Pali Glossary

Pali is a Middle Indo-Aryan language of the Indian subcontinent. It is best known as the language of many of the earliest existing Buddhist scriptures, as collected in the Tipitaka, and as the liturgical language of Theravada Buddhism. The Tipitaka (Pali ti, “three,” + pitaka, “baskets”), or Pali canon, is the collection of primary Pali language texts which form the doctrinal foundation of Theravada Buddhism.

adhimokkha (Skt. adhimokṣa): determination, decision, resolve: is one of the mental concomitants (cetasika) and belongs to the group of mental formations (saṅkhārakkhandha).
adhiṭṭhāna (from adhi meaning “higher” or “best” plus sthā meaning “standing”) has been translated as “decision,” “resolution,” “self-determination,” “will” and “resolute determination.”In the late canonical literature of Theravada Buddhism, adhiṭṭhāna is one of the ten “perfections” (dasa pāramiyo), exemplified by the bodhisatta’s resolve to become fully awakened.
akusala: unwholesome, unskillfulness
anapanasati: mindfulness of breathing
anatta: not-self
anicca: impermanence; inconstancy
anumodanā: Literally, it means “rejoicing together,” but it can also mean approval and encouragement.
aparimāṇa: limitless; immeasurable, unconditional
Arahant: Liberated one
arambhadhatu: “element of beginning” or “element of effort”
ariya (Skt. arya): noble; as in ariya-sacca, meaning “noble truth” or “truth of the noble ones.” More specifically, the term ariya-sacca refers to the Buddha’s “Four Noble Truths”.
asaññasatto: without thoughts or perceptions
āsava: mental effluent, pollutant, or fermentation. Four qualities — sensuality, views, becoming, and ignorance — that “flow out” of the mind and create the flood of the round of death and rebirth.
atanka: illness; disease
atta: (Skt. atman) refers to a self
avihinsa: non-violence, non-cruelty; kindness to the weak
avijja: ignorance or delusion
ayatana: sphere of perception or sense in general, object of thought, sense-organ

bhavana: meditation, cultivation of wisdom and virtue, insight
bhavanga: (Pali, “ground of becoming”) is the most fundamental aspect of mind in Theravada Buddhism. (The term does not occur in the Nikayas, though the Theravada tradition identifies it with one that does; the phenomenon described as “luminous mind.”)
bhikku: monk
bhikkuni: nun
bodhi: to awake, become aware, notice, know or understand
bodhicitta: awakened heart-mind
Bodhisatta: (Skt. Bodhisattva) A future Buddha
Buddha: an Enlightened being “Awakened”
Buddho: one who is awakened to the truth
Budu saranai: (Sinhalese) May the peace and blessings of the Buddha be with you

cārita: temperament, nature, character or habitual conduct
Cārita is of six types:
* Raga carita (the greedy or passionate nature)
* Dosa carita (the angry nature)
* Moha carita (the deluded nature)
* Saddha carita (the faithful nature)
* Buddhi carita (the intelligent nature)
* Vitakka carita (the ruminating or pondering nature)
chanda: (known in full as kusalachanda or dhammachanda). Chanda, or zeal, is the real incentive for any truly constructive actions. However, zeal may be impeded by desire and its attachments to laziness, lethargy, or personal comfort. In this case, desire will stain any attempts to perform good actions with suffering, by resisting the practice through these negative states. If there is clear understanding of the advantage of those actions and sufficient appreciation (chanda) of them, enabling the burdening effect of desire to be overcome, chanda becomes, in addition to an impetus for action, a cause for happiness.
cetanā: commonly translated as “volition”, “intention”, “directionality”, or “attraction”. It can be defined as a mental factor that moves or urges the mind in a particular direction, toward a specific object or goal.
cetovimutti: liberation of mind: liberation of mind from defilements
citta: mind, consciousness (Bhikkhu Bodhi: Citta signifies mind as the centre of personal experience, as the subject of thought, volition and emotion)

dana: ‘foodgiving’, generosity, offering
Dhamma: (Skt. dharma) liberating law discovered by the Buddha, summed up in the Four Noble Truths, the Truth, Reality, natural law, all physical and mental phenomena
dosa: aversion
dukkha: unsatisfactoriness, suffering, pain, distress, discontent, stress, the impermanence of all phenomena

ehipassiko: The dhamma welcomes all beings to put it to the test and to experience it for themselves. Literally “Come and see for yourself.”
ekaggatā (Skt. ekāgratā) means “one-pointedness” or “unification”. This mental factor is one of the components in the jhānas.

jara: old; decayed; decrepit
Jāti: (Pali word for “birth”) refers to the arising of a new living entity in saṃsāra.
jhana: (Skt. dhyana) meditative absorption, a state of strong concentration.

kalyana mitta: lovely friend (Sometimes interpreted as spiritual friend)
kamma: (Skt. karma): (lit.-action) The law of cause and effect; intentional acts
karuṇā: compassion
kasina: Spherical or disc shaped mental visual object of meditation
kataññu (katannu-katavedi): knowing what has been done; recollecting what has been done; gratitude
khanda: (Skt. skandha): Five aggregates which form the raw material for one’s sense of self: form/body, feeling, perception, mental formations, consciousness
khanti: patience, tolerance, endurance, forebearance
kilesa: (defilements) greed, aversion, delusion
kusala: wholesome, skillful, of good merit

lobha: greed

magga: path
metta: Lovingkindness, good will
moha: (lit.-to be stupified) delusion
muditā: sympathetic joy or joy with others. The ability of being happy in the happiness of others and is therefore the opposite of jealousy, spite and envy.

nandi: joy, enjoyment, pleasure, delight, hedonic gratification
nibbana: (Skt. nirvana): the cessation of suffering, enlightenment, liberation
nibbida: Disenchantment; aversion; disgust; weariness. The skillful turning-away of the mind from the conditioned samsaric world towards the unconditioned, the transcendent; Nibbana.
nikati (Skt. nikṛti) fraud, deceit, cheating
nikāya: a word of meaning “collection” of discourses (used to describe groupings of discourses according to theme, length, or other categories. For example, the Sutta Piṭaka is broken up into five nikāyas)
nikkamadhatu: “proceeding” with your effort”, the element of exertion
nirodha: cessation, extinction, as in third noble truth concerned with the cessation of suffering (dukkha)
nissarana: way out or exit; release, escape, abandon, freedom, liberation

opanayiko: referring inwardly; to be brought inward. An epithet for the Dhamma

pahāna: ‘overcoming’, abandoning. There are 5 kinds of overcoming: 1 overcoming by repression vikkhambhana-pahāna i.e. the temporary suspension of the 5 hindrances nīvarana during the absorptions, 2 overcoming by the opposite tadanga-pahāna 3 overcoming by destruction samuccheda-pahāna 4 overcoming by tranquillization patipassaddhi-pahāna 5 overcoming by escape nissarana-pahāna
pañña: wisdom
papañca: Complication, proliferation; tendency of the mind to proliferate issues from the sense of “self.”
parakkkamadhatu: valor; strength of mind or spirit that enables a person to proceed with firmness; strong determination
paramattha: absolute or ultimate reality
parami: perfections, virtues necessary for the realization of Awakening
pariyatti: Theoretical understanding of Dhamma obtained through reading, study, and learning.
passaddhi: calmness,tranquility, repose and serenity.
paticcasamuppāda: commonly translated as dependent origination or dependent arising.
paṭipatti: The practice of dhamma, as opposed to mere theoretical knowledge (pariyatti).
paṭivedha: ‘penetration’, signifies the realization of the truth of the Dhamma, as distinguished from the mere acquisition of its wording pariyatti or the practice patipatti of it, in other words, realization as distinguished from theory and practice.
pranayama: a Sanskrit word meaning “extension of the breath” or more accurately, “extension of the life force”.
piti: Rapture or happiness, bliss
puñña: merit, meritorious, is a popular term for karmically wholesome (kusala) action.

sacca: truth
saddha: faith, confidence (Lit.-to place one’s heart on)
samadhi: concentration; meditative absorption; a deep state of meditation
samānattatā: impartiality, feeling towards others as towards oneself without bias or partiality
Samatha: A term referring to the group of meditation practices that aim at samadhi
sampajañña: Alertness; self-awareness; presence of mind; clear comprehension.
samsára: (lit.-perpetual wandering) ocean of worldly suffering; round of rebirth; pursuit of renewed existence
samvega: spiritual urgency
sangha: the community of Buddhist monks & nuns; recently: “the community of followers on the Buddhist path.”
sankara (Skt. samskara): concoctions; fabrications
sati: mindfulness, awareness
sati sampajañña: mindfully clearly know
sila: moral conduct; precept; virtue; moral restraint
sukha: happiness; pleasure; ease; bliss
suñña: void (ness), empty (emptiness)
sutta: (lit. thread; Skt. sutra) discourse of the Buddha or one of his leading disciples

tanha: (lit. thirst) craving
Tathagata: (Lit. thus gone) an Enlightened person
Theravada: (Doctrine of the elders)- school of Buddhism that draws its inspiration from the Pali Canon, or Tipitaka, the oldest surviving record of the Buddha’s teachings. Has been the predominant religion of southeast Asia (Thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma)
Tipitaka: (Literally Three baskets)- The Pali Canon- has Three divisions:
1. Sutta Pitaka- discourses of the Buddha, (Five collections-nikayas- 10,000 suttas)
2. Abhidhamma Pitaka- treatises offering systematic treatment of topics in the suttas
3. Vinaya Pitaka- rules for ordained monks and nuns

upāsaka/upāsikā: Buddhist lay men are called upāsaka and lay women upāsikā. Both Pali words are derived from ‘to sit close’ (upāsati) and ‘to attend to’ (upāsana) Monks.
upekkha: equanimity
Upādāna: the Pāli word for “clinging,” “attachment” or “grasping”, although the literal meaning is “fuel.”

Vipallāsa: perversions or distortions
Vipassana: literally, “to see clearly”; insight; insight into the truth of anicca (impermanence), anatta (not-self), & dukkha (unstatisfactoriness), to see things as they really are
viriya: effort; persistence; energy