Csoma de Körös in his translation of the Mahavyutpatti, translated the five skandhas as the five aggregates or constitutive aggregates: body, perceptions, representations, notions and cognition.


In his 1894 translation of the Prajñaparamita-Hridaya Sutra, F. Max Müller translated the five skandhas as form, perception, name, concepts and knowledge. In her translation of the Pali Abhidhamma text called Dhamma-Sangani, first published in 1900, Caroline Rhys Davids uses bodily form, feeling, perception, syntheses and intellect.


By 1959, when Walpola Rahula wrote What the Buddha Taught, more familiar terms were favoured: matter, sensations, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness.


D.T. Suzuki?s 1960 Manual of Zen Buddhism includes a translation of the Shingyo (Heart Sutra) and the terms are: form, sensation or sense-perception, thought, confection or conformation and consciousness. 'Confection' was taken to be the literal translation of the Tibetan word 'du byed, or the Sanskrit samskara: 'con-' being the equivalent of 'du or sam, meaning 'together', and 'fection' the equivalent of byed or kara meaning 'made.'


Robert Thurman (1976) writes:

?.for rupa, ?matter? is preferred to ?form? because it more concretely connotes the physical and gross; for vedana, ?sensation? is adopted, as limited to the aesthetic; for samjña, ?intellect? is useful in conveying the sense of verbal, conceptual intelligence. For samskara, which covers a number of mental functions as well as inanimate forces, ?motivation? gives a general idea. And ?consciousness? is so well established for vijñana (although what we normally think of as consciousness is more like samjña, i.e., conceptual and notional, and vijñana is rather the ?pure awareness? prior to concepts) as to be left unchallenged.[1]

Selected Translations


gzugs form, matter (Thurman), materiality

tshor ba feelings, sensations

'du shes perceptions, cognitions (Anacker), recognitions (Wallace), conceptualization (Kapstein)

'du byed formations, motivation (Kapstein), motivational dispositions (Anacker), confections (Suzuki), impulses (Conze), conditioning factors (Padmakara), compositional factors (Wallace)

rnam shes consciousness, perceptions



[1] Thurman, Robert, A.F. The Holy Teaching of Vimalakirti: A Mahayana Scripture, Pennsylvania, 1976, pp.157-8