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a Contemplative's Pali to English Dictionary

(a work in progress)

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(updated 11-02-05 with 81 Pali terms & 32 English terms defined)

Nagara: m. city.

Name: náma. N.

Name (by): náma. ind.

Namo: ind. honour.

Nara: m. man.

Narapati: m. king.

natthika-ditthi: 'nihilistic view' (a doctrine that all values are baseless, that nothing is knowable or can be communicated, and that life itself is meaningless), s. ditthi.

natthi-paccaya: 'absence-condition', is one of the 24 conditions (paccaya, q.v.).

Nattu: m. Nephew.

natural morality: pakati-síla (q.v.).

Nature: dhammatá. f.

Nava: nine.

Navama: ninth.

navanga-buddha (or satthu)- sásana: s. sásana.

nava-sattávása: s. sattávása.

Navigator: návika. m.

Navuti: ninety.

naya-vipassaná: s. kalápa (2).

Nágarika: urban.

náma: (lit. 'name'): 'psyche', 'mind', mentality. This term is generally used as a collective name for the 4 mental groups (arúpino khandha), viz. sensing (vedaná), perception (saññá), mental structures (sankhára) and cognition (viññána). Within the 4th link (náma-rúpa) in the formula of the paticcasamuppáda (q.v.), however, it applies only to karma-resultant (vipáka) sensing and perception and a few karma-resultant mental functions inseparable from any cognition. As it is said (M. 9; D. 15; S. XII, 2): "Sensing (vedaná), perception (saññá), volition (cetaná), impression (phassa), mental advertence (manasikára): this, o brother, is called mind (náma)." With the addition of 2 more mental factors, namely, mental vitality (jívita) and absorption (samádhi), here 'stationary phase of mind' (cittatthiti), these 7 factors are said in the Abhidhammattha Sangaha to be the inseparable mental factors in any state of cognition.

For the complete list of all the 50 mental formations of the sankhára-kkhandha (not including feeling and perception), s. Tab. II.

náma-káya: the 'mind-group' (as distinguished from rúpa-káya, the bodily-group) comprises the 4 immaterial groups of existence (arúpino khandhá; s. khandha). This twofold grouping, frequent in Com., occurs first in D. 15, also in Pts.M. (I, 183); náma-káya alone is mentioned in Sn. 1074.

náma-rúpa (lit. 'name and form'): 'mind-and-body', psycho-soma, psychophysiology, neurophysiology, mentality and corporeality. It is the 4th link in the dependent origination (s. paticcasamuppáda 3, 4) where it is conditioned by cognition, and on its part is the condition of the sixfold sense-base. In two texts (D. 14, 15), which contain variations of the dependent origination, the mutual conditioning of cognition and the psycho-soma is described (see also S. XII, 67), and the latter is said to be a condition of sense-impression (phassa); so also in Sn. 872.

The third of the seven purifications (s. visuddhi), the purification of views, is defined in Vis.M. XVIII as the "correct seeing of the psycho-soma," and various methods for the discernment of the psycho-soma by way of insight (vipassaná, q.v.) are given there. In this context, 'mind' (náma) comprises all four mental groups, including cognition. - See náma.

In five-group-existence (pañca-vokára-bhava, q.v.), mind-and body are inseparable and interdependent; and this has been illustrated by comparing them with two sheaves of reeds propped against each other: when one falls the other will fall, too; and with a blind man with stout legs, carrying on his shoulders a lame cripple with keen eye-sight: only by mutual assistance can they move about efficiently (s. Vis.M. XVIII, 32ff). On their mutual dependence, see also paticca-samuppáda (3).

With regard to the impersonality and dependent nature of the psycho-soma it is said:

"Sound is not a thing that dwells inside the conch-shell and comes out from time to time, but due to both, the conch-shell and the man that blows it, sound comes to arise: Just so, due to the presence of vitality, heat and cognition, this body may execute the acts of going, standing, sitting and lying down, and the 5 sense-organs and the mind may perform their various functions" (D. 23).
"Just as a wooden puppet though unsubstantial, lifeless and inactive may by means of pulling strings be made to move about, stand up, and appear full of life and activity; just so are mind and body, as such, something empty, lifeless and inactive; but by means of their mutual working together, this psychophisiological combination may move about, stand up, and appear full of life and activity."

ñána: lit. 'vision', 'light', 'knowledge, comprehension, intelligence, insight', is a synonym for paññá (q.v.); see also vipassaná, ñánadassana.

ñánadassana: lit. 'knowledge' (nana) & 'vision' (dassana), apparently means the divine eye (dibbacakkhu, s. abhiññá), being produced through absorption of the mind (samádhi), which produces self luminosity or light ( A. IV, 41).

ñánadassana-visuddhi: 'purification of knowledge and vision', is the last of the 7 purifications and a name for path-knowledge (maggañána), i.e. the penetrating realization of the path of Stream-winning, Once-returning, Non-returning or Arahatship. Vis.M. XXII furnishes a detailed explanation of it (s. visuddhi, VII).

nánatta-saññá: The 'variety (or multiformity) - perceptions are explained under jhána (q.v.).

ñána-vipphárá iddhi: the 'power of penetrating knowledge', is one of the magical powers (iddhi, q.v.).

Nárí: f. woman.

ñáta-pariññá: 'full understanding (or comprehension) of the known', is one of the 3 kinds of full understanding (pariññá q.v.).

Nátha: m. lord, refuge.

Nává: f. ship, boat.

Návika: m. Navigator.

ñáya: 'right method', is often used as a name for the Noble Eightfold Path (s. magga), e.g. in the Satipatthána Sutta (M. 10, D. 22).

Near: santike. ind.

Need: payojana. N.

neighbourhood-concentration: upacára-samádhi (q.v.) a non-canonical concept that appears in the Vis. The concept appears to be based upon a misunderstanding as to what constitutes absorption (jhaná)

nekkhamma: 'freedom from sensual lust', renunciation. Though apparently from nir + Ö kram, 'to go forth (into the homeless state of a monk)', this term is in the Páli texts nevertheless used as if it were derived from káma, lust, and always as an antonym to káma. It is one of the perfections (s. páramí). N. sankappa, thought free from lust, or thought of renunciation, is one of the 3 kinds of right thought (sammá-sankappa), the 2nd link of the Noble Eightfold Path (s. magga, 2), its antonym being kámasankappa, lustful thought.

Nephew: nattu. m.

nesajjikanga: one of the 13 dhutanga (q.v.).

Netu: m. leader.

neutral, karmically: avyákata (q.v.); n. feelings, s. vedaná.

n'eva: neither

n'eva-saññá-n'ásaññáyatana: The 'sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception', is the name for the fourth absorption (samádhi) of the immaterial sphere (arúpávacara), which is surpassed only by the state of complete 'extinction' (nirodha-samápatti, q.v.) of cognition. See jhána (8).

n'eva-sekha-n'ásekha: 'neither in training nor beyond training', i.e. neither learner nor master. Thus is called the worldly person (puthujjana, q.v.), for he is neither pursuing the 3-fold training (sikkhá q.v.) in morality, mental culture and wisdom, on the level of the first 3 paths of sanctity, nor has he completed his training as an Arahat. See sekha. - (App.).

neyya: 'requiring guidance', is said of a person "who through advice and questioning, through wise consideration, and through frequenting noble-minded friends, having intercourse with them, associating with them, gradually comes to penetrate the truth" (Pug. 162). Cf. ugghatitaññú.

neyyattha-dhamma: A 'teaching the meaning of which is implicit, or has to be inferred' as contrasted with a 'teaching with an explicit or evident meaning' (nítattha-dhamma). In A. I, 60 (PTS) it is said: "Whoso declares a sutta with an implicit meaning as a sutta with explicit meaning (and conversely), such a one makes a false statement with regard to the Blessed One." - See paramattha.

Nibbána, (Sanskrit nirvána): lit. 'extinction' (nir + Ö va, to cease blowing, to become extinguished); according to the commentaries, 'freedom from desire' (nir+ vana). Nibbána 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 compulsively 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. Parinibbána.

"Extinction of greed, extinction of hate, extinction of delusion: this is called Nibbána" (S. XXXVIII. 1).

The 2 aspects of Nibbána are:

(1) The full extinction of defilements (kilesa-parinibbána), also called sa-upádi-sesa-nibbána (s. It. 41), i.e. 'Nibbána with the groups of existence still remaining' (s. upádi). This takes place at the attainment of Arahatship, or perfect holiness (s. ariya-puggala).

(2) The full extinction of the groups of existence (khandha-parinibbána), also called an-upádi-sesa-nibbána (s. It. 41, A. IV, 118), i.e. 'Nibbána without the groups remaining', in other words, the coming to rest, or rather the 'no-more-continuing' of this psycho-physiological process of existence. This takes place at the death of the Arahat. - (App.: Nibbána).

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

"This, o monastics, 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, Nibbána" (A. III, 32).

"Enraptured with lust (rága), 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 Nibbána visible in this life, immediate, inviting, attractive, and comprehensible to the wise" (A. III, 55).

"Just as a rock of one solid mass remains unshaken by the wind, even so neither visible forms, nor sounds, nor odors, 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" (A, VI, 55).
"Verily, there is an Unborn, Not-originated, Uncreated, Unformed. If there were not this Unborn, Not-originated, Uncreated, Unformed, escape from the world of the born, the originated, the created, the formed, would not be possible" (Ud. VIII, 3).

One cannot too often and too emphatically stress the fact that not only for the actual realization of the goal of Nibbána, but also for a theoretical understanding of it, it is an indispensable preliminary condition to grasp fully the truth of anattá (q.v.), the egolessness and insubstantiality of all forms of existence. Without such an understanding, one will necessarily misconceive Nibbána - 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;
Nibbána is, but not the man that enters it;
The path is, but no traveler on it is seen." (Vis.M.XVI)

Literature: For texts on Nibbána, see Path, 36ff. - See Vis.M. XVI. 64ff. - Anattá and Nibbána, by Nyanaponika Thera (WHEEL 11); The Buddhist Doctrine of Nibbána, by Ven. P. Vajiranana & F. Story (WHEEL 165/166).

nibbatti: 'arising', 'rebirth', is a synonym for patisandhi (q.v.).

nibbedha-bhágiya-síla (-samádhi, -paññá): 'morality (absorption, wisdom) connected with penetration'; s. hána-bhágiya-síla.

nibbidánupassaná-ñána: 'contemplation of aversion', is one of the 18 chief contemplations leading to insight; s. vipassaná (4), samatha-vipassaná (2), visuddhi (VI, 5).

nicca-saññá (-citta,-ditthi): perception (or cognition, or view) of permanency, is one of the 4 perversions (vipallása, q.v.).

Nicaya: n. accumulation.

Nidahati: (ni + daha) lays aside.

Nidháya: ind. p.p. having left aside.

Nigacchati: (ni + gamu) goes away.

Nigama: m. town, market

Night: ratti. f.

nihilistic view: natthika-ditthi; s. ditthi.

Nikkhamati: (ni + kamu) departs.

Nikkhaõati: (ni +kha.na) buries.

níla-kasina: 'blue-kasina exercise' s. kasina.

nimitta: characteristic, mark, sign; image; target, object; cause, condition. These meanings are used in, and adapted to, many contexts of which only the doctrinal ones are mentioned here.

In Pts.M. II, in a repetitive series of terms, nimitta appears together with uppádo (origin of existence), pavattam (continuity of existence), and may then be rendered by 'condition of existence' (s. Path, 194f.).

nimitta, jhaná, samadhi, shamata, the signs or characteristics of meditative absorption, Charism (jhaná-nimitta) Satipatthanasamyutta SN 8 (8) The Competent Cook, Sangiti Sutta (DN, Vitakkasanthana Sutta (MN 20),

nimitta, kamma (kamma-nimitta) 'Sign of (previous) kamma' (kamma-nimitta) and 'sign of (the future) destiny' (gati-nimitta); these arise as mental objects of the last karmic consciousness before death (maranásanna-kamma; s. karma, III, 3).

na nimittaggáhí: 'Outward appearance': of one who has sense-control it is said- that "he does not seize upon the general appearance' of an object (M. 38, D. 2; expl. Vis I, 54f; see síla).

nimitta, rúpa 'Object': the six objects, i.e. visual, etc. (rúpa-nimitta; S. XXII, 3). Also, when in explanation of animitta-cetovimutti, signless deliverance of mind (s. cetovimutti, vimokkha), it is said, 'sabba-nimittánam amanasikárá', it refers to the 6 sense-objects (Com. to M. 43), and has therefore to be rendered "by paying no attention to any object (or object-ideas)." - A pleasant or beautiful object (subha-nimitta, q.v.) is a condition to the arising of the hindrance of sense-desire; a 'repellent object' (patigha-nimitta) for the hindrance of ill-will; contemplation on the impurity of an object (asubha-nimitta; s. asubha) is an antidote to sense-desire.

nimmána-rati: the name of a class of heavenly beings of the sensuous sphere; s. deva.

Nine: nava.

nine abodes of beings: s. sattávása.

ninefold dispensation: s: sásana.

Nineteen: ek'uuna vísati.

Ninety: navuti.

Ninety-nine: ek'uuna sata.m.

nippapañca: s. papañca.

nipphanna-rúpa: 'produced corporeality', is identical with rúpa-rúpa, 'physical body', i.e. material or actual corporeality, as contrasted with 'unproduced corporeality' (anipphanna-rúpa), consisting of mere qualities or modes of corporeality, e.g. impermanence, etc., which are also enumerated among the 28 phenomena of the corporeality group. See khandha, Summary I; Vis.M. XIV, 73.

niraya: lit. 'the downward-path', the nether or infernal world, usually translated by 'hell', is one of the 4 lower courses of existence (apáya, q.v.). The Buddhists are well aware that on account of the universal sway of impermanence a life in hell, just as in heaven, cannot last eternally, but will after exhaustion of the karma, which has caused the respective form of rebirth, necessarily be followed again by a new death and a new rebirth, according to the stored-up karma.

Niráhára: without food.

nirodha: 'extinction'; s. nirodha-samápatti, anupubba-nirodha.

nirodhánupassaná: 'contemplation of extinction', is one of the 18 chief contemplations leading to insight (vipassaná q.v.). See ánápánasati M 118 (15).

nirodha-samápatti: 'attainment of extinction' (S. XIV, 11), also called saññá-vedayita-nirodha, 'extinction of sensing and perception', is the temporary suspension of all cognitive and mental activity, which is characteristic of the attainment of the non-material absorption 'sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception' (s. jhána, 8). The absolutely necessary pre-conditions to its attainment are said to be perfect mastery of all the 8 absorptions (jhána), as well as the previous attainment of Anágámi or Arahatship (s. ariya-puggala).

nirutti-patisambhidá: the 'analytical knowledge of language', is one of the 4 patisambhidá (q.v.).

nirvana: (Sanskrit= ) Nibbána (q.v.).

Nisídati: (ni + sada) sits.

nissarana-pahána: 'overcoming by escape', is one of the 5 kinds of overcoming (pahána q.v.).

nissaya: 'foundation'. The 2 wrong foundations of morality are craving (tanhá-nissaya) and views (ditthi-nissaya). Hence there are two wrong bases of morality: morality based on craving (tanhá-nissita-síla) and morality based on views (ditthi-nissita-síla). (App.)

" 'Based on craving' is that kind of morality which has come about by the desire for a happy existence, e.g.: 'O that by this morality I might become a godlike or heavenly being!' (A.IX, 172). 'Based on views' is that morality which has been induced by the view that through the observation of certain moral rules purification may be attained" (Vis.M. I).

nissaya-paccaya: 'support', base, foundation, is one of the 24 conditions (s. paccaya, 8).

Nittaõho: arahant (Desireless One).

Nivattati: (ni + vatu) ceases. 

Níca: mean, low.

Níharati: (ní + hara) takes away, removes.

Níla: adj. Blue.

Nírasa: sapless, tasteless.

Níroga: lit 'not diseased', 'healthy'.

nítattha-dhamma: A 'doctrine with evident meaning', contrasted with a 'doctrine with a meaning to be inferred' (neyyattha-dhamma, q.v.). See also paramattha.

nívarana: 'hindrances', are 5 qualities which are obstacles to the mind and blind our mental vision. In the presence of them we cannot reach absorption (samádhi), and are unable to discern clearly the truth. They are:

1. sensuous desire (kámacchanda),
2. ill-will (vyápáda),
3. sloth and unconsciousness (thína-middha),
4. restlessness and scruples (uddhacca-kukkucca), and
5. skeptical doubt (vicikicchá; q.v.).

In the beautiful similes in A. V, 193, sensuous desire is compared with water mixed with manifold colors, ill-will with boiling water, sloth and unconsciousness with water covered by moss, restlessness and scruples with agitated water whipped by the wind, skeptical doubt with turbid and muddy water. Just as in such water one cannot perceive one's own reflection, so in the presence of these 5 mental hindrances, one cannot clearly discern one's own benefit, nor that of others, nor that of both.

Regarding the temporary suspension of the 5 hindrances on entering the first absorption, the stereotype sutta text (e g. A. IX, 40) runs as follows:

"He has cast away sensuous desire; he dwells with a heart free from sensuous desire; from desire he cleanses his heart.
"He has cast away ill-will; he dwells with a heart free from ill-will, cherishing love and compassion toward all living beings, he cleanses his heart from ill-will.

"He has cast away sloth and unconsciousness; he dwells free from sloth and torpor; loving the light, with watchful mind, with clear consciousness, he cleanses his mind from sloth and unconsciousness.

"He has cast away restlessness and scruples; dwelling with mind undisturbed, with heart full of peace, he cleanses his mind from restlessness and scruples.

"He has cast away skeptical doubt; dwelling free from doubt, full of confidence in the good, he cleanses his heart from doubt.

"He has put aside these 5 hindrances, and come to know these paralyzing defilements of the mind. And far from sensual impressions, far from unwholesome things, he enters into the first absorption, etc."

The overcoming of these 5 hindrances by the absorptions is, as already pointed out, a merely temporary suspension. They disappear forever on entering the 4 supernatural paths (s. ariyapuggala), i.e. skeptical doubt on reaching Sotápanship; sensuous desire, ill-will and mental worry on reaching Anágámiship; sloth, unconsciousness and restlessness on reaching Arahatship.

For their origination and their overcoming, s. A. I, 2; VI, 21; S. XLVI, 51.

See The Five Mental Hindrances, by Nyanaponika Thera (WHEEL 26).

niyáma: the 'fixedness of law' regarding all things; cf. tathatá. - Pañca-niyáma is a commentarial term, signifying the 'fivefold lawfulness' or 'natural order' that governs: (1) temperature, seasons and other physical events (utu-niyáma); (2) the plant life (bíja-n.); (3) karma (kamma-n.); (4) the mind (citta-n.), e.g. the lawful sequence of the functions of cognition (s. viññána-kicca) in the process of cognition; (5) certain events connected with the Dhamma (dhamma-n.), e.g. the typical events occurring in the lives of the Buddhas. (App.).

niyata-miccháditthi: 'wrong views with fixed destiny', are the views of uncausedness of existence (ahetuka-ditthi), of the inefficacy of action (akiriya-ditthi), and nihilism (natthika-ditthi). For details, s. ditthi; and M. 60, Com. (WHEEL 98/99). - (App.)

niyata-puggala: a 'person with a fixed destiny', may be either one who has committed one of the 5 'heinous deeds with immediate result' (ánantarika-kamma, q.v.), or one who follows 'wrong views with fixed destiny' (niyata-micchá-ditthi, q.v.), or one who has reached one of the 4 stages of holiness (s. ariya-puggala). About the latter cf. the frequent passage: "Those disciples in whom the 3 fetters (of personality-belief, skeptical doubt and attachment to mere rules and ritual; s. samyojana) have vanished, they all have entered the stream, have forever escaped the states of woe; fixed is their destiny (niyata), assured their final enlightenment."

No: na, nahi.

noble abodes: s. vihára.

noble family, Passing from n.f. to n.f.: kolankola; s. sotápaññá.

noble persons: ariya-puggala (q.v.).

noble power: ariya iddhi; s. iddhi.

noble truths, the 4: ariya-sacca; s. sacca. - The 2-fold knowledge of the n.t.; s. sacca-ñána.

noble usages, the 4: ariya-vamsa (q.v.).

Noisy: ghosana.

non-disappearance: avigata-paccaya, is one of the 24 conditions (paccaya, q.v.).

non-violence: s. avihimsá.

Not: na.

not-self, no self identification: s. anattá.

no-upádá-rúpa: 'underived corporeality', designates the 4 primary elements (mahábhúta or dhátu), as distinguished from the 'derived corporeality' (upádá-rúpa), such as the sensitive organs, etc. Cf. khandha, I.

Now: idáni.

Nun: bhikkhuní. f. 

nutriment: s. ojá, áhára. - áhára is one of the 24 conditions (paccaya, q.v.) - n.- produced corporeality; s. samutthána.

¥àti: m. relative.

¥àtu: m. knower.

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