What does "asava khaya naña" refer to?

In DN 2 “asava khaya ñana” refers to the contemplation of the noble truths and the contemplation of the destruction of one’s impurities, but in SN 22.101 Vasijata Sutta “asava khaya” refers to the contemplation of the arising and vanishing of the aggregates, do both suttas refer to the same thing? If so, why does DN 2 not directly relate asava khaya ñana to the contemplation of the khandha?

Is it more of a Q&A, or a discussion point?

DN 2, as you already wrote, refers to ñāṇa, i.e. a knowledge of liberation which arises together with having destroyed the asavas. Whereas SN 22.101 refers more to a practice. Am I missing something? Maybe you can clarify your question, or what you want to discuss…

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Thank you, your response was very helpful, and I’m sorry I didn’t know which section to post in.

I’ll bite - Pañcupādānakkhandhā occurs in the Digha 3 times, once in DN22, once in DN33 and once in DN34, So basically not at all except in the later developments of the Mahasatipatthana and in the “index” suttas of the one by one and the chanting together.

One explanation of this is that the DN reciters simply did not have a tradition of the Pañcupādānakkhandhā and one explanation of that might be that DN represents a by and large earlier form of the buddhist path then MN, SN or AN.

Reasons for thinking that would be the focus on Sekha Paṭipadā in DN, the focus on the Jhana formula over the satipatthana formula, the presence and subsequent replacement of the short section on Sila with the mention of the patimokha in the MN presentation of Sekha Paṭipadā, and the absence of the Pañcupādānakkhandhā formula itself in DN.

There is also the general structure of DN with the first section focusing on “philosophy” the middle section on “cosmology” and the third section on gathas and lastly “indexes”, sort of recapitulating the structure of the canon as a whole.

A lot of people tend to reify Pañcupādānakkhandhā, sort of saying, “well, there may not really be a self, but there are really 5 aggregates” but this is i think to almost entirely miss the point, there appears to be a development in the pedagogy of the EBT’s that move from quite simple statements along the lines of “the mind depends on the body and the body depends on the mind” to thinks like Pañcupādānakkhandhā and Paṭiccasamuppāda, which are not in contradiction but are IMO rather simply expanded analysis of the same basic fact of conditionality of phenomena, which are plastic and depend on how you look at them.

TLDR Pañcupādānakkhandhā isn’t in DN because it is a more refined version of the mind/body analysis than DN has because DN is earlier and Pañcupādānakkhandhā is later.


SN 22.101 is about development of structures, not removal of asavas in practical scenarios as in DN 2 and MN 2. The khandha are an abstract doctrinal description detached from actual occurrences. This difference is related to the four great endeavours of right effort, the effort to avoid, to overcome, to develop, to maintain.

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Would you please create a separate discussion topic from your post? I don’t think this has been discussed before and is has important implications…
(btw the khandhas appear in DN 14 too, but other than that you’re right)


I am working up to a post about my thoughts on DN, but need a little more time to prepare :slight_smile:

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what do you mean with this?

It means this sutta is related to the development component of right effort, whereas the other two explain removal :

“…still his mind is not released from the effluents through lack of clinging. Why is that? From lack of developing, it should be said. Lack of developing what? The four frames of reference, the four right exertions, the four bases of power, the five faculties, the five strengths, the seven factors for Awakening, the noble eightfold path.”—SN 22.101

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