The 89 (121) Types of Citta

Revised: October 29, 2015; July 31, 2018; August 28, 2022; June 12, 2024

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

1. 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, and 2 with moha roots. All ten immoral acts (dasa akusala) are done with these 12 types of cittā. Because of the 12 immoral cittās, seven rootless (ahetuka) vipāka cittā can arise in the future. Thus, altogether, there are 19 cittā in this category.
  • Eight 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 eight vipāka citta with moral roots (4 of them have all three moral roots, and the other four are lacking in wisdom). Thus, 24 types of citta are mentioned here, of which 16 have moral roots, and 8 are rootless (ahetuka).
  • When these same eight moral citta arise in Arahants, they are called kriya citta or functional citta. They have the same moral roots as the eight 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, three types of kiriya citta arise in citta vithi: they are neither kamma nor kamma vipāka. These are the three kriya citta without any roots and thus are rootless (ahetuka) kiriya citta. Two of these perform functions of (i) five-sense-door adverting consciousness (pañcadvāravajjana citta) and the vottapana citta and (ii) mind-door-adverting consciousness (manodvāravajjana citta). (iii)The third one arises in only Arahants (when they smile about sense-sphere phenomena).
  • Note that none of the seven akusala vipāka citta has roots. Also, eight kusala vipāka citta associated with pavutti vipāka (i.e., not giving rise to rebirth) do not have any roots. Those 15 cittās and the three ahetuka kiriya cittās 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. Those 18 cittās are listed on p. 112 of Ref.1 under the second group below the group of akusala citta.

2. The 54 kāmaloka cittās 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

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

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

5. 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.

6. There are five more jhānic kriya citta experienced by Arahants when they attain these jhānās.

  • Thus, there are 15 cittās in all that predominantly belong to the Rupaloka.

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

7. There are only 12 cittās that are predominantly present in the Arupaloka. These are not jhānās but “arupāvacara samāpatti.” Four are kusala cittās (that one cultivates), and four are vipāka cittās due to those.

8. The four kusala cittās can be experienced by humans when they attain the arupāvacara samāpatti. However, they can only experience the corresponding four vipāka cittās when they are born in Arupa loka.

9. The first of the four arupāvacara samāpatti is the attainment of the base of infinite space (Ākāsānancāyatana). A human must master the highest rupāvacara jhāna to attain this arupāvacara samāpatti.

  • The second is the base of infinite consciousness (Viññāṇañcāyatana), where the “infinite viññāṇa” separates from “infinite space.” Now, the mind is fully disengaged from the “material world.” In the third stage, the yogi can willfully “shrink viññāṇa” to a level of “minimal perception” (Ākāsānancāyatana.) As the yogi makes further progress to the highest arupāvacara samāpatti (“neither-perception-nor-non-perception” or  Neva­saññā­nā­sañ­ñāyata­na) one’s awareness starts to be extinguished (as in Parinibbāna.) However, it cannot be extinguished for an anariya yogi because the samyojana/anusaya (avijjā) remains. But this is how an Ubhatovimutti Arahant gets into nirodha samāpatti.
  • In that highest arupāvacara samāpatti, the perception factor (saññā) 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. See “Samādhi, Jhāna, and Sammā Samādhi,” and “Nirōdha Samāpatti, Phala Samāpatti, Jhāna, and Jhāna Samāpatti.”

 10. There are four more arupāvacara samāpatti kriya cittās experienced by Arahants when they attain these samāpatti.

  • Thus, there are 12 cittās in all that predominantly belong to the Arupa loka.

Lokuttara (Supermundane) Citta – 8 in all

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

12. Each stage involves two types of citta: path consciousness (magga citta) and 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.

13. 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 contrasts mundane vipāka cittā, which can occur even many lifetimes after the corresponding kusala or akusala citta.

14. The phala citta can be repeated 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 cittās in all.
How 121 Types of Citta are Possible

15. It is possible to further analyze the types of citta by refining the above method by considering that each magga phala can be reached from the vicinity of each anariya jhānic state.

  • One can attain Nibbanic states via the vicinity of each of the five rupa loka jhānic states (here, the Abhidhamma method of 5 jhānā is used instead of the 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, 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, in this case, the total number of cittās would be 121 (= 54 + 15 + 12 +40) instead of 89.

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

  • Of course, the eight lokuttara citta (i.e., the four stages of Nibbāna) arrived are the same, regardless of whether they arrived via jhāna.
  •  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 four jhānā discussed in the suttā; here, the 121 citta analysis is applicable.


1. “Bhikkhu_Bodhi-Comprehensive_Manual_of_Abhidhamma,” by Bhikkhu Bodhi (2000). A pdf file can be downloaded (click the link to open the pdf). The 89 (121) citta analysis is in Table 1.1 on p. 28.

2. A discourse by Waharaka Thero on 89/121 citta analysis and phala samāpatti: “ඵල සමාවත සහ සමාපත්තිය අතර වෙනස”

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