Buddhist Studies basic buddhism
Buddha Dharma Education Association & BuddhaNet
» Basic Buddhism Guide » Snapshots » Dependent Origination

Dependent Origination (12-links of Dependent Arising) - (PaticcaSamuppada in Pali and Pratityasamutpada in Sanskrit)

Pali (Sanskrit)
Usual Translation
Other Reference
Avijja (Avidya) Ignorance   Lack of wisdom, which is the root of all evils. Obscuration as to self of persons and self of phenomena.
Sankhara (Samskara) Karma formations Compositional action Wholesome or unwholesome thoughts, speech and bodily deeds.
Vinnana (Vijnana) Conciousness   Normally 6 consciousnesses but is taken as 8 in the Yogacara School.
Nama-rupa Name & form Corporeality & mentality Mental & physical existence. 4 mental aggregates and one physical body.
Ayatana (Shadayatana) Six bases Six sense organs/spheres Eye, ear, nose, tongue, touch and mental faculty.
Phassa (Sparsha) Sense impression Contact A mental factor and period in which the objects, sense power/organ and conciousness come together, causing one to distinguish an object as pleasurable, painful or neutral.
Vedana Feeling Sensation

Posited as a mental factor that experiences pleasure, pain and neutral feeling. Pleasure leads to a strong desire for more while pain generates an avoidance desire.

Tanha (Trishna) Craving Attachment A mental factor that increases desire but without any satisfaction.
Upadana Clinging Grasping A stronger degree of desire. 4 basic varieties: desired objects, views of self, bad system of ethics and conduct; and other bad views.
10 Bhava (Bjava) Process of becoming Existence A period lasting from the time of fully potentialised karma up to the beginning of next lifetime.
11 Jati Rebirth    
12 Jara-marana (Jaramaranam) Ageing & Death Decay & Death  


Links 1, 2, 8, 9 and 10 are the five karmic causes of rebirths.
Links 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are the five karmic results in the rounds of rebirths.

This doctrine is interpreted in various ways and levels:

  • The Theravada tradition uses it to explain the arising of sufferings; that all composite existence is without substantiality. This doctrine is then used the basis for the negation of self.
  • In the Mahayana, condition arising is further interpreted to validate the unreality of existence by reason of its relativity.
  • Madhyamika School equates this doctrine with shunyata (emptiness). Condition arising is taken to show that because of their relativity, appearances have only empirical validity and are ultimately unreal.
  • In the Yogacara view, only true understanding of this doctrine can overcome the error of taking what does not exist for existent and what does exist for nonexistent.
  • The Prajnaparamita Sutras stresses that this doctrine does not refer to a temporal succession but rather to the essential interdependence of all things.

Sources of compilation:

  • The Meaning of Life; The Dalai Lama, Wisdom Publications 92
  • The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen; Shambhala Pubn 91
  • Living Dharma; Jack Kornfield, Shambhala Pubn 96
  • Buddhist Dictionary; Nyanatiloka, Singapore Buddhist Meditation Centre 91
[ Compiled by Tan Swee Eng]

, © BDEA/BuddhaNet. All Rights Reserved.
Home Sitemap Back