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The Sanskrit word "bhāva" (भाव) means "emotion, sentiment, state of body or mind, disposition and character",[1] while "bhava" (भव) means "being, worldly existence, becoming, birth, be, production, origin".[2] The former term is rooted in latter, and in some context also means "becoming, being, existing, occurring, appearance" while connoting the condition thereof.[3]

Translations of
English feeling, emotion, mood, becoming
Pali भाव
Sanskrit भाव
(IAST: bhāva)
Burmese ဘာဝ
(IPA: [bàwa̰])
Mon ဘာဝ
Sinhalese භව or භවය
Glossary of Buddhism

In Buddhism, bhava denotes the continuity of becoming (reincarnating) in one of the realms of existence, in the samsaric context of rebirth, life and the maturation arising therefrom.[4] It is the tenth of the Twelve Nidanas, in its Pratītyasamutpāda doctrine.[5]


In BuddhismEdit

In Buddhism, bhava (not bhāva) means "habitual or emotional tendencies",[6] though sometimes translated as 'being', 'experience' or 'becoming', in the sense of rebirths and redeaths, because a being is so conditioned and propelled by the karmic accumulations.[4] This bhava is the conditioned arising of beings, through the process of birth (jāti), in heaven, demi-god, human, animal, hungry ghost or hell realms (bhavacakra) of Buddhist cosmology. Sometimes it is referred to as punabbhava or re-becoming.

Bhava is listed as the tenth of the Twelve Nidānas, the links in the cycle of pratītyasamutpāda or dependent origination.

In the Jātakas, in which the Buddha didactically reminds various followers of experiences they shared with him in a past life, the hearers are said not to remember them due to bhava, i.e. to having been reborn.[7]

In HinduismEdit

Bhava appears in the sense of "becoming, being, existing, occurring, appearance" in the Vedanga literature Srauta Sutras, the Upanishads such as the Shvetashvatara Upanishad, the Mahabharata and other ancient Hindu texts.[8]

In Ramakrishna MissionEdit

According to Swami Sivananda, there are three kinds of bhava – sattvic, rajasic and tamasic. Which predominates in a person depends on their own nature, but sattvic bhava is "Divine bhava" or pure bhava (Suddha bhava).[citation needed] Swami Nikhilananda classifies bhava as follows:[9]

  • śāntabhāva, the calm, peaceful, gentle or saintly attitude
  • dāsyabhāva, the attitude of devotion
  • sakhyabhāva, the attitude of a friend
  • vātsalyabhāva, the attitude of a mother towards her child
  • madhurabhāva (or kantabhava), the attitude of a woman in love
  • tanmayabhava, the attitude that the Lord is present everywhere

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ भव, Sanskrit English Dictionary, Koeln University, Germany
  2. ^ Monier Monier-Williams (1899), Sanskrit English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Archive: भव, bhava
  3. ^ Monier Monier-Williams (1899), Sanskrit English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Archive: भाव, bhAva
  4. ^ a b Thomas William Rhys Davids; William Stede (1921). Pali-English Dictionary. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 499. ISBN 978-81-208-1144-7.
  5. ^ Julius Evola; H. E. Musson (1996). The Doctrine of Awakening: The Attainment of Self-Mastery According to the Earliest Buddhist Texts. Inner Traditions. pp. 67–68. ISBN 978-0-89281-553-1.
  6. ^ What is Habitual Tendencies? by Bhante Vimalaramsi and Sister Khanti-Khema
  7. ^ Caroline A.F. Rhys Davids, Stories of the Buddha (Being Selections from the Jātakas), 1989, Dover Publications, Introduction, pp. xix, also see pp. 2,6,11,etc.
  8. ^ Monier Monier-Williams (1899), Sanskrit English Dictionary, Oxford University Press, Archive: भाव, bhAva
  9. ^ Swami Nikhilananda Vivekananda: The Yogas and Other Works Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1984 [1953] ISBN 0-911206-04-3 pp. 450-453.
Preceded by
Twelve Nidānas
Succeeded by