Did the Buddha invent the word "jati"? How is the word "Jati" derived?

The above interesting question was raised in the Dhamma Wheel.
I like to know your opinion on this.
According to Dependent Origination “Bhava Paccaya Jati”
Bhava = Kama bhava, Rupa Bhava, Aupa Bhava
Jati = Is Jati mean rebirth in to those realams?
Was this a Hindu idea?


There appears to be an Element of obfuscation in the OP of that thread. :yum:
In any case, SN 12.2 clearly clearly describes “jati” as physical birth.


Like the word ‘birth’ in English has both literal and metaphoric meanings, so does the word ‘jati’ in Pali. Many explicit use cases of both, and even more non-explicit use cases, be found in the Suttas, and many of the non-explicit uses make ‘sense’ when interpreted either literally or metaphorically. It’s just not the case that one can pick a single definition and say that it applies to all uses saying, in effect, “this alone is true, everything else is false.” Interpretations of the use of ‘jati’ in different places and cases in the Suttas are some of the most debated interpretations within Pali scholarship.

1 Like

Sure, but “jati” as a nidana in DO is clearly not a metaphor, it explicitly refers to physical/biological birth.
And of course in DO old age and death arise in dependence upon birth, and these are also explicitly described in physical/biological terms.


Only on some interpretations of DO - those that interpret it as a process stretching over a long period of time.

I am going by what it says in the EBT.
The nidana “definitions” for birth, old age and death in SN12. 2 and MN9 are explicit.
Interpretation of DO is a can of worms, and really a separate topic.

The EBT are open to multiple interpretations.

To answer the second question ‘how is the word jāti derived?’: it is a very straightforward ti- suffix formation from the verbal root jan ‘to beget’.
The ti- suffix typically forms abstract nouns, hence the basic meaning of Pāli (and Sanskrit) jāti- ‘birth’.


As I said, the nidana “definitions” for birth, old age and death are explicitly physical/biological.
I fail to see how they could be interpreted in a metaphorical way.

Where are the definitions?

In SN12.2, which I posted above. Note that SN12 is the main treatment of DO in the EBT.

This is true. We can’t ignore the context and give any interpretation that takes our fancy.


It’s interesting that birth is included in descriptions of the First Noble Truth in the EBT, along with old age and death. I assume this is because in DO, birth inevitably leads to old age and death, and the “mass of suffering”?

1 Like

Interpretations of DO that ignore the nidana "definitions"in SN12.2 are questionable, IMO. It’s like arbitrarily changing the meaning of the words in a sentence, so that it means something completely different.
I can see why the physical/biological descriptions of birth, old age and death would be inconvenient for some interpretations of DO, but I don’t see that as a valid reason for misrepresenting or ignoring them.

1 Like

Birth is the cause of death. I think the causes of the effects, are considered suffering or unsatisfactory because they give rise to suffering.

1 Like

I think the matter is not as cut-and-dried as it might appear, examaning how the three terms used to define jati in sn12.2#sc4 are discussed in other places: sat, khanda, ayatana, e.g. in sn23.2, mn28, mn10#39.7. They are discussed not in physical/biological material terms, but inseparably in relation to grasping (inseparable except with abandonment and nibbāna, of course). The ambiguity is deliberate, as unequivocally metaphysical words could have been deliberately chosen and used exclusively in sn12.2#sc4, but were not, if the intention behind the utterance had been to convey unequivocally a metaphysical truth; it was not the modus operandi of the Buddha to proclaim on metaphysical matters, but it was the modus operandi of the Buddha to encourage people to investigate into the meaning of his teachings (relative to suffering and its end in this very life).

Sorry but I can’t see any reference to birth, old age or death in SN23.2, MN28, or MN10, and I think you’re comparing apples and oranges.

I’m not making any metaphysical assumptions, I’m just observing that in DO the descriptions of birth, old age and death are clearly physical. Though of course the inclusion of birth in the First Truth does raise some interesting questions. If the First Truth only describes “mental” suffering, then why is birth included?

Also I don’t think you can consider birth separately from old age and death in this context, since you can’t have old age and death (or anything else) without birth.

1 Like