attha: benefit

attha: spiritual well-being

attha: well-being

attha: spirit (=’the real meaning of’)

attha: meaning

attha: meaning of expressions

attha: context

attha: point

attha: meaning of the teaching

attha: something

attha: matter

attha: what is useful

attha: what is meaningful

attha: purpose

atthāya: for the sake of

attha: the supreme goal

attha: objective

attha: beneficial (adj)

attha: useful (adj)

anattha: harm

anattha: harmful (adj)

niratthaṃ: useless (adj)

me attho: I need (verb)

atthaṃ caratī: benefit (verb)

anatthaṃ caratī: harm (verb)

atthavatī: meaningful

atthavasaṃ: good reason

atthavasin: intent on [the development of] spiritual well-being

etamatthaṃ: this

ayampi attho: this too


30+ meanings

Themany 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 atthaṃ paleti, abbhatthaṃ gacchanti (=abhi+atthaṃ gacchanti) and atthaṅgamo,all ofwhich 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… nibbānaṃ na hi tena dullabhanti (Norman, Th.v.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, Sn.v.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 uttamatthaṃ (Dh.v.386; It.10; Sn.v.324) or paramaṃ atthaṃ (Thī.v.93).

Atthavasaṃ: ‘good reason’

The etymology of atthavasaṃ 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 sāvakānaṃ sikkhāpadaṃ paññattaṃ (Bodhi, A.1.98).

Horner prefers ‘good purpose’:

• For what good purpose should a monk live constantly overcoming gain?
Kiñca bhikkhave bhikkhu atthavasaṃ paṭicca uppannaṃ lābhaṃ 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 evaṃ bhikkhave kulaputtā upenti atthavasikā atthavasaṃ paṭicca (Bodhi, S.3.93).

Norman says ‘pursuing my aim’:

• Alone, pursuing my aim, I shall quickly enter the woods
Eko atthavasī khippaṃ pavisissāmi kānanaṃ (Norman, Th.v.539).

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


Illustration: anatthaṃ, harm; atthaṃ, 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 āghātaṃ bandhati

• He has harmed, is harming, or will harm someone beloved and dear to me. Thinking thus, one arouses resentment.
Piyassa me manāpassa anatthaṃ acarīti… caratīti… carissatīti āghātaṃ 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 atthaṃ acari… carati… carissatīti āghātaṃ bandhati

• And tenthly, one is groundlessly irritated.
aṭṭhāne ca kuppati (A.5.150; D.3.263).

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 saṃvatteyyunti

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 saṃvatteyyunti

If unarisen spiritually wholesome factors do not arise in me, this would lead to my harm;
☸ Anuppannā me kusalā dhammā nūppajjamānā anatthāya saṃvatteyyunti

If spiritually wholesome factors that have arisen in me cease, this would lead to my harm.
☸ Uppannā me kusalā dhammā nirujjhamānā anatthāya saṃvatteyyunti (S.2.195-6).

Illustration: atthaṃ, benefit

The Buddha said that being diligent in performing meritorious deeds leads to benefits in this lifetime and in the hereafter (diṭṭhadhammikañceva atthaṃ 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

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

Illustration: atthaṃ, 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
Dhammasmiṃ bhaññamānasmiṃ atthaṃ bālo na bujjhati

Illustration: attha, meaning

When a teacher explains the Buddha’s teaching (dhammaṃ deseti) the bhikkhu accordingly realises the meaning and significance of the teaching (dhamme atthappaṭisaṃvedī ca hoti dhammapaṭisaṃvedī ca) (D.3.242).

Illustration: attha, meaning;

A bhikkhu investigates the meaning of the teachings he has retained in mind.
☸ dhatānañca dhammānaṃ atthūpaparikkhitā hoti

Realising their meaning and significance, he practises in accordance with the teaching.
☸ atthamaññāya dhammamaññāya dhammānudhammapaṭipanno ca hoti

Illustration: atthaṃ, what is beneficial

A greedy person does not know what is beneficial, nor see what is righteous,
Luddho atthaṃ na jānāti luddho dhammaṃ na passati (It.84).

Illustration: attha, beneficial

Four bases for winning over a following (cattāri saṅgahavatthūni): generosity, agreeable speech, beneficial conduct, and impartiality.
dānaṃ peyyavajjaṃ atthacariyaṃ samānattatā (D.3.232).

Illustration: attha, beneficial

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 (D.3.134-5).

Illustration: anattho, harmful; attho, beneficial

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

This is called harmful.
☸ Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave anattho

What is beneficial?
katamo ca bhikkhave attho

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

This is called beneficial.
☸ Ayaṃ vuccati bhikkhave attho ti

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 paresaṃ dhammaṃ desetuṃ. 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.
atthapaṭisaṃvedī ca hoti dhammapaṭisaṃvedī ca (A.1.151).

Illustration: atthavasaṃ, 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?
☸ Kaṃ pana tvaṃ mahārāja atthavasaṃ sampassamāno imasmiṃ sarīre evarūpaṃ paramanipaccākāraṃ karosi mettupahāraṃ upadaṃsesīti?

―Out of gratitude and thankfulness I show such profound humility and pay such loving homage to the Blessed One.
Kataññutaṃ kho ahaṃ bhante kataveditaṃ sampassamāno bhagavati evarūpaṃ paramanipaccākāraṃ karomi mettupahārāṃ upadaṃsemi (A.5.65).

Illustration: atthavasaṃ, good reason

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

‘Considering six good reasons (cha kho ahaṃ 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 (D.2.285-6).

Illustration: atthavase, good reason

Considering two good reasons, brahman (dve kho ahaṃ 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 ahaṃ brāhmaṇa atthavase sampassamāno araññe vanapatthāni pantāni senāsanāni paṭisevāmi: attano ca diṭṭhadhammasukhavihāraṃ sampassamāno pacchimañca janataṃ anukampamāno ti (M.1.23).

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 sāvakānaṃ sikkhāpadaṃ paññattaṃ. Katame dve appasannānaṃ pasādāya pasannānaṃ bhiyyobhāvāya (A.1.98).

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] universal love or with inner hatred.
Kālena vā bhikkhave pare vadamānā vadeyyuṃ akālena vā. Bhūtena vā… abhūtena vā. Saṇhena vā… pharusena vā. Atthasaṃhitena vā… anatthasaṃhitena vā. Mettacittā vā… dosantarā vā (M.1.126).

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 yāyaṃ kathā hīnā gammā pothujjanikā anariyā anatthasaṃhitā… Seyyathīdaṃ rājakathā…  iti vā iti evarūpiṃ kathaṃ na kathessāmiti (M.3.113).

Illustration: anattha, spiritual well-being

One who is prudent would not stay in an abode that was unconducive to his spiritual well-being.
Na tvevānatthasaṃhitaṃ vase vāsaṃ vicakkhaṇo ti (Th.v.105).

Illustration: anattha, spiritual well-being

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 cāyaṃ kāmesu kāmasukhallikānuyogo hīno gammo pothujjaniko anariyo anatthasaṃhito

• the pursuit of self-mortification, which is painful, ignoble, and unconducive to spiritual well-being
yo cāyaṃ attakilamathānuyogo dukkho anariyo anatthasaṃhito (Vin.1.10; S.4.331).

Illustration: anattha, spiritual well-being

An occult art is defined as whatever is non-Buddhistic, and unconducive to spiritual well-being
Tiracchānavijjaṃ nāma yaṃ kiñci bāhirakaṃ anatthasaṃhitaṃ (Vin.4.305).

Illustration: atthavasaṃ, 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.
antamidaṃ bhikkhave jīvikānaṃ yadidaṃ piṇḍolyaṃ… tañca kho evaṃ bhikkhave kulaputtā upenti atthavasikā atthavasaṃ paṭicca (S.3.93; It.89).

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 alaṃ upagantuṃ) 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 (S.5.440-1).

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 mahānisaṃsā

it leads to [one’s own] great spiritual well-being
mahato atthāya saṃvattati (S.5.129).

Illustration: attha, spiritual well-being

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 saraṃ buddhānaṃ sāsanaṃ

Illustration: attha, spiritual well-being

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] (saṃvejetukāmā), approached him and addressed him in verses (S.1.203).

Illustration: atthaṃ, 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 atthaṃ bhañjeyya na me taṃ assa piyaṃ manāpaṃ (S.5.354).

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: atthaṃ, 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 sātthaṃ savyañjanaṃ kevalaparipuṇṇaṃ parisuddhaṃ brahmacariyaṃ abhivadanti tathārūpāssa dhammā bahussutā honti (Vin.2.96).

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: atthavatī, meaningful

Cūḷakokanadā, Pajjunna’s daughter, spoke these meaningful verses
gāthā cimā atthavatī abhāsi (S.1.30-31).


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

Illustration: atthaṃ, meaning = suttavibhaṅgo

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


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

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) (S.2.280).

Illustration: atthaṃ, meaning

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 atthaṃ avibhattassa vitthārena atthaṃ vibhajituṃ (M.3.195).

Illustration: atthaṃ, meaning

Hearing the teaching, he bears it in mind.
sutvā dhammaṃ dhāreti

Bearing it in mind, he examines the meaning

[of what he has memorised]

atthaṃ upaparikkhati

Doing so, the teaching receives his considered approval.
dhammā nijjhānaṃ khamanti (M.1.480).

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 bhagavantaṃyeva paṭibhātu etassa bhāsitassa attho bhagavato sutvā bhikkhū dhāressantī ti (S.5.219).

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 kathaṃ hoti. Idha bhikkhave bhikkhu tassa tasseva bhāsitassa atthaṃ jānāti ayaṃ imassa bhāsitassa attho (A.4.113).

Illustration: attha, meaning of expressions

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

Illustration: attha, meaning of the teaching

One who sees the subtle meaning of the teaching
nipuṇatthadassiṃ (Sn.v.177; S.1.33).

Illustration: attha, meaning of the teaching

For one who sees the very fine and subtle meaning of the teaching… the Untroubled is not hard to attain to.
Susukhumanipuṇatthadassinā… Nibbānaṃ na hi tena dullabhanti (Th.v.210).

Illustration: attha, meaning of the teaching

There is no one who sees the subtle meaning of the teaching as well as you do
☸ na c’atthi tulyo nipuṇatthadassī (Sn.v.377).

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’”
tatrayvāyaṃ bhikkhu samaggena saṅghena ñatticatutthena kammena akuppena ṭhānārahena upasampanno ayaṃ imasmiṃ atthe adhippeto bhikkhū ti (Vin.3.24).

Horner: this one is a monk as understood in this meaning. BD.1.42).

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 tesvāhaṃ na kaṅkhāmi;

• I do not doubt they have been abandoned by me.
te me pahīṇāti na vicikicchāmī ti (S.2.54).

Illustration: atthassa, point

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 yaṃ kiñci vedayitaṃ taṃ dukkhasmin ti (S.2.53).

Illustration: atthassa, something; attho, meaning

I devised this simile for the sake of explaining something
upamā kho me ayaṃ bhikkhave katā atthassa viññāpanāya

This is its meaning
ayañcevettha attho

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

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

The ‘safe path’ is a term for the noble eightfold path
ariyassetaṃ aṭṭhaṅgikassa maggassa adhivacanaṃ (M.1.118).

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 (A.3.359).

Illustration: atthaṃ, 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 (etamatthaṃ ārocessāmā ti) (D.3.118).

Illustration: atthena attho, point by point; atthaṃ, 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.
Acchariyaṃ āvuso abbhutaṃ āvuso yatra hi nāma satthu ca sāvakassa ca atthena attho vyañjanena vyañjanaṃ saṃsaṃdissati samessati na viggahissati yadidaṃ aggapadasmiṃ.

Just now, friend, I approached the Blessed One and asked him about this matter.
Idānāhaṃ āvuso bhagavantaṃ upasaṅkamitvā etamatthaṃ apucchiṃ.

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 etamatthaṃ vyākāsi seyyathā pi āyasmā sāriputto (A.5.320).


Atthena attho vyañjanena vyañjanaṃ corresponds to eteheva padehi etehi vyañjanehi .

Illustration: atthaṃ, matter; attha, spiritual well-being

Having heard the well-spoken explanation, the utterance connected with what is righteous and with spiritual well-being
Sutvā subhāsitaṃ vācaṃ dhammatthasaṃhitaṃ padaṃ

I properly reflected on the truth and reality of the matter
☸ Tathaṃ yāthāvakaṃ atthaṃ yoniso paccavekkhisaṃ (Th.v.347).

Illustration: etamatthaṃ, this; ayampi attho, this too

I heard this was said by the Blessed One, the Arahant:
Vuttaṃ h’etaṃ bhagavatā vuttamarahatā ti me sutaṃ

Abandon one thing, bhikkhus, and I guarantee you non-returnership. Which one thing?
Ekadhammaṃ bhikkhave pajahatha ahaṃ vo pāṭibhogo anāgāmitāya. Katamaṃ ekadhammaṃ?

Abandon one thing, bhikkhus, greed, and I guarantee you non-returnership.
Lobhaṃ bhikkhave ekadhammaṃ pajahatha ahaṃ vo pāṭibhogo anāgāmitāyā ti.

This is what the Blessed One said, and in connection with which he added:
Etamatthaṃ bhagavā avoca. Tatthetaṃ iti vuccati

The greed on account of which greedy beings are reborn in the plane of misery,
Yena lobhena luddhāse sattā gacchanti duggatiṃ

through the complete understanding of that greed, those with insight abandon it.
Taṃ lobhaṃ sammadaññāya pajahanti vipassino

Having done so they never return to this


plane of existence again.
Pahāya na punāyanti imaṃ lokaṃ kudācanan ti

This, too, was what the Blessed One said, so I heard.
Ayampi attho vutto bhagavatā iti me sutan ti (It.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’ (vuttaṃ h’etaṃ bhagavatā… me sutaṃ). Etamatthaṃ and ayampi attho correspond to it.

Illustration: atthaṃ, matter; atthaṃ, 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 tāhaṃ sakkomi vitthārena dhammaṃ desetuṃ. Api ca te saṅkhittena atthaṃ vakkhāmī ti

[The ascetic Sāriputta:]

‘So be it, friend, tell me little or tell me much,
☸ hotu āvuso appaṃ vā bahuṃ vā bhāsassu

but just tell me what is useful;
☸ atthaṃyeva me brūhi

I need only what is useful.
☸ attheneva me attho

Why should you make a great elaboration?’
☸ kiṃ kāhasi vyañjanaṃ bahun ti (Vin.1.41).

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).

Illustration: attho, need

‘Should I resort to the knife, or [not]? What need have I of life? ’
Satthaṃ vā āharissāmi ko attho jīvitena me (Th.v.407).

Illustration: atthaṃ, 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 atthaṃ anubhoti) (A.3.16; S.5.92; A.1.254-7; M.3.243).

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 cittaṃ paṇidahitabbaṃ). When he does so, his mind becomes collected (cittaṃ samādhiyati). He should then reflect:

• The [purpose] for the sake of which I directed my mind has been achieved.
yassa kho’haṃ atthāya cittaṃ paṇidahiṃ so me attho abhinipphanno (S.5.156).

Illustration: atthāya, for the sake of

The teaching explained by me is comparable to a raft:

• Being for the sake of crossing [the flood of suffering], not for the sake of clinging to it.
nittharaṇatthāya no gahaṇatthāyāti (M.1.260).

Illustration: atthaṃ, for, 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 hirikopīnapaṭicchādanatthaṃ.

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.
paṭisallānārāmatthaṃ (M.1.10).

Illustration: attho, for (the sake of)

What is a mirror for?
kimatthiyo ādāso ti.

For (the sake of) reflection, bhante.
☸ Paccavekkhanattho bhante ti


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 (S.3.189).

Illustration: atthaṃ, 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 vebhūtiyaṃ nāha kacci samphaṃ 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 vebhūtiyaṃ nāha mantā atthaṃ so bhāsati


Atthaṃ: ‘what is meaningful.‘ Here, the opposite of ‘what is frivolous’ (samphaṃ).

Illustration: atthaṃ, 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 atthaṃ bhaṇissantī ti) (A.1.153-5).

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.
Taṃ tassa hoti atthāya no ca yaṃ tattha ḍayhati (S.1.31).

Illustration: niratthaṃ, 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.
niratthaṃ va kaliṅgaraṃ (Dh.v.41).

Illustration: anattha, useless

It is good indeed that I am freed from that useless, unpleasant, self-mortifying practice.
Sādhu mutto vatamhi tāya anatthasaṃhitāya dukkarakārikāya (S.1.103).

Illustration: atthaṃ, 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.
Jhāyiṃ virajamāsīnaṃ katakiccaṃ anāsavaṃ
Uttamatthaṃ anuppattaṃ tamahaṃ brūmi brāhmaṇaṃ

Illustration: attho, supreme goal

Gone forth from the household life into the ascetic life, but has not attained the supreme goal of asceticism
agārasmā anagāriyaṃ pabbajito hoti svāssa sāmaññattho ananuppatto hoti (D.1.230).

Illustration: atthaṃ, supreme goal

But following a lowly fool who has not attained the supreme goal and who is full of envy,
Khuddañca bālaṃ 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 dhammaṃ avibhāvayitvā avitiṇṇakaṅkho maraṇaṃ upeti (Sn.v.318).

Illustration: atthassa, objective

A man should make an effort until his objective has been achieved.
Vāyametheva puriso yāva atthassa nipphadā (S.1.225).

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 (M.1.141-2).