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It seems a significant and overlooked contribution of the Buddha, his redefining of various terms of his day into definitions more conducive to the ending of greed, ill-will and delusion/ignorance.

What are (all) these redefined terms (if not listed elsewhere)?

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  • 1
    It would be helpful to say some more about where you suspect they might have been redefined from. I'm guessing Hinduism.
    – Max
    Aug 17 '21 at 21:02
  • maybe an example as the Buddhist take is different: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niyama
    – vimutti
    Aug 17 '21 at 21:05
  • So you're asking: what identical words does Buddhism share with Hinduism that have different meanings. And your looking for a list of those words?
    – Max
    Aug 17 '21 at 21:16
  • I think this is too broad, you don't expect to see a complete list in an answer, do you?
    – Andrei Volkov
    Aug 17 '21 at 21:58
  • @AndreiVolkov It's atypical but occasionally a Stack Exchange site allows this kind of topic (for example here).
    – ChrisW
    Aug 18 '21 at 6:55
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The Buddha redefined the term Brahmin :

Yassa pāraṁ apāraṁ vā pārāpāraṁ na vijjati,
For whom the near shore, the far shore or both do not exist,

vītaddaraṁ visaṁyuttaṁ, tam-ahaṁ brūmi brāhmaṇaṁ.
free of anxiety, being detached, that one I say is a brahmin.
Dhammapada 385

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The Buddha redefined the term "yañña" (sacrifice), sometimes spelt "yajna" or "yajña".

The Buddha discouraged animal sacrifice, human sacrifice, and other extra extravagant ritualistic sacrifices (soma juice drinking etc.), of which I quoted only part of the sutta of AN 4.39 below.

The Buddha however praised non-violent sacrifices, which I think refers to giving gifts (or contributing necessities) to family members.

So, it looks to me like he redefined this term from animal sacrifice to giving charity, which is also supported by this Pali-English dictionary entry.

A similar teaching is given in SN 3.9.

“Does Master Gotama praise sacrifice (yañña)?”

“Brahmin, I don’t praise all sacrifices. Nor do I criticize all sacrifices. Take the kind of sacrifice where cattle, goats and sheep, chickens and pigs, and various kinds of creatures are slaughtered. I criticize that kind of violent sacrifice. Why is that? Because neither perfected ones nor those who are on the path to perfection will attend such a violent sacrifice.

But take the kind of sacrifice where cattle, goats and sheep, chickens and pigs, and various kinds of creatures are not slaughtered. I praise that kind of non-violent sacrifice; for example, a regular gift as an ongoing family sacrifice. Why is that? Because perfected ones and those who are on the path to perfection will attend such a non-violent sacrifice.
AN 4.39


In SN 7.21, the Buddha redefined the ritualistic practice of purification by immersion in water, into purification by immersion in virtues.

In Sigalovada Sutta, the Buddha redefined the practice of prayer directed in six directions.

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  • Curious indeed this "ongoing family sacrifice" -- I feel the translation for this has yet to come into its own so to speak/type
    – vimutti
    Aug 21 '21 at 19:25

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