Embryo development and the arrival of gandhabba

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I have addressed many of the knotty issues discussed here in the above essay. I hope it will help.

With Metta


I’m afraid I didn’t see this term in the thread. Nor have I ever come across it in the suttas. It seems like a an Abhidhammic term to me: is it? I’m afraid I don’t know much at all about Abhidhamma. Maybe someone could explain its meaning to me?


It’s the 1st thought arise in a new life, in the case of humans its the first thought arise in fetus.


“An Ekottarika-agama parallel to the Mahata/hasa&khaya-sutta does
not employ the term gandhabba, but instead speaks of the “external
consciousness” or of the “aspiring consciousness”, in the sense of
the consciousness that aspires to be reborn.28 The Madhyama-agama
parallel to the Assalayana-sutta, however, also speaks of a
*gandhabba, as does a Madhyama-agama parallel to another listing of
the same three conditions in the Mahata/hasa&khaya-sutta.29 The
corresponding expression gandharva is also found in a reference to
the three conditions for conception in the Abhidharmakosabha1ya; in
the Divyavadana; in the Pravrajyavastu of the (Mula-) sarvastivada Vinaya;
and in the Mahavibha1a.”
Quoted from Venerable Analayo’s “Rebirth and Gandhabba”.

With Metta


It is a bit late to reply to the question. However, I thought you would be interested to know why I explained Embryo is Nāmarūpa of that particular being.

In Titthāyatana Sutta (AN 3.61) the blessed one explained dependent origination (paticcasamuppāda) step by step under four noble truths. From that sutta you could clearly see that the embryo gives rise to name and form and then to the six senses.

Supported by the six elements, an embryo is conceived. When it is conceived, there are name and form. Name and form are conditions for the six sense fields. The six sense fields are conditions for contact. Contact is a condition for feeling. It’s for one who feels that I declare: ‘This is suffering’ … ‘This is the origin of suffering’ … ‘This is the cessation of suffering’ … ‘This is the practice that leads to the cessation of suffering…

This is further explained in kammasutta.

As we can see in kammasuttaṃ ,
“And what, bhikkhus, is old kamma? The eye is old kamma, to be seen as generated and fashioned by volition, as something to be felt. The ear is old kamma -so on-”

When we take an account of the teaching from Mahanidanasutta (DN15),
How that is so, Ānanda, should be understood in this way: If consciousness were not to descend into the mother’s womb, would mentality-materiality take shape in the womb?”
“Certainly not, venerable sir.”

“If, after descending into the womb, consciousness were to depart, would mentality-materiality be generated into this present state of being?”
“Certainly not, venerable sir.
With this evidence the Viññāṇa (consciousness) should be there to develope nāmarūpa (name and form) in humans.

  • nāmarūpa paccayā salāyatana

All the senses are formed by kamma, led by the mind.
Since, the baby shows some reactions to the surrounding, all the six senses should be developed in the womb (atleast the sence of contact).


Dear venerable ,

In the reverse sequence of dependent origination , with the cessation of ignorance , follow by cessation of sankhara , cessation of consciousness and cessation of Fetus (namarupa) …

Now , how do you explain this ?
I am astonishingly surprise amaze .


You didn’t read titthāyatana sutta, did you?

In Titthāyatana Sutta (AN 3.61) the blessed one explained dependent origination (paticcasamuppāda) step by step under four noble truths.


Venerable , do you mind explaining how the element of space fit into the scenario ?
By the way , «the descent of the embryo»
does not sound logical !
Probably one should say the descent of the consciousness .


When it was said: ‘“These are the four noble truths”: this, bhikkhus, is the Dhamma taught by me that is unrefuted … uncensured by wise ascetics and brahmins,’ for what reason was this said? In dependence on the six elements the descent of a future embryo occurs. When the descent takes place, there is name-and-form; with name-and-form as condition, there are the six sense bases;


Thats how it is translated by bhikku bodhi.
gabbhassāvakkanti > (gabbhe + okkanti) literally conception. (PTS Dict, 275)
okkanti - appearance;
“The descent of the consciousness” is a better way to say it.

When something physical forms, there definitely is the space. The physical part occupies some space to be and grow. In fact most part of the physical world is space.
No need much explainations to understand that I guess.


Technically an embryo is not a fetus.
A fetus may develop from an embryo, which may develop from a blastocyst, which may develop from a zygote, which may develop from a fertilized egg.

If we’re going to speculate about the material, we should be careful with the terminology. Doing otherwise might imo cause harm to individuals, families, communities, humanity.


But even then it is improbable , consciousness that can descent means by itself exists apart from the other four aggregates which the Buddha say not possible . There must be the physical body in place first before the consciousness comes into being .
Btw , space element should be late notion .


Thank you so much for the information.
Many merits !


No it is not, it can be found in EBTs. Even above sutta belongs to EBT. But there are further explainations found in Vissuddhimagga and commentaries explaining space up to other realms and distances to them when explaining “loka” (world).

Most ven. Nagasena thero’s explaination in Milindapañña shows that this is about decent od gandhabba. But your argument is appropriate.