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The three poisons (Sanskrit: triviṣa; Tibetan: dug gsum) or the three unwholesome roots (Sanskrit: akuśala-mūla; Pāli: akusala-mūla), in Buddhism, refer to the three root kleshas of Moha (delusion, confusion), Raga (greed, sensual attachment), and Dvesha (aversion, hate).These three poisons are considered to be three afflictions or character flaws innate in a being, the root of Taṇhā (craving), and thus in part the cause of Dukkha (suffering, pain, unsatisfactoriness) and rebirths.
The three poisons are symbolically drawn at the center of Buddhist Bhavachakra artwork, with rooster, snake and pig, representing greed, ill will and delusion respectively.
In the Buddhist teachings, the three poisons (of ignorance, attachment, and aversion) are the primary causes that keep sentient beings trapped in samsara. These three poisons are said to be the root of all of the other kleshas.The three poisons are represented in the hub of the wheel of life as a pig, a bird, and a snake (representing ignorance, attachment, and aversion, respectively). As shown in the wheel of life (Sanskrit: bhavacakra), the three poisons lead to the creation of karma, which leads to rebirth in the six realms of samsara.
The three wholesome mental factors that are identified as the opposites of the three poisons are:
Buddhist path considers these essential for liberation.
The three kleshas of ignorance, attachment and aversion are referred to as the three poisons (Skt. triviṣa; Tibetan: dug gsum) in the Mahayana tradition and as the three unwholesome roots (Pāli, akusala-mūla; Skt. akuśala-mūla ) in the Theravada tradition.
The Sanskrit, Pali, and Tibetan terms for each of the three poisons are as follows:
|Poison||Sanskrit||Pali||Tibetan||Alternate English translations||Skt./Pali/Tib. Synonym|
|Delusion||moha||moha||gti mug||confusion, bewilderment||avidyā (Skt.); avijjā (Pāli); ma rigpa (Tib.)|
|Attachment||rāga||lobha||'dod chags||desire, sensuality, greed||n/a|
|Aversion||dveṣa||dosa||zhe sdang||anger, hatred, hostility||n/a|
In the Mahayana tradition moha is identified as a subcategory of avidya . Whereas avidya is defined as a fundamental ignorance, moha is defined as delusion, confusion and incorrect beliefs. In the Theravada tradition, moha and avidya are equivalent terms, but they are used in different contexts; moha is used when referring to mental factors, and avidya is used when referring to the twelve links.
The bhāvacakra is a symbolic representation of saṃsāra. It is found on the outside walls of Tibetan Buddhist temples and monasteries in the Indo-Tibetan region, to help ordinary people understand Buddhist teachings.
Mara, in Buddhism, is the demonic celestial king who tempted Prince Siddhartha by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women who, in various legends, are often said to be Mara's daughters.
Taṇhā is a Pāli word, which originates from the Vedic Sanskrit word tṛ́ṣṇā, which means "thirst, craving, desire", from Proto-Indo-Iranian *tŕ̥šnas. It is an important concept in Buddhism, referring to "thirst, desire, longing, greed", either physical or mental. It is typically translated as craving, and is of three types: kāma-taṇhā, bhava-taṇhā, and vibhava-taṇhā.
Kleshas, in Buddhism, are mental states that cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome actions. Kleshas include states of mind such as anxiety, fear, anger, jealousy, desire, depression, etc. Contemporary translators use a variety of English words to translate the term kleshas, such as: afflictions, defilements, destructive emotions, disturbing emotions, negative emotions, mind poisons, etc.
Saṃsāra in Buddhism is the beginningless cycle of repeated birth, mundane existence and dying again. Samsara is considered to be dukkha, unsatisfactory and painful, perpetuated by desire and avidya (ignorance), and the resulting karma.
Avidyā in Buddhist literature is commonly translated as "ignorance". The concept refers to ignorance or misconceptions about the nature of metaphysical reality, in particular about the impermanence and non-self doctrines about reality. It is the root cause of Dukkha, and asserted as the first link, in Buddhist phenomenology, of a process that leads to repeated birth.
Kleśa is a term from Indian philosophy and yoga, meaning a "poison". The third śloka of the second chapter of Patañjali's Yogasūtra explicitly identifies Five Poisons :
Māna is a Buddhist term that may be translated as "pride", "arrogance", or "conceit". It is defined as an inflated mind that makes whatever is suitable, such as wealth or learning, to be the foundation of pride. It creates the basis for disrespecting others and for the occurrence of suffering.
Raga is a Buddhist concept of character affliction or poison referring to any form of "greed, sensuality, lust, desire" or "attachment to a sensory object". Raga (lobha) is identified in the following contexts within the Buddhist teachings:
Moha is a Vedic concept of character affliction or poison, and refers to "delusion, confusion, dullness". It is sometimes synonymous with "ignorance" (avidyā).
Īrṣyā is a sanskrit or Buddhist term that is translated as "jealousy" or "envy". It is defined as a state of mind in which one is highly agitated to obtain wealth and honor for oneself, but unable to bear the excellence of others.
Mental factors, in Buddhism, are identified within the teachings of the Abhidhamma. They are defined as aspects of the mind that apprehend the quality of an object, and that have the ability to color the mind. Within the Abhidhamma, the mental factors are categorized as formations concurrent with mind. Alternate translations for mental factors include "mental states", "mental events", and "concomitants of consciousness".
Dvesha - is a Buddhist term that is translated as "hate, aversion".
Śāṭhya is a Buddhist term translated as "hypocrisy", "dishonesty", "deception", or "concealment of shortcomings". It is identified as one of the twenty subsidiary unwholesome mental factors within the Mahayana Abhidharma teachings. In this context, it is defined as concealing one's own faults because of a desire for things such as honor and material gain.
Āhrīkya is a Buddhist term that is translated as "lack of shame", "lack of conscience", etc. In the Theravada tradition, ahirika is defined as the absence of disgust at physical or verbal misconduct. In the Mahayana tradition, āhrīkya is defined as not restraining from wrongdoing due to one's own conscience.
Anapatrapya is a Buddhist term that is translated as "lack of propriety", "disregard", etc. In the Theravada tradition, anottappa is defined as the absence of dread on account of misconduct. In the Mahayana tradition, anapatrapya is defined as engaging in non-virtue without inhibition on account of others.
Kaukritya is a Buddhist term that is translated as "regret", "worry", etc. In the Theravada tradition, kukkucca is defined as worry or remorse after having done wrong; it has the characteristic of regret. In the Mahayana tradition, kaukritya is defined as sadness because of mental displeasure with a former action.
Auddhatya is a Buddhist term that is translated as "excitement", "restlessness", etc. In the Theravada tradition, uddhacca is defined as a mental factor that is characterized by disquietude, like water whipped by the wind. In the Mahayana tradition, auddhatya is defined as a mental factor that causes our mind to fly off from an object and recollect something else.
Āśraddhya is a Buddhist term that is translated as "lack of faith", "lack of trust", etc. In the Mahayana tradition, āśraddhya is defined as a mental factor that is characterized by a lack of trust, and lack of interest in, or desire for, wholesome things.
Pramāda is a Buddhist term that is translated as "heedlessness", "carelessness", etc. In the Mahayana tradition, pramāda is defined to not apply oneself earnestly and carefully to adopting a wholesome attitude and abandoning unwholesome actions.