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attha {pi}

Pāḷi; √ attha
alt. sp.: IPA: ət̪t̪ʰə, Velthuis: attha, readable: attha, simple: attha
translation ~:
khmer: អត្ថ
thai: อตฺถ
sinhal.: අත්ථ
burm.: အတ္ထ


[dic] attha

attha: Or spelled aṭṭha: Meaning, sense, heartwood.

ATI Glossary

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Buddhist Dictionary

by late Ven. Nyanalokita Thera:

— —


PTS Dictionary

by the Pali Text Society:


Glossary Thanissaro

Attha: Meaning, sense, aim, result.


Illustrated Glossary of Pāli Terms

by Ven. Varado Maha Thera:


30+ meanings

The many meanings of attha are confounding. In DOP the word entry takes over six columns. The PED gives it six major headings, each with alternatives, and extracts nearly thirty possible meanings. This Glossary offers a comprehensible solution. We render it in over thirty ways.

Artha/attha: via Illustrations and notes

Attha has two different roots, artha and asta.

  • 1) Asta / attha occurs as a prefix in terms such as atthaṁ paleti, abbhatthaṁ gacchanti (=abhi+atthaṁ gacchanti) and atthaṅgamo all of which can be rendered as ‘vanish’ or ‘vanishing.’ But these are covered under Atthaṅgama, not here.
  • 2) Artha/attha is so complicated that we will explain it primarily by way of illustrations and accompanying notes.

Attha: the problem of ‘goal’

Although ‘goal’ is nowadays often used for attha, it is a newcomer. PED does not mention it. DOP mentions it thirteen times but is unsettled about it, because it always offers an alternative. For example:

  • ‘intent on the goal or meaning’
  • ‘expressing the meaning or goal’
  • ‘connected with the goal, or with what is beneficial,’ and so on.

Norman, too, often uses ‘goal,’ but it is problematic. For example, consider these two passages:

1) ‘Quenching is not hard to attain for him who sees the goal, even though it is very fine and subtle’

Susukhumanipuṇatthadassinā… nibbānaṁ na hi tena dullabhanti. (Norman, Tha 210)

But quenching (nibbāna) surely is the goal. So here we prefer to say that the attha he sees is not ‘the goal’ but ‘the meaning of the teaching.’ We would therefore say:

Nibbāna is not hard to attain to for one who sees the very fine and subtle meaning of the teaching.

2) ‘There is no one who sees the subtle goal as well as you [the Buddha] do’

Na c’atthi tulyo nipuṇatthadassī. (Norman, Snp 377)

But this curiously suggests that the Buddha saw nibbāna better than other arahants. The solution, again, is that attha means not ‘goal’ but ‘meaning of the teaching,’ so the passage reads:

• There is no one who sees the subtle meaning of the teaching as well as you do.

Attho: supreme goal

When attho means goal it always means nibbāna, which we call ‘supreme goal,’ and indeed it is often called uttamatthaṁ (Dhp 386; Iti 10; Snp 324) or paramaṁ atthaṁ (Thi 93).

Atthavasaṁ: ‘good reason’

The etymology of atthavasaṁ is perplexing, but the dictionaries call it:

  • DOP: ‘reason, motive’
  • PED: ‘reasonableness, reason, consequence, cause.’

Bodhi likewise says ‘reason,’ for example:

• Bhikkhus, it is for these two reasons that the Tathāgata has established the training rules for his disciples.

dveme bhikkhave atthavase paṭicca tathāgatena sāvakānaṁ sikkhāpadaṁ paññattaṁ. (Bodhi, AN i 98)

Horner prefers ‘good purpose’:

• For what good purpose should a monk live constantly overcoming gain?

Kiñca bhikkhave bhikkhu atthavasaṁ paṭicca uppannaṁ lābhaṁ abhibhuyya abhibhuyya vihareyya. (Horner, Vin.2.202)

We call it ‘good reason.’

Atthavasi: ‘intent on [the development of] spiritual well-being’

Atthavasi means:

  • DOP: ‘pursuing an aim’
  • PED: ‘bent on (one's) aim or purpose’

Bodhi says ‘intent on the good’:

• Clansmen intent on the good take up that way of life for a valid reason

tañca kho evaṁ bhikkhave kulaputtā upenti atthavasikā atthavasaṁ paṭicca. (Bodhi, SN iii 93)

Norman says ‘pursuing my aim’:

• Alone, pursuing my aim, I shall quickly enter the woods

Eko atthavasī khippaṁ pavisissāmi kānanaṁ. (Norman, Tha 539)

We say ‘intent on [the development of] spiritual well-being.’


Illustration: attha, meaning

When a teacher explains the Buddha’s teaching (dhammaṁ deseti) the bhikkhu accordingly realises the meaning and significance of the teaching (dhamme atthappaṭisaṁvedī ca hoti dhammapaṭisaṁvedī ca). (DN iii 242)

A bhikkhu investigates the meaning of the teachings he has retained in mind.

dhatānañca dhammānaṁ atthūpaparikkhitā hoti

Realising their meaning and significance, he practises in accordance with the teaching.

atthamaññāya dhammamaññāya dhammānudhammapaṭipanno ca hoti. (AN iv 298)

Illustration: attha, beneficial

Four bases for winning over a following (cattāri saṅgahavatthūni): generosity, agreeable speech, beneficial conduct, and impartiality.

dānaṁ peyyavajjaṁ atthacariyaṁ samānattatā. (DN iii 232)

Concerning things past, future, and present the Perfect One is one who speaks… what is beneficial… Therefore he is called the Perfect One.

atītānāgatapaccuppannesu dhammesu tathāgato… atthavādī .. tasmā tathāgato ti vuccati. (DN iii 134-5)

Illustration: attha, spiritual well-being

Bhikkhus, some might speak to you with speech that is: timely or untimely; true or untrue; gentle or harsh; conducive or unconducive to your spiritual well-being; spoken with a mind of [unlimited] goodwill or with inner hatred.

Kālena vā bhikkhave pare vadamānā vadeyyuṁ akālena vā. Bhūtena vā… abhūtena vā. Saṇhena vā… pharusena vā. Atthasaṁhitena vā… anatthasaṁhitena vā. Mettacittā vā… dosantarā vā. (MN i 126)

Therefore one desiring [the development of] spiritual well-being, aspiring for inward greatness, should revere the true teaching, remembering the Buddhas’ training system.

Tasmā hi atthakāmena mahattamabhikaṅkhatā
Saddhammo garu kātabbo saraṁ buddhānaṁ sāsanaṁ. (SN i 140)

Then the deva inhabiting that woodland grove, being tenderly concerned for that bhikkhu, desiring his spiritual well-being (anukampikā atthakāmā) desiring to stir up in him an earnest attitude [to the practice] (saṁvejetukāmā), approached him and addressed him in verses. (SN i 203)

Illustration: attha, spirit (=real meaning)

If the community of bhikkhus, not having investigated that case, not having got to the root of it, achieves concord, that concord is unrighteous, Upāli (adhammikā sā upāli saṅghasāmaggī ti). This is called concord that has arrived at the letter but not the spirit (atthāpetā vyañjanupetā).

If the community of bhikkhus, having investigated the case, having got to the root of it, achieves concord in the community of bhikkhus, that concord is righteous (dhammikā sā upāli saṅghasāmaggī ti). This is called concord that has arrived both at the letter and the spirit (atthupetā ca vyañjanupetā ca). (Vin.1.358)

Illustration: attha, well-being

My parents were killed by a king. But if I were to deprive the king of life, those who desired the king's well-being (ye devassa atthakāmā) would deprive me of life, and those who desired my well-being (ye me atthakāmā) would deprive these of life (Vin.1.347)

Illustration: attha, meaning of expressions

How is a bhikkhu one who knows the meaning of expressions? In this regard a bhikkhu knows the meaning of this and that expressions thus: ‘This is the meaning of this expression.

Atthaññū ca kathaṁ hoti. Idha bhikkhave bhikkhu tassa tasseva bhāsitassa atthaṁ jānāti ayaṁ imassa bhāsitassa attho. (AN iv 113)

Whatever contentious brahmans there are, and even elderly brahmans, and others, too, who thought they were [good] arguers, all become obliged to you for [explaining] the meaning of expressions.

Ye kecime brāhmaṇā vādasīlā vuddhā cā pi brāhmaṇā santi keci
Sabbe tayi atthabaddhā bhavanti ye cā pi aññe vādino maññamānā. (Snp 382)

Illustration: attha, meaning of the teaching

One who sees the subtle meaning of the teaching

nipuṇatthadassiṁ. (Snp 177; SN i 33)

For one who sees the very fine and subtle meaning of the teaching… the Untroubled is not hard to attain to.

Susukhumanipuṇatthadassinā… Nibbānaṁ na hi tena dullabhanti. (Tha 210)

There is no one who sees the subtle meaning of the teaching as well as you do

na c’atthi tulyo nipuṇatthadassī. (Snp 377)


anatthaṁ: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: anatthaṁ, harm; atthaṁ, benefit

Ten bases of resentment

Dasa imāni bhikkhave āghātavatthūni:

• He has harmed, is harming, or will harm me. Thinking thus, one arouses resentment.

anatthamme acarīti… caratīti… carissatīti āghātaṁ bandhati

• He has harmed, is harming, or will harm someone beloved and dear to me. Thinking thus, one arouses resentment.

Piyassa me manāpassa anatthaṁ acarīti… caratīti… carissatīti āghātaṁ bandhati

• He has benefited, is benefiting, or will benefit someone who is unbeloved or loathsome to me. Thinking thus, one arouses resentment.

Appiyassa me amanāpassa atthaṁ acari… carati… carissatīti āghātaṁ bandhati

• And tenthly, one is groundlessly irritated.

aṭṭhāne ca kuppati. (AN v 150; DN iii 263)


anatthāya: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: anatthāya, harm

If unarisen unvirtuous, spiritually unwholesome factors arise in me, this would lead to my harm’:

anuppannā me pāpakā akusalā dhammā uppajjamānā anatthāya saṁvatteyyunti

If unvirtuous, spiritually unwholesome factors that have arisen in me are not abandoned, this would lead to my harm’;

Uppannā me pāpakā akusalā dhammā appahīyamānā anatthāya saṁvatteyyunti

If unarisen spiritually wholesome factors do not arise in me, this would lead to my harm;

Anuppannā me kusalā dhammā nūppajjamānā anatthāya saṁvatteyyunti

If spiritually wholesome factors that have arisen in me cease, this would lead to my harm.

Uppannā me kusalā dhammā nirujjhamānā anatthāya saṁvatteyyunti. (SN ii 195-6)


atthaṁ: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: atthaṁ, benefit

The Buddha said that being diligent in performing meritorious deeds leads to benefits in this lifetime and in the hereafter (diṭṭhadhammikañceva atthaṁ samparāyikañcā ti), for example, long life, health, beauty, heaven, and noble birth. He concluded:

‘The wise person who is diligent [in performing meritorious deeds] secures both benefits: benefit in this lifetime, and benefit in the hereafter.

Appamatto ubho atthe adhigaṇhāti paṇḍito
Diṭṭhe dhamme ca yo attho yo cattho samparāyiko. (SN i 86)

Bodhi says ‘good’ and ‘kinds of good’: .’.. secures both kinds of good: the good visible in this very life… ’ (CDB p.180).

Illustration: atthaṁ, meaning

He listens but does not understand [the teaching], he looks but does not see [the nature of reality]. Though the teaching is being spoken, the fool does not understand the meaning.

Suṇāti na vijānāti āloketi na passati
Dhammasmiṁ bhaññamānasmiṁ atthaṁ bālo na bujjhati. (SN i 198)

Venerable Mahākaccāna is capable of explaining the meaning in detail of the brief synopsis recited by the Blessed One, where the meaning was not explained in detail.

Pahoti cāyasmā mahākaccāno imassa bhagavatā saṅkhittena uddesassa uddiṭṭhassa vitthārena atthaṁ avibhattassa vitthārena atthaṁ vibhajituṁ. (MN iii 195)

Hearing the teaching, he bears it in mind.

sutvā dhammaṁ dhāreti

Bearing it in mind, he examines the meaning [of what he has memorised].

Doing so, the teaching receives his considered approval.

dhammā nijjhānaṁ khamanti. (MN i 480)

Illustration: atthaṁ, what is beneficial

A greedy person does not know what is beneficial, nor see what is righteous,

Luddho atthaṁ na jānāti luddho dhammaṁ na passati. (Iti 84)

Illustration: atthaṁ, well-being

If someone destroyed my well-being by lying to me it would not be agreeable and pleasing to me.

yo kho me musāvādena atthaṁ bhañjeyya na me taṁ assa piyaṁ manāpaṁ. (SN v 354)

Illustration: atthaṁ, spirit (=real meaning)

Those teachings which are excellent in the beginning, the middle, and the end, whose spirit and letter proclaim the utterly complete and pure religious life: teachings like this are much heard by him.

ye te dhammā ādikalyāṇā majjhekalyāṇā pariyosānakalyāṇā sātthaṁ savyañjanaṁ kevalaparipuṇṇaṁ parisuddhaṁ brahmacariyaṁ abhivadanti tathārūpāssa dhammā bahussutā honti. (Vin.2.96)

Illustration: atthaṁ, meaning = suttavibhaṅgo

If the bhikkhu knows neither the rule nor the rule analysis (neva suttaṁ āgataṁ hoti no suttavibhaṅgo), not knowing the meaning (of the rule) (atthaṁ asallakkhento), he may conceal the meaning under the wording (vyañjanacchāyāya atthaṁ paṭibāhati). (Vin.2.97)


The bhikkhu conceals the meaning (atthaṁ) under the wording because he is ignorant of the rule analysis (suttavibhaṅgo). Thus ‘rule analysis’ (suttavibhaṅgo) equals ‘the meaning of the rule’ (atthaṁ).

Illustration: atthaṁ, matter

When Nigaṇṭho Nātaputto died at Pāvā, there was much trouble amongst his disciples. Venerable Ānanda and the sāmaṇera Cunda approached the Blessed One and told him about this matter (etamatthaṁ ārocessāmā ti). (DN iii 118)

Having heard the well-spoken explanation, the utterance connected with what is righteous and with spiritual well-being

Sutvā subhāsitaṁ vācaṁ dhammatthasaṁhitaṁ padaṁ

I properly reflected on the truth and reality of the matter

Tathaṁ yāthāvakaṁ atthaṁ yoniso paccavekkhisaṁ. (Tha 347)

Illustration: atthaṁ, matter; atthaṁ, atthena, what is useful; me attho, need (+ instrumental case)

[Venerable Assaji:]

‘I am not able to explain the teaching in detail, but I can tell you the matter in brief.’

na tāhaṁ sakkomi vitthārena dhammaṁ desetuṁ. Api ca te saṅkhittena atthaṁ vakkhāmī ti

[The ascetic Sāriputta:]

‘So be it, friend, tell me little or tell me much,

hotu āvuso appaṁ vā bahuṁ vā bhāsassu

but just tell me what is useful;

atthaṁyeva me brūhi

I need only what is useful.

attheneva me attho

Why should you make a great elaboration?’

kiṁ kāhasi vyañjanaṁ bahun ti. (Vin.1.41)

Illustration: atthaṁ, purpose

When gold is refined it becomes malleable, wieldy and radiant. Whatever ornament one wishes to make from it, it would serve the purpose (tañcassa atthaṁ anubhoti). (AN iii 16; SN v 92; AN i 254-7; MN iii 243)

Illustration: atthaṁ, what is meaningful


‘Does he not speak falsehood? Does he not have rough speech? Does he not speak what is untrue? Does he not speak what is frivolous?’

Kacci musā na bhaṇati kacci na khīṇavyappatho
Kacci vebhūtiyaṁ nāha kacci samphaṁ na bhāsati


‘He does not speak falsehood, nor does he have rough speech, and neither does he speak what is untrue. He is a wise person: he speaks what is meaningful.’

Musā ca so na bhaṇati atho na khīṇavyappatho
Atho vebhūtiyaṁ nāha mantā atthaṁ so bhāsati. (Snp 158-9)


Atthaṁ: ‘what is meaningful.‘ Here, the opposite of ‘what is frivolous’ (samphaṁ).

Illustration: atthaṁ, what is useful

Some unvirtuous bhikkhus are dependent on kings or kings’ ministers, thinking that if anyone accuses them of misconduct, these people will say what is useful in their defence (rājāno vā rāja mahāmattā vā pariyodhāya atthaṁ bhaṇissantī ti) (AN i 153-5)

Illustration: atthaṁ, for the sake of

In this regard a bhikkhu, properly reflecting, uses the robe simply to ward off cold and heat, and to ward off the touch of horseflies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, and snakes:

• simply for covering his loins.

yāvadeva hirikopīnapaṭicchādanatthaṁ.

Properly reflecting, he uses the abode simply to ward off cold and heat, and to ward off the touch of horseflies, mosquitoes, wind, sun, and snakes; simply to dispel the oppressiveness of the weather and:

• for the sake of enjoying solitary retreat.

Illustration: atthaṁ, supreme goal

One who is meditative, one who sits [alone in the woods] and is spiritually undefiled, who has done what needed to be done, who is free of perceptually obscuring states, who has attained the supreme goal, he is what I call a Brahman.

Jhāyiṁ virajamāsīnaṁ katakiccaṁ anāsavaṁ
Uttamatthaṁ anuppattaṁ tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ. (Dhp 386)

But following a lowly fool who has not attained the supreme goal and who is full of envy,

Khuddañca bālaṁ upasevamāno anāgatatthañca usūyakañca

Having failed to understand the teaching clearly in this world, one reaches death, having not overcome one’s unsureness [about the excellence of the teaching].

Idheva dhammaṁ avibhāvayitvā avitiṇṇakaṅkho maraṇaṁ upeti. (Snp 318)


attho: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: attho, meaning

It would be good if the Blessed One would explain the meaning of this statement. Having heard it from him, the bhikkhus will remember it.

Sādhu vata bhante bhagavantaṁyeva paṭibhātu etassa bhāsitassa attho bhagavato sutvā bhikkhū dhāressantī ti. (SN v 219)

Illustration: attho, matter

Thus do noble young men declare their [attainment of] arahantship: the matter is spoken of without any reference to themselves

attho ca vutto attā ca anupanīto. (AN iii 359)

Illustration: attho, need

‘Should I resort to the knife, or [not]? What need have I of life? ’

Satthaṁ vā āharissāmi ko attho jīvitena me. (Tha 407)

Illustration: attho, for (the sake of)

What is a mirror for?

kimatthiyo ādāso ti.

For (the sake of) reflection, bhante.

Paccavekkhanattho bhante ti. (MN i 416)


Atthiya (adj.) [= atthika] having a purpose or end. Kimatthiyo for what purpose? (PED).

Illustration: attho, for the sake of

• For what purpose, bhante, is non-attachment [to originated phenomena]?

Virāgo pana bhante kimatthiyo ti?

• Non-attachment is for the sake of liberation [from perceptually obscuring states].

Virāgo kho rādha vimuttattho

• For what purpose, bhante, is liberation [from perceptually obscuring states]?

Vimutti pana bhante kimatthiyā ti?

• Liberation [from perceptually obscuring states] is for the sake of [realising] the Untroubled.

Vimutti kho rādha nibbānatthā. (SN iii 189)

Illustration: attho, supreme goal

Gone forth from the household life into the ascetic life, but has not attained the supreme goal of asceticism

agārasmā anagāriyaṁ pabbajito hoti svāssa sāmaññattho ananuppatto hoti. (DN i 230)


anattho: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: anattho, harmful; attho, beneficial

What is harmful (katamo ca bhikkhave anattho)? It is the wrong ten factors (micchādiṭṭhi… micchāsamādhi micchāñāṇaṁ micchāvimutti).

This is called harmful.

Ayaṁ vuccati bhikkhave anattho

What is beneficial?

katamo ca bhikkhave attho

It is the right ten factors (sammādiṭṭhi… sammāsamādhi sammāñāṇaṁ sammāvimutti).

This is called beneficial.

Ayaṁ vuccati bhikkhave attho ti. (AN v 242)


atthavase: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: atthavase, good reason; attha, meaning

Considering three good reasons it is fitting to explain the teaching to others. What three?

Tayo'me bhikkhave atthavase sampassamānena alameva paresaṁ dhammaṁ desetuṁ. Katame tayo

• The one who explains the Buddha’s teaching, or the one who listens, or both of them, realise the meaning and significance of the teachings.

atthapaṭisaṁvedī ca hoti dhammapaṭisaṁvedī ca. (AN i 151)

Illustration: atthavase, good reasons

For two good reasons the Perfect One establishes training rules for his disciples. To inspire faith in those without faith; and to increase the faith of those with faith.

Dveme bhikkhave atthavase paṭicca tathāgatena sāvakānaṁ sikkhāpadaṁ paññattaṁ. Katame dve appasannānaṁ pasādāya pasannānaṁ bhiyyobhāvāya. (AN i 98)


atthavasaṁ: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: atthavasaṁ, good reason

• But, great king, considering what good reason do you show such profound humility and pay such loving homage to this [wretched human] body of mine?

Kaṁ pana tvaṁ mahārāja atthavasaṁ sampassamāno imasmiṁ sarīre evarūpaṁ paramanipaccākāraṁ karosi mettupahāraṁ upadaṁsesīti?

• Out of gratitude and thankfulness I show such profound humility and pay such loving homage to the Blessed One.

Kataññutaṁ kho ahaṁ bhante kataveditaṁ sampassamāno bhagavati evarūpaṁ paramanipaccākāraṁ karomi mettupahārāṁ upadaṁsemi. (AN v 65)

‘Considering what good reason, Lord of the Devas (kiṁ pana tvaṁ devānaminda atthavasaṁ sampassamāno), do you announce the attainment of such inspiration and joy?’

‘Considering six good reasons (cha kho ahaṁ bhante atthavase sampassamāno), bhante, I announce the attainment of such inspiration and joy.’

The reasons were, briefly, that as a result of this conversation his future lives would lead him to great happiness and enlightenment (DN ii 285-6)

Considering two good reasons, brahman (dve kho ahaṁ brāhmaṇa atthavase sampassamāno) I frequent secluded abodes in forests and quiet groves: in considering a pleasant abiding for myself in this lifetime, and being tenderly concerned for future generations.

dve kho ahaṁ brāhmaṇa atthavase sampassamāno araññe vanapatthāni pantāni senāsanāni paṭisevāmi: attano ca diṭṭhadhammasukhavihāraṁ sampassamāno pacchimañca janataṁ anukampamāno ti. (MN i 23)


anattha: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: anattha, spiritual well-being

I will not talk that kind of talk which is low, vulgar, the way of the common man, ignoble, and unconducive to spiritual well-being… that is to say talk of kings…

So yāyaṁ kathā hīnā gammā pothujjanikā anariyā anatthasaṁhitā… Seyyathīdaṁ rājakathā… iti vā iti evarūpiṁ kathaṁ na kathessāmiti. (MN iii 113)

One who is prudent would not stay in an abode that was unconducive to his spiritual well-being.

Na tvevānatthasaṁhitaṁ vase vāsaṁ vicakkhaṇo ti. (Tha 105)

There are, headman, these two unenlightening practices which should not be undertaken by one who has gone forth [into the ascetic life]:

Dve'me bhikkhave antā pabbajitena na sevitabbā:

• the pursuit of sensuous pleasures, which is low, vulgar, the way of the common man, ignoble, and unconducive to spiritual well-being

yo cāyaṁ kāmesu kāmasukhallikānuyogo hīno gammo pothujjaniko anariyo anatthasaṁhito

• the pursuit of self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble, and unconducive to spiritual well-being

yo cāyaṁ attakilamathānuyogo dukkho anariyo anatthasaṁhito. (Vin.1.10; SN iv 331)

An occult art is defined as whatever is non-Buddhistic, and unconducive to spiritual well-being

Tiracchānavijjaṁ nāma yaṁ kiñci bāhirakaṁ anatthasaṁhitaṁ. (Vin.4.305)

Illustration: anattha, useless

It is good indeed that I am freed from that useless, unpleasant, self-mortifying practice.

Sādhu mutto vatamhi tāya anatthasaṁhitāya dukkarakārikāya. (SN i 103)


atthavasaṁ: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: atthavasaṁ, good reason; atthavasikā, intent on [the development of] spiritual well-being

Bhikkhus, this is the lowest form of livelihood, namely, gathering alms… And yet noble young men intent on [the development of their own] spiritual well-being take up this way of life for a good reason.

antamidaṁ bhikkhave jīvikānaṁ yadidaṁ piṇḍolyaṁ… tañca kho evaṁ bhikkhave kulaputtā upenti atthavasikā atthavasaṁ paṭicca. (SN iii 93; Iti 89)


atthavasikena: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: atthavasikena, intent on [the development of] spiritual well-being

The Buddha said that if one was offered to be struck by three hundred spears a day for one hundred years, and told that one would afterwards penetrate the four noble truths, it would be fitting for a noble young man intent on [the development of his own] spiritual well-being to accept the offer (atthavasikena bhikkhave kulaputtena alaṁ upagantuṁ) because the round of birth and death is long-lasting beyond conception; a first point is not to be discerned of [a receiving of] blows by knives, swords, arrows, and axes (SN v 440-1).


atthāya: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: atthāya, spiritual well-being

When the mental image of a skeleton (aṭṭhikasaññā) is developed and cultivated (bhāvitā bahulīkatā).

it is of great fruit and benefit

mahapphalā hoti mahānisaṁsā

it leads to [one’s own] great spiritual well-being

mahato atthāya saṁvattati. (SN v 129)


atthavatī: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: atthavatī, meaningful

Cūḷakokanadā, Pajjunna’s daughter, spoke these meaningful verses

gāthā cimā atthavatī abhāsi. (SN i 30-31)


The verses say one should avoid unvirtuous conduct (pāpaṁ na kayirā), abandon sensuous pleasures (kāme pahāya), and be mindful and fully conscious (satimā sampajāno). Bodhi calls them ‘verses full of meaning.’


atthassa: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: atthassa, meaning

Venerable Visākha Pañcāliputta was instructing the bhikkhus in the assembly hall with an explanation of the teaching, using speech that was polished, well enunciated, articulate, making the meaning clear (atthassa viññāpaniyā) (SN ii 280)

Illustration: atthassa, point

And this is another way of explaining in brief that same point

ayampi kho sāriputta pariyāyo etasseva atthassa saṅkhittena veyyākaraṇāya

• I am not unsure about the perceptually obscuring states spoken of by the Ascetic.

ye āsavā samaṇena vuttā tesvāhaṁ na kaṅkhāmi;

• I do not doubt they have been abandoned by me.

te me pahīṇāti na vicikicchāmī ti. (SN ii 54)

This is another method of explaining in brief that same point: ‘Whatever is experienced is included within dukkha.’

ayampi kho sāriputta pariyāyo etasseva atthassa saṅkhittena veyyākaraṇāya yaṁ kiñci vedayitaṁ taṁ dukkhasmin ti. (SN ii 53)

Illustration: atthassa, something; attho, meaning

I devised this simile for the sake of explaining something

upamā kho me ayaṁ bhikkhave katā atthassa viññāpanāya

This is its meaning

The ‘great low-lying marsh’ is a term for sensuous pleasure

The ‘large herd of deer’ is a term for beings

The ‘safe path’ is a term for the noble eightfold path

ariyassetaṁ aṭṭhaṅgikassa maggassa adhivacanaṁ. (MN i 118)

Illustration: atthassa, objective

A man should make an effort until his objective has been achieved.

Vāyametheva puriso yāva atthassa nipphadā. (SN i 225)


atthe: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: atthe, context

A bhikkhu who was ordained by a complete assembly of bhikkhus, and by a valid and legitimate act involving a motion and three invitations, such a person is what is meant in this context by the word ‘bhikkhu’”

tatrayvāyaṁ bhikkhu samaggena saṅghena ñatticatutthena kammena akuppena ṭhānārahena upasampanno ayaṁ imasmiṁ atthe adhippeto bhikkhū ti. (Vin.3.24)

Horner: this one is a monk as understood in this meaning. BDN i 42).

atthena attho

atthena attho: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: atthena attho, point by point; atthaṁ, matter

It is astounding and extraordinary, friend, that [the explanations of the] Teacher and disciple agree and correspond point by point, and phrase by phrase, and do not disagree as regards the highest state.

Acchariyaṁ āvuso abbhutaṁ āvuso yatra hi nāma satthu ca sāvakassa ca atthena attho vyañjanena vyañjanaṁ saṁsaṁdissati samessati na viggahissati yadidaṁ aggapadasmiṁ.

Just now, friend, I approached the Blessed One and asked him about this matter.

Idānāhaṁ āvuso bhagavantaṁ upasaṅkamitvā etamatthaṁ apucchiṁ.

The Blessed One explained the matter to me in the very same terms and phrases that Venerable Sāriputta used.

Bhagavāpi me eteheva padehi etehi vyañjanehi etamatthaṁ vyākāsi seyyathā pi āyasmā sāriputto. (AN v 320)


Atthena attho vyañjanena vyañjanaṁ corresponds to eteheva padehi etehi vyañjanehi.


etamatthaṁ: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: etamatthaṁ, this; ayampi attho, this too

I heard this was said by the Blessed One, the Arahant:

Vuttaṁ h’etaṁ bhagavatā vuttamarahatā ti me sutaṁ

Abandon one thing, bhikkhus, and I guarantee you non-returnership. Which one thing?

Ekadhammaṁ bhikkhave pajahatha ahaṁ vo pāṭibhogo anāgāmitāya. Katamaṁ ekadhammaṁ?

Abandon one thing, bhikkhus, greed, and I guarantee you non-returnership.

Lobhaṁ bhikkhave ekadhammaṁ pajahatha ahaṁ vo pāṭibhogo anāgāmitāyā ti.

This is what the Blessed One said, and in connection with which he added:

Etamatthaṁ bhagavā avoca. Tatthetaṁ iti vuccati

The greed on account of which greedy beings are reborn in the plane of misery,

Yena lobhena luddhāse sattā gacchanti duggatiṁ

through the complete understanding of that greed, those with insight abandon it.

Taṁ lobhaṁ sammadaññāya pajahanti vipassino

Having done so they never return to this [low] plane of existence again.

Pahāya na punāyanti imaṁ lokaṁ kudācanan ti

This, too, was what the Blessed One said, so I heard.

Ayampi attho vutto bhagavatā iti me sutan ti. (Iti 1)


With verbs of saying, asking, etc attho often means simply 'this' or 'that,’ says DOP. Here the opening statement is ‘I heard this was said by the Blessed One’ (vuttaṁ h’etaṁ bhagavatā… me sutaṁ). Etamatthaṁ and ayampi attho correspond to it.

attho hoti

attho hoti: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: attho hoti, need (with instrumental case)

Once, bhikkhus became sick and needed (there was a need for) medicine.

Tena kho pana samayena bhikkhu gilānā honti attho ca hoti bhesajjehi. (Vin.4.100)


atthāya: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: atthāya, for the sake of

While a bhikkhu is contemplating the nature of the body, there may arise in him either bodily anguish, or mental sluggishness, or his mind is distracted outwardly. He should then direct his mind towards some faith inspiring meditation object (kismiñcideva pasādaniye nimitte cittaṁ paṇidahitabbaṁ). When he does so, his mind becomes collected (cittaṁ samādhiyati). He should then reflect:

• The [purpose] for the sake of which I directed my mind has been achieved.

yassa kho'haṁ atthāya cittaṁ paṇidahiṁ so me attho abhinipphanno. (SN v 156)

• Being for the sake of crossing [the flood of suffering], not for the sake of clinging to it.

nittharaṇatthāya no gahaṇatthāyāti. (MN i 260)

Illustration: atthāya, useful

When one’s house is in flames, the vessel taken out is the one that is useful, not the one left burnt inside.

Taṁ tassa hoti atthāya no ca yaṁ tattha ḍayhati. (SN i 31)


niratthaṁ: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: niratthaṁ, useless

Not long, indeed, till it will rest, this [wretched human] body here, beneath the clod, discarded, void of consciousness:

Like a useless block of wood.

niratthaṁ va kaliṅgaraṁ. (Dhp 41)


atthā: (main article see: attha)

Illustration: atthā, objective

Those who are arahants with perceptually obscuring states destroyed, who have fulfilled [the religious life], done what had to be done, laid down the burden, achieved their objective.

ye te bhikkhū arahanto khīṇāsavā vusitavanto katakaraṇīyā ohitabhārā anuppattasadatthā. (MN i 141-2)


Glossary various Teacher

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See also

Suttas and Dhammadesanā

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