nirvana (nērvä´nə), in Buddhism, Jainism, and Hinduism, a state of supreme liberation and bliss, contrasted to samsara or bondage in the repeating cycle of death and rebirth. The word in Sanskrit refers to the going out of a flame once its fuel has been consumed; it thus suggests both the end of suffering and the cessation of desires that perpetuate bondage. Epithets of nirvana in Buddhism include "the free," "the immortal," and "the unconditioned." Nirvana is attainable in life, and the death of one who has attained it is termed parinirvana, or complete nirvana. This has often been interpreted as annihilation, but in fact the Buddhist scriptures say that the state of the enlightened man beyond death cannot be described. Nirvana in the different Indian traditions is achieved by moral discipline and the practice of yoga leading to the extinction of all attachment and ignorance. See also karma.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Nirvana: Selected full-text books and articles

Paradox and Nirvana: A Study of Religious Ultimates with Special Reference to Burmese Buddhism
Robert Lawson Slater.
University of Chicago Press, 1951
Breaking the Circle: Death and the Afterlife in Buddhism
Carl B. Becker.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1993
Buddhism & the Contemporary World: Change and Self-Correction
Nolan Pliny Jacobson.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1983
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Nirvana: The Aesthetic Center of Life"
The Vision of Buddhism: The Space under the Tree
Roger J. Corless.
Paragon House, 1989
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Complete Openness"
Buddhism for Today: A Modern Interpretation of the Threefold Lotus Sutra
Nikkyō Niwano.
Weatherhill, 1975
Fundamentals of Mainstream Buddhism
Eric Cheetham.
Charles E. Tuttle, 1994
A Buddhist Bible: The Favorite Scriptures of the Zen Sect
Dwight Goddard.
Dwight Goddard, 1932
The Awakening of Faith, Attributed to Aasvaghosha
Aasvaghoosa; Yoshito S. Hakeda.
Columbia University Press, 1967
Buddhist Meditation
Edward Conze.
George Allen and Unwin, 1956
A First Zen Reader
Trevor Leggett; Trevor Leggett.
Charles E. Tuttle, 1960
Buddhism and Society: A Great Tradition and Its Burmese Vicissitudes
Melford E. Spiro.
Harper & Row, 1970
Librarian’s tip: "The Goal:Nirvana" begins on p. 56
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.