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Nidana is a Sanskrit word that means "cause, motivation or occasion" depending on the context.[1] The word is derived from ni (down, into) and da (to bind, dana).[2]

It has two specific meanings within Buddhism. The more common use refers to the twelve nidanas (commonly translated as the twelve links of dependent origination.)

The term is also less commonly used with reference to the jhanas or stages of Buddhist meditation. Though they are both chains of causation, the Twelve nidanas of samsara are regarded by Buddhists as driving beings helplessly by the force of karma, into successive rebirths, based upon ignorance, while the nidana of the jhanas, by contrast, is driven by the force of spiritual practice and is thus under an individual's control. In this sense, they are opposites of each other, like ladders, one leading 'down' into incarnational life and the other leading 'up' towards nirvana.

See also


  1. Robert E. Buswell Jr.; Donald S. Lopez Jr. (2013). The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton University Press. p. 583. ISBN 978-1-4008-4805-8. 
  2. Thomas William Rhys Davids; William Stede (1921). Pali-English Dictionary. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 358'. ISBN 978-81-208-1144-7. 
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