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Translations of
English diligence,
sustained effort
Pali viriya
Sanskrit vīrya
Chinese 勤(T) / 勤(S),
精進(T) / 精进(S)
Japanese 精進
(rōmaji: shōjin)
Korean 근, 정진
(RR: geun, jeongjin)
Sinhalese වීර්ය
Tibetan བརྩོན་འགྲུས།
(Wylie: brtson 'grus;
THL: tsöndrü
Vietnamese Tinh Tấn
Paramita icon 125px.png
Virya is one of the six (or ten)

Virya (Sanskrit: vīrya; Pāli: viriya) is a Buddhist term commonly translated as "energy", "diligence", "enthusiasm", or "effort". It can be defined as an attitude of gladly engaging in wholesome activities, and it functions to cause one to accomplish wholesome or virtuous actions.


Virya (viriya in Pali) has been translated as "energy,"[1][2][3][4] "persistence,"[4][5] "persevering,"[6] "vigour," "effort," "exertion,"[7] or "diligence."[8][9]

In Buddhism, virya generally refers to a practitioner's "energy" or "exertion," and is repeatedly identified as a necessary prerequisite for achieving liberation.

In Vedic literature, the term is often associated with heroism and virility. In this context, the term has been translated as "vigour", "heroic exertion"[7] or "valour."[10]

Virya paramita

The paramita of virya (viriya) is identified as:

Mental factor

Within the Abhidharma teachings, virya is identified as:


The Visuddhimagga (XIV, 137) gives the following definition:

Energy (viriya) is the state of one who, is vigorous (vira). Its characteristic is marshalling (driving). Its finction is to consolidate conascent states (the accompanying citta and cetasikas). It is manifested as non-collapse. Because of the words "Bestirred, he strives wisely" (Gradual Saying II. I l5), its proximate cause is a sense of urgency; or its proximate cause is grounds for the initiation of energy. When rightly initiated, it should be regarded as the root of all attainments.[11]


In the Mahayana abhidharma, virya is defined as the attitude of gladly engaging in what is wholesome; its function is to cause one to accomplish wholesome actions.[8][9]

The Abhidharma-samuccaya states:

What is virya? It is the mind intent on being ever active, devoted, unshaken, not turning back and being indefatigable. It perfects and realizes what is conducive to the positive.[8]

In the context of the Mahayana Abhidharma, virya is commonly translated as diligence.[8]

Pali literature

In Pali literature, viriya is identified as critical component in each of the following sets of qualities conducive to Enlightenment (bodhi-pakkhiyā-dhammā):

It is also associated with "Right Effort" (sammā-vāyāma) of the Noble Eightfold Path (Pāli: aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo; Skt.: aṣṭāṅga mārga) and with the "Four Right Exertions" (samma-ppadhāna).

In the Kīṭāgiri Sutta (MN 70), the Buddha instructs his followers:

... For a faithful disciple who is intent on fathoming the Teacher's Dispensation, it is natural that he conduct himself thus: 'Willingly, let only my skin, sinews, and bones remain, and let the flesh and blood dry up on my body, but my energy [Pali: viriya] shall not be relaxed so long as I have not attained what can be attained by manly strength [purisa-tthāmena], manly energy [purisa-viriyena], and manly persistence [purisa-parakkamena]...."[1]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ñāṇamoli & Bodhi (2001), "Kīṭāgiri Sutta" (MN 70), pp. 583-4.
  2. Ireland (1998)
  3. Walshe (2009)
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 See, e.g., Bullitt (2005), entry for "viriya," which defines this term as: "Persistence; energy. One of the ten perfections (paramis), the five faculties (bala; see bodhi-pakkhiya-dhamma), and the five strengths/dominant factors (indriya; see bodhi-pakkhiya-dhamma)." Retrieved 3 Feb. 2011 from "ATI" at .
  5. Thanissaro (2005).
  6. Piyadassi (1999).
  7. 7.0 7.1 See, e.g., Rhys Davids & Stede (1921-25), entry for "Viriya," which defines viriya as: "lit. 'state of a strong man,' i. e. vigour, energy, effort, heroic exertion." Retrieved 3 Feb. 2011 from "U.Chicago" at .
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Guenther (1975), Kindle Locations 578-580.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Kunsang (2004), p. 25.
  10. See, e.g., which Monier Williams (1899), entry for "Vīyà," defines vīyà in part as: "manliness, valour, strength, power, energy, RV [ Rig Veda ] &c. &c.; heroism, heroic deed, ibid.; manly vigour, virility, semen virile, MBh. [ Mahabharata ]; Kāv.&c; ...." Retrieved 3 Feb. 2011 from "U.Cologne" at .
  11. Gorkom (2010), Cetisakas: adhimokkha and viriya


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