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Adhiṭṭhāna is one of the six (or ten)

Adhiṭṭhāna (Pali) has been translated as "decision," "resolution," "self-determination," "will".

Within the Theravada tradition, adhiṭṭhāna is identified of one of the ten paramis on the path of the bodhisatta.


  • Adhi can mean "foundational" or "beginning"
  • Sthā can mean "standing"

Within Pali canon texts

While adhiṭṭhāna appears sporadically in the early Pali Canon, various late-canonical and post-canonical accounts of the Buddha's past lives clearly contextualize adhiṭṭhāna within the Theravadin tenfold perfections.

Digha Nikaya analysis

In the Pali Canon, in the Digha Nikaya discourse entitled, "Chanting Together" (DN 33), Ven. Sariputta states that the Buddha has identified the following:

'Four kinds of resolve (adhiṭṭhānī): [to gain] (a) wisdom, (b) truth (sacca), (c) relinquishment (cāga), (d) tranquility (upasama).'[1]

Bodhisatta Sumedho

In the late-canonical Buddhavamsa, the boddhisatta Sumedha declares:

And as a mountain, a rock, stable and firmly based,
does not tremble in rough winds but remains in precisely its own place,

so you too must be constantly stable in resolute determination;
going on to the perfection of Resolute Determination, you will attain Self-Awakening.[2]

Temiya the Wise

In the Cariyapitaka, there is one account explicitly exemplifying adhiṭṭhāna, that of "Temiya the Wise" (Cp III.6, Temiya paṇḍita cariyaṃ). In this account, at an early age Temiya, sole heir to a throne, recalls a past life in purgatory (niraya) and thus asks for release (kadāhaṃ imaṃ muñcissaṃ). In response, a compassionate devatā advises Temiya to act unintelligent and foolish and to allow himself to be an object of people's scorn.[3] Understanding the devatā's virtuous intent, Temiya agrees to this and acts as if mute, deaf and crippled. Seeing these behaviors but finding no physiological basis for them, priests, generals and countrymen decry Temiya as "inauspicious" and plan to have Temiya cast out. When Temiya is sixteen years old, he is ceremonially anointed and then buried in a pit. The account concludes:

... I did not break that resolute determination which was for the sake of Awakening itself. Mother and father were not disagreeable to me and nor was self disagreeable to me. Omniscience [sabbaññuta] was dear to me, therefore I resolutely determined on that itself. Resolutely determining on those factors I lived for sixteen years. There was no one equal to me in resolute determination — this was my perfection of Resolute Determination.[4]

See also


  1. DN 33 1.11(27), translation by Walshe (1995), p. 492, v. 27. Parenthesized Pali and square-bracketed English are in the original.
  2. Bv IIA.154-5 (trans. Horner, "Buddhavamsa," p. 22).
  3. Horner (2000), p. 36 n. 5, comments: "Kings, having to be very harsh, accumulated much demerit leading to Niraya [a Buddhist hell realm]."
  4. For the whole account, see Horner (2000), pp. 36-38. The final quotation is from Horner (2000), pp. 37-38, vv. 17-19.


External links

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