What terms are equivalent to 'meaning' in Sanskrit, or Buddhist thought more generally?

Especially in terms of, how to live a meaningful life, and what is considered meaningful in Buddhist philosophy.



1 Answer 1


A Pali word translated as "meaningful" is "sāttha" (sa + attha), which also literally means 'with/having purpose', 'with/having benefit', 'with/having advantage', 'with/having profit'.

This/these words can be found in many suttas, such as below:

And so, mendicants, this spiritual life is not lived for the sake of possessions, honor, and popularity, or for accomplishment in ethics, or for accomplishment in immersion, or for knowledge and vision. Rather, the goal [purpose] (etadatthamidaṁ), heartwood, and final end of the spiritual life is the unshakable freedom of heart.

MN 29

Furthermore, a mendicant is very learned, remembering and keeping what they’ve learned. These teachings are good in the beginning, good in the middle and good in the end, meaningful (sātthaṁ) and well-phrased, describing a spiritual practice that’s entirely full and pure. They are very learned in such teachings, remembering them, reinforcing them by recitation, mentally scrutinizing them, and comprehending them theoretically. This too is a quality that serves as protector.

AN 10.17

This venerable brings up a deep and meaningful saying (atthapadaṁ) that is peaceful, sublime, beyond the scope of logic, subtle, comprehensible to the astute.

AN 4.192

Therefore, when we read the Teachings above, what is meaningful is:

  • ethics, concentration (immersion) & wisdom (knowledge & vision) leading to freedom of mind
  • qualities that serve as a protector
  • that which is peaceful & leads to peacefulness

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