I was reading through some Suttas and a word solitude was found. I looked up the original pali sutta for the word and found that word "Viveko" is getting translated as solitude. I have a sanskrit background and I studied sanskrit when I was in 8th standard. The word Viveko seems to have been derived from the sanskrit word vivek. Vivek means discretion , wisdom , true knowledge,investigation , consideration etc..but it does not mean solitude.(Solitude means privacy) Here is the sutta which uses the word solitude :

Two thoughts occur to him, The Tathāgata, the Awakened One Who endured what is beyond endurance: Security (for beings) was the first thought spoken of, Solitude was the second announced.

Its pali version is as follows :

“Tathāgataṃ buddhamasayhasāhinaṃ, Duve vitakkā samudācaranti naṃ; Khemo vitakko paṭhamo udīrito, Tato viveko dutiyo pakāsito.

My question is : What is the meaning of the pali word "Viveko" ?

2 Answers 2


According to this wisdomlib.org page, "viveka" in Pali means:

viveka : (m.) detachment; seclusion.

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Viveka, (fr. vi+vic) detachment, loneliness, separation, seclusion; “singleness” (of heart), discrimination (of thought) D. I, 37, 182; III, 222, 226, 283=S. IV, 191 (°ninna citta); S. I, 2, 194; IV, 365 sq.; V, 6, 240 sq.; A. I, 53; III, 329; IV, 224; Vin. IV, 241; Sn. 474, 772, 822, 851, 915, 1065; Nd1 158, 222; J. I, 79; III, 31; Dhs. 160; Pug. 59, 68; Nett 16, 50; DhsA. 164, 166; ThA. 64; PvA. 43; Sdhp. 471.—viveka is given as fivefold at Ps. II, 220 sq. and VbhA. 316, cp. K. S. I. 321 (Bdhgh on S. III, 2, 8), viz. tadaṅga°, vikkhambhana°, samuccheda° paṭippassaddhi°, nissaraṇa°; as threefold at Vism. 140, viz. kāya°, citta°, vikkhambhana°, i.e. physically, mentally, ethically; which division amounts to the same as that given at Nd1 26 with kāya°, citta°, upadhi°, the latter equivalent to “nibbāna. ” Cp. on term Dial. I. 84. See also jhāna. Cp. pa°. (Page 638)

(Source): Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary

There is a sutta by this name, Viveka Sutta, or the sutta on seclusion.

According to Palikanon.com on viveka:


'detachment', seclusion, is according to Niddesa, of 3 kinds:

(1) bodily detachment (kāya-viveka), i.e. abiding in solitude free from alluring sensuous objects;

(2) mental detachment (citta-viveka), i.e. the inner detachment from sensuous things;

(3) detachment from the substrata of existence (upadhi-viveka).

In the description of the 1st absorption,

the words "detached from sensuous things" (vivicc' eva kāmehi) refer, according to Vis.M. IV, to 'bodily detachment';

the words "detached from karmically unwholesome things" (vivicca akusalehi dhammehi) refer to 'mental detachment';

the words "born of detachment" (vivekaja), to the absence of the 5 hindrances.

This book excerpt discusses "viveka" and its different meanings in Pali and Sanskrit. It's too long to quote here.


I think I know part of the source of the problem, you have "discovered".

The words in the Suttas, especially the popular often-used words, have undergone a transformation, via the subsequent use by the Non-Buddhist sages. The presentations of the Hindus, Vedanta, etc., is markedly different.

Also, if you want to check out a root source, I recommend a Sanskrit dictionary -- one that includes ancient uses of the word. When I saw your example, "Viveko", I immediately thought of "Swami Vivekananda."

So, my main point is that these words used in the suttas have naturally over time fallen out of use, or the meaning have been gradually altered, because of changes in the culture of the language users.

Here is a list of some interesting Sanskrit/English websites:

You can look for more online sources. Here is one Pali/Sanskrit/English dictionary for you:

Good Luck.

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