UPāDāNA is a Vedic
Pali word that means "fuel,
material cause, substrate that is the source and means for keeping an
active process energized". It is also an important Buddhist concept
referring to "attachment, clinging, grasping". It is considered to be
the result of taṇhā (craving), and is part of the dukkha
(suffering, pain) doctrine in
* 1.1 Types of clinging
* 1.2 Interdependence of clinging types
* 1.3 Manifestations of clinging
* 1.4 As part of the causal chain of suffering
Upādāna as fuel
* 2 Hinduism
* 3 See also
* 4 Notes
* 5 Bibliography
* 6 External links
THE VIEWS OF SIX SAMAṇA IN THE PāLI CANON
(based on the Buddhist text Sāmaññaphala Sutta1)
Kassapa AMORALISM : denies any reward or
punishment for either good or bad deeds.
(ĀJīVIKA ) NIYATIVāDA (Fatalism): we are powerless;
suffering is pre-destined.
(LOKāYATA ) MATERIALISM : live happily ;
with death, all is annihilated.
Kaccāyana SASSATAVADA (Eternalism):
Matter, pleasure, pain and the soul are eternal and
do not interact.
(JAINISM ) RESTRAINT : be endowed with, cleansed by
and suffused with the avoidance of all evil.2
(AJñANA ) AGNOSTICISM : "I don't think so. I don't think in that
way or otherwise. I don't think not or not not."
Suspension of judgement.
1. DN 2 (Thanissaro, 1997; Walshe, 1995, pp. 91-109).
2. DN -a (Ñāṇamoli color:white" colspan="3">self-doctrine
Buddhaghosa further identifies that these four clinging types are
causally interconnected as follows:
* SELF-DOCTRINE CLINGING: first, one assumes that one has a
* WRONG-VIEW CLINGING: then, one assumes that one is either somehow
eternal or to be annihilated after this life.
* resultant behavioral manifestations:
* RITES-AND-RITUALS CLINGING: if one assumes that one is eternal,
then one clings to rituals to achieve self-purification.
* SENSE-PLEASURE CLINGING: if one assumes that one will completely
disappear after this life, then one disregards the next world and
clings to sense desires.
This hierarchy of clinging types is represented diagrammatically to
Thus, based on Buddhaghosa's analysis, clinging is more fundamentally
an erroneous core belief (self-doctrine clinging) than a habitualized
affective experience (sense-pleasure clinging).
MANIFESTATIONS OF CLINGING
In terms of consciously knowable mental experiences, the Abhidhamma
identifies sense-pleasure clinging with the mental factor of "greed"
(lobha) and the other three types of clinging (self-doctrine,
wrong-view and rites-and-rituals clinging) with the mental factor of
"wrong view" (ditthi). Thus, experientially, clinging can be known
through the Abhidhamma's fourfold definitions of these mental factors
as indicated in the following table:
grasping an object
sticks, like hot-pan meat
not giving up
enjoying things of bondage
WRONG VIEW (ditthi)
not hearing the Dhamma
To distinguish craving from clinging,
Buddhaghosa uses the following
metaphor: "Craving is the aspiring to an object that one has not yet
reached, like a thief's stretching out his hand in the dark; clinging
is the grasping of an object that one has reached, like the thief's
grasping his objective.... hey are the roots of the suffering due to
seeking and guarding."
Thus, for instance, when the Buddha talks about the "aggregates of
clinging," he is referring to our grasping and guarding physical,
mental and conscious experiences that we falsely believe we are or
THE 12 NIDāNAS:
NAME & FORM
SIX SENSE BASES
OLD AGE text-decoration: none">
Taṇhā (Craving) as a condition
before it can exist.
"With Craving as condition, Clinging arises".
Upādāna (Clinging) is also the prevailing condition for the next
condition in the chain, Becoming (
"With Clinging as condition, Becoming arises."
According to Buddhaghosa, it is sense-pleasure clinging that arises
from craving and that conditions becoming.
UPāDāNA AS FUEL
Professor Richard F. Gombrich has pointed out in several
publications, and in his recent Numata Visiting Professor Lectures at
University of London
University of London , School of Oriental and African Studies
(SOAS), that the literal meaning of upādāna is "fuel". He uses this
to link the term to the Buddha's use of fire as a metaphor. In the
Fire Sermon (Āditta-pariyāya) (Vin I, 34-5; SN 35.28) the
Buddha tells the bhikkhus that everything is on fire. By everything he
tells them he means the five senses plus the mind , their objects, and
the operations and feelings they give rise to — i.e. everything
means the totality of experience. All these are burning with the fires
of greed, hatred and delusion.
In the nidana chain, then, craving creates fuel for continued burning
or becoming (bhava). The mind like fire, seeks out more fuel to
sustain it, in the case of the mind this is sense experience, hence
the emphasis the Buddha places on "guarding the gates of the senses".
By not being caught up in the senses (appamāda ) we can be liberated
from greed, hatred and delusion. This liberation is also expressed
using the fire metaphor when it is termed nibbāna (Sanskrit:
Nirvāṇa) which means to "go out", or literally to "blow out".
(Regarding the word Nirvāṇa, the verb vā is intransitive so no
agent is required.)
Probably by the time the canon was written down (1st Century BCE),
and certainly when
Buddhaghosa was writing his commentaries (4th
Century CE) the sense of the metaphor appears to have been lost, and
upādāna comes to mean simply "clinging" as above. By the time of the
Mahayana the term fire was dropped altogether and greed, hatred and
delusion are known as the "three poisons".
Upādāna appears in the sense of "material cause" in
ancient Vedic and medieval Hindu texts. For medieval era Vaishnavism
Ramanuja , the metaphysical Hindu concept of
Vishnu ) is the upadana-karana (material cause) of the universe.
However, other Hindu traditions such as the Advaita
and assert alternate theories on the nature of metaphysical Brahman
and the universe while using the term upadana in the sense of
More generally, the realist Hindu philosophies such as
Nyaya have asserted that
Brahman is the
Upādāna of the phenomenal
world. The philosophies within the Buddhist schools have denied
Brahman, asserted impermanence and that the notion of anything real is
untenable from a metaphysical sense. The Hindu traditions such as
those influenced by Advaita
Vedanta have asserted the position that
everything (Atman , Brahman,
Prakriti ) is ultimately one identical
reality. The concept
Upādāna also appears with other sense of
Vedanta philosophies, such as "taking in".
* ^ Thomas William Rhys Davids; William Stede (1921). Pali-English
Dictionary. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 149. ISBN 978-81-208-1144-7 .
* ^ Monier Monier-Williams (1872). A Sanskrit-English Dictionary.
Oxford University Press. p. 171.
* ^ Paul Williams; Anthony Tribe; Alexander Wynne (2002). Buddhist
Thought. Routledge. pp. 45, 67. ISBN 978-1-134-62324-2 .
* ^ See, for example, Rhys Davids and, Gombrich (2005).
* ^ Below are some excerpts from the
Pali Canon indicative of the
statement that clinging's cessation leads to Nirvana: "For the sake
of what, then, my friend, is the holy life lived under the Blessed
One?" "The holy life is lived under the Blessed One, my friend, for
the sake of total Unbinding through lack of clinging." — from
"Relay Chariots" (Ratha-vinita Sutta MN 24) (Thanissaro, 1999).
"Bhikkhus, when ignorance is abandoned and true knowledge has arisen
in a bhikkhu, then with the fading away of ignorance and the arising
of true knowledge he no longer clings to sensual pleasures, no longer
clings to views, no longer clings to rules and observances, no longer
clings to a doctrine of self. When he does not cling, he is not
agitated. When he is not agitated, he personally attains Nibbana. He
understands: 'Birth is destroyed, the holy life has been lived, what
had to be done has been done, there is no more coming to any state of
being.'" — from "The Shorter Discourse on the Lion's Roar"
(Cula-sihanada Sutta MN 11) (Ñanamoli text-decoration:
none">Ñāṇamoli, 1981). "...From the cessation of craving comes
the cessation of clinging/sustenance. From the cessation of
clinging/sustenance comes the cessation of becoming. From the
cessation of becoming comes the cessation of birth. From the cessation
of birth, then aging, illness & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain,
distress, & despair all cease. Such is the cessation of this entire
mass of suffering & stress." — from "Clinging" (Upadana Sutta SN
12.52) (Thanissaro, 1998b). "And having drunk "The medicine of the
Dhamma, "You'll be untouched by age and death. "Having meditated and
seen — "(You'll be) healed by ceasing to cling." — from "The
Healing Medicine of the Dhamma" (Miln 5 ) (Olendzki, 2005).
* ^ Examples of references to upādanā in the
Sutta Pitaka can be
found in the "Culasihanada Sutta" ("Shorter Discourse on the Lion's
Roar", MN 11) (see Nanamoli text-decoration: none">Ñanamoli & Bodhi,
* ^ In the Abhidhamma, the Dhammasangani §§ 1213-17 (Rhys Davids,
1900, pp. 323-5) contains definitions of the four types of clinging.
Abhidhamma commentaries related to the four types of clining
can be found, for example, in the Abhidhammattha-sangaha (see Bodhi,
2000b, p. 726 n. 5) and the
Visuddhimagga (Buddhaghosa, 1999, pp.
* ^ It is worth noting that, in reference to "wrong view" (Pali:
miccha ditthi) as used in various suttas in the
Anguttara Nikaya 's
Bodhi (2005), p. 437, n. 10, states that wrong views
"deny the foundations of morality, especially those views that reject
a principal of moral causation or the efficacy of volitional effort."
* ^ See, for instance,
Buddhaghosa (1999), p. 587. For a reference
to these particular ascetic practices in the
Sutta Pitaka , see MN 57,
Kukkuravatika Sutta ("The Dog-Duty Ascetic," translated in: Nanamoli
and, Nanamoli & Bodhi, 2001, pp. 493-97).
* ^ Thanissaro (1998a).
Buddhaghosa (1999), pp. 586-7.
Buddhaghosa (1999), p. 587.
Bodhi (2000a), p. 267.
Bodhi (2000a), pp. 83-4, 371 n. 13.
Buddhaghosa (1999), p. 586.
* ^ The idea that the
Four Noble Truths identifies craving as the
proximate cause of clinging is mentioned, for instance, in Thanissaro
* ^ See, for example, SN 12.2 as translated by Thanissaro (1997a).
Buddhaghosa (1999), pp. 586, 593.
* ^ Wendy Doniger (1999). Merriam-Webster\'s Encyclopedia of World
Religions. Merriam-Webster. p. 1129. ISBN 978-0-87779-044-0 .
* ^ J. E. Llewellyn (2005). Defining Hinduism: A Reader. Routledge.
p. 35. ISBN 978-0-415-97449-3 .
* ^ Andrew J. Nicholson (2010). Unifying Hinduism: Philosophy and
Identity in Indian Intellectual History. Columbia University Press.
pp. 62–63. ISBN 978-0-231-52642-5 .
* ^ Allen Thrasher (1993). The Advaita Vedānta of Brahma-siddhi.
Motilal Banarsidass. pp. 56–57. ISBN 978-81-208-0982-6 .
* ^ A B C James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia
of Hinduism: N-Z. The Rosen Publishing Group. pp. 720–721. ISBN
* ^ Hajime Nakamura (1983). A History of Early Vedānta Philosophy.
Motilal Banarsidass. p. 505. ISBN 978-81-208-0651-1 .
* Bodhi, Bhikku (2000a). A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma: The
Abhidhammattha Sangaha of Acariya Anuruddha. Seattle, WA: BPS
Pariyatti Editions. ISBN 1-928706-02-9 .
Bhikkhu (trans.) (2000b). The Connected Discourses of the
Buddha: A Translation of the Samyutta Nikaya. Boston: Wisdom
Publications. ISBN 0-86171-331-1 .
Bhikkhu (ed.) (2005). In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology
of Discourses from the
Pāli Canon.Boston: Wisdom Pubs. ISBN
Buddhaghosa , Bhadantācariya (trans. from
Pāli by Bhikkhu
Ñāṇamoli) (1999). The Path of Purification: Visuddhimagga.
Seattle, WA: BPS Pariyatti Editions. ISBN 1-928706-00-2 .
* Gombrich, Richard F. (2005). How
Buddhism Began: The Conditioned
Genesis of the Early Teachings. Routledge. ISBN 0-415-37123-6 .
Bhikkhu (trans.) Anatta-lakkhana Sutta: The
Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic (SN 22.59). Retrieved from
"Access to Insight" at
Bhikkhu (trans.) text-decoration:
Bhikkhu (trans.) text-decoration:
Bhikkhu (trans.) text-decoration: none">ṭaka,
entitled Dhamma-Saṅgaṇi (Compendium of States or Phenomena).
Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishing. ISBN 0-7661-4702-9 .
* Rhys Davids, T.W. " rowspan="1">Preceded by
Taṇhā TWELVE NIDāNAS
UPāDāNA Succeeded by
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