Pali Term: Nibbidā

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Pali Term: Nibbidā

Postby Dmytro » Wed Sep 08, 2010 4:22 pm

Hello Pali friends,

Too often Buddhism is interpreted as cultivation of aversion towards the world.
This also happens in the case of term 'nibbidaa', which gets translated as 'aversion'. However this is not in line with Buddha's teaching, where aversion (pa.tigha) is an unskilful quality.

What, then, is meant by 'nibbidaa'?

It stems from the verb 'nibbindati' which literally means 'to be satiated', in the sense 'to have enough of'.

The fact that an adult has enough of playing with toys doesn't mean that he feels any aversion towards toys. They just don't interest him any more as a kind of play.
Similarly one who develops 'nibbidaa' doesn't have interest in sensual pleasures, seeing things as they are.

"yathaabhuuta.m jaana.m passa.m nibbindati, nibbinda.m virajjati, viraagaa vimuccati."

Dasuttara sutta, DN 3.288

The word 'nibbidaa' is frequently used along with 'viraaga', dispassionateness.
It is defined as absense of passion for sensual pleasures:

(6. ka) tattha katamaa pa~n~naa nibbidaaya no pa.tivedhaaya? Yaaya pa~n~naaya kaamesu viitaraago hoti, na ca abhi~n~naayo pa.tivijjhati na ca saccaani– aya.m vuccati “pa~n~naa nibbidaaya no pa.tivedhaaya”.

Vibhanga 330


Therefore the literal translation would be 'satiety' (having enough of, being 'fed up' with'), or in a more figurative sense 'disgust'.

It can be a strong and decisive attitude:

‘Sabbasa"nkhaaresu ca me nibbidasa~n~naa paccupa.t.thitaa bhavissati, seyyathaapi ukkhittaasike vadhake.

'The recognition of nibbidaa will be established within me with regard to all constructing processes, as to a murderer with a drawn sword.

A III 442



'nibbijja pakkamati', 'nibbijja pakkami.msu', etc. occur many times in the suttas.

One example is Sandaka sutta (MN 76):

Atireka.m kho panimassa bhoto satthuno naggiya.m mu.n.diya.m ukku.tikappadhaana.m kesamassulocana.m yoha.m puttasambaadhasayana.m ajjhaavasanto kaasikacandana.m paccanubhonto maalaagandhavilepana.m dhaarento jaataruuparajata.m saadiyanto iminaa bhotaa satthaaraa samasamagatiko bhavissaami.

Abhisamparaaya.m soha.m ki.m jaananto ki.m passanto imasmi.m satthari brahmacariya.m carissaami? ‘So abrahmacariyavaaso ayan’ti– iti viditvaa tasmaa brahmacariyaa nibbijja pakkamati .

After death my teacher and I become equal in our recluseship. I who do not even believe it. We both get anihilated and destroyed after death. Unnecessarily these good teachers went naked and wore a knot on the head, did austerities yoked to standing and pulling out hairs of the head and beard. As for me, I lived surrounded by wife and children, enjoyed wearing Kashmire clothes, bearing flowers and scents, and earning gold and silver. I become equal with these good teachers after death.

Knowing what and seeing what should I lead the holy life under these teachers? He knowing this is not a holy life, being disgusted, turns away from it.


Metta, Dmytro
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