Moha (Buddhism)

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Translations of
Englishignorance, bewilderment, confusion, stupidity, delusion
Khmerមោហៈ, មោហ៍
(UNGEGN: Moŭhăk, Moŭ)
(Wylie: gti mug;
THL: timuk

vô minh
Glossary of Buddhism

Moha (Sanskrit, Pali: मोह; Tibetan phonetic: timuk) is a Vedic concept of character affliction or poison, and refers to "delusion, confusion, dullness".[1][2][3] It is sometimes synonymous with "ignorance" (avidyā).[1]

Moha, along with Raga (greed, sensual attachment) and Dvesha (aversion, hate) are unskillful roots that lead to Tanha (craving) in the Buddhist thought (a term also used in Hinduism), which is part of the Twelve Nidanas that propel the wheel of life.[1][4] It is symbolically present as the pig in the center of Tibetan bhavachakra drawings.[5]

Moha is identified in the following contexts within the teachings of Buddhism and Hinduism:[6][7][circular reference]

Etymology and meaning[edit]

Moha appears in the Vedic literature, and has roots in early Vedic word mogha which means "empty, unreal, vain, useless, foolish".[8] The term, as well as the three defects concept appears in the ancient texts of Jainism and some schools of Hinduism such as Nyaya, in their respective discussion of the theory of rebirths.[9]

The term means "delusion, confusion, dullness".[1] The opposite of Moha is Prajna (insight, wisdom). Beliefs different from those considered as insights in Buddhism, are forms of delusions or Moha in Buddhism. Moha is one of the roots of evil, in the Buddhist belief.[5]


Within the Mahayana tradition, moha is classified as one of the three poisons, which are considered to be the root cause of suffering.

In the Mahayana tradition, moha is considered to be a subcategory of avidyā. Whereas avidyā is defined as a fundamental ignorance, moha is defined as an ignorance of cause and effect or of reality that accompanies only destructive states of mind or behavior.[10] Moha is sometimes replaced by avidyā in lists of the three poisons. In contemporary explanations of the three poisons, teachers are likely to emphasize the fundamental ignorance of avidyā rather than moha.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Robert E. Buswell Jr.; Donald S. Lopez Jr. (2013). The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton University Press. pp. 546, 59, 68. ISBN 978-1-4008-4805-8.
  2. ^ Thomas William Rhys Davids; William Stede (1921). Pali-English Dictionary. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 543. ISBN 978-81-208-1144-7.
  3. ^ Damien Keown (2004). A Dictionary of Buddhism. Oxford University Press. pp. 8, 47, 143. ISBN 978-0-19-157917-2.
  4. ^ David Webster (2005). The Philosophy of Desire in the Buddhist Pali Canon. Routledge. pp. 100–105, 177, 236. ISBN 978-0-415-34652-8.
  5. ^ a b David Loy (2003). The Great Awakening: A Buddhist Social Theory. Simon and Schuster. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-86171-366-0.
  6. ^ Damien Keown (2004). A Dictionary of Buddhism. Oxford University Press. pp. 8, 47, 89, 106, 143. ISBN 978-0-19-157917-2.
  7. ^ "Moha in Hindu religious texts". Wikipedia.
  8. ^ Thomas William Rhys Davids; William Stede (1921). Pali-English Dictionary. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 542. ISBN 978-81-208-1144-7.
  9. ^ Nathmal Tatia (1965). Studies in Jaina Philosophy. Jain Publishing Company. pp. 101–107. ISBN 978-0-89581-996-3.
  10. ^ Berzin, Alexander. Berzin Archives, Glossary of Buddhist Terms Archived 2012-01-13 at the Wayback Machine


  • Ajahn Sucitto (2010). Turning the Wheel of Truth: Commentary on the Buddha's First Teaching. Shambhala.
  • Mingyur Rinpoche (2007). The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness. Harmony. Kindle Edition.

External links[edit]