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What is hasituppāda, the so-called rootless, mirth-producing, mind-consciousness element of an Arahant? What is its basis? What is its purpose, if any? Could someone provide me the details of the same with references from the Pāli Canon?

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  • I think it is helpful @Jade Empire. Thanks. Oct 13 at 16:03
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From the dictionary entry on "hasituppāda-citta":

hasituppāda-citta:This term is used in Abh.S.for the citta ,Tab.I,72.This type of consciousness (the Buddha's smile) is often implied in the suttas.

hasituppāda-citta:lit.'consciousness producing mirth' (smile),is found in the Abhidhammatthasaṅgaha as a name for the joyful mind-consciousness element (manoviññāṇa-dhātu,Tab.I.72) arising as functional consciousness independent of kammakiriya-citta),only in the Arahat.- (App.).

From the dictionary entry on "hasita":

Hasita Hasita [pp. of hasati, representing both Sk. hasita & hṛṣita] laughing, merry; (nt.) laughter, mirth A i.261; Pv iii.35 (=hasitavant hasita-mukhin C.); Miln 297; Bu i.28; J i.62 (? read hesita); iii.223; Vism 20.
-uppāda "genesis of mirth," aesthetic faculty Tikp 276; see Cpd. 20 sq.

From the dictionary entry on "uppāda":

Uppāda Uppāda2 [Sk. utpāda, ud + pad] coming into existence, appearance, birth Vin i.185; D i.185; S iii.39 (+ vaya); iv.14; v.30; A i.152 (+ vaya), 286, 296; ii.248 (taṇh˚); iii.123 (citt˚ state of consciousness); iv.65 (id.); Dh 182, 194; J i.59, 107 (sat˚); Vbh 303 (citt˚), 375 (taṇh˚); PvA 10; ThA 282. — anuppāda either "not coming into existence" D iii.270, M i.60; A i.286, 296; ii.214, 249: iii.84 sq.; Ps i.59, 66; Dhs 1367; or "not ripe" D i.12.

So "hasituppāda-citta" refers to the mental state of an arahant that generates a smile. This term had apparently originated in the Abhidhamma.

Please see the questions "Are there examples of the Buddha showing humour in the Pali Canon?" and "The Buddha and the act of smiling". Sutta or commentary examples of "hasituppāda-citta" can be found in the answers to these questions.

The explanation on hasituppāda-citta comes in this answer by Ven. Yuttadhammo:

You could say the Buddha and arahants had a peculiar form of humour.... The hasituppādacitta (smiling-producing mind) is a citta unique to enlightened beings. While they can also smile due to beautiful-functional cittas, the hasituppādacitta is rootless, containing none of the wholesome or unwholesome roots.

This means they would smile at things ordinary folk wouldn't, like brahmas being born as pigs (Dhp-A 338), or ghosts being tortured for past misdeeds (Dhp-A 71).

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    A detailed explanation of the etymology of the word and its semantics. Thanks @ruben2020. So the enigmatic smile of the Buddha is this very hasituppādacitta. I think it stays enigmatic because why he smiles remains unknown, beyond the comprehension of puthujjana like us, rootless as it is. Jul 18 at 15:38
  • i marked this answer down because it appeared to copy & paste blogs rather than was references from the Pāli Canon, as asked in the question. It appears Dhammapada & Abhidhamma commentaries are not part of the Pali Canon. Also, this answer appears to only include one sutta reference about hasita from A i.261 (which i had to link), which is unrelated to Arahants but is about fools. Jul 19 at 13:34
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I am not familiar with this pali term but i think the english expression there can be substantiated.

Skillful states are skillful because they are without greed, anger & delusion.

"Monks, there are these three roots of what is unskillful. Which three? Greed is a root of what is unskillful, aversion is a root of what is unskillful, delusion is a root of what is unskillful.

"Now, there are these three roots of what is skillful. Which three? Lack of greed is a root of what is skillful, lack of aversion is a root of what is skillful, lack of delusion is a root of what is skillful. https://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/an/an03/an03.069.than.html

The mind of an Arahant is without root in as far as it is without greed, anger & delusion. It is mirth producing in as far as the consciousness aggregate is conjoined with fabrication aggregate and it fabricates the conditioned.

Three aggregates are conjoined with consciousness. The aggregate of form is not conjoined with consciousness. The aggregate of consciousness should not be said to be, conjoined with consciousness or not conjoined with consciousness. Three aggregates are generated by consciousness. The aggregate of consciousness is not generated by consciousness. The aggregate of form sometimes is generated by consciousness; sometimes is not generated by consciousness. Three aggregates are co-existent with consciousness. The aggregate of consciousness is not co-existent with consciousness. The aggregate of form sometimes is co-existent with consciousness; sometimes is not co-existent with consciousness. Three aggregates accompany consciousness. The aggregate of consciousness does not accompany consciousness. The aggregate of form sometimes accompanies consciousness; sometimes does not accompany consciousness. Three aggregates are conjoined with, generated by consciousness. Two aggregates are not conjoined with, not generated by consciousness. Three aggregates are conjoined with, generated by, co-existent with consciousness. Two aggregates are not conjoined with, not generated by, not co-existent with consciousness. Three aggregates are conjoined with, generated by, accompany consciousness. Two aggregates are not conjoined with, not generated by, do not accompany consciousness. (10)

Therein what is the aggregate of form? The aggregate of form by way of singlefold division: All form is not root. Is not accompanied by root. Is not associated with root. Is with cause. Is conditioned.

The Aggregate of Consciousness Therein what is the aggregate of consciousness? The aggregate of consciousness by way of singlefold division: Is associated with contact. The aggregate of consciousness by way of twofold division: Is accompanied by root; is not accompanied by root.

The aggregate of consciousness by way of threefold division: Is skilful; is unskilful; is neither-skilful-nor-unskilful. https://suttacentral.net/vb1/en/thittila

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  • It might be noteworthy that for an Arahant neither-pleasant-nor-unpleasant-feelings are always associated with wisdom and are on that account pleasant.
    – user8527
    Jul 19 at 18:30
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It appears the term 'hasituppāda' or 'hasituppādacitta' is not found in the Pāli Canon. The Pali Canon, according to Wikipedia, is as follows:

  • Vinaya Piṭaka ("Discipline Basket"), dealing with rules or discipline of the Sangha

  • Sutta Piṭaka , discourses and sermons of Buddha, some religious poetry and is the largest basket

  • Abhidhamma Piṭaka, treatises that elaborate Buddhist doctrines, particularly about mind, also called the "systematic philosophy" basket.

It appears the The Abhidhammattha-Saṅgaha and Dhammapada Commentaries are not part of the Pali Canon.

The Suttas only refer to 'hasita' as occurring to the minds of fools.

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