Vedanā is usually translated as "feeling" or "sensation". In S.N. Goenka's tradition, vedanā is understood as a physical sensation on the body, such as touch, heat, pain, etc. As far as I understand, vedanā does not include other senses, such as taste, smell, sound or sight (even though vedanā may arise as a result of perception of something through these senses). Nor are mental feelings such as anger, hatred or joy classified as vedanā.

Do I understand it correctly? How is vedanā defined in other traditions? Are there any significant differences?


2 Answers 2


Out of the many many classifications Goenka's techniques uses the 5 fold classification (physical pleasant, physical painful, mental pleasant, mental painful, equanimous) Bodily Sensation is considered Vedana excluding Metal Sensation (Somanasa / Domanasa) as it is more a form of Kaya and Vedana Passana to start with though later if develops to Citta and Dhammanupassana. Any mental content also gives a sensation which can be felt in the body as well.

In a broader context Vedana includes any feeling born of contact through any of the 6 sense doors.

The same applies to unpleasant (dukkha vedanā) sensation, such as pain; and neutral sensation (adukkhamasukha vedanā), which is neither pleasant nor unpleasant. The words sukha and dukkha refer to bodily feelings. For pleasant or unpleasant mental feelings, the Buddha used somanassa and domanassa. Sukha and dukkha vedanā therefore refer to sensation on the body. Body by itself cannot feel them, and they are felt by a part of the mind; nevertheless the body is the base.

Source: Discourses on Satipatthana Sutta - S. N. Goenka


As I understand it, 'vedana' is used to denote the pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral aspect of some experience. The term most closely tracks with the English terms 'valence' or 'hedonic tone', rather than normal uses of the term 'feeling.'

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