:"For the beetle genus established by Jedkicka in 1935, see "Rupa (beetle)". "Rupa (wasp)", established by Jonathan in 1971 for a wasp genus, is a homonym but not yet corrected.

In Hinduism and Buddhism, "rūpa" (Sanskrit; Pāli; Devanagari: रुपा; Thai: รูป) generally refers to material objects, particularly in regards to their appearance.


According to the Monier-Williams Dictionary (2006), rūpa is defined as::* ... any outward appearance or phenomenon or colour (often pl.) , form , shape , figure RV. &c &c ... :* to assume a form ; often ifc. = " having the form or appearance or colour of " , " formed or composed of " , " consisting of " , " like to " .... [Monier-Williams Dictionary, pp. 885-6, entry for "Rūpa," retrieved 2008-03-06 from "Cologne University" at http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/monier/ (using "rUpa" as keyword) and http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/cgi-bin/serveimg.pl?file=/scans/MWScan/MWScanjpg/mw0886-rUpakartR.jpg.]


In general, "rūpa" is the Buddhist concept of material form, including both the body and external matter.

More specifically, in the Pali Canon, "rūpa" is contextualized in three significant frameworks: [E.g., see Hamilton (2001), p. 3 and "passim".]
* "rūpa-khandha" – "material forms," one of the five aggregates ("khandha") by which all phenomena can be categorized (see Fig. 1).
* "rūpa-āyatana" – "visible objects," the external sense objects of the eye, one of the six external sense bases ("āyatana") by which the world is known (see Fig. 2).
* "nāma-rūpa" – "name and form" or "mind and body," which in the causal chain of dependent origination ("paticca-samuppāda") arises from consciousness and leads to the arising of the sense bases.

In addition, more generally, "rūpa" is used to describe a statue, in which it is sometimes called Buddharupa.


As matter, rūpa is traditionally analysed in two ways: as four primary elements (Pali, "mahābhūta"); and, as ten or twenty-four secondary or derived elements.

Four primary elements

Existing "rūpa" consists in the four primary or underived ("no-upādā") elements:
* earth or solidity
* fire or heat
* water or cohesion
* air or movement

Derived matter

In the Abhidhamma Pitaka and later Pali literature, [Hamilton (2001), p. 6.] "rūpa" is further analyzed in terms of ten or twenty-three or twenty-four types of secondary or derived ("upādā") matter. In the list of ten types of secondary matter, the following are identified:
* eye
* ear
* nose
* tongue
* body [Here, "body" ("kāya") refers to that which senses "touch" ("phoIAST|ṭṭhabba"). In the Upanishads, "skin" is used instead of "body" (Rhys Davids, 1900, p. 172 "n". 3).]
* form
* sound
* odour
* taste
* touch [The first ten secondary elements are the same as the first five (physical) sense bases and their sense objects (e.g., see Hamilton, 2001, pp. 6-7).]

If twenty-four secondary types are enumerated, then the following fifteen are added to the first nine of the above ten:
* femininity
* masculinity or virility
* life or vitality
* heart or heart-basis [According to Vsm. XIV, 60 (Buddhaghosa, 1999, p. 447), the heart-basis provides material support for the mind ("mano") and mind consciousness. In the Sutta Pitaka, a material basis for the mind sphere ("āyatana") is never identified.]
* physical indications (movements that indicate intentions)
* vocal indications
* space element
* physical lightness or buoyancy
* physical yieldingness or plasticity
* physical handiness or wieldiness
* physical grouping or integration
* physical extension or maintenance
* physical aging or decay
* physical impermanence
* food [The list of 24 can be found, for instance, in the Visuddhimagga (Vsm. XIV, 36 ff.) (Buddhaghosa, 1999, pp. 443 ff.; and, Hamilton, 2001, p. 7).]

A list of 23 derived types can be found, for instance, in the Abhidhamma Pitaka's Dhammasangani (e.g., Dhs. 596), which omits the list of 24 derived types' "heart-basis." [Compare Dhs. 596 (Rhys Davids, 2000, p. 172) and Vsm. XIV, 36 (Buddhaghosa, 1999, p. 443).]

See also

* Arūpa
* Buddharupa
* Namarupa for the main concept
* Skandhas: vedana, sanna, sankhata,vijnana
* Body, sensations, perceptions, and consciousness
* Three marks of existence
* Abhidharma
* Form



* Buddhaghosa, Bhadantācariya (trans. from Pāli by Bhikkhu ÑāIAST|ṇamoli) (1999). "The Path of Purification: Visuddhimagga". Seattle, WA: BPS Pariyatti Editions. ISBN 1-928706-00-2.

* Hamilton, Sue (2001). "Identity and Experience: The Constitution of the Human Being according to Early Buddhism". Oxford: Luzac Oriental. ISBN 1-898942-23-4.

* Monier-Williams, Monier (1899, 1964). "A Sanskrit-English Dictionary". London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-864308-X. Retrieved 2008-03-06 from "Cologne University" at http://www.sanskrit-lexicon.uni-koeln.de/scans/MWScan/index.php?sfx=pdf.

* Rhys Davids, Caroline A.F. ( [1900] , 2003). "Buddhist Manual of Psychological Ethics, of the Fourth Century B.C., Being a Translation, now made for the First Time, from the Original Pāli, of the First Book of the Abhidhamma-PiIAST|ṭaka, entitled Dhamma-IAST|Saṅgaṇi (Compendium of States or Phenomena)". Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-4702-9.

External links

* Thanissaro Bhikkhu (trans.) (2003). "Maha-hatthipadopama Sutta: The Great Elephant Footprint Simile" (MN 28). Retrieved 2008-03-06 from "Access to Insight" at http://www.accesstoinsight.org/canon/sutta/majjhima/mn028-tb0.html.

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