Is sankhara in 5 aggregates and dependent origination the same thing?

If it’s the same thing then consciousness or the fifth aggregate comes from or is conditioned by the fourth aggregates furthermore this fifth aggregate will condition the other 3 aggregates or nama rupa I ask this to confirm myself

So in the beginning there’s only sankhara in the beginning of the process of becoming there’s only 1 aggregate please confirm this too


Edit 1
In the beginning there’s 0 aggregate then come sankhara ,from ignorance comes sankhara


Regarding the grasping of the aggregates, I’ve found this helpful:

DN33:1.11.122: Four bases for consciousness to remain.
DN33:1.11.123: Rūpūpāyaṁ vā, āvuso, viññāṇaṁ tiṭṭhamānaṁ tiṭṭhati rūpārammaṇaṁ rūpappatiṭṭhaṁ nandūpasecanaṁ vuddhiṁ virūḷhiṁ vepullaṁ āpajjati;
DN33:1.11.123: As long as consciousness remains, it remains involved with form, supported by form, founded on form. And with a sprinkle of relishing, it grows, increases, and matures.
DN33:1.11.124: vedanūpāyaṁ vā āvuso …
DN33:1.11.124: Or consciousness remains involved with feeling …
DN33:1.11.125: saññūpāyaṁ vā, āvuso …pe…
DN33:1.11.125: Or consciousness remains involved with perception …
DN33:1.11.126: saṅkhārūpāyaṁ vā, āvuso, viññāṇaṁ tiṭṭhamānaṁ tiṭṭhati saṅkhārārammaṇaṁ saṅkhārappatiṭṭhaṁ nandūpasecanaṁ vuddhiṁ virūḷhiṁ vepullaṁ āpajjati.
DN33:1.11.126: Or as long as consciousness remains, it remains involved with choices, supported by choices, grounded on choices. And with a sprinkle of relishing, it grows, increases, and matures.

Regarding beginnings, I’ve found this helpful because of the relationship between ignorance and choices:

SN15.14:1.2: “Anamataggoyaṁ, bhikkhave, saṁsāro …pe…
SN15.14:1.2: “Mendicants, transmigration has no known beginning. …

Regarding the circularity of grasping, I’ve found this helpful:

SN12.23:6.2: saṅkhārūpanisaṁ viññāṇaṁ,
SN12.23:6.2: Choices are a vital condition for consciousness.
SN12.23:6.3: Consciousness is a vital condition for name and form.
SN12.23:6.4: Name and form are vital conditions for the six sense fields.

Regarding getting off the aggregate merry-go-round, I’ve found this helpful:

AN6.61:12.4: “Contact, mendicants, is one end. The origin of contact is the second end. The cessation of contact is the middle. And craving is the seamstress,
AN6.61:12.5: for craving weaves one to being reborn in one state of existence or another.
AN6.61:12.6: That’s how a mendicant directly knows what should be directly known and completely understands what should be completely understood. Knowing and understanding thus they make an end of suffering in this very life.”

One might therefore understand that the diversity of existential choice (sankhara) is fueled by craving. That interpretation helps me read the suttas, allowing me to focus on the letting go of craving rather than trying to understand sankhara as anything other than unsatisfactory.

NOTE: Paradoxically, sankhara can’t be that bad since it led me to faith in the EBTs.

SN12.23:6.12: Suffering is a vital condition for faith.


Hi Ratana,

This is a complex issue, and I think is is worth pointing out that that there are a number of “repetitions” associated with nama, so a simple linear interpretation of dependent origination can run into all kinds of issues. Here is a diagram from Lecture 4 of Bhikkhu Analayo’s course on the Nibbana Sermons Bhikkhu Anālayo Lectures. The start of Lecture 4, which discusses this diagram, is worth listening to, and watching, to get an idea of some of the issues.


They are not the same.
Sankhara in 5 aggregates, means experienceable movements, changes of any sorts.
Sankhara is becoming and non-becoming, if we try to put it in context with state of being.
State of being(dhamma), precedes with sankara(becoming) and end with sankhara(non-becoming).
It is the pregnancy of dhamma, but it is not dhamma.

In dependent origination, Sankara is a movement outside of 5 aggregates. It is independent of and unsupported by the 5 aggregates.

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Ajahn Brahmali has also taught extensively on the subject. Here are a few resources to be found in the forum


Do you Happen to know in which of these he discusses the aggregates?


If bhante don’t mind please take a visit here @Brahmali @sujato

Here is a rough outline of the overlap…

12 links of Dependent Origination
Avija/delusion, Sankhara/formations, Vinnana/Consciousness, Nama-Rupa/Name-Form, Salayatana/ six sense bases, Phassa/Contact, Vedana/Feeling, Tanha/Craving, Upadana/taking up or clinging, Bhava/Becoming, Jati/Re-birth, Jaramarana/Death.

5 Aggregates
Perceptions - made up of Nama/Rupa and Contact etc

So DO gives a framework for understanding the arising and ceasing of the Aggregates. It is presented in the diagram That @mikenz66 shared above, but I find that diagram (while really great and relevant to that particular lecture) has so much info in it, that unless you already know the subject really well it needs accompanying explanations. rather than standing on its own.

In the latest series on DO presented by Ajahn Brahmali and Bhante Sujato in Sydney, Ajahn has some great new slides showing the different interr-elationships. Perhaps Ajahn @Brahmali could make them available. I thought they gave a really clear perspective and really bring out the inter-relatedness and the principles at work :pray: :slight_smile: :dharmawheel:

But really the best way to get a thorough understanding is to watch the presentations in full

This is the direct link to Dhammnet and the whole series. Note they are being released one per week… just to keep us on our toes :slight_smile: This week is session 9. (the prior 8 are all there)


There is also the DO workshop by Ajahn Brahmali and Venerable Sunyo from last year, where the terms are defined:

The material is already fully available, slides included.

Edit: The definition of Sankara is provided in this episode Dependent Origination Workshop ||| (part 8) | Ajahn Brahmali and Venerable Sunyo | 14 November 2020 - YouTube from 9:13.


IMO, this may not be entirely accurate.

What is it that ceases? It is any remaining suffering

How? By the ceasing of clinging to the aggregates based on the ceasing of craving. Which is based on acquiring the Right View that the Aggregates are ‘not Self’. When this is truly known at nibbana, the aggregates are let go of and are no longer identified with. The Arahant who has seen the true nature of the aggregates has no craving for them (even though they remain present while the Arahant is ‘alive’), thereby there is no identification with the aggregates and they are not taken up again upon parinibbana. With the aggregates not being taken up again, the Process which was identifying itself as a Self based on those aggregates can no longer restart. Like a fire deprived of fuel, it goes out. Suffering ceases - permanently.

Just my two bits - sorry about prolonging the thread. :grin:

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Your summary is as I have understand the situation, but I have noticed a couple of people in this thread say what I’ve also heard elsewhere, that the mapping of 5 aggregates onto the chain of DO (or vice versa) is a bit more complex.

Aj Brahmali’s classes are great. … but take up many hours of listening/watching … I believe you follow them closely and was hoping you might be able point directly to a particular episode.

Sometimes I yearn for the days when we could swop simple written references to page numbers. :rofl:

. … . I can see a have bit of grasping going on here … … [pause while she looks for emojis to represent pancakhanda to no avail] … :rose::pray:


I find it useful to think of each of the 12 links of the DO as Processes, rather than as factors. This slight twist enables a view in which each link can be easily seen as conditioned, subject to arising, change and passing away… inherently Empty of any permanent essence or Self.

Seen in this way, the Sankhara process of the second link of DO (which occurs in the first life of the 3 life interpretation) can be seen IMO, to be the same kind of process as the Sankhara process of the 5 aggregates (compatible with the single life/ multiple mind moments interpretation).

Consider, for example the case of Uddaka Ramaputa. All his life, he practiced a meditation which

This teaching doesn’t lead to disillusionment, dispassion, cessation, peace, insight, awakening, and extinguishment. It only leads as far as rebirth in the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception.

Now, having been reborn in the dimension of neither perception nor non perception, for that being formerly known as Uddaka Ramaputa, the processes of Sankhara and Vinnana are quiescent. But the process of Ignorance has not ceased.(perhaps it might be more accurate to say that the Process of wisdom has not begun?)

But even for those who assert thus, there is alteration; there is change.

At some point in the future, it can be expected that that being will have a thought. With the process of Sankhara re-establishing itself, the process of Vinnana will again become active. That being will then fall away from that dimension of neither perception nor non perception and be reborn as a being in a dimension where the process of Nama Rupa will be restarted… Suffering will continue as per the DO.


Yes, of course. I was just highlighting that the 5 aggregates are such integral and inherent part of DO, that you really can’t separate them out meaningfully… they are continually reffered to. And as the different versions of DO (with different numbers and arrangements of elements are presented) one can’t just excise them. They have to operate (at a minimum) as pairs. And as @faujidoc1 says, penetration of their impermanent and dependently arisen nature (process) is what leads to the dissolution of ignorance (delusion of a Self), no more grasping, clinging, becoming etc, and the ending of Re-birth.

It is complex, and while the presentations take many hours, they do so for a reason :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes: IMHO it is a worthwhile investment. (Actually a great gift). You may even want to watch them several times :smiley:
Otherwise, You can check in the first presentation what the ‘agenda’ is and skip the myth busting and the context, and go straight to the beginning of the links if you wish. I can’t remember exactly what is covered in each session.

Happy Unravelling :smiley: :balloon:


OK. Thanks. Not to worry. :pray:
(Google is trying to work on a referencing system for sound. Meanwhile I can keep following threads like this one. :slight_smile: . … EDIT: & be grateful for Ajahn’s succinct answer following. :smiley: :pray: )


Yes, saṅkhāra is the same in the two cases. In the five khandhas, “aggregates”, saṅkhāra is specifically defined in terms of cetanā, intention. In dependent origination, especially in the Nidānasaṃyutta, the contextual meaning of saṅkhāra is also cetanā.

Yes. Saṅkhāra is closely related to taṇhā, craving. Normally we intend because we desire or hold no to things. In dependent origination saṅkhāra is the cause of rebirth just as taṇhā is the cause of rebirth in the second noble truth. In fact, DO is just an expansion of the second noble truth.

No, there’s always a number of aggregates working together. Saṅkhāra is merely singled out because it causes rebirth. This does not mean that it exists apart from consciousness, perception, and feeling. DO helps us to understand which aspect of personality is effective in giving certain results. But all five (occasionally four) aggregates are present throughout.

I don’t think they will make sense without the video. They are more like simple bullet point to help people focus during the talk.


Hello @Brahmali and all.

I don’t fully buy this. The khandhā collectively must include everything we cling to as self and belonging to self. To me that means that saṅkhārā and cetanā must be much more than intentions or choices. They must include the complex psychological and behavioural process that bind us to things and lead to unwise choices.


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I think bhante means that the 5 aggregates are beginingless and not only ignorance but all other twelve links of dependent origination are beginingless too

We could say that Suffering is beginingless

Is this human form in the Saha world beginingless? Because the aggrigates pertain to humans, but there are other forms of life that they apply to in different ways. And when the material skandhas are extinguished, some hold to the view that they are no longer there.

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Agregates pertain to gods too, sense sphere gods still have material aggregates but I don’t think they are made of 4 elements

But they have arisen before when we trace it we won’t know the very first material aggregate hence the beginingless proposition

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