Home > Glossary > Nirvana

What is Nirvana?

Nirva (neer-VAH-n, /-vn/ -VAN-, /nr-/ nur-; Sanskrit: nirva [na], Pali: nibbna, Prakrit: ivva; literally, “blown out,” as in an oil lamp) is a concept in Indian religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism) that signifies the ultimate state Nirvana is identical with moksha and mukti in Indian faiths. It is claimed by all Indian religions to be a state of perfect tranquilly, freedom, and maximum bliss, as well as release from attachment and worldly misery, and the end of samsara, the cycle of existence. Non-Buddhist and Buddhist traditions, on the other hand, use different terms for liberation. Depending on the Hindu tradition, it is the union of or realisation of the identity of Atman with Brahman in Hindu philosophy. Nirvana is also the soteriological aim of Jainism, representing a soul’s escape from karmic bonds and samsara. Nirvana is a Buddhist term that refers to the realisation of non-self and emptiness, which marks the end of rebirth by quenching the fires that keep the rebirth cycle continuing. To attain this state, one must overcome three psychological afflictions: Raga (greed, desire), Dwesha (anger), and Moha (fear) (delusion).