dukkha'
  7. the Duration of Consciousness
  8. the World as only a Cinderheap
    • from the quote "all is on fire, oh Bikkhus!  How is everything on fire?  The eye is on fire, visible objects are on fire, visual consciousness visual contact, and the pleasure , the pain, the neutral feeling therefrom--all is on fire.  On fire wherewithal?  I tell you, on fire with the fires of passion, hate, and ignorance; with the fires of birth, decay, and death; with the fires of sorrow, lamentation, ill, grief, and despair.  All the field of sense, all the field of mind, all the feeling therefrom is on fire with those fires..." (from vinaya i, 134.  ...and "the fire sermons" in Nikayas)
    • therefore, all is ABSOLUTELY without exception suffering; Thera reminds them that there are pleasureable states, and therefore these are qualifications on that claim.  Hence, not absolute...
  9. a Specified Progress in Penetration
    • (that penetration is attained piecemeal
    • the falicy is that it allows for one attaining "a quarter penetration" or "a half of penetration..."
  10. a Buddha's Every-day Usage (That Buddha's ordinary speech was supramundane)
  11. Cessation
    • that there are two cessations of Sorrow.

Book Three


  1. Powers
  2. The quality called "Ariyan
  3. Emancipation
  4. Emancipation as Process
  5. the Eighth Man
  6. the Controlling Powers of the Eighth Man
  7. the Celestial Eye
  8. the Celestial Ear
  9. Insight into Destiny according to Deeds
  10. Moral Restraint
  11. Unconscious Life
  12. the plane wherein Consciousness neither is nor is not

Book Four

  1. As to whether a Layman can be an Arahant
  2. Of... Arahantship as conferred by rebirth alone
  3. ...the Arahant's common Humanity
  4. ...the Retaining of Distinctive Endowments
  5. ...the Arahants Indifference to Sense-Cognition
  6. ...becoming 'the enlightened one' through Enlightenment
  7. gifted with the Marks
  8. ...entering on the Path of Assurance
  9. More about the endowments
  10. ...putting off the Fetters

Book Five


  1. Emancipation
  2. the knowlege of the Adept
  3. Perverted perception or Hallucination in Jnana
  4. Assurance
  5. Analytic Insight
  6. Popular Knowlege
  7. the Mental Object in Telepathy
  8. Insight into the Future
  9. Knowlege of the Present
  10. Knowing other's Fruition

Book Six


  1. Assurance of Salvation
  2. Causal Genesis
  3. the Four Truths
  4. the Four Immaterial Spheres of Life and Thought
  5. the Attaing to Cessation (Jhana)
  6. Space
  7. Space as visible
  8. the Four Elements, Five Senses, Actions, as Visibles

Book Seven


  1. the Classsification of Things
  2. Mental States as Mutually Connected
  3. Mental Properties
  4. Giving and the Gift
  5. Utility
  6. the Effects of Gifts given in this Life
  7. the Earth and Karma
  8. Decay and Death and Karma
  9. the Ariyan Mind and its Results
  10. Results as again Causing Results

Book Eight


  1. Divers Desinies
  2. an Intermediate State
  3. the Pleasure of Sense
  4. Sense-Desires
  5. the Rupa-Element
  6. the Arupa-Element
  7. the Senses in the Rupa-Sphere
  8. Matter in the Arupa-Sphere
  9. Matter as ethically Good or Bad
  10. Vital Power
  11. a Result of Karma

Book Nine


  1. Release through Seeing of Good
  2. the Ambrosial as an Object by which we are bound
  3. Matter as Subjective
  4. Bias as without Mental Object
  5. Insight as without Mental Object
  6. Past Ideas
  7. Future Ideas
  8. Initial application of Mindfulness
  9. Sound as purely Mental
  10. Speech as (not) conforming to thought
  11. Action as (not) conforming to thought
  12. Past, future, present

Book Ten


  1. Cessation
  2. the Path and Bodily Form
  3. Path Culture and the senses
  4. Sensations as Moral and Immoral
  5. Sensations and Ideations
  6. Two Codes of Morals
  7. Virtue or Morality as Automatic
  8. Virtue as conforming to thought
  9. Growth through Observance
  10. \ Are Acts of Intimation Virtue?
  11. Non-intimation as immoral

Book Eleven


  1. Three facts about Latent Bias
  2. Insight
  3. Insight and Ordinary Consciousness
  4. the Utterance "this is pain and Sorrow!"
  5. the force of the Magic Gift [iddhi]
  6. Concentration
  7. the Causality of Things
  8. Impermanence

Book Twelve


  1. Self-Restraint
  2. Action
  3. Sound as a Result of Karma
  4. the Sense-Organs
  5. the Seven Rebirths Limit
  6. \ Sequel
  7. Murder
  8. Evil Tendency
  9. him who has reached the Seventh Rebirth
  10. Desire for Ideas and the Cause of Ill

Book Thirteen


  1. Age-Long Penalty
  2. a Doomed Man's Morality
  3. Abettors of Cardinal Crimes
  4. one whose Salvation is Morally Certain
  5. one in the Toils
  6. Captivity and Release
  7. Jhana as Enjoyment
  8. Lust for the Unpleasant
  9. Natural Desire for Mental Objects as Unmoral
  10. Desire for Ideas and the Cause of Ill

Book Fourteen


  1. the mental consecutiveness of Good and Bad
  2. the pre-natal Development of sense-organs
  3. Immediate contiguity in Sense
  4. the Outward Life of the Ariyan
  5. Latant Bias as something Apart
  6. Unconscious Outburts of Corruption
  7. Desire as inherent in Heavenly Things
  8. the Unmoral and the Unrevealed
  9. the Unincluded

Book Fifteen


  1. Correlation as specifically Fixed
  2. Reciprocal Correlation
  3. Duration
  4. Instants, Moments, Seconds of Time
  5. the Intoxicants
  6. Decay and Death
  7. Trance (i)
  8. Trance (ii)
  9. Trance (iii)
  10. Trance as a means of reaching the Unconscious Sphere
  11. Karma and is Accumulation

Book Sixteen


  1. Control
  2. Assisting Another's Mind
  3. making another happy according to his Deserts
  4. Attending to Everything at Once
  5. Matter as a Moral Condition (hetu)
  6. Matter and Morality
  7. Matter as Morally Good or Bad
  8. Matter as Result
  9. Matter as in the Material and Immaterial Heavens
  10. Desire as in the Higher Heavens

Book Seventeen


  1. an Arahant having Accumulated Merit
  2. Arahants and Untimely Death
  3. Everything as due to Karma
  4. Of dukkha and Sentient Organisms
  5. Of 'Save only the Ariyan Path'
  6. the Order and the Accepting of Gifts
  7. the Order and the Purifying of Gifts
  8. the Order and Daily Life
  9. the Order and the Fruit of Giving
  10. the Buddha and the Fruit of Giving
  11. the Sanctification of the Gift

Book Eighteen


  1. the Buddha and this World
  2. how the Norm was Taught
  3. the Buddha and Pity
  4. the Buddha and Fragrant Things
  5. a One and Only Path
  6. the Transitions from One Jhana to Another
  7. Jhana and its Intervals
  8. Hearing in Jhana
  9. the Eye and Seeing

Book Nineteen


  1. Getting Rid of Corruption
  2. the Void
  3. the Fruits of Life in Religion
  4. Attainment
  5. Thusness
  6. Nibbana as Morally Good
  7. Assurance which is not final
  8. the Moral and Controlling Powers

Book Twenty


  1. Unintentional Crime
  2. Insight
  3. the Guards of Purgatory
  4. Animals in Heaven
  5. the Ariyan Path
  6. Insight

Book Twenty-One


  1. our Religion
  2. Experience as inseparable from Personality
  3. Certain Fetters
  4. Supernormal Potency
  5. Buddhas
  6. the Unmoral
  7. Correlation by Repetition
  8. Momentary Duration

Book Twenty-Two


  1. United Resolve
  2. Bogus Arahants
  3. Self-governed Destiny
  4. Counterfeit States of Consciousness
  5. the Undetermined

Book Twenty-three




© 2003 Hudson Cress. All rights reserved. No portion of this document may be used in any way without the explicit written consent of Hudson Cress. For more information, visit