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nibbāna {pi}

Pāḷi; √ nibbāna
alt. sp.: IPA: n̪ɪbbɑːn̪ə, Velthuis: nibbaana, readable: nibbaana, simple: nibbana
translation ~:
khmer: និព្ពាន
thai: นิพฺพาน
sinhal.: නිබ්බාන
burm.: နိဗ္ဗာန


[dic] nibbāna (nibbana)

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

ATI Glossary

nibbāna [Skt. nirvāna]: Liberation; literally, the “unbinding” of the mind from the mental effluents (see āsava), defilements (see kilesa), and the round of rebirth (see vaṭṭa), and from all that can be described or defined. As this term also denotes the extinguishing of a fire, it carries the connotations of stilling, cooling, and peace. (According to the physics taught at the time of the Buddha, a burning fire seizes or adheres to its fuel; when extinguished, it is unbound.) “Total nibbāna” (parinibbāna) in some contexts denotes the experience of Awakening; in others, the final passing away of an arahant. [ more ]


Buddhist Dictionary

by late Ven. Nyanalokita Thera:

Nibbāna (Sanskrit nirvāna):1) lit. 'extinction' (nir + √ , to cease blowing, to become extinguished); according to the commentaries, 'freedom from desire' (nir + vana). Nibbāna constitutes the highest and ultimate goal of all Buddhist aspirations, i.e. absolute extinction of that life-affirming will manifested as greed, hate and delusion, and convulsively clinging to existence; and therewith also the ultimate and absolute deliverance from all future rebirth, old age, disease and death, from all suffering and misery. Cf. Parinibbāna.

“Extinction of greed, extinction of hate, extinction of delusion: this is called Nibbāna” SN 3VIII. 1

The 2 aspects of Nibbāna are:

(1) The full extinction of defilements (kilesa-parinibbāna), also called sa-upādi-sesa-nibbāna (see Iti 2.41), i.e. 'Nibbāna with the groups of existence still remaining' (see upādi). This takes place at the attainment of Arahatship, or perfect holiness (see ariya-puggala).

(2) The full extinction of the groups of existence (khandha-parinibbāna), also called an-upādi-sesa-nibbāna (see Iti 2.41, AN 4.118), i.e. 'Nibbāna without the groups remaining', in other words, the coming to rest, or rather the 'no-more-continuing' of this physico-mental process of existence. This takes place at the death of the Arahat.

Sometimes both aspects take place at one and the same moment, i.e. at the death of the Arahat; see sama-sīsī.

“This, o monks, truly is the peace, this is the highest, namely the end of all formations, the forsaking of every substratum of rebirth, the fading away of craving, detachment, extinction, Nibbāna” AN 3.32

“Enraptured with lust (rāga), enraged with anger (dosa), blinded by delusion (moha), overwhelmed, with mind ensnared, man aims at his own ruin, at the ruin of others, at the ruin of both, and he experiences mental pain and grief. But if lust, anger and delusion are given up, man aims neither at his own ruin, nor at the ruin of others, nor at the ruin of both, and he experiences no mental pain and grief. Thus is Nibbāna visible in this life, immediate, inviting, attractive, and comprehensible to the wise” AN 3.55

“Just as a rock of one solid mass remains unshaken by the wind, even so neither visible forms, nor sounds, nor odours, nor tastes, nor bodily impressions, neither the desired nor the undesired, can cause such a one to waver. Steadfast is his mind, gained is deliverance” AN 6.55

“Verily, there is an Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed. If there were not this Unborn, Unoriginated, Uncreated, Unformed, escape from the world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed, would not be possible” Uda 8.3

One cannot too often and too emphatically stress the fact that not only for the actual realization of the goal of Nibbāna, but also for a theoretical understanding of it, it is an indispensable preliminary condition to grasp fully the truth of anattā, the egolessness and insubstantiality of all forms of existence. Without such an understanding, one will necessarily misconceive Nibbāna - according to one's either materialistic or metaphysical leanings - either as annihilation of an ego, or as an eternal state of existence into which an ego or self enters or with which it merges. Hence it is said:

“Mere suffering exists, no sufferer is found;
The deed is, but no doer of the deed is there;
Nibbāna is, but not the man that enters it;
The path is, but no traveler on it is seen.” Visuddhi Magga XVI

Literature: For texts on Nibbāna, see Path, 36ff. - See Visuddhi Magga XVI. 64ff. - Anattā and Nibbāna, by Nyanaponika Thera (Wheel 11); The Buddhist Doctrine of Nibbāna]], by Ven. P. Vajiranana & F. Story (Wheel 165/166).


PTS Dictionary

by the Pali Text Society:


Glossary Thanissaro

Nibbāna: Literally, the “unbinding” of the mind from passion, aversion, and delusion, and from the entire round of death and rebirth. As this term also denotes the extinguishing of a fire, it carries connotations of stilling, cooling, and peace. “Total nibbāna” in some contexts denotes the experience of awakening; in others, the final passing away of an arahant. Sanskrit form: Nirvāṇa.


Illustrated Glossary of Pāli Terms

by Ven. Varado Maha Thera:


Nibbāna & Parinibbāna

Nibbāyati & Parinibbāyati

  • for nibbāyati:
    • to go out
    • to become untroubled
    • to realise the Untroubled
    • to pass away to the Untroubled-without-residue

Nibbuto & Parinibbuto

  • for nibbuto:
    • quenched, extinguished
    • inwardly at peace
    • realised the Untroubled (standing, in verse, for parinibbuto
    • realised the Untroubled
    • passed away to the Untroubled-without-residue



Nibbāna: not beyond words

To ask whether nibbāna is either something or nothing is a question outside the range of conception (appapañcaṁ papañceti) (AN ii 161). But although nibbāna is beyond conception, it is clearly not beyond words, as is proven by its many epithets.

Nibbāna: the via negativa

Nibbāna can be named in positive terms, ‘what it is,’ the via positiva; or in negative terms, ‘what it is not,’ the via negativa. For example, consider the list of thirty-three epithets at SN iv 368-373. The positives are, for example, the Peaceful (santañca), the Sublime (paṇītañca), the Auspicious (sivañca). The negatives are, for example, the Unoriginated (asaṅkhatañca), the Uninclined (anatañca), freedom from perceptual obscuration (anāsavañca).

But if nibbāna is beyond conception, and therefore unapproachable by the via positiva, we would not have expected this list to include positives, except on one condition: that the positives are concealed negatives. That is, we call nibbāna ‘peaceful’ but mean ‘free of unpeacefulness’; ‘sublime’ but mean ‘free of unsublimeness’; ‘auspicious’ but mean ‘free of inauspiciousness.’ And so on.

Nibbuto: etymology

Nibbuto is two words represented in Sanskrit by nivṛta, quenched, and nirvṛta, motionless, both past participles of vṛ (PED). Thus nibbuto is the extinguishing of fire and also the spiritual quality of an arahant:

• the fire is extinguished

• I am inwardly at peace

nibbuto’ham. (MN ii 237)

Nibbuto means peace not quenching

The two meanings, ‘extinguished’ and ‘inwardly at peace’, are ‘used promiscuously in the one word because of their semantic affinity,’ says PED. Thus, referring to the arahant, nibbuto is sometimes wrongly called ‘quenched’ but the scriptures do not support this. They do not say, for instance, that in arahantship rāgadosamoha or the āsavas are quenched. The Buddha said one should know nibbuto as peace (santī ti nibbutiṁ ñatvā Snp 933) and other suttas support this, linking nibbuto to peaceful qualities, for example:

• inwardly at peace, freed from inward distress

• I obtain inward calm and inward peace

labhāmi paccattaṁ samathaṁ labhāmi paccattaṁ nibbutin ti. (MN i 323)

• Knowing inward peace as Peace

santī ti nibbutiṁ ñatvā. (Snp 933)

Likewise, nibbuto is contrasted with unpeaceful qualities, for example:

• inwardly at peace amidst the violent

• Inwardly at peace amidst those who are tormented [by spiritual defilement]

Therefore in the context of arahantship nibbuto means peace. Our term for this is ‘inwardly at peace’ (adjective) or ‘inward peace’ (nibbuti, noun).

Nibbāna and quenching

Nibbāna shares the vṛ root, and therefore like nibbuto, has two meanings: quenching and the Untroubled.

• the quenching of a lamp

• one who has realised the Untroubled.

The confusion between meanings is made more probable when the scriptures compare the attainment of arahantship (vimokkho) to the quenching (nibbāna) of a flame. For example, the bhikkhunī Paṭācārā said:

• The deliverance of my mind was like the quenching of the lamp.

padīpasseva nibbānaṁ vimokkho ahu cetaso. (Thi 116)

But arahantship does not involve anything being quenched. The nibbāna of arahantship is repeatedly linked elsewhere to ‘destruction.’ For example:

• With the destruction of all forms of craving comes the complete passing away and ending [of originated phenomena], nibbāna

sabbaso taṇhānaṁ khayā asesavirāganirodho nibbānaṁ. (Uda 32-3)

• The destruction of attachment, hatred, and undiscernment of reality: this is called nibbāna.

rāgakkhayo dosakkhayo mohakkhayo idaṁ vuccati nibbānan ti. (SN iv 251)

Nibbāna, peace and the Untroubled

Our rendering of nibbāna as ‘the Untroubled’ stems firstly from its relationship to our rendering for nibbuto (‘inwardly at peace’), and secondly from the Attadīpa Sutta (SN iii 43) and the Bhaddāli Sutta (MN i 446). Bodhi translates the Bhaddāli Sutta like this:

• ‘Suppose a horse trainer obtains a fine thoroughbred colt. He first makes him used to wearing the bit. While the colt is being made to get used to wearing the bit, because he is doing something that he has never done before, he displays some writhing, scuffling and trembling, but through constant repetition and gradual practice, he becomes peaceful in that action (so abhiṇhakāraṇā anupubbakāraṇā tasmiṁ ṭhāne parinibbāyati)’. (Bodhi, SN iii 43)

Bodhi says ‘the verb used here is the verbal form of parinibbāna and could be literally, though erroneously, translated, “He attains final Nibbāna in that action” (MLDB n.668). Although ‘peaceful’ indeed suits the context, the via negativist would say ‘untroubled.’

In the Attadīpa Sutta (SN iii 43) a bhikkhu accepts the changeable nature of the five aggregates, and so is not agitated when they change. Therefore he abides happily. The text says sukhaṁ viharaṁ bhikkhu tadaṅganibbuto ti vuccati: ‘a bhikkhu who abides happily is said to be untroubled in that respect,’ meaning with respect to the change of the aggregates. Bodhi, however, says (CDB p.883) ‘a bhikkhu who abides happily is said to be quenched in that respect.’ In the note to this (CDB p.1055 n.56) he says the phrase might have been rendered ‘“one who has attained Nibbāna in that respect” i.e. only in regards to a particular freedom.’ But if he had used ‘peaceful,’ as he did at MN i 446, his translation would have read more naturally: ‘a bhikkhu who abides happily is said to be peaceful in that respect,’ and this would have once again supported our ‘untroubled.’

Two aspects of nibbāna

The scriptures distinguish two aspects of nibbāna:

1) The Untroubled-with-residue involves the destruction of rāgadosamoha by the living arahant (tassa yo rāgakkhayo dosakkhayo mohakkhayo ayam vuccati saupādisesā nibbānadhātu). Being ’with residue’ means the arahant has unperished sense faculties and therefore continues to experience what is pleasing and displeasing, both pleasure and pain (pañcindriyāni yesaṁ avighātattā manāpāmanāpaṁ paccanubhoti sukhadukkhaṁ paṭisaṁvedeti) (Iti 38).

2) The Untroubled-without-residue refers to the passing away of the arahant, for whom sense impression ceases (tassa idheva bhikkhave sabbavedayitāni anabhinanditāni sītibhavissanti), who utterly abandons all modes of being (pahaṁsu te sabbabhavāni tādino, Iti 38- 9).

The Untroubled-without-residue is sometimes called ‘final nibbāna,’ but the idea that the nibbāna at death is somehow more ‘final’ than the Untroubled-with-residue has no support in the scriptures.

Nibbāna and parinibbāna

Parinibbāna is sometimes considered to be the nibbāna attained by the arahant at death, but the scriptures do not support this. For example, consider these passages:

1) I make known the realisation of the Untroubled (parinibbānaṁ) through having no grasping in this very lifetime.

diṭṭheva dhamme… anupādā paññāpemī
ti. (AN v 65)

2) He who has realised the Untroubled (parinibbānagato) via a path made by himself… he is a bhikkhu.

Pajjena katena attanā parinibbānagato… sa bhikkhu. (Snp 514)

The effect of the pari- prefix is explained like this:

• ‘The prefix pari- converts the noun from the expression of a state into the expression of the achievement of that state. Thus nibbāna means the state of release, parinibbāna the attaining of that state’. (Bodhi, CDB p.49)

This rule does not apply to verbs and past participles because the verbs are never expressions of a state, whereas the past participles are always expressions of a state. Our renderings are as follows:

1) Verbs:

2) Past participles:

  • for nibbuto:
    • quenched, extinguished
    • inwardly at peace
    • realised the Untroubled (standing, in verse, for parinibbuto)
    • realised the Untroubled
    • passed away to the Untroubled-without-residue

Parinibbuto: two meanings

Parinibbuto means either:

  • 1) realised the Untroubled, or
  • 2) passed away to the Untroubled-without-residue

Consider the following quotes:

• He has realised the Untroubled. He awaits the inevitable hour [fully consciously and mindfully].

parinibbuto kaṅkhati kālaṁ. (Tha 1218)

• One is free of craving. One has realised the Untroubled.

• Here the Perfect One passed away to the Untroubled-without-residue

idha tathāgato anupādisesāya nibbānadhātuyā parinibbuto ti pi. (DN ii 141)

Nibbuto: in verse

In verse, parinibbuto is often abbreviated to nibbuto.

• One who has realised the Untroubled through being without grasping, he is what I call a Brahman.

anupādāya nibbuto tamahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ. (Snp 638)

But this point could be argued. For example, the passage would also make sense if rendered ‘One who is inwardly at peace through being without grasping.’ But the mention of Brahman (i.e. arahant) makes our rendering more likely.

Sometimes the context suggests that nibbuto does not mean parinibbuto:

Inwardly at peace amidst the violent

It makes less sense to render this: ‘realised the Untroubled amidst the violent.’


Nibbuti may or may not imply arahantship. For example:

• A bhikkhu knows that “When I pursue, develop, and cultivate this view, I obtain inward calm and inward peace

imaṁ kho ahaṁ diṭṭhiṁ āsevanto bhāvento bahulīkaronto. [labhāmi paccattaṁ samathaṁ labhāmi paccattaṁ nibbutin ti] (MN i 323)

• All his perceptually obscuring states are destroyed and he attains inward peace

Khīyanti āsavā sabbe nibbutiñcādhigacchatī ti. (Tha 586)

Non-Buddhist ascetics: highest happiness

For non-Buddhist ascetics, nibbāna meant ‘highest pleasure’:

• When the attā is enjoying itself, provided with and possessed of the five varieties of sensuous pleasure, at that point it has attained to the highest pleasure in this lifetime

attā pañcahi kāmaguṇehi samappito samaṅgībhūto paricāreti ettāvatā kho bho ayaṁ attā paramadiṭṭhadhammanibbānaṁ patto hotī ti. (DN i 36)

Parinibbanti: to pass away to the Untroubled-without-residue

PED and Norman accept the spelling parinibbanti without comment. The word also occurs at AN iv 98; Dhp 126; Iti 93; Snp 765. The commentary to SN iv 128 glosses parinibbanti as parinibbāyanti.

• Those free of perceptually obscuring states pass away to the Untroubled-without-residue.

Illustrations: nibbāna; parinibbāna

Illustration: nibbāna, the Untroubled

This, bhikkhu, is a designation for the Untroubled: the elimination of attachment, hatred, and undiscernment of reality.

Nibbānadhātuyā kho etaṁ bhikkhu adhivacanaṁ rāgavinayo dosavinayo mohavinayo ti. (SN v 8)

Illustration: nibbāna, the Untroubled

The destruction of craving, Rādha, is the Untroubled.

taṇhakkhayo hi rādha nibbānan ti. (SN iii 190)

Illustration: nibbāna, the Untroubled

One is fit to be called a bhikkhu who has realised the Untroubled in this lifetime.

diṭṭhadhammanibbānappatto bhikkhū ti alaṁ vacanāya. (SN ii 18)

Illustration: nibbāna, Untroubled

‘In this regard, Hemaka, in regards to pleasant things which are seen, heard, sensed, or cognised, the dispelling of fondness and attachment is the Untroubled, the Unshakeable State.

Idha diṭṭhasutamutaviññātesu piyarūpesu hemaka
Chandarāgavinodanaṁ nibbānapadamaccutaṁ. (Snp 1086)


nibbānaṁ: (main article see: nibbāna)

Illustration: nibbānaṁ, quenching

The deliverance of his mind [from individual existence] was like the quenching of a lamp

pajjotasseva nibbānaṁ vimokkho cetaso ahūti. (SN i 159)


parinibbānāya: (main article see: nibbāna)

Illustration: parinibbānāya, extinguish

A person given to maliciousness has compassion to extinguish it.

vihiṁsakassa purisapuggalassa avihiṁsā hoti parinibbānāya.

A person given to killing has refraining from killing to extinguish it.

pāṇātipātissa purisapuggalassa pāṇātipātā veramaṇī hoti parinibbānāya.

A person given to stealing has refraining from stealing to extinguish it.

adinnādāyissa purisapuggalassa adinnādānā veramaṇī hoti parinibbānāya. (MN i 45)


nibbānapada: (main article see: nibbāna)

Illustration: nibbānapada, Untroubled State

Longing for the Untroubled State.


parinibbānaṁ: (main article see: nibbāna)

Illustration: parinibbānaṁ, passing away to the Untroubled-without-residue

Tonight in the last watch will be the ascetic Gotama’s passing away to the Untroubled-without-residue.

ajjeva rattiyā pacchime yāme samaṇassa gotamassa parinibbānaṁ bhavissati. (DN ii 149)


parinibbātu: (main article see: nibbāna)

Illustration: parinibbātu, pass away to the Untroubled-without-residue; parinibbāna, passing away to the Untroubled-without-residue

Bhante, let the Blessed One now pass away to the Untroubled-without-residue! Let the Sublime One now pass away to the Untroubled-without-residue! Now is the time for the Blessed One’s passing away to the Untroubled-without-residue!

Parinibbātu'dāni bhante bhagavā parinibbātu sugato parinibbānakālo'dāni bhante bhagavato ti. (SN v 262)


parinibbutesu: (main article see: nibbāna)

Illustration: parinibbutesu, passed away to the Untroubled-without-residue

The assembly [of bhikkhus] appears to me empty now that Sāriputta and Moggallāna have passed away to the Untroubled-without-residue.

parisā suññā viya khāyati parinibbutesu sāriputtamoggallānesu. (SN v 164)


parinibbāyī: (main article see: nibbāna)

Illustration: parinibbāyī, one who realises the Untroubled

He is one who realises the Untroubled with effort in this very lifetime

diṭṭheva dhamme sasaṅkhāraparinibbāyī hoti. (AN ii 155)

Illustrations: nibbuta


nibbuto: (main article see: nibbāna)

Illustration: nibbuto, extinguished

Ego completely extinguished.

When a fire has used up its fuel:

Being without fuel material it is reckoned as extinguished.

anāhāro nibbuto'teva saṅkhaṁ gacchatī ti. (MN i 486-7)

My fire is extinguished.

nibbuto’gini. (Snp 19)


‘Fire’ here perhaps means the three fires: the fire of attachment, hatred, undiscernment of reality (rāgaggī dosaggi mohaggi) (DN iii 217).

Illustration: nibbuto, go out

I hope, dear, that the fire did not go out.

kacci te tāta aggi na nibbuto ti. (DN ii 340)

Illustration: nibbuto, inwardly at peace

Inwardly at peace amidst those who are tormented [by spiritual defilement].

‘The bhikkhu who in the face of sensuous pleasures lives the religious life with reflectiveness, free of craving, ever mindfully, and inwardly at peace, for him there are no states of spiritual instability.

Kāmesu brahmacariyavā vītataṇho sadā sato
Saṅkhāya nibbuto bhikkhu tassa no santi iñjitā. (Snp 1041)

Illustration: nibbuto, realised the Untroubled

Through the destruction of attachment, hatred, and undiscernment of reality he has realised the Untroubled.

rāgadosamohakkhayā sa nibbuto ti. (DN ii 136)


In verse, parinibbuto is often abbreviated to nibbuto.


nibbutaṁ: (main article see: nibbāna)

Illustration: nibbutaṁ, quenched

An iron ball that had been heated all day:

After a time it was cool and quenched.

aparena samayena sītaṁ nibbutaṁ. (DN ii 335)


nibbutā: (main article see: nibbāna)

Illustration: nibbutā, realised the Untroubled

Through knowledge [of things according to reality] the wise have realised the Untroubled.

Aññāya nibbutā dhīrā. (SN i 24)


In verse, parinibbuto is often abbreviated to nibbuto.

You are freed from inward distress. You have realised the Untroubled.

sītibhūtāsi nibbutā ti. (Thi 16)


In verse, parinibbuto is often abbreviated to nibbuto.

anupādisesāya nibbānadhātuyā parinibbuto

anupādisesāya nibbānadhātuyā parinibbuto: (main article see: nibbāna)

Illustration: anupādisesāya nibbānadhātuyā parinibbuto, passed away to the Untroubled-without-residue

Here the Perfect One passed away to the Untroubled-without-residue

idha tathāgato anupādisesāya nibbānadhātuyā parinibbuto ti pi. (DN ii 140)


Anupādisesāya nibbānadhātuyā parinibbuto: ‘passed away to the Untroubled in relation to the Untroubled-without-residue.’

Illustrations: nibbuti


nibbutiṁ: (main article see: nibbāna)

Illustration: nibbutiṁ, inward peace

Knowing inward peace as Peace, he should not be negligent in [practising] Gotama’s training system.

Santī ti nibbutiṁ ñatvā sāsane gotamassa napamajjeyya. (Snp 933)

I will exchange ageing for agelessness, the torment [of spiritual defilement] for inward peace, for supreme inward peace, for unsurpassed safety from [the danger of] bondage [to individual existence].

Ajaraṁ jiramānena tappamānena nibbutiṁ
Nimissaṁ paramaṁ santiṁ yogakkhemaṁ anuttaran ti. (Tha 32)


Glossary various Teacher

Nibbāna: the extinguishing of all greed, hatred and delusion; the end of suffering; liberation from saṁsāra; the Unconditioned; the Supreme Happiness and Peace, the goal of the Buddhist path. (Source: Glossary late Ven. Ajahn Chah)


See also

Suttas and Dhammadesanā

Nibbāna: (Unbinding, extinguishing). See also Arahant; Awakening; Deathless; Pari-nibbāna; Stream-entry; Vimutti (release).


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Appendix: The 2 terms kilesa-parinibbāna and khandha-parinibbāna (or nibbāna) are found only in the Commentary; their corresponding 2 aspects sa-upādisesa-nibbāna and anupādisesa-nibbāna, however, are mentioned and explained in Iti 44 of the Sutta Canon.
en/dictionary/nibbāna.txt · Last modified: 2019/09/25 05:31 by