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karuṇā {pi}

Pāḷi; √ karuṇā
alt. sp.: IPA: kəɾuɳɑː, Velthuis: karu.naa, readable: karunaa, simple: karuna
translation ~:
khmer: ករុណា
thai: กรุณา
sinhal.: කරුණා
burm.: ကရုဏာ


[dic] karuṇā (karuna)

karuṇā: Description welcome. Info can be removed after imput.

ATI Glossary

karuṇā: Compassion; sympathy; the aspiration to find a way to be truly helpful to oneself and others. One of the four “sublime abodes” (brahma-vihāra).


Buddhist Dictionary

by late Ven. Nyanalokita Thera:

karuṇā: 'compassion', is one of the 4 sublime abodes (see brahma-vihāra).


PTS Dictionary

by the Pali Text Society:


Glossary Thanissaro

— —


Illustrated Glossary of Pāli Terms

by Ven. Varado Maha Thera:


[Unlimited] compassion

The practices of mettā, karuṇā, muditā and upekkhā are sometimes called the four divine abidings (cattāro brahmavihārā, DN ii 196) and sometimes the four unlimited states (catasso appamaññā, DN iii 223). Practising them together is called the ‘unlimited liberation [from perceptually obscuring states]’ (appamāṇā cetovimutti, SN iv 296). The Mahāvedalla Sutta (MN i 298) and Godatta Sutta (SN iv 296) say the ‘makers of limitation’ (pamāṇakaraṇo) are rāgo, doso and moho (rāgo kho āvuso pamāṇakaraṇo doso pamāṇakaraṇo moho pamāṇakaraṇo). Therefore the four brahmavihāras should be practised unlimited by rāgo, doso and moho. And therefore we call karuṇā ‘[unlimited] compassion’:

• In this regard a bhikkhu abides pervading one quarter with a mind of [unlimited] compassion, likewise the second quarter, the third quarter, and the fourth quarter. Thus above, below, across, in all directions, everywhere, he abides pervading the whole world [of beings] with a mind of [unlimited] compassion, vast, exalted, unlimited, free of unfriendliness and hostility.

Idha bhante bhikkhu karuṇāsahagatena cetasā ekaṁ disaṁ pharitvā viharati tathā dutiyaṁ tathā tatiyaṁ tathā catutthiṁ iti uddhamadho tiriyaṁ sabbadhi sabbatthatāya sabbāvantaṁ lokaṁ karuṇāsahagatena cetasā vipulena mahaggatena appamāṇena averena avyāpajjhena pharitvā viharati. (SN iv 296)

• It is impossible, friend, out of the question, that one might develop and cultivate the liberation [from perceptually obscuring states] through [unlimited] compassion, make it one’s vehicle and practice, carry it out, pursue it, and properly undertake it, yet still maliciousness would plague your mind. There is no such possibility.

Aṭṭhānametaṁ āvuso anavakāso yaṁ karuṇāya cetovimuttiyā bhāvitāya bahulīkatāya yānīkatāya vatthukatāya anuṭṭhitāya paricitāya susamāraddhāya atha ca panassa vihesā cittaṁ pariyādāya ṭhassatī'ti netaṁ ṭhānaṁ vijjati. Nissaraṇaṁ hetaṁ āvuso vihesāya yadidaṁ karuṇā cetovimutti (DN iii 249)

• When resentment has arisen for someone one can develop [unlimited] compassion for that person.

Yasmiṁ bhikkhave puggale āghāto jāyetha karuṇā tasmiṁ puggale bhāvetabbā. (AN iii 185)


Illustration: karuṇā, [unlimited] compassion

• ’The Blessed One abides in a state of [unlimited] compassion’

bhagavā hi bhante karuṇāvihārī ti.

• ’Jīvaka, any attachment, hatred, or undiscernment of reality whereby maliciousness might arise, have been abandoned by the Perfect One… If what you said referred to that, then I allow it to you’


karuṇaṁ: (main article see: karuṇā)

Illustration: karuṇaṁ, [unlimited] compassion

He who abides in solitary retreat for the four months of the Rains, practising the meditation on [unlimited] compassion, sees Brahmā.

yo vassike cattāro māse paṭisallīyati karuṇaṁ jhānaṁ jhāyati so brahmānaṁ passati. (DN ii 237)

If anyone from a clan of khattiyas goes forth from the household life into the ascetic life, and on account of the teaching and discipline proclaimed by the Perfect One, develops [unlimited] goodwill, [unlimited] compassion, [unlimited] warmhearted joy, and [unlimited] detached awareness, and thereby gains inward peace: on account of that inward peace, he is one who is applied to a practice that is proper for ascetics, I declare.

Evameva kho bhikkhave khattiyakulā cepi agārasmā anagāriyaṁ pabbajito hoti so ca tathāgatappaveditaṁ dhammavinayaṁ āgamma evaṁ mettaṁ karuṇaṁ muditaṁ upekkhaṁ bhāvetvā labhati ajjhattaṁ vūpasamaṁ. Ajjhattaṁ vūpasamā samaṇasāmīcipaṭipadaṁ paṭipanno ti vadāmi. (MN i 284)

Karuṇā: the liberation [from perceptually obscuring states] through [unlimited] compassion has the state of awareness of boundless space as its culmination.

ākāsānañcāyatanaparamāhaṁ bhikkhave karuṇā cetovimuttiṁ vadāmi. (SN v 120)

Illustration: karuṇaṁ (Commentary: anuddayaṁ), sympathetic

Namuci approached me, uttering sympathetic words

Namuci karuṇaṁ vācaṁ bhāsamāno upāgamī

‘You are thin and sallow-faced. You are nearly dead… Live, sir. Life is better [than death]…. The path of striving is hard: hard to undertake, and hard to bear’

duggo maggo padhānāya dukkaro durabhisambhavo. (Snp 425-6)


Karuṇaṁ: ‘sympathetic.’ Treating karuṇaṁ as anuddayaṁ. Commentary: Karuṇaṁ vācan ti anuddayāyuttaṁ vācaṁ.


kāruññam: (main article see: karuṇā)

Illustration: kāruññam, compassion

’Ānanda, would you just simply passively observe an elder bhikkhu while he is being harassed?

atthi nāma ānanda theraṁ bhikkhuṁ vihesiyamānaṁ ajjhupekkhissatha

… Truly, Ānanda, compassion does not develop in allowing an elder bhikkhu to be harassed’

Na hi nāma ānanda kāruññampi bhavissati theramhi bhikkhumhi vihesiyamānamhī ti. (AN iii 194)

Illustration: kāruññaṁ, compassion ; anuddayaṁ, sympathy; anukampaṁ, tender concern

He explains the Buddha’s teaching to others

• out of compassion

kāruññaṁ paṭicca paresaṁ dhammaṁ deseti

• out of sympathy

anuddayaṁ paṭicca paresaṁ dhammaṁ deseti

• out of tender concern

Anukampaṁ upādāya paresaṁ dhammaṁ deseti. (SN ii 200)

Suppose a sick and ailing man were to go along the highway with no village nearby, and unable to get proper food and medicine; and suppose another man, also going along the road, were to see him; it might

• raise compassion in that man

kāruññaṁ yeva upaṭṭhāpeyya

• raise sympathy

anuddayaṁ yeva upaṭṭhāpeyya

• raise tender concern

so that he might say to himself: Alas for this man! he ought to have proper food and medicine, or a guide to some village. Wherefore? Lest he suffer misfortune and disaster.

Equally, of one whose ways are impure, who obtains no mental clarity, mental calm: for such a person

• compassion ought to arise

kāruññaṁ eva upaṭṭhāpetabbaṁ

• sympathy ought to arise

• tender concern ought to arise

so one says to oneself: ‘Alas for this Venerable! He should give up bad habits in deed, word and thought and develop good habits. Wherefore? Lest this Venerable, with the demise of the body at death, is reborn in the plane of sub-human existence, in the plane of misery, in the plane of damnation, or in hell (AN iii 189)


kāruññataṁ: (main article see: karuṇā)

Illustration: kāruññataṁ, compassion

Then the Blessed One, understanding the Brahmā’s request, out of compassion for beings surveyed the world with the vision of a Buddha.

atha kho bhagavā brahmuno ca ajjhesanaṁ viditvā sattesu ca kāruññataṁ paṭicca buddhacakkhunā lokaṁ volokesi. (SN i 137)


kāruññatā: (main article see: karuṇā)

Illustration: kāruññatā, compassion; anukampatā, tender concern

If a bhikkhu is wanting to reprove another, having contemplated five principles within himself he may do so:

paraṁ codetukāmena pañca dhamme ajjhattaṁ manasikaritvā paro codetabbo

• [I will speak out of] compassion

• [I will speak out of] seeking welfare

• [I will speak out of] tender concern

• [I will speak aiming at the] removal of offences

• [I will speak] aiming at vinaya


Parentheses in accordance with Codanā Sutta:

If a bhikkhu is reproving, wanting to reprove another, he should do so having established five principles within himself.

Codakena āvuso bhikkhunā paraṁ codetukāmena pañca dhamme ajjhattaṁ upaṭṭhepetvā paro codetabbo:

I will speak at the right time, not the wrong time

kālena vakkhāmi no akālena

I will speak truth not falsehood

bhūtena vakkhāmi no abhūtena

I will speak gently not harshly

saṇhena vakkhāmi no pharusena

I will speak what is conducive to spiritual well-being not unconducive to spiritual well-being

atthasaṁhitena vakkhāmi no anatthasaṁhitena

I will speak with a mind of [unlimited] goodwill not with inner hatred

mettacittena vakkhāmi no dosantarenā ti. (DN iii 236-7; AN iii 196)


anukampituṁ: (main article see: karuṇā)

Illustration: anukampituṁ, have tender concern; anuddayā, sympathy

If, O Sakka, for some reason intimacy with anyone should arise, the wise man ought not to have tender concern in his mind for such a person.

Yena kenaci vaṇṇena saṁvāso sakka jāyati
Na taṁ arahati sappañño manasā anukampituṁ.

But if with a pure mind he teaches others, he does not become tethered [to them] by his tender concern and sympathy.

Manasā ce pasannena yadaññamanusāsati
Na tena hoti saṁyutto sānukampā anuddayā ti. (SN i 206)


anuddayataṁ: (main article see: karuṇā)

Illustration: anuddayataṁ, sympathy

One who explains the teaching to others should establish five principles within himself. What five?

Paresaṁ ānanda dhammaṁ desentena pañca dhamme ajjhattaṁ upaṭṭhapetvā paresaṁ dhammo desetabbo. Katame pañca:

One should explain the teaching to others with the thought:

1) 'I will speak step-by-step

Ānupubbīkathaṁ kathessāmīti paresaṁ dhammo desetabbo

2) 'I will speak observing a proper method of exposition

Pariyāyadassāvī kathaṁ kathessāmīti paresaṁ dhammo desetabbo

3) ‘I will speak out of sympathy

Anuddayataṁ paṭicca kathaṁ kathessāmīti paresaṁ dhammo desetabbo

4) 'I will speak not for the sake of worldly benefits

Na āmisantaro kathaṁ kathessāmīti paresaṁ dhammo desetabbo

5) 'I will speak without hurting myself or others

Attānañca parañca anupahacca kathaṁ kathessāmī ti paresaṁ dhammo desetabbo. (AN iii 184)


anuddayatā: (main article see: karuṇā)

Illustration: anuddayatā, sympathy

There are these three kinds of spiritually unwholesome thinking (akusalavitakkā). Which three?

• thinking concerned with not wanting to be despised

• thinking concerned with gains, honour, and renown

• thinking concerned with feeling sorry for others


As an example of feeling sorry for others, consider Nissaggiyā Pācittiyā Rule 22 which says that if a bhikkhu wrongfully gets himself a new bowl from a lay supporter, that bowl should be forfeited to the group of bhikkhus. The bowl should be first offered to the senior bhikkhu, who should be persuaded to swap his own bowl for the new bowl if he prefers it. The senior bhikkhu should not refuse to swap out of feeling sorry for the offender (na ca tassa anuddayatāya na gahetabbo), otherwise it is a dukkaṭa offence (yo na gaṇheyya āpatti dukkaṭassa) (Vin.3.247).


anukampamāno: (main article see: karuṇā)

Illustration: anukampamāno, being tenderly concerned

Being tenderly concerned for friends and comrades, one neglects one’s own spiritual well-being, being emotionally bound [to others]. Seeing this danger in intimacy, one should live the religious life as solitarily as a rhinoceros horn.

Mitte suhajje anukampamāno hāpeti atthaṁ paṭibaddhacitto
Etaṁ bhayaṁ santhave pekkhamāno eko care khaggavisāṇakappo. (Snp 37)


anukampanti: (main article see: karuṇā)

Illustration: anukampanti, tenderly reciprocate

‘There are five ways in which a son should minister to his parents as the eastern direction’

Pañcahi kho gahapatiputta ṭhānehi puttena puratthimā disā mātāpitaro paccupaṭṭhātabbā

‘And there are five ways in which the parents, so ministered to by their son as the eastern direction, will tenderly reciprocate’

Imehi kho gahapatiputta pañcahi ṭhānehi puttena puratthimā disā mātāpitaro paccupaṭṭhitā pañcahi ṭhānehi puttaṁ anukampanti. (DN iii 189)

Wherever a wise man makes his dwelling, here he should feed the virtuous, those restrained [in conduct], those who live the religious life. He should dedicate a gift to the devas who are in that place.

Yasmiṁ padese kappeti vāsaṁ paṇḍitajātiyo
sīlavantettha bhojetvā saṁyate brahmacārayo
Yā tattha devatā āsuṁ tāsaṁ dakkhiṇamādise.

Venerated, they will venerate them, revered, they will revere them. They will tenderly reciprocate, as a mother for her own son. He with whom the devas tenderly reciprocate always has good fortune.

Tā pūjitā pūjayanti mānitā mānayanti naṁ
tato naṁ anukampanti mātā puttaṁ'ca orasaṁ
Devatānukampito poso sadā bhadrāni passatī ti. (DN ii 88-9, Uda 89, Vin.1.229-230)


anukampāya: (main article see: karuṇā)

Illustration: anukampāya, tender concern

For two good reasons the Perfect One establishes training rules for disciples:

sāvakānaṁ sikkhāpadaṁ paññattaṁ

Out of tender concern for the layfolk; and to stop factions of bhikkhus with unvirtuous desires.

gihīnaṁ anukampāya pāpicchānaṁ bhikkhūnaṁ pakkhupacchedāya. (AN i 98)


anukampako: (main article see: karuṇā)

Illustration: anukampako, have tender concern

‘The [attainment to the] Untroubled-without-residue of the Teacher who had such tender concern for me [will be tonight in the last watch].’

satthu ca me parinibbānaṁ bhavissati yo mamaṁ anukampako ti. (DN ii 143)


anukampikāya: (main article see: karuṇā)

Illustration: anukampikāya, tender concern

If a foolish baby through the negligence of the nurse puts a stick or stone into its mouth, the nurse would quickly pay attention, and quickly remove it. If she failed to do so, then, taking hold of his head with her left hand, and crooking the finger of her right hand, she would fetch it out even if she drew blood. Why so? There would be some injury to the boy, I don’t deny it, but really, bhikkhus:

• This is what should be done by the nurse wishing for the child's well-being, seeking its welfare, from tender concern, out of tender concern.’

karaṇīyañca kho etaṁ bhikkhave dhātiyā atthakāmāya hitesiniyā anukampikāya anukampaṁ upādāya. (AN iii 6)


anukampamāno: (main article see: karuṇā)

Illustration: anukampamāno, tender concerned for

Considering two good reasons, brahman, I frequent secluded abodes in forests and quiet groves: in considering a pleasant abiding for myself in this lifetime, and being tenderly concerned for future generations.

attano ca diṭṭhadhammasukhavihāraṁ sampassamāno pacchimañca janataṁ anukampamāno ti. (MN i 23)


anukampī: (main article see: karuṇā)

Illustration: anukampī, tenderly concerned

The Buddha told bhikkhus that in whatever way they are spoken to, they should train themselves thus:

‘Neither shall our minds be troubled by this, nor shall we utter unvirtuous words, but we shall abide tenderly concerned for their welfare, with a mind of [unlimited] goodwill, without inner hatred.’

na ceva no cittaṁ vipariṇataṁ bhavissati. Na ca pāpakaṁ vācaṁ nicchāressāma. Hitānukampī ca viharissāma mettacittā na dosantarā. (MN i 126)

He abides tenderly concerned for the welfare of all living beings.

Illustration: anukampī, be tenderly concerned

• Lohicca, do you reside at Sālavatikā?

• Yes, reverend Gotama.

• Well, if anyone said: “The Brahman Lohicca resides at Sālavatikā, and he should enjoy the entire revenue and produce of Sālavatikā, not giving anything to others” would not anyone who spoke like that be a source of danger to your tenants?

evaṁvādi so ye taṁ upajīvanti tesaṁ antarāyakaro vā hoti no vā ti

• He would be a source of danger, reverend Gotama.

Antarāyakaro bho gotama

• And as such, would he be tenderly concerned for their welfare or not?

Antarāyakaro samāno lohicca hitānukampī vā tesaṁ hoti ahitānukampī vā ti

• He would not, reverend Gotama.

Ahitānukampī bho gotama. (DN i 228)


Glossary various Teacher

— —


See also

Suttas and Dhammadesanā

karuṇā: (compassion) See also brahma-vihāra.


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en/dictionary/karuṇā.txt · Last modified: 2019/09/25 05:31 by