Looking up the Pali bodhi leads to Sanskrit bodhi, which says "perfect knowledge or wisdom", from Proto-Indo European "to be awake". Perfect wisdom and being awake are not the same thing from a layman's perspective, so they are hinting at some underlying unity. Is that present in the components of the word? What about parts of speech of the word, what is its part of speech and how is it composed? Also, it seems to be related to the word Buddha (b*dh*), but I am not sure.

Bod seems to mean "body", and hi, I dunno. I may be doing this wrong :)

2 Answers 2


Etymologically, both bodhi and buddha stem from the root budh*, which is also the root for the English verb "to bud" (to flower, to bloom).

The verbal root budh* means "to awake," "to become aware," "to notice, know, or understand", as in the verbs bujjhati (Pāli) and bodhati or budhyate (Sanskrit).


Maybe you've heard of the old South Indian Monkey Trap (from this article):

In Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig’s bonkers-but-brilliant philosophical novel that turns 40 this year, he describes “the old South Indian Monkey Trap”. ... The trap “consists of a hollowed-out coconut, chained to a stake. The coconut has some rice inside which can be grabbed through a small hole”. The monkey’s hand fits through the hole, but his clenched fist can’t fit back out. “The monkey is suddenly trapped.” But not by anything physical. He’s trapped by an idea, unable to see that a principle that served him well – “when you see rice, hold on tight!” – has become lethal.

The monkey needs to let go of the rice in order to free himself from his suffering. The way to end his suffering, is to end his craving for rice.

But in order to end his craving for rice, he must first understand how his hand is stuck inside the coconut. When the monkey overcomes his ignorance about how the trap works, he would let go of his craving for rice, and release his clenched fist. With this, he would be free from his suffering.

So, when the monkey gains the wisdom of how the trap works, he overcomes his ignorance of the trap. The monkey gaining this wisdom is the same as the monkey becoming awake, becoming enlightened. Becoming awake is same as overcoming ignorance through wisdom.

So, "perfect wisdom", "becoming awake" and "overcoming ignorance" are pretty much the same.

The old South Indian Monkey Trap (Illustration above: Paul Thurlby for the Guardian)

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