Tanha, 14 Definition(s)
1. Eight of the twelve Dependent Originations; negative desires that can never be sated, represented by a man drinking
2. Tanha is a term in Pali, the language of the Buddhist scriptures, that specifically means craving or misplaced desire. Buddhists recognise that there can be positive desires, such as desire for enlightenment and good wishes for others. A neutral term for such desires is chanda.
One of the three daughters of Mara, who tried to tempt the Buddha under the Ajapala nigrodha, soon after the Enlightenment. SN. p.163; S.i.124f; J.i.78, 469; DhA.i.252; iii.196, 199.
Desire or tanha in Pali is an important thing to understand. What is desire? Kama tanha is very easy to understand. This kind of desire is wanting sense pleasures through the body or the other senses and always seeking things to excite or please your senses — that is kama tanha. You can really contemplate: what is it like when you have desire for pleasure? For example, when you are eating, if you are hungry and the food tastes delicious, you can be aware of wanting to take another bite. Notice that feeling when you are tasting something pleasant; and notice how you want more of it. Don just believe this; try it out. Don think you know it because it has been that way in the past. Try it out when you eat. Taste something delicious and see what happens: a desire arises for more. That is kama tanha.
Tanha is never tired of seeing pleasant objects, man or woman whom it likes. It seeks sweet sounds. It hungers for good scent, good food and good drinks. It craves for tactile sensation and this is surely the worst craving for people who love sensual pleasure. Tanha also means liking for mind objects that are impervious to the eye, the ear and other physical organs. It is the object that we can know only mentally. According to the scriptures it means the five sensitive (pasada) rupas, the four subtle elements such as apo, etc., the mental elements (cetasikas) concepts of forms, qualities, names, etc.
tanhā, rāga; further s. mūla.
-- or --
(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-tanhā),
the craving for existence (bhava-tanhā),
the craving for non-existence (vibhava-tanhā)'' (D.22).
T. is the 8th link in the formula of the dependent origination (paticcasamuppāda). 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-, sadda-, gandha-, rasa-, photthabba-, dhamma-tanhā). (M.9; D.15)
Corresponding to the 3-fold existence, there are 3 kinds: craving for sensual existence (kāma-tanhā), for fine-material existence (rūpa-tanhā), for immaterial existence (arūpa-tanhā). (D.33)
There are 18 'thought-channels of craving' (tanhā-vicarita) induced internally, and 18 induced externally; and as occurring in past, present and future, they total 108; see A. IV, 199; Vibh., Ch. 17 (Khuddakavatthu-Vibhanga).
According to the dependent origination, craving is conditioned by feeling; on this see D. 22 (section on the 2nd Truth).
Of craving for existence (bhava-tanhā ) it is said (A.X.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 (sāharam) 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)" (s. Vis.M. XVII, 36-42).
The most frequent synonyms of tanhā are rāga and lobha (s. mūla).
the selfish wish for things/experiences which are pleasant and fear of that which is unpleasant.
Tanha is usually translated as craving. Tanha is also another word which denotes lobha.
taṇhā : (f.) craving; thirst; lust; attachment.
Taṇhā，（f．） (Sk．tṛṣṇā，besides tarśa （m．） & ṭṛṣ （f．）=Av．tarśna thirst，Gr．tarsi/a dryness，Goth．paúrsus，Ohg．durst，E．drought & thirst； to *ters to be，or to make dry in Gr．tέrsomai，Lat．torreo to roast，Goth．gapaírsan，Ohg．derren．-another form of t．is tasiṇā) lit．drought，thirst； fig．craving，hunger for，excitement，the fever of unsatisfied longing （c．Loc．：kabaḷiṅkāre āhāre “thirst” for solid food S．II，101 sq．； cīvare piṇḍapāte taṇhā=greed for Sn．339）．Oppd to peace of mind （upekhā，santi）．-- A．Literal meaning：khudāya taṇhāya ca khajjamānā tormented by hunger & thirst Pv．II，15 （=pipāsāya PvA．69）．-- B．In its secondary meaning：taṇhā is a state of mind that leads to rebirth．Plato puts a similar idea into the mouth of Socrates （Phædo 458，9）．Neither the Greek nor the Indian thinker has thought it necessary to explain how this effect is produced．In the Chain of Causation （D．II，34） we are told how Taṇhā arises-when the sense organs come into contact with the outside world there follow sensation and feeling，& these （if，as elsewhere stated，there is no mastery over them） result in Taṇhā．In the First Proclamation （S．V，420 ff．； Vin．I，10） it is said that Taṇhā，the source of sorrow，must be rooted out by the way there laid down，that is by the Aryan Path．Only then can the ideal life be lived．Just as physical thirst arises of itself，and must be assuaged，got rid of，or the body dies； so the mental “thirst，” arising from without，becomes a craving that must be rooted out，quite got rid of，or there can be no Nibbāna．The figure is a strong one，and the word Taṇhā is found mainly in poetry，or in prose passages charged with religious emotion．It is rarely used in the philosophy or the psychology．Thus in the long Enumeration of Qualities （Dhs），Taṇhā occurs in one only out of the 1，366 sections （Dhs．1059），& then only as one of many subordinate phases of lobha．Taṇhā binds a man to the chain of Saṁsāra，of being reborn & dying again & again （2b） until Arahantship or Nibbāna is attained，taṇhā destroyed，& the cause alike of sorrow and of future births removed （2b）．In this sense Nibbāna is identical with “sabbupadhi-paṭinissaggo taṇhakkhayo virāgo nirodho” （see Nibbāna）．-- 1．Systematizations：The 3 aims of t．kāma°，bhava°，vibhava°，that is craving for sensuous pleasure，for rebirth （anywhere，but especially in heaven），or for no rebirth； cp．Vibhava．These three aims are mentioned already in the First Proclamation （S．V，420； Vin．I，10） and often afterwards D．II，61，308； III，216，275； S．III，26，158； It．50； Ps．I，26，39； II，147； Vbh．101，365； Nett 160．Another group of 3 aims of taṇhā is given as kāma°，rūpa° & arūpa° at D．III，216； Vbh．395； & yet another as rūpa°，arūpa° & nirodha° at D．III，216．-- The source of t．is said to be sixfold as founded on & relating to the 6 bāhirāni āyatanāni （see rūpa），objects of sense or sensations，viz．sights，sounds，smells，etc．：D．II，58； Ps．I，6 sq．； Nd2 271I； in threefold aspects （as kāma-taṇhā，bhava° & vibhava°） with relation to the 6 senses discussed at Vism．567 sq．； also under the term cha-taṇha-kāyā （sixfold group，see cpds．） M．I，51； III，280； Ps．I，26； elsewhere called chadvārika-taṇhā “arising through the 6 doors” DhA．III，286．-- 18 varieties of t．（comprising worldly objects of enjoyment，ease，comfort & wellliving are enumd at Nd2 271III （under taṇhā-lepa）．36 kinds：18 referring to sensations （illusions） of subjective origin （ajjhattikassa upādāya），& 18 to sensations affecting the individual in objective quality （bāhirassa upādāya） at A．II，212； Nett 37； & 108 varieties or specifications of t．are given at Nd2 271II （under Jappā）=Dhs．1059=Vbh．361．-- Taṇhā as “kusalā pi akusalā pi” （good & bad） occurs at Nett 87； cp．Tālapuṭa’s good t．Th．I，1091 f．-- 2．Import of the term：（a） various characterizations of t．：mahā° Sn．114； kāma° SI．131； gedha° SI．15； bhava° D．III，274 （+avijjā）； grouped with diṭṭhi （wrong views） Nd2 271III，271VI， T．fetters the world & causes misery：“yāya ayaṁ loko uddhasto pariyonaddho tantākulajāto” A．II，211 sq．； taṇhāya jāyatī soko taṇhāya jāyatī bhayaṁ taṇhāya vippamuttassa natthi soko kuto bhayaṁ Dh．216； taṇhāya uḍḍito loko S．I，40； yaṁ loke piyarūpaṁ sātarūpaṁ etth’esā taṇhā ．．．Vbh．103； it is the 4th constituent of Māra’s army （M-senā） Sn．436； M’s daughter，S．I，134．In comparisons：t．+jālinī visattikā S．I，107； =bharâdānaṁ （t．ponobbhavikā nandirāga-sahagatā） S III 26； V，402：gaṇḍa=kāya，gaṇḍamūlan ti taṇhāy’etaṁ adhivacanaṁ S．IV，83；=sota S．IV，292 （and a khīṇāsavo=chinnasoto）； manujassa pamatta-cārino t．vaḍḍhati māluvā viya Dh．334．-- （b） taṇhā as the inciting factor of rebirth & incidental cause of saṁsāra kammaṁ khettaṁ viññāṇaṁ bījaṁ taṇhā sineho ．．．evaṁ āyatiṁ punabbhavâbhinibbatti hoti A．I，223； t．ca avasesā ca kilesā：ayaṁ vuccati dukkha-samudayo Vbh．107，similarly Nett 23 sq．； as ponobbhavikā （causing rebirth） S．III，26； Ps．II，147，etc．； as a link in the chain of interdependent causation （see paṭiccasamuppāda）：vedanā-paccayā taṇhā，taṇhā-paccayā upādānaṁ Vin．I，1，5； D．II，31，33，56，etc．； t． & upadhi： taṇhāya sati upadhi hoti t．asati up．na hoti S．II，108； ye taṇhaṁ vaḍḍhenti te upadhiṁ vaḍḍhenti，etc．S．II，109； taṇhāya nīyati loko taṇhāya parikissati S．I，39； taṇhā saṁyojanena saṁyuttā sattā dīgharattaṁ sandhāvanti saṁsaranti It．8．See also t．-dutiya．-- （c） To have got rid of t．is Arahantship：vigata-taṇha vigata-pipāsa vigata-pariḷāha D．III，238； S．III，8，107 sq．，190； samūlaṁ taṇhaṁ abbuyha S．I，16=63，121 （Godhiko parinibbuto）； III，26 （nicchāto parinibbuto）； vīta° Sn．83，849，1041 （+nibbuta）； taṇhāya vippahānena S．I，39 （“Nibbānan” iti vuccati），40 （sabbaṁ chindati bandhanaṁ）； taṇhaṁ mā kāsi mā lokaṁ punar āgami Sn．339； taṇhaṁ pariññāya ．．．te narā oghatiṇṇā ti Sn．1082； ucchinna-bhava-taṇhā Sn．746； taṇhāya vūpasama S．III，231； t．-nirodha S．IV，390．-- See also M．I，51； Dh．154； It．9 （vita°+anādāna），50 （°ṁ pahantvāna）； Sn．495，496，916； & cp．°khaya．-- 3．Kindred terms which in Commentaries are expld by one of the taṇhā-formulæ （cp．Nd2 271V & 271VII）：（a） t．in groups of 5：（a） with kilesa saṁyoga vipāka duccarita； （b） diṭṭhi kilesa duccarita avijjā； （g） diṭṭhi kil° kamma duccarita．-- （b） quasi-synonyms：ādāna，ejā，gedha，jappā，nandī，nivesana，pariḷāha，pipāsā，lepa，loluppa，vāna，visattikā，sibbanī．-- In cpds．the form taṇhā is represented by taṇha before double consonants，as taṇhakkhaya，etc．
--âdhipateyya mastery over t．S．III，103； --âdhipanna seized by t．S．I．29； Sn．1123； --ādāsa the mirror of t．A．II，54； âbhinivesa full of t．PvA．267； --āluka greedy J．II，78； --uppādā （pl．） （four） grounds of the rise of craving （viz．cīvara，piṇḍapāta，senâsana，itibhavâbhava） A．II，10=It．109； D．III，228； Vbh．375； --kāyā （pl．） （six） groups of t．（see above B I） S．II，3； D．III，244．280； Ps．I，26； Vbh．380； --kkhaya the destruction of the excitement of cravings，almost synonymous with Nibbāna （see above B2c）：°rata Dh．187 （expld at DhA．III，241：arahatte c’eva nibbāne ca abhirato hoti）； ‹-› Vv 735 （expld by Nibbāna VvA．296）； therefore in the expositionary formula of Nibbāna as equivalent with N．Vin．I，5； S．III，133； It．88，etc．（see N．）．In the same sense：sabbañjaho taṇhakkhaye vimutto Vin．I，8= M．I，171=Dh．353； taṇhākkhaya virāga nirodha nibbāna A．II，34，expld at Vism．293； bhikkhu arahaṁ cha ṭhānāni adhimutto hoti：nekkhammâdhimutto，paviveka°，avyāpajjha°，upādānakkhaya°，taṇhakkhaya°，asammoha° Vin．I，183； cp．also Sn．70，211，1070，1137； -gata obsessed with excitement，i．e．a victim of t．Sn．776； -gaddula the leash of t．Nd2 271II≈； -cchida breaking the cravings Sn．1021，1101； -jāla the snare of t．M．I，271； Th．1，306； Nd2 271II； -dutiya who has the fever or excitement of t．as his companion A．II，10= It．9=109=Sn．740，741=Nd2 305； cp．Dhs．trsl．p．278； -nadī the river of t．Nd2 271II； cp．nadiyā soto ti：taṇhāy’etaṁ adhivacanaṁ It．114； -nighātana the destruction of t．Sn．1085； -pakkha the party of t．，all that belongs to t．Nett 53，69，88，160； -paccaya caused by t．Sn．p．144； Vism．568； -mūlaka rooted in t．（dhammā：9 items） Ps．I，26，130； Vbh．390； -lepa cleaving to t．Nd2 271III； （+diṭṭhi-lepa）； -vasika being in the power of t．J．IV，3； -vicarita a thought of t．A．II，212； -saṅkhaya （complete） destruction of t．； °sutta M．I，251 （cūḷa°），256 （mahā°）：°vimutti salvation through cessation of t．M．I，256，270，& °vimutta （adj．） S．IV，391； -samudda the ocean of t．Nd 271II； -sambhūta produced by t．（t．ayaṁ kāyo） A．II，145 （cp．Sn．p．144； yaṁ kiñci dukkhaṁ sambhoti sabbaṁ taṇhāpaccayā）； -saṁyojana the fetter of t．（adj．） fettered，bound by t．，in phrase t．-saṁyojanena saṁyuttā sattā dīgharattaṁ sandhāvanti saṁsaranti It．8，& t．-saṁyojanānaṁ sattānaṁ sandhāvataṁ saṁsarataṁ S．II，178=III，149= PvA．166； A．I，223； -salla the sting or poisoned arrow of t．S．I，192 （°assa hantāraṁ vande ādiccabandhunaṁ），the extirpation of which is one of the 12 achievements of a mahesi Nd2 503 （°assa abbuḷhana； cp．above）．（Page 294）
Taṇhā is a Buddhist term that literally means "thirst," and is commonly translated as craving or desire. Within Buddhism, taṇhā is defined as the craving to hold onto pleasurable experiences, to be separated from painful or unpleasant experiences, and for neutral experiences or feelings not to decline. The Buddhist tradition identifies taṇhā as a self-centered type of desire that is based in ignorance. This type of desire is contrasted to wholesome types of desire such as the desire to benefit others or to follow the Buddhist path. In the first teaching of the Buddha on the Four Noble Truths, the Buddha identified taṇhā as a principal cause in the arising of dukkha (suffering, anxiety, dissatisfaction). Taṇhā is also identified as the eighth link in the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination.
Taṇhā is the craving to hold onto pleasurable experiences, to be separated from painful or unpleasant experiences, and for neutral experiences or feelings not to decline. Taṇhā is also identified as the eighth link in the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination. In the context of the twelve links, the emphasis is on the types of craving "that nourish the karmic potency that will produce the next lifetime."
The Buddha identified three types of taṇhā:
- Kama-tanha (sense-craving): craving for sense objects which provide pleasant feeling, or craving for sensory pleasures.
- Bhava-tanha (craving to be): craving to be something, to unite with an experience. This includes craving to be solid and ongoing, to be a being that has a past and a future, and craving to prevail and dominate over others.
- Vibhava-tanha (craving not to be): craving to not experience the world, and to be nothing; a wish to be separated from painful feelings.
Taṇhā is said to be a principal cause of suffering in the world. The third noble truth teaches that the cessation of taṇhā is possible. According to the four noble truths, cessation of taṇhā can be obtained by following the Noble Eightfold Path. Within this path, contemplating the impermanent nature of all things is regarded as a specific antidote to taṇhā.
etymology: Taṇhā (Pāli; Sanskrit: tṛṣṇā, also trishna)
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