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taṇhā {pi}

Pāḷi; √ taṇhā
alt. sp.: IPA: t̪əɳɦɑː, Velthuis: ta.nhaa, readable: tanhaa, simple: tanha
translation ~:
khmer: តណ្ហា
thai: ตณฺหา
sinhal.: තණ්හා
burm.: တဏှာ


[dic] taṇhā (tanha)

taṇhā: Description welcome. Info can be removed after imput.

ATI Glossary

taṇhā: Craving — for sensuality, for becoming, or for not-becoming (see bhava). See also lobha (greed; passion) [ more ]


Buddhist Dictionary

by late Ven. Nyanalokita Thera:

taṇhā:(lit. 'thirst'): 'craving', is the chief root of suffering, and of the ever-continuing cycle of rebirths.

“What, o monks, is the origin of suffering? It is that craving which gives rise to ever-fresh rebirth and, bound up with pleasure and lust, now here, now there, finds ever fresh delight. It is the sensual craving (kāma-taṇhā), the craving for existence (bhava-taṇhā), the craving for non-existence (vibhava-taṇhā)” DN 22

Taṇhā is the 8th link in the formula of the dependent origination (see paṭiccasamuppāda). Cf. sacca.

Corresponding to the 6 sense-objects, there are 6 kinds of craving craving for visible objects, for sounds, odours, tastes, bodily impressions, mental impressions (rūpa-taṇhā, sadda-taṇhā, gandha-taṇhā, rasa-taṇhā, phoṭṭhabba-taṇhā, dhamma-taṇhā). (MN 9; DN 15)

Corresponding to the 3-fold existence, there are 3 kinds: craving for sensual existence (kāma-taṇhā), for fine-material existence (rūpa-taṇhā), for immaterial existence (arūpa-taṇhā). (DN 33)

There are 18 'thought-channels of craving' (taṇhā-vicarita) induced internally, and 18 induced externally; and as occurring in past, present and future, they total 108; see AN 4.199; Vibhaṅga, Ch. 17 (Khuddakavatthu-vibhaṅga).

According to the dependent origination, craving is conditioned by feeling; on this see DN 22 (section on the 2nd Truth).

Of craving for existence (bhava-taṇhā ) it is said (AN 10.62):

“No first beginning of the craving for existence can be perceived, o monks, before which it was not and after which it came to be. But it can he perceived that craving for existence has its specific condition. I say, o monks, that also craving for existence has its condition that feeds it (sāhāraṁ) and is not without it. And what is it? 'Ignorance', one has to reply.”

- Craving for existence and ignorance are called “the outstanding causes that lead to happy and unhappy destinies (courses of existence)” (see Visuddhi Magga XVII, 36-42).

The most frequent synonyms of taṇhā are rāga and lobha (see mūla).


PTS Dictionary

by the Pali Text Society:


Glossary Thanissaro

— —


Illustrated Glossary of Pāli Terms

by Ven. Varado Maha Thera:


Taṇhā is ‘powerful and unsubdued’

Taṇhā is usually and correctly called ‘craving’ (i.e. strong desire). This is justified by comparison with kāmarāgo, which is a tie to individual existence when it is ‘powerful and unsubdued’:

1) Craving is the seamstress. For craving stitches him to this or that state of individual existence and rebirth.

taṇhā sibbanī. Taṇhā hi naṁ sibbati tassa tasseva bhavassa abhinibbattiyā. (AN iii 400)

2) When attachment to sensuous pleasure is powerful and unsubdued in him, it is a tie to individual existence in the low plane of existence.

tassa so kāmarāgo thāmagato appaṭivinīto orambhāgiyaṁ saṁyojanaṁ. (MN i 433)

Taṇhā comes from misperceiving sense impression

Taṇhā arises dependent on sense impression, as follows:

• When there is sense impression, craving arises. Craving arises dependent on sense impression

vedanāya kho sati taṇhā hoti vedanāpaccayā taṇhā ti. (DN ii 31)

How misperception of sense impression leads to craving is explained in the Sammasa Sutta as follows:

• Bhikkhus, whatever ascetics and Brahmanists in the past… in the future… at present regard that in the world which is agreeable and pleasing

Ye hi ke ci bhikkhave atītamaddhānaṁ… anāgatamaddhānaṁ… etarahi samaṇā vā brāhmaṇā yaṁ loke piyarūpaṁ sātarūpaṁ

• as lasting

taṁ niccato passanti

• as essentially substantial

• as endowed with personal qualities

• as unailing

• as free of danger

they nurture craving

te taṇhaṁ vaḍḍhenti. (SN ii 108-9)

Therefore misperception produces taṇhā.

Bhavataṇhā and Vibhavataṇhā: plurals

There are three forms of taṇhā:

• craving for sensuous pleasure

• craving for states of individual existence

• craving for the cessation of states of individual existence

We treat bhavataṇhā as a plural, in accordance with other suttas. For example:

1) not free of craving for various states of individual existence

2) In relation to states of individual existence, the attachment to individual existence.

3) All these states of individual existence are unlasting, intrinsically unsatisfactory, destined to change. On perceiving this according to reality with perfect penetrative discernment he abandons craving for states of individual existence.

Sabbe te bhavā aniccā dukkhā vipariṇāmadhammā.
Evametaṁ yathābhūtaṁ sammappaññāya passato
Bhavataṇhā pahīyati. (Uda 33)

We likewise treat vibhavataṇhā as a plural, otherwise it would only be applicable to the annihilationist ideal. Here, because some devas and men are revolted, appalled, and disgusted by individual existence (bhaveneva kho paneke aṭṭiyamānā harāyamāsā jigucchamānā), they long for the cessation of individual existence (vibhavaṁ abhinandanti). They think:

• When that [absolute] Selfhood is annihilated, destroyed, and does not exist with the demise of the body at death, this is peaceful, this is sublime, this is reality.’

yato kira bho ayaṁ attaṁ kāyassa bhedā parammaraṇā ucchijjati vinassati na hoti parammaraṇā etaṁ santaṁ etaṁ paṇītaṁ etaṁ yathāvantī. (Iti 44)

However, through disgust with personal identity such people keep running and circling around that same personal identity just as a dog bound by a leash tied to a firm post or pillar keeps on running and circling around that same post or pillar (MN ii 232-233).

This form of taṇhā is no less a basis for renewed states of individual existence than the other two forms. But treating vibhavataṇhā as a plural gives it a much broader application.

These plurals are therefore applicable in the following quotes:

1) Three further types of craving

Aparā pi tisso taṇhā

• craving for the sensuous plane of existence


• craving for the refined material plane of existence

• craving for the immaterial plane of existence.

2) Three further varietes of craving:

aparā pi tisso taṇhā

• craving for refined material states of awareness


• craving for immaterial states of awareness


• craving for the ending [of originated phenomena]

Basis of the ego: Pārileyyaka Sutta

Taṇhā creates egoistic ideas in the following way:

• The ignorant Everyman considers bodily form to be the [absolute] Selfhood

rūpaṁ attato samanupassati

That considering is an originated phenomenon

yā kho pana sā bhikkhave samanupassanā saṅkhāro so

What is the basis, origin, object of genesis and production of that originated phenomenon?

So pana saṅkhāro kinnidāno kiṁsamudayo kiñjātiko kimpabhavoti

When the ignorant Everyman is affected by sense impression born of sensation and uninsightfulness into reality, craving arises.

avijjāsamphassajena bhikkhave vedayitena phuṭṭhassa assutavato puthujjanassa uppannā taṇhā

That originated phenomenon is born from that

tatojo so saṅkhāro. (SN iii 96)

Basis of the ego: other suttas

That assumptions of Selfhood stem from taṇhā is confirmed in other suttas:

  • 1) The view that the Tathāgata exists after death is called a matter of taṇhā (taṇhāgatametaṁ) (AN iv 69).
  • 2) When ascetics and brahmans who are eternalists proclaim the eternity of the Self and the world in four ways, that is merely merely the agitation and trembling of those overcome by taṇhā (taṇhāgatametaṁ) (DN i 40).
  • 3) When the bhikkhu Sati had the view that ‘it is this same consciousness that runs and wanders through the round of rebirths, not another’, the Buddha said that the bhikkhu Sati was caught up in the vast net of taṇhā (MN i 271).
  • 4) When the Buddha explained the doctrine of no-Self, and a monk asked what Self will the actions done by not-Self affect, the Buddha said that the bhikkhu’s mind was overcome by taṇhā (taṇhādhipateyyena) (MN iii 19).
  • 5) It is craving that produces a person; taṇhā janeti purisaṁ (SN i 37).

Illustration: taṇhā, craving

Whichever homeless one, having abandoned sensuous pleasure in this world, should fulfil the ideals of religious asceticism, and for whom craving and individual existence are destroyed, he is what I call a Brahman.

Yodha taṇhaṁ pahatvāna anāgāro paribbaje
Taṇhābhavaparikkhīṇaṁ tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ. (Snp 640)

A person for whom there is no attachment, who, knowing the nature of reality, is not attached; and who has no craving for either individual existence or the cessation of individual existence.

Yassa nissayatā natthi ñatvā dhammaṁ anissito
Bhavāya vibhavāya vā taṇhā yassa na vijjati. (Snp 856)

• ’Ānanda, if there were no craving in any way

• craving for sensuous pleasure,

• craving for states of individual existence

• craving for the cessation of states of individual existence

with the total ending of craving

sabbaso taṇhā nirodhā

would search be evident?’

api nu kho pariyesanā paññāyethā ti.

• ’No, bhante’. (DN ii 62)

Attachment has craving as its basis, craving as its origin; it is generated and produced by craving.

upadhi taṇhānidāno taṇhāsamudayo taṇhājātiko taṇhāpabhavo

When there is craving, attachment comes to be. Without craving, attachment does not arise.

taṇhāya sati upadhi hoti taṇhāya asati upadhi na hotī ti. (SN ii 108)

And where does craving arise when it arises; where does it persist when it persists?

taṇhā panāyaṁ kattha uppajjamānā uppajjati kattha nivisamānā nivisatī ti.

Whatever in the world [of phenomena] is agreeable and pleasing: it is here that craving arises when it arises; it is here that it persists when it persists.

yaṁ kho kiñci loke piyarūpaṁ sātarūpaṁ etthesā taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati ettha nivisamānā nivisati.

And what in the world is agreeable and pleasing?

Kiñca loke piyarūpaṁ sātarūpaṁ?

The visual sense is agreeable and pleasing in the world: it is here that craving arises when it arises; it is here that it persists when it persists.

Cakkhuṁ loke piyarūpaṁ sātarūpaṁ etthesā taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati ettha nivisamānā nivisati.

So, too, the auditory sense, the olfactory sense, the gustatory sense, the tactile sense, and the mental sense have an agreeable and pleasing nature: it is here that craving arises when it arises; it is here that it persists when it persists.

aṁ… Ghānaṁ… Jivhā… Kāyo… Mano loke piyarūpaṁ sātarūpaṁ etthesā taṇhā uppajjamānā uppajjati ettha nivisamānā nivisati. (SN ii 108)

He for whom entangling and sticky craving no more exists to lead him anywhere.

Yassa jālinī visattikā taṇhā natthi kuhiñci netave. (SN i 107)

With craving as his companion, man has wandered the round of birth and death for a long time. He cannot transcend the round of birth and death by [attaining] states of individual existence in this world or another.

Taṇhā dutiyo puriso dīghamaddhānaṁ saṁsaraṁ
Itthabhāvaññathābhāvaṁ saṁsāraṁ nātivattati.

Recognising this danger, that the arising of suffering is due to craving, let the bhikkhu, free of craving, free of grasping, mindful, fulfil the ideals of religious asceticism.

Etamādīnavaṁ ñatvā taṇhā dukkhassa sambhavaṁ
Vītataṇho anādāno sato bhikkhu paribbaje ti. (AN ii 10)


Norman says the alternative reading taṇhaṁ dukkhassa sambhavaṁ ‘probably arose from the inability of the scribes to fit the seeming nominative taṇhā into the structure of the sentence. This problem disappears when we realise that taṇhā is a truncated instrumental = taṇhāya’ (Group of Discourses n.741). This view is supported by the commentary (which says etaṁ dukkhassa sambhavaṁ taṇhāya ādīnavaṁ ñatvā) and also by the usual meaning of sambhava, which is ‘arising’ not ‘origin.’

When one abides contemplating the sweetness of things that are conducive to psychological bondage, craving increases.

saṁyojaniyesu dhammesu assādānupassino viharato taṇhā pavaḍḍhati

When one abides contemplating the wretchedness of things that are conducive to psychological bondage, craving ceases.

saṁyojaniyesu dhammesu ādīnavānupassino viharato taṇhā nirujjhati. (SN ii 89)

• Master Gotama, when a flame is flung by the wind and goes some distance, what does Master Gotama declare to be its fuel on that occasion?

• When, Vaccha, a flame is flung by the wind and goes some distance, I declare that it is fuelled by the wind. For on that occasion the wind is its fuel.

• And, Master Gotama, when a being has laid down this [wretched human] body but is not yet possessed of another body, what does Master Gotama declare to be [the being’s] fuel on that occasion?

• When, Vaccha, a being has laid down this [wretched human] body but is not yet possessed of another body, I declare that [the being] is fuelled by craving. For on that occasion craving is [the being’s] fuel.

Yasmiṁ kho vaccha samaye imañca kāyaṁ nikkhipati satto ca aññataraṁ kāyaṁ anuppanno hoti tamahaṁ taṇhūpādānaṁ vadāmi. Taṇhāhissa vaccha tasmiṁ samaye upādānaṁ hotī ti. (SN iv 399)

This [wretched human] body has manifested through craving. With the help of craving, craving must be abandoned.

Taṇhāsambhūto ayaṁ bhagini kāyo. Taṇhaṁ nissāya taṇhā pahātabbā ti iti kho panetaṁ vuttaṁ.

The sutta explains this as follows:

A bhikkhu hears that another bhikkhu has attained arahantship. To him it occurs:

• Surely, I too, through the destruction of perceptually obscuring states, in this very lifetime will enter and abide in the liberation [from attachment through inward calm] and the liberation [from uninsightfulness] through penetrative discernment, realising it for myself through transcendent insight.

Tassa evaṁ hoti: kudassunāma ahampi āsavānaṁ khayā anāsavaṁ cetovimuttiṁ paññāvimuttiṁ diṭṭheva dhamme sayaṁ abhiññā sacchikatvā upasampajja viharissāmī ti.

Then sometime later, with the help of craving, he abandons craving.

So aparena samayena taṇhaṁ nissāya taṇhaṁ pajahati. (AN ii 146)

One with little wealth but exceeding craving is born into a khattiya family. He longs for kingship in this world. That is the cause of spiritual ruination.

Appabhogo mahātaṇho khattiye jāyato kule
Sodha rajjaṁ patthayati taṁ parābhavato mukhaṁ. (Snp 114)

The savoury earth was very sweet, like honey. Then one creature with a greedy nature (lolajātiko) tasted the savoury earth placed on its finger and craving arose in it (taṇhā cassa okkami). Other beings did the same. Then they started breaking pieces off with their hands in order to eat it. (DN iii 85)

The craving of a person of distracted thoughts, who is full of attachment and contemplates the loveliness [of the female body] will only develop.

Vitakkapamathitassa jantuno tibbarāgassa subhānupassino
Bhiyyo taṇhā pavaḍḍhati. (Dhp 349)

Fools through craving for wealth destroy themselves and others too.

Bhogataṇhāya dummedho hanti aññe va attānaṁ. (Dhp 355)

There are six categories of craving

• craving for visible objects

• craving for audible objects

• craving for smellable objects

• craving for tasteable objects

• craving for tangible objects

• craving for mentally known objects


taṇhāya: (main article see: taṇhā)

Illustration: taṇhāya, craving

If a bhikkhu’s mind is imbued with the perception of the loathsome nature of digestion, his mind draws back, bends back, turns away from craving for flavours and is not attracted to them, and either indifference or loathing is established in him.

Āhāre paṭikkūlasaññā paricitena bhikkhave bhikkhuno cetasā bahulaṁ viharato rasataṇhāya cittaṁ patilīyati patikuṭati pativaṭṭati na sampasārīyati upekkhā vā paṭikkūlyatā vā saṇṭhāti. (AN iv 49)

The complete passing away and ending of this same craving, the giving up and relinquishment of it, the freedom from it, the letting go of it, is called the ending of suffering.

Yo tassāyeva taṇhāya asesavirāganirodho cāgo paṭinissaggo mutti anālayo ayaṁ vuccatāvuso dukkhanirodho. (MN i 49)


taṇhaṁ: (main article see: taṇhā)

Illustration: taṇhaṁ, craving

Do not foster craving for robe material, almsfood, therapeutic requisites, and abodes

cīvare piṇḍapāte ca paccaye sayanāsane etesu taṇhaṁ mā kāsi. (Snp 339)

Because of craving, search.

taṇhaṁ paṭicca pariyesanā

Because of search, acquisition

pariyesanaṁ paṭicca lābho

Because of acquisition, examination

lābhaṁ paṭicca vinicchayo

Because of examination, fondness and attachment

vinicchayaṁ paṭicca chandarāgo. (AN iv 401)

Bhikkhus, whatever ascetics and Brahmanists in the past regarded that in the world which is agreeable and pleasing

ye ca kho ke ci bhikkhave atītamaddhānaṁ samaṇā vā brāhmaṇā vā yaṁ loke piyarūpaṁ sātarūpaṁ taṁ

• as unlasting

• as intrinsically unsatisfactory

• as void of personal qualities

• as an illness

• as full of danger

they abandoned craving

te taṇhaṁ pajahiṁsu

In abandoning craving they abandoned attachment

ye taṇhaṁ pajahiṁsu te upadhiṁ pajahiṁsu. (SN ii 108-9)


Glossary various Teacher

taṇhā: Craving; desires conditioned by ignorance of the way things are. (Source: Glossary late Ven. Ajahn Chah)


See also

Suttas and Dhammadesanā

taṇhā: See also Sensuality; Taṇhā (craving).

  • Does Attachment to possessions really bring happiness?: SN 4.8
  • Attachment to loved ones as a cause of sorrow: SN 42.11, AN 5.30, Ud 8.8
  • Attachment to the body as a cause of further pain: Sn 4.2

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en/dictionary/taṇhā.txt · Last modified: 2019/09/25 05:30 by