Treasury of Abhidharma

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The Treasury of Abhidharma (Skt. Abhidharmakośa; Tib. ཆོས་མངོན་པའི་མཛོད་, Ngönpa Dzö, Wyl. chos mngon pa'i mdzod) was composed by Vasubandhu, one of the 'Six Ornaments', the greatest Buddhist authorities of Ancient India. Abhidharmakosha is a complete and systematic account of the Abhidharma, and is the peak of scholarship in the Fundamental Vehicle. If this text presents the different topics from the Vaibhashika point of view, Vasubandhu also wrote an autocommentary, the Auto-Commentary on the Treasury of Abhidharma (Skt. Abhidharmakośa-Bhāṣya), which is based on the Sautrantika view.

The Treasury is included among the so-called "Thirteen great texts", which form the core of the curriculum in most shedras and on which Khenpo Shenga provided commentaries.


The text is divided into eight topics:

  1. The elements (Skt. dhātu)
  2. The faculties (Skt. indriya)
  3. The world (Skt. loka)
  4. Actions (Skt. karma)
  5. 'Subtle developers' (Skt. anuśaya) (i.e. negative emotions)
  6. The path and the individual (Skt. mārgaprahāṇa)
  7. Wisdom (Skt. jñāna)
  8. Meditative equipoise (Skt. samāpatti)


The original Sanskrit text was deemed lost, yet was found by Rahul Sankrityayan at Salu Monastery in Tibet in May of 1934, together with the auto-commentary and the commentary by Yashomitra.

The Abhidharmakosha and the auto-commentary were translated into Chinese, both by Paramartha (6th century) and Xuanzang (7th century), and into Tibetan by Kawa Paltsek and the Indian pandita Jinamitra (8th century).


This section contains Tibetan script. Without proper Tibetan rendering support configured, you may see other symbols instead of Tibetan script.


Including Vasubandhu's own commentary, there are nine commentaries which have been translated into Tibetan and found their way into the Tengyur. The two most renowned are those by Yashomitra and Purnavardhana, of which Yashomitra's is considered, by Chim Jampé Yang, the best. Sanghabhadra upholds the orthodox Sarvastivadin position and is famously arguing against some of Vasubandhu's Sautrantika assertions.

  • Vasubandhu, Abhidharmakośa-bhāṣyam (ཆོས་མངོན་པའི་མཛོད་ཀྱི་བཤད་པ།, chos mngon pa'i mdzod kyi bshad pa)
    • English translation: Abhidharmakosabhasyam of Vasubandhu, translated by Leo M. Pruden, Asian Humanities Press, Berkeley 1990 (Translated into English from the French translation of Louis de La Vallé Poussin, L'Abhidharmakośa de Vasubandhu, Institut belge des hautes études chinoises, Bruxelles, 1971)
    • Sangpo, Gelong Lodro. Abhidharmakosa-Bhasya of Vasubandhu: The Treasury of the Abhidharma and Its Commentary. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass, 2012.
    • French Translation: Louis de La Vallé Poussin, L'Abhidharmakośa de Vasubandhu, available for free download from
  • Yashomitra, Abhidharmakośa-ṭīkā or Abhidharmakośa-sphuṭārthā (ཆོས་མངོན་པའི་མཛོད་ཀྱི་འགྲེལ་བཤད།, chos mngon pa'i mdzod kyi 'grel bshad (don gsal ba))
  • Sanghabhadra, Abhidharmakośa-śāstra-kārikā-bhāṣya (ཆོས་མངོན་པ་མཛོད་ཀྱི་བསྟན་བཅོས་ཀྱི་ཚིག་ལེའུར་བྱས་པའི་རྣམ་པར་བཤད་པ།, chos mngon pa mdzod kyi bstan bcos kyi tshig le'ur byas pa'i rnam par bshad pa)
  • Purnavardhana, Abhidharmakośa-ṭīkā-lakṣaṇānusāriṇī (ཆོས་མངོན་པ་མཛོད་ཀྱི་འགྲེལ་བཤད་མཚན་ཉིད་ཀྱི་རྗེས་སུ་འབྲང་བ།, chos mngon pa mdzod kyi 'grel bshad mtshan nyid kyi rjes su 'brang ba)
  • Śamathadeva, Abhidharmakośa-ṭīkopayikā (ཆོས་མངོན་པའི་མཛོད་ཀྱི་འགྲེལ་བཤད་ཉེ་བར་མཁོ་བ།, chos mngon pa'i mdzod kyi 'grel bshad nye bar mkho ba)
  • Dignaga, Abhidharmakośa-vṛtti-marmapradīpa (ཆོས་མངོན་པའི་མཛོད་ཀྱི་འགྲེལ་པ་གནད་ཀྱི་སྒྲོན་མ།, chos mngon pa'i mdzod kyi 'grel pa gnad kyi sgron ma)
  • Purnavardhana, Abhidharmakośa-ṭīkā-lakṣaṇānusāriṇī (2nd commentary, but with same name as first)(ཆོས་མངོན་པ་མཛོད་ཀྱི་འགྲེལ་བཤད་མཚན་ཉིད་ཀྱི་རྗེས་སུ་འབྲང་བ།, chos mngon pa mdzod kyi 'grel bshad mtshan nyid kyi rjes su 'brang ba)
  • Unknown author, Sārasamuccaya-nāma-abhidharmāvatāra-ṭīkā (ཆོས་མངོན་པ་ལ་འཇུག་པ་རྒྱ་ཆེར་འགྲེལ་པ་སྙིང་པོ་ཀུན་ལས་བཏུས་༎, chos mngon pa la 'jug pa rgya cher 'grel pa snying po kun las btus)
  • Sthiramati, Abhidharmakoṣa-bhāṣya-ṭīkā-tattvārtha(ཆོས་མངོན་པ་མཛོད་ཀྱི་བཤད་པའི་རྒྱ་ཆེར་འགྲེལ་པ། དོན་གྱི་དེ་ཁོ་ན་ཉིད། , chos mngon pa mdzod kyi bshad pa'i rgya cher 'grel pa, don gyi de kho na nyid)


The following are among the best known Tibetan commentaries on the Abhidharmakosha:

  • Chim Jampé Yang, Ornament of Abhidharma (མངོན་པའི་རྒྱན་, mngon pa'i rgyan)
  • Chim Lozang Drakpa, An Ocean of Excellent Explanations Clarifying the Abhidharma Kosha (Wyl. chos mngon pa gsal byed legs par bshad pa'i rgya mtsho)
  • Gendün Drup (1391–1474) Illuminating the Path to Liberation (ཐར་ལམ་གསལ་བྱེད་, thar lam gsal byed)
  • Rongtön Sheja Kunrig, Thoroughly Illuminating What Can be Known (ཤེས་བྱ་རབ་གསལ་, shes bya rab gsal)
  • The Ninth Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje, An Explanation of the Treasury of Abhidharma called the Essence of the Ocean of Abhidharma, The Words of Those who Know and Love, Explaining Youthful Play, Opening the Eyes of Dharma, the Chariot of Easy Practice (ཆོས་མངོན་པ་མཛོད་ཀྱི་རྣམ་པར་བཤད་པ་ཆོས་མངོན་རྒྱ་མཚོའི་སྙིང་པོ་མཁྱེན་བརྩེའི་ཞལ་ལུང་གཞོན་ནུ་རྣམ་རོལ་ལེགས་བཤད་ཆོས་མིག་རྣམ་འབྱེད་གྲུབ་བདེའི་ཤིང་རྟ, chos mngon pa mdzod kyi rnam par bshad pa chos mngon rgya mtsho’i snying po mkhyen brtse’i zhal lung gzhon nu rnam rol legs bshad chos mig rnam ’byed grub bde’i shing rta)
    • English translation: Jewels From the Treasury: Vasubandhu's Verses on the Treasury of Abhidharma and Its Commentary Youthful Play by the Ninth Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje, translated by David Karma Choephel, KTD Publications, 2012.
    • Tibetan text at
  • Mipham Rinpoche, A Necklace of Jewels Delighting the Intelligent (རིན་པོ་ཆེའི་དོ་ཤལ་བློ་གསལ་དགྱེས་པའི་མགུལ་རྒྱན་, rin po che'i do shal blo gsal dgyes pa'i mgul rgyan)
  • Jamyang Loter Wangpo, A Lamp Illuminating Vasubandhu's Intention (དབྱིག་གཉེན་དགོངས་པ་གསལ་བའི་སྒྲོན་མེ་, dbyig gnyen dgongs pa gsal ba'i sgron me)
  • Khenpo Shenga, A Mirror for What Can be Known (ཤེས་བྱའི་མེ་ལོང་, shes bya'i me long)

Further Reading

  • Vallée Poussin, Louis de la, trad. L’Abhidharmakosa de Vasubandhu, Paris: Paul Geuthner,1923-1931. Available here
  • Vasubandhu. Abhidharmakośa-bhāṣyam. Trans. L. M. Pruden (from Louis de la Vallée Poussin's French translation). 4 vols. Berkeley, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1991.
  • James Duerlinger, Indian Buddhist theories of persons: Vasubandhu's "Refutation of the theory of a self", Routledge, 2003.
  • Vasubandhu; Lodrö Sangpo; La Vallée Poussin, Louis de. Abhidharmakośa-Bhāṣya of Vasubandhu : the treasury of the Abhidharma and its (Auto) commentary. Delhi: India, 2012.
  • Gold, Jonathan C. Paving the Great Way: Vasubandhu’s Unifying Buddhist Philosophy. New York: Columbia University Press, 2015.
  • Chim Jampaiyang. Ornament of Abhidharma: A Commentary on Vasubandhu’s Abhidharmakośa. (trans. Ian James Coghlan). Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2019.
  • Goodman, Steven D. The Buddhist Psychology of Awakening: An In-Depth Guide to Abhidharma. Boulder: Shambhala, 2020.

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