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Vitakka means something in Buddhism , Pali. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

Source : Access to Insight: A Glossary of Pali and Buddhist Terms Directed thought. In meditation, vitakka is the mental factor by which ones attention is applied to the chosen meditation object. Vitakka and its companion factor vicara reach full maturity upon the development of the first level of jhana. Source : Dhamma Dana: Pali English Glossary M Fact to think, to focus on, to plant.

Source : Journey to Nibbana: Patthana Dhama One of the Pakinnaka cetasikas. Vitakka is a mental factor that helps citta to take object. This taking object is initial application. Vittakka applies citta with the object. There are different froms of vitakka like kama vitakka or sensual thought, byapada vitakka aversive thought, jhana vitakka or jhanic factor vitakka, samma sankappa etc etc are all vitakka. Vitakka puts citta on to the object. It applies the citta to the object.

Source : Dhamma Study: Cetasikas 1. applied thought; applied thinking; initial thinking;

2. Vitakka directs the citta to the object and vicara keeps the citta occupied with the object, "anchored" on it. However, we should remember that both vitakka and vicara perform their functions only for the duration of one citta and then fall away immediately, together with the citta.

Source : Pali Kanon: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines 'thought', 'thought-conception', is one of the 'secondary' (not constant) mental concomitants (s. Tab. II), and may be either karmically wholesome, unwholesome or neutral. -

"There are 3 karmically unwholesome (akusala) thoughts:

  • sensuous thought (kāma-vitakka),
  • hating thought (byāpāda-v.), and
  • cruel thought (vihimsa-v.).

There are 3 karmically wholesome (kusala) thoughts:

  • thought of renunciation (nekkhamma-v.),
  • of hatelessness (avyāpāda-v.),
  • of not harming (avihimsā-v.)

"The latter three constitute 'right thought', the 2nd link of the 8-fold Path (s. magga 2).

On the 'Removal of Distracting Thoughts' (vitakka-santhāna), s. M.20 (tr. in WHEEL 21).

context information Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon ( tipitaka ) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

[ «previous (V) next» ] — Vitakka in Pali glossary

Source : BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary vitakka : (m.) reflection; thought.

Source : Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary Vitakka, (vi+takka) reflection, thought, thinking; “initial application” ( Cpd. 282).—Def d as “vitakkanaṃ vitakko, ūhanan ti vuttaṃ hoti” at Vism. 142 (with simile on p. 143, comparing vitakka with vicāra: kumbhakārassa daṇḍa-ppahārena cakkaṃ bhamayitvā, bhājanaṃ karontassa uppīḷana-hattho viya vitakko (like the hand holding the wheel tight), ito c’ito sañcaraṇahattho viya vicāro: giving vitakka the characteristic of fixity & steadiness, vicāra that of movement & display).— D. II, 277 (“pre-occupation” translation: see note Dial. II. 311); III, 104, 222, 287 (eight Mahāpurisa°); M. I, 114 (dvidhā-kato v.), 377; S. I, 39, 126, 186, 203; II, 153; IV, 69, 216; A. II, 36; III, 87 (dhamma°); IV, 229 (Mahāpurisa°), 353 (°upaccheda); Sn. 7, 270 sq. 970, 1109; J. I, 407 (Buddha°, Saṅgha°, Nibbāna°); Nd 1 386, 493, 501 (nine); Nd 2 s. v. takka; Ps. I, 36, 136, 178; Pv III, 5 8 ; Pug. 59, 68; Vbh. 86, 104 (rūpa°, sadda° etc.), 228 (sa°), 362 (akusala°); Dhs. 7, 160, 1268; Tikp 61, 333, 353; Vism. 291 (°upaccheda); Miln. 82, 309; DhsA. 142; DhA. IV, 68; VbhA. 490; PvA. 226, 230.— kāma° , vihiṃsā° , vyāpāda° (sensual, malign, cruel thought): D. III, 226; S. II, 151 sq.; III, 93; A. I, 148, 274 sq.; II, 16, 117, 252; III, 390, 428. Opp. nekkhamma° , avyāpāda° , avihiṃsā° A. I, 275; II, 76; III, 429.— vitakka is often combined with vicāra or “initial & sustained application” Mrs. Rh. D. ; Cpd. 282; “reflection & investigation” Rh. D. ; to denote the whole of the mental process of thinking (viz. fixing one’s attention and reasoning out, or as Cpd. 17 explains it “ vitakka is the directing of concomitant properties towards the object; vicāra is the continued exercise of the mind on that object. ” See also above definition at Vism. 142). Both are properties of the first jhāna (called sa-vitakka sa-vicāra) but are discarded in the second jhāna (called a°). See e.g. D. I. 37; S. IV, 360 sq.; A. IV, 300; Vin. III, 4; Vism. 85; and formula of jhāna. The same of pīti & samādhi at Vbh. 228, of paññā at Vbh. 323. The same combination (vitakka+vicāra) at foll. passages: D. III, 219 (of samādhi which is either sa°, or a°, or avitakka vicāra-matta); S. IV, 193; V, 111; A. IV, 409 sq. 450; Nett 16; Miln. 60, 62; Vism. 453. Cp. rūpa- (sadda- etc.) vitakka+rūpa‹-› (sadda- etc.) vicāra A. IV, 147; V, 360; Vbh. 103.—On term (also with vicāra ) see further: Cpd. 40, 56, 98, 238 sq. 282 (on difference between v. & manasikāra); Expos. I. 188 n ; Kvu translation 238 1 .— Cp. pa°, pari°.

Note. Looking at the combination vitakka+vicāra in earlier and later works one comes to the conclusion that they were once used to denote one & the same thing: just thought, thinking, only in an emphatic way (as they are also semantically synonymous), and that one has to take them as one expression, like jānāti passati , without being able to state their difference. With the advance in the Saṅgha of intensive study of terminology they became distinguished mutually. Vitakka became the inception of mind, or attending, and was no longer applied, as in the Suttas, to thinking in general. The explanations of Commentators are mostly of an edifying nature and based more on popular etymology than on natural psychological grounds. (Page 620)

Pali book cover context information Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

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See also (Relevant definitions)

Item last updated: 20 January, 2020