--> Skip to main content


Ayatana is the cognitive faculty that apprehends external objects, sensual or non-sensual. Abhidharmika tradition of Buddhism analyzes the life and bhava (existence), in their sequential nature and evolves an orderly explanation thereof. The miserable condition of the people which revolves around birth, decay, passing away, and being born, with the generality of people not knowing the path of escape from these, is mystifying at the face of it.

Buddha argues that death and decay occur on the basis of what different people have done during their previous existence, of which, however, one is not the master. To elicit desire, there must be a Vedana (feeling). Phassa (sense contact) is necessary for this, in the absence of which there would be no Vedana which can be eliminated by eliminating ayatanas (the fields of contact) six of which are adhyatmika (internal) and six bahya (external).

The adhyatmika ayatanas are the mana indriya ayatana – sense of vision, sense of audition, sense of smell, sense of taste, sense of touch, and faculty of consciousness; the corresponding bahya ayatanas being color, sound, odor, taste and inanimate objects.

The world of nama rupa facilitates the six fields of contact that are essential for the formation of vinnana (consciousness). And, for vinnana there must be shankara (confirmations), which later form only avijja (ignorance). If avijja and sankaras could be stopped, vinnana too could be stopped, in order to eschew an unwanted life and existence. It would be preferable to eschew all the twelve ayatanas as needed. But the question remains as to how this is at all feasible or wise, for according to Buddhism for attaining amala prajna (immaculate wisdom), which ultimately leads one to nirvana (liberation from here and now) proper knowledge of the classified elements of existence is essential.