A Wikipedia article about Sati uses the word "upassanā"

According to Grzegorz Polak, the four upassanā have been misunderstood by the developing Buddhist tradition, ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sati_(Buddhism)

However, I could not find the word in Pali dictionary and a Google search did not explain the term. The term 'nupassana' however is found on Google but neither in Pali dictionar .

There is upasana in Sanskrit.

What is this term upassana or nupassana and where is it used?

2 Answers 2


I think the word you're looking for is Anupassanā

[abstr. of anupassati, cf. Sk. anudarśana] looking at, viewing, contemplating, consideration, realisation

It's used in compound words like Kāyānupassanā (and Vedanānupassanā, Cittānupassanā, and Dhammānupassanā).

The fact that the second 'a' in "Kāyānupassanā" is long (i.e. with an accent on it, 'ā') is I think a hint that it's a compound of two 'a's, i.e.

Kāya + anupassanā = Kāyānupassanā

Wikipedia's Vipassanā (Etymology) says ...

Vipassanā is a Pali word derived from the older prefix "vi-" meaning "special", and the verbal root "-passanā" meaning "seeing". It is often translated as "insight" or "clear-seeing". The "vi" in vipassanā has many possible meanings, it could mean to '[see] into', '[see] through' or to '[see] in a special way.

... so there's a "root" "-passanā" -- which doesn't have an independent entry in the PTS dictionary, it just says ...

  1. Passanā (p. 447) Passanā Passanā see anu˚, vi˚.

... i.e. referencing anupassanā and vipassanā.

The Sanskrit is Pashyana or Paśyana -- meaning "see", apparently.

Also there's https://www.buddha-vacana.org/toolbox/pref.html#anu which gives six possible meaning for the prefix "anu".

  1. after, behind (motion viewed from the front backward).
    ex: dhāvati: to run > anu·dhāvati: to run after

    bala: military force > anu·bala: rearguard

    bhāsati: to speak > anu·bhāsati: to speak after, repeat

  2. for, towards an aim, on to, into, over to, forward (motion viewed from the back forward).
    ex: pavecchati: to give, bestow > anu·pavecchati: to hand over

    rodati: to cry, weep > anu·rodati: to cry for

    pavisati: to enter > anu·pavisati: to enter into

  3. (emphasis).
    ex: dayā: sympathy, kindness > anu·ddayā: pity

    yoga: application, endeavour > anu·yoga: devotion, dedication

    vitakketi: to consider, reflect > anu·vitakketi: to ponder over

  4. according to, in conformity with, along.
    ex: ñāta: kown, well-knwon > anu·ñāta: permitted, allowed

    mati: opinion > anu·mati: consent, agreement

    rūpa: form > anu·rūpa: conform

    anu·dhamma: in conformity with the dhamma

    karoti: to do > anu·karoti: to imitate

  5. secondary, supplementary, inferior, minor, smaller.
    ex: pabbajā: ascetic life > anu·pabbajā: discipleship in ascetism

    majjha: average > anu·majjha: mediocre

    pavatteti: to set in motion > anu·pavatteti: to keep in motion

  6. each, every, one by one.
    ex: disā: direction > anu·disā: each direction

    pubba: previous, former > anu·pubba: 'each after the previous one' ie. gradual

    pañcāha: five days > anu·pañcāha: every five days.


anupassanā looking at, viewing, contemplating, consideration, realisation

anu small, minute, atomic; subtle. As prefix meaning “along”; with verbs of motion: “along towards”

passanā from verb passati to see; to recognise, to realise, to know, to find

anupassanā = "watching/observing/seeing closely"

  • Hi. I could mean "worship" but the phrase "four categories of mindfulness (sati)" sounds a bit unusual. Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 0:49

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