Considering the 5 skandas of

  1. Form
  2. Feeling
  3. Perception
  4. Volition
  5. Consciousness

I was told during a study group once that this was only one of many possible formulations of the skandas and other groupings and numbers of skandas were possible and used. However I have never come across any variation in this scheme. Is anyone aware of any alternative formulations of the five skandas?

  • If you want to go outside of Buddhism, you can look into Bundle Theory.
    – R. Barzell
    Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 20:00

4 Answers 4


The 18 Dhatus

Which is a breakdown or ultimate-categorization of Experience utilizing the

If you enjoy thinking about [the world/scene/experience] in terms of vibrations, you might consider harmonic spots or resonant lengths along a wave as being able to build up and "accumulate"

Have also heard of the aggregates spoken of as "heaps"

There is also the Three kayas or "Buddha bodies" which might be of interest



Here is a fairly comprehensive list of alternatives:

Onefold: saṅkhāra

  • formations; everything that arises and ceases
  • all five aggregates fit in this category.

Twofold: nāmarūpa

  • name and form (body and mind); divided into material (rūpa) and immaterial (arūpa)
  • the first aggregate is rūpa, the rest are nāma.

Threefold: paramattha-dhamma

  • ultimate reality; divided into citta, cetasika and rūpa (excluding nibbāna, which is khandha-vimutti - liberated from the khandas)
  • the first aggregate is rūpa, the fifth is citta, the other three are cetasika.

Fourfold: satipaṭṭhāna

  • objects of the establishing of remembrance; body, feelings, mind, dhammas

  • body is first aggregate, feelings is second, mind is fifth, dhammas is all five.

Fourfold: ariyasacca

  • noble truths

  • all five fall under the first noble truth, besides tanha (under the fourth aggregate), which constitutes the second noble truth.

Twelvefold: āyatana

  • bases; the six internal (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind) and six external (sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations, thoughts)

  • all five aggregates arise based on the contact between each of the first five internal bases with their external counterpart. As for the sixth, rūpa is excluded (but still present as hadayavatthu) since thoughts are not physical, nor is the mind.

Twelvefold: paticcasamupāda

  • dependent origination; ignorance, mental formations, consciousness, body and mind, six sense bases, contact, feeling, craving, clinging, becoming, birth, suffering.

  • ignorance and mental formations are part of the fourth aggregate; consciousness is the fifth; body and mind are all five; six sense bases as above; contact is fourth; feeling is second; craving, clinging, and becoming are fourth; birth is probably fifth?; suffering is all five except tanha.

Eighteenfold: dhatu

  • elements; as with the āyatana, adding the six viññāṇa

  • as with āyatana, but described as contact between the three.

Twentytwofold: indriya

  • faculties; the six sense faculties, the two genders and the life faculty, the five feeling faculties, the five mental faculties, and three enlightenment faculties (see here for details)

  • the first group involves all five aggregates, the second is part of the first aggregate,, the third is equivalent to the second aggregate, the fourth falls under the fourth aggregate, and the fifth may be khandha-vimutti, but I'm not sure.


Yes the 18 dhatus but there are others - the titles here IIRC

If you think about it, the skandhas are said to be everything that exists, so any complete description of what exists will be equivalent ways of formulating the skandhas.

Though that wouldn't necessarily include the study of say theoretical physics, because the Buddha taught (at least according to abhidammma) that reality is composed of both matter AND mind.

I'd recommend reading some commentaries on the abhidamma, maybe someone can advise on what :)

  • Awesome link! Yes there are many possible breakdowns/formulations.
    – sova
    Commented Mar 12, 2015 at 22:10

One may speak of the skandhas (Sanskrit), khandhas (Pāḷi) or aggregates (English) named as matter, sensation, perception, mental formations and consciousness. The Sutta Pitaka of the Pali Canon contains the teachings of the Buddha, as preserved by the Theravada tradition. In the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta the Buddha explains how the five aggregates subject to grasping are suffering. A diagram based on the Majjhima Nikaya sutta #109 is presented here [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Template:PancaKhandha].

  • i voted down cos OP isn't asking for different words bubt different conceptions - RIGHT ?
    – user2512
    Commented Mar 10, 2015 at 22:06
  • yes, this answer doesn't appear to answer the question.
    – Anthony
    Commented Mar 21, 2015 at 19:04

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