soteriological goal within the Indian religions

Nirvāṇa (निर्वाण in Sanskrit; also Nibbana, निब्बान in Pali), is an ancient Sanskrit term used in Indian religions to denote the profound peace of mind that is acquired with moksha (liberation). In shramanic thought, it is the state of being free from suffering. In Hindu philosophy, it is awareness of union with Brahman. The word's original use involved the meanings "to cease blowing" (as when a candle flame ceases to flicker) or extinguishing (in reference to the passions), and in the Buddhist context, to the imperturbable stillness of mind after the fires of desire, aversion, and delusion have been finally extinguished.

Nirvana transcends all duality of knowing and known, of being and non-being. ~ Laṅkāvatāra Sūtra
This article is about the religious concept. For the American rock band, see Nirvana (band)


  • I myself had my experience of Nirvana and silence in the Brahman; ... it came first simply by an absolute stillness and blotting out as it were of all mental, emotional and other inner activities. ... I did not become aware of any pure 'I' nor even of any self, impersonal or other - there was only an awareness of That as the sole Reality, all else being quite unsubstantial, void, non-real. As to what realized that reality, it was a nameless consciousness which was not other than that; one could perhaps say this, though hardly even so much as this, since there was no mental concept of it, but not more. ... Consciousness (not this or that part of consciousness or an 'I' of any kind) suddenly emptied itself of all inner contents and remained aware only of unreal surroundings and of Something real but ineffable.
    • Sri Aurobindo. Sri Aurobindo on Himself and on the Mother, 1953, pp. 178-79. Quoted from Swarup, Ram (2000). On Hinduism: Reviews and reflections. Chapter 3
  • There is, in the Buddhist philosophy, a wonderful sentence of the Lord Gautama Buddha, where he is striving to indicate in human language something that would be intelligible about the condition of Nirvana. You find it in the Chinese translation of the Dhammapada, and the Chinese edition has been translation into English in Trübner’s Oriental Series. He puts it there that, unless there were Nirvana, there could be nothing; and he uses various phrases in order to indicate what he means, taking the uncreated and then connecting with it the created; taking the Real and then connecting with it the unreal. He sums it up by saying that Nirvana is; and that if it were not, naught else could be. That is an attempt (if one may call it so with all reverence) to say what cannot be said. It implies that unless there existed the Uncreate, the invisible and the Real, we could not have a universe at all. You have there, then, the indication that Nirvana is a plenum, not a void. That idea should be fundamentally fixed in your mind, in your study of every great system of Philosophy. So often the expressions used may seem to indicate a void. Hence the western idea of annihilation. If you think of it as fullness, you will realize that the consciousness expands more and more, without losing utterly the sense of identity; if you could think of a centre of a circle without a circumference, you would glimpse the truth.
  • [Nirvana has been called] the harbour of refuge, the cool cave, the island amidst the floods, the place of bliss, emancipation, liberation, safety, the supreme, the transcendental, the uncreated, the tranquil, the home of ease, the calm, the end of suffering, the medicine for all evil, the unshaken, the ambrosia, the immaterial, the imperishable, the abiding, the further shore, the unending, the bliss of effort, the supreme joy, the ineffable, the detachment, the holy city, and many others.
    • Thomas Rhys Davids, Early Buddhism. Quoted from Swarup, Ram (2000). On Hinduism: Reviews and reflections. Chapter 3
  • Health is the greatest gift, contentment is the greatest wealth, a trusted friend is the best relative, Nibbana is the greatest bliss.
    • Dhammapada, (verse 202), translator: Narada Maha Thera
  • Nirvana is a state of pure bliss and knowledge. ... It has nothing to do with the individual. The ego or its separation is an illusion. Indeed in a certain sense two "I"'s are identical namely when one disregards all special contents — their Karma. The goal of man is to preserve his Karma and to develop it further ... when man dies his Karma lives and creates for itself another carrier.
  • Nirvana is not the blowing out of the candle. It is the extinguishing of the flame because day is come.
  • The Buddhist nirvana is defined as release from samsara, literally the Round of Birth and Death, that is, from life lived in a vicious circle, as an endlessly repetitious attempt to solve a false problem. Samsara is therefore comparable to attempts to square the circle, trisect the angle, or construct a mechanism of perpetual motion. A puzzle which has no solution forces one to go over the same ground again and again.
    • Alan Watts, Psychotherapy, East and West (1961), p. 16

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