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Adhiṣṭhāna (P. adhiṭṭhāna; T. byin gyis brlabs pa བྱིན་གྱིས་བརླབས་པ་; C. jiachi; J. kaji; K. kaji 加持), literally "determination" or "decisive resolution,"[1] the term has mulitple usages in the Buddhist context.

The main connotations are:


The Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary Online holds the following semantic field for adhiṣṭhāna:

  1. [noun] standing by, being at hand, approach
  2. standing or resting upon
  3. a basis, base
  4. the standing-place of the warrior upon the car
  5. a position, site, residence, abode, seat
  6. a settlement, town, standing over
  7. government, authority, power
  8. a precedent, rule
  9. a benediction (Buddhism)[2]

Contemporary scholar Francesca Fremantle gives an etymology of Sanskrit adhiṣṭhāna and Tibetan jinlap:

"The Sanskrit word literally means "standing over" and conveys ideas of taking possession, dwelling within, presence, protection, and sovereignty. The Tibetan literally means "an engulfing wave or flood of splendor and power." [3]

Dan Martin suggests that the Chinese term for adhiṣṭhāna influenced the Tibetan:

Byin-rlabs is commonly glossed as 'gift wave', but it more properly goes back to a literal translation of a Chinese word which was almost certainly made during the earliest introduction of Buddhism into Tibet in the seventh or eighth centuries. It is not a literal translation of the Sanskrit Buddhists term adhisthana. Its actual, or rather its philologically correct, meaning is 'received by (way of) giving'.[4]

"Blessings" in Vajrayana

The 14th Dalai Lama states:

The Tibetan word for blessing, chin lap, can be broken into two parts—chin means ’magnificent potential’ and lap means ‘to transform’. So chin lap means ‘transforming into magnificent potential.’ Therefore, blessing refers to the development of virtuous qualities that you did not previously have and the improvement of those good qualities that you have already developed. It also means decreasing the defilements of the mind that obstruct the generation of wholesome qualities. So actual blessing is received when the mind’s virtuous attributes gain strength and its defective characteristics weaken or deteriorate.[5]

Tsultrim Allione states that the bliss waves (adhiṣṭhāna) "are a very important part of the transmission recieved from one's guru and lineage."[6]

Alternate translations

  • blessings
  • bliss waves, splendor waves, waves of divine grace (Tsultrim Allione, Women of Wisdom)


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. adhiṣṭhāna.
  2. Monier Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary Online (April, 2009). 'adhiShThAna'. Source: [1] (accessed: Sunday January 3, 2009) NB: change input to Itrans and place "adhiShThAna" (अधिष्ठान) as cited.
  3. Fremantle, Francesca (2001). Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Boston: Shambala Publications. ISBN 1-57062-450-X, p. 48
  4. Martin, Dan (1994). 'Pearls from Bones: Relics, Chortens, Tertons and the Signs of Saintly Death in Tibet'. Numen, Vol. 41, No. 3. (Sep., 1994), p.274.
  5. In his commentary on the second part of Kamalashila’s Stages of Meditation
  6. Tsultrim Allione, Woman in Wisdom, "Preface"