The 89 (121) Types of Citta

Revised: October 29, 2015; August 31, 2017; June 3, 2018; July 31, 2018

Citta for Kamaloka (in the 11 sense realms)- 54 in all

There are three main types of citta here: The differentiation is based on whether they have immoral roots (lobha, dosa, moha), kammically moral roots (alobha, adosa, amoha), or are kammically neutral, i.e., no roots.

  • 12 immoral citta: 8 with lobha roots; 2 with dosa roots; 2 with moha roots. All ten immoral acts (dasa akusala) are done with these 12 types of cittā. Because of these 12 types of immoral cittā, 7 rootless (ahetuka) vipāka cittā can arise in the future. Thus altogether there are 19 cittā in this category.
  • 8 moral cittā: 4 with all three moral roots and 4 with two moral roots (lacking in wisdom). They can give rise to two types of vipāka citta: 8 vipāka cittā with no roots, and 8 vipāka citta with moral roots (4 of them have all three moral roots and other 4 are lacking in wisdom). Thus 24 types of citta are mentioned here, from which 16 have moral roots and 8 are rootless (ahetuka).
  • When these same 8 moral citta arise in Arahants, they are called kriya citta or functional citta. They just have the same moral roots as the 8 moral citta mentioned above, but do not have any kammic potential or kammic consequences.
  • All those citta with moral roots (8 kriya cittā for Arahants and 16 for others) are called sobhana (beautiful) citta.
  • Finally, there are 3 types of kiriya citta that arise in citta vithi which are neither kamma nor kamma vipāka. These are the 3 kriya citta without any roots, and thus are rootless (ahetuka) kiriya citta. Two of these perform functions of (i) five-sense-door adverting consciousness (pancadvaravajjana citta) and the vottapana citta, and (ii) mind-door-adverting consciousness (manodvaravajjana citta). (iii)The third one arises in only Arahants (when they smile about sense-sphere phenomena).
  • Note that none of the 7 akusala vipāka citta has roots. Also, 8 kusala vipāka citta associated with pavutti vipāka (i.e, not giving rise to rebirth) also do not have any roots. Those 15 citta together with the three ahetuka kiriya citta are involved in the vipāka phase of a given citta vithi. They do not have any sobhana or asobhana cetasika other than the 7 universal cetasika and the 6 pakinnaka (particualrs) cetasika; see, “Cetasika – Connection to Gati” for various types of cetasika. These 18 citta are listed on p. 112 of Ref.1 under the second group below the group of akusala citta.

Those 54 kāmaloka citta can be categorized in different ways.

Asobhana (Unbeautiful) Sobhana (Beautiful)
Immoral- 12 Rootless – 18 Moral -24
Lobha (8) Immoral Vipaka (7) Moral (8)
Dosa (2) Moral Vipaka (8) Moral Vipaka (8)
Moha (2) Kriya (3) Kriya (8)


Citta for Rupaloka (in the 16 Rupa realms)- 15 in all

1. There are only 15 citta that are predominantly present in the Rupaloka. Five are jhānic moral citta and five are vipāka cittā due to those.

2. The five jhānic moral citta can be experienced by humans when they develop samadhi and attain these (first through fifth) jhānā. However, they can experience the corresponding five vipāka citta only when they are born in Rupalokas.

3. The five jhānic states are characterized by five jhāna factors or mental concomitants: vitakka (initial application), vicara (sustained application), piti (zest), sukha (happiness), and ekaggata (one-pointedness). All five factors are present in the first jhāna, and as one moves to higher jhānā, these factors are lost one by one, and in the fifth jhāna only ekaggata is left.

Piti (zest) is the happiness in the mind and sukha (happiness) is the tranquility of the body.

4. There are five more jhānic kriya citta experienced by Arahants when they attain these jhānā.

Thus there are 15 citta in all that predominantly belong to the Rupaloka.

Citta for Arupaloka (in the 4 Arupa realms)- 12 in all

1. There are only 12 citta that are predominantly present in the Arupaloka. Four are jhānic moral citta and four are vipāka citta due to those.

2. The four jhānic moral citta can be experienced by humans when they develop samadhi and attain these (fifth through eighth) jhānā. However, they can experience the corresponding four vipāka citta only when they are born in Arupaloka.

3. The first of the four Arupaloka jhānā is the attainment of the base of infinite space (Akasanancayatana). A human needs to master the fourth jhāna (Rupaloka) in order to be able to attain this jhāna.

The second is the base of infinite consciousness (viññāṇacayatana). The third is the base of nothingness (akincannayatana), and the fourth is the base of neither-perception-nor-non-perception (n’ evasanna n’asannayatana). In this last type of consciousness, the factor of perception (sanna) is so subtle that it can no longer perform the function of perception, i.e., one is unaware of the “world”. Yet perception is not altogether absent. This is another reason why the ancient yogis erroneously assumed this eighth jhāna to be Nibbāna.

 4. There are four more Arupaloka jhānic kriya citta experienced by Arahants when they attain these jhānā.

Thus there are 12 citta in all that predominantly belong to the Arupaloka.

Lokuttara (Supermundane) Citta – 8 in all

1. These pertain to the four stages of Nibbanic attainment: Sotāpanna, Sakadāgāmi, Anāgāmi, and Arahant.

2. Each stage involves two types of citta: one is path consciousness (magga citta), and the other is fruition consciousness (phala citta).The magga citta has the function of eradicating or permanently attenuating defilements. The phala citta has the function of experiencing the degree of liberation made possible by the magga citta.

3. Each magga citta arises only once, and endures for one thought-moment. It is never repeated. The corresponding phala citta (which corresponds to a vipāka citta, but is not called a vipāka citta) arises immediately after the magga citta. This is in contrast to mundane vipāka cittā where they can occur even many lifetimes after the corresponding kusala or akusala citta.

4. The phala citta can be repeated any time after one attains it. With practice, it can be sustained for long times, up to 7 days for an Arahant.

Thus, there are 54 + 15 + 12  + 8 = 89 citta in all.

How 121 Types of Citta are Possible

1. It is possible to further analyze the types of citta by refining the above method by taking into the fact that each magga phala can be reached from the vicinity of each jhānic state.

  • One can attain Nibbanic states via the vicinity of each of the five rupaloka jhānic states (here the Abhidhamma method of 5 jhānā is used, instead of four mentioned in the suttā, where the first two jhāna in Abhidhamma categorization are taken to be one jhāna; in the Abhidhamma analysis vitakka and vicara are removed in two steps, whereas in the sutta analysis it is assumed that they are removed in one step).
  • Therefore, each of the five jhānic states can lead to the four magga cittā and four phala cittā.
  • Thus here there are 40 ways to attain lokuttara cittā. Therefore, the total number of citta in this case would be 121 (= 54 + 15 + 12 +40) instead of 89.

2. Therefore, magga phala (including the Arahant stage) can be reached via going through any of the jhānic states or without going through any jhānic state.

  • Of course, the 8 lokuttara citta (i.e., the four stages of Nibbāna) arrived are the same, regardless of whether arrived via jhāna or not.
Important Conclusion Regarding Jhāna and Magga Phala

From the above it is clear that magga phala can be attained without jhāna (89 citta analysis applicable). Magga phala can also be attained via each of the five jhānic states (in the Abhidhamma method), which correspond to the 4 jhānā discussed in the suttā; here the 121 citta analysis is applicable.

  • Furthermore, these jhānic states can be reached via either anariya jhāna or Ariya jhāna. The experience seems to be the same.
  • The only difference is that while kāma rāga is suppressed (vikkhambhana pahāna) in anariya jhāna, it is REMOVED (samucceda pahāna) in Ariya jhāna.
  • For details, see, “Samādhi, Jhāna (Dhyāna), Magga Phala“.


  1. “A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma”, by Bhikkhu Bodhi (2000).
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