upadhi: a state of attachment

upadhi: the phenomenon of attachment

upadhi: an object of attachment

upadhi: a worldly object of attachment


Upadhi: four meanings

Upadhi is often divided into two groups. PED, DOP, and Bodhi, for example, all broadly say it means either possessions, or attachment to possessions, which Bodhi renders as ‘acquisitions’ and ‘acquisition’ respectively. But upadhi has four meanings:

1) States of attachment, plural

For example:

‘The Buddha, having destroyed all states of attachment’
sabbūpadhīnaṃ parikkhayā buddho (S.1.107).

The usual twofold classification system fails to capture this meaning, because its plural obliges one to say the Buddha destroyed all his possessions, which is how Bodhi translates it: ‘With the destruction of all acquisitions the Awakened One sleeps’ (Bodhi, S.1.107).

2) The phenomenon of attachment, singular

For example:

• The phenomenon of attachment is the origin of dukkha
upadhi dukkhassa mūlan ti (M.2.260).

Or, more concisely:

• Attachment is the origin of dukkha.
upadhi dukkhassa mūlan ti (M.2.260).

But one must be careful about conciseness. It can lead to double meanings, to confusing state of attachment, object of attachment, and phenomenon of attachment.

3) Objects of attachment, commonly plural

For example:

• All objects of attachment are unlasting’
sabbe upadhī aniccā (It.69).

4) Worldly objects of attachment

For example:

• Wife, children, men and women slaves, goats, sheep, fowl, pigs, elephants, cattle, horses, mares, gold, and silver are subject to birth. These worldly objects of attachment are subject to birth.
Puttabhariyaṃ bhikkhave jātidhammaṃ dāsidāsaṃ jātidhammaṃ ajeḷakaṃ jātidhammaṃ kukkuṭasūkaraṃ jātidhammaṃ hatthigavāssavaḷavaṃ jātidhammaṃ jātarūparajataṃ jātidhammaṃ. Jātidhammāhete bhikkhave upadhayo (M.1.162).

• A bhikkhu secluded from worldly objects of attachment, with the abandonment of spiritually unwholesome factors and the allayment of all unvirtuous conduct by way of body… enters and abides in first jhāna.
☸ upadhivivekā akusalānaṃ dhammānaṃ pahānā sabbaso kāyaduṭṭhullānaṃ paṭipassaddhiyā… paṭhamaṃ jhānaṃ upasampajja viharati (M.1.435).

Discriminating upadhi’s

• When a bhikkhu attains jhāna, he is ‘secluded from upadhi’ (upadhivivekā) i.e. secluded from ‘worldly objects of attachment,’ not ‘all objects of attachment’. He still has a body.

• When a bhikkhu attains nibbāna he relinquishes all upadhi (sabbūpadhipaṭinissaggo) i.e. relinquishes ‘the whole phenomenon of attachment,’ not ‘all attachments’ (M.1.436).


Illustration: upadhi, (the phenomenon of) attachment; object of attachment

Having understood that attachment is the origin of suffering,
upadhi dukkhassa mūlan ti iti viditvā

being free of attachment,

liberated (from perceptually obscuring states) through the destruction of attachment,
upadhisaṅkhaye vimutto

it is not possible that he would arouse his body or apply his mind to any object of attachment.
☸ upadhismiṃ vā kāyaṃ upasaṃharissati cittaṃ vā uppādessatī ti netaṃ ṭhānaṃ vijjati (M.2.260-261).

Illustration: upadhiṃ, (the phenomenon of) attachment.

Suffering arises because of attachment
upadhiṃ paṭicca dukkhamidaṃ sambhoti

With the destruction of all grasping

There is no arising of suffering
natthi dukkhassa sambhavo (Ud.33).


Ūpādāna (‘grasping’) substitutes for upadhiṃ (‘phenomenon of attachment’).

Illustration: upadhikā, (the phenomenon of) attachment

The various kinds of psychic power (anekavihitaṃ iddhividhaṃ) are the ability of multiplying one’s body, then unmultiplying it, etc. (D.1.77-9)

These powers are associated with perceptually obscuring states and with attachment, and are called ‘ignoble’
iddhi yā sāsavā saupadhikā no ariyā ti vuccati (D.3.112-3).

Illustration: upadhiṃ (the phenomenon of) attachment

Knowing attachment in the world (of phenomena) as bondage (to individual existence), a person should train for its elimination.
Upadhiṃ viditvā saṅgo ti loke tasseva jantu vinayāya sikkheti (S.1.117).

Illustration: upadhi, (the phenomenon of) attachment

The many diverse kinds of suffering that arise in the world (headed by) old age and death: this suffering has attachment as its basis, attachment as its origin; it is generated and produced by attachment.
upadhinidānaṃ upadhisamudayaṃ upadhijātikaṃ upadhipabhavaṃ

When there is attachment, old age and death arise.
upadhismiṃ sati jarāmaraṇaṃ hoti

Without attachment, old age and death do not arise.
upadhismiṃ asati jarāmaraṇaṃ na hotī ti (S.2.108).

Illustration: upadhi, (the phenomenon of) attachment

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 arises.
taṇhāya sati upadhi hoti

Without craving, attachment does not arise.
taṇhāya asati upadhi na hotī ti (S.2.108).

Illustration: upadhī, worldly objects of attachment; upadhi, the phenomenon of attachment

Formerly, when he was ignorant, worldly objects of attachment were accepted and received by him.
upadhī honti samattā samādinnā

Later he abandoned them, so they were chopped down at the root, completely and irreversibly destroyed, never to arise again in future.
pahīnā honti ucchinnamūlā tālāvatthukatā anabhāvakatā āyatiṃ anuppādadhammā.

A bhikkhu possessing such (resolve for relinquishment) possesses the supreme resolve for relinquishment.
paramena cāgādhiṭṭhānena samannāgato hoti.

For this, bhikkhu, is the supreme noble relinquishment, namely the relinquishment of the whole phenomenon of attachment.
paramo ariyo cāgo yadidaṃ sabbūpadhipaṭinissaggo (M.3.245).

Illustration: upadhiko, state of attachment

If a man’s spiritual purity was on account of his vision, if he abandoned suffering by knowledge, then a man with one state of attachment would be spiritually purified by means of another
diṭṭhena ce suddhi narassa hoti ñāṇena vā so pajahāti dukkhaṃ
Aññena so sujjhati
sopadhiko (Sn.v.789).

Illustration: upadhī, states of attachment

You have transcended states of attachment,
upadhī te samatikkantā (Sn.v.546).

Illustration: upadhīnaṃ, states of attachment

With the destruction of all states of attachment the Buddha sleeps. Why should this concern you, Māra?
Sabbūpadhīnaṃ parikkhayā buddho soppati kiṃ tavettha mārā ti (S.1.107).

Illustration: upadhī, worldly objects of attachment; nirupadhī, without worldly objects of attachment; nirupadhī, free of attachment


One with sons rejoices in sons. One with cattle likewise rejoices in cattle.

Worldly objects of attachment are truly a man’s delight. One without worldly objects of attachment does not rejoice.
upadhī hi narassa nandanā na hi so nandati yo nirupadhī ti.

(The Buddha:)

One with sons grieves over sons. One with cattle likewise grieves over cattle.

Worldly objects of attachment are truly a man’s grief. One who is free of attachment does not grieve.
Upadhī hi narassa socanā na hi so socati yo nirupadhī ti (S.1.107-8).

Illustration: upadhīsu, objects of attachment

People are ensnared by objects of attachment, by what is seen, heard, sensed, and cognised.
upadhīsu janā gathitāse diṭṭhasute paṭighe ca mute ca (S.1.186).

Illustration: upadhī, objects of attachment

This (wretched human) body is perishable, bhikkhus; consciousness is destined to pass away;
Bhidurāyaṃ bhikkhave kāye viññāṇaṃ virāgadhammaṃ

All objects of attachment are unlasting, intrinsically unsatisfactory, destined to change.
sabbe upadhī aniccā dukkhā vipariṇāmadhammā ti

Knowing the body as perishable, and consciousness as perishable,
Kāyañca bhiduraṃ ñatvā viññāṇañca pabhaṅguṇaṃ

Seeing fear in objects of attachment, he has gone beyond birth and death
upadhīsu bhayaṃ disvā jātimaraṇamaccagā (It.69).

Illustration: upadhi, (phenomenon of) attachment; upadhi, objects of attachment

In this regard, some person applies himself to the abandonment and relinquishment of attachment. Whilst doing so, memories and thoughts concerning objects of attachment assail him.
idhūdāyi ekacco puggalo upadhipahānāya paṭipanno hoti upadhipaṭinissaggāya. Tamenaṃ upadhipahānāya paṭipannaṃ upadhipaṭinissaggāya upadhipaṭisaṃyuttā sarasaṅkappā samudācaranti (M.1.453-4).

Illustration: upadhīsu, objects of attachment

He sees no substantial reality in objects of attachment. Having eliminated his fondness and attachment regarding objects of attachment, he is free of attachment, not needing to be led by others. He would properly fulfil the ideals of religious asceticism in the world.
Na so upadhīsu sārameti ādānesu vineyya chandarāgaṃ
So anissito anaññaneyyo sammā so loke paribbajeyya