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Translations of
English decorum,
Pali ottappa
Sanskrit apatrapya, apatrāpya
Chinese 愧(T) / 愧(S)
(RR: goi)
Tibetan ཁྲེལ་ཡོད་པ།
(Wylie: khrel yod pa;
THL: trelyö pa

Apatrapya (Sanskrit, also apatrāpya; Pali: ottappa; Tibetan Wylie: khrel yod pa) is a Buddhist term translated as "decorum" or "shame". It is defined as shunning unwholesome actions so as to not be reproached by others of good character.[1][2]

Apatrapya (Pali: ottappa) is identified as:



The Visuddhimagga (XIV, 142) describes ottappati (Pali) together with hiri (Pali):

It has conscientious scruples (hiriyati) about bodily misconduct, etc., thus it is conscience (hiri). This is a term for modesty. It is ashamed (ottappati) of those same things, thus it is shame (ottappa). This is a term for anxiety about evil. Herein, conscience has the characteristic of disgust at evil, while shame (ottappa) has the characteristic of dread of it. Conscience has the function of not doing evil and that in the mode of modesty, while shame has the function of not doing it and that in the mode of dread. They are manifested as shrinking from evil in the way already stated. Their proximate causes are self-respect and respect of others (respectively)...[3]

Nina von Gorkom states:

Moral shame and fear of blame always arise together but they are two different cetasikas with different characteristics. The Atthasalini (I, Part IV, Chapter 1, 125.127) gives a similar definition as the Visuddhimagga of moral shame and fear of blame and illustrates their difference. The Atthasalini explains that moral shame (hiri) has a subjective original, that its proximate cause is respect for oneself. Fear of blame (ottappa) has an external cause, it is influenced by the "world"; its proximate cause is respect for someone else.[3]

The opposities of the two above factors are: ahirika (lack of consciousness) and uddhacca (lack of shame).[3]


The Abhidharma-samuccaya states:

What is apatrapya? It is to avoid what is objectionable in the eyes of others.[1]

The Khenjuk states:

The difference between hri (self-respect) and apatrapya (decorum) is that hri means to refrain from unwholesome actions due to one's own conscious, while apatrapya means to refrain from unwholesome actions to avoid being reproached by others.[1][2]

The Berzin Archives state:

Care for how our actions reflect on others (khrel-yod) is the sense to refrain from negative behavior because of caring how our actions reflect on those connected with us. Those connected with us may be, for instance, our family, teachers, social group, ethnic group, religious order, or countrymen. For Vasubandhu, this mental factor means having scruples, and is a restraint from being brazenly negative. This and the previous mental factor accompany all constructive states of mind.[4]

Alternate translations

  • decorum- Guenther, Rangjung Yeshe Wiki
  • shame - Erik Pema Kunsang
  • consideration - Rangjung Yeshe Wiki
  • propriety - Rangjung Yeshe Wiki
  • fear of blame - Nina von Gorkom

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Guenther (1975), Kindle Locations 528-531.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kunsang (2004), p. 24.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Gorkom, Cetisakas: Moral Shame and Fear of Blame (hiri and ottappa)
  4. StudyBuddhism icon 35px.png Primary Minds and the 51 Mental Factors, StudyBuddhism


  • Guenther, Herbert V. & Leslie S. Kawamura (1975), Mind in Buddhist Psychology: A Translation of Ye-shes rgyal-mtshan's "The Necklace of Clear Understanding". Dharma Publishing. Kindle Edition.
  • Kunsang, Erik Pema (translator) (2004). Gateway to Knowledge, Vol. 1. North Atlantic Books.

External links

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