Is antarāya a synonym for nīvaraṇa?

Hi, I received a message earlier today which analysed a set of verses in Pali.

In this analysis, it was implied that antarāya is a synonym for nīvaraṇa.

By reading the dictionary entries I could not get to that conclusion.

Do EBTs support that equivalence?


P.S.: let me tag venerables @Brahmali and @sujato.


From Pali Text Society’s dictionary.

The Pali Text Society's Pali-English dictionary ([p. 48])(The Pali Text Society's Pali-English dictionary)
Antarāya Antarāya1 [antara + aya from i , lit. “coming in between”] obstacle, hindrance, impediment to ( – ˚); prevention, bar; danger, accident to ( – ). There are 10 dangers (to or from) enumd. at Vin i.112, 169 etc., viz. rāja˚, cora˚, aggi˚, udaka˚, manussa˚, amanussa˚, vāḷa˚, siriŋsapa˚, jīvita˚, brahmacariya˚ . In B.Sk. 7 at Divy 544, viz. rājā – caura – manuṣy – amanuṣya – vyāḍ – agny – udakaŋ. – D i.3, 25, 26; A iii.243, 306; iv.320; Sn 691, 692; Dh 286 (= jīvit˚ DhA iii.431); J i.62, 128; KhA 181; DhA ii 52; VvA 1 = PvA 1 (hat˚ removing the obstacles) – antarāyaŋ karoti to keep away from, hinder, hold back, prevent, destroy Vin i.15; J vi.171; Vism 120; PvA 20.
– kara one who causes impediments or bars the way, an obstructor D i.227; S i.34; A i.161; Pv iv.322

The Pali Text Society's Pali-English dictionary ([p. 376])(The Pali Text Society's Pali-English dictionary)
Nīvaraṇa Nīvaraṇa (nt. occasionally m.) [Sk. *nivāraṇa, nis+ varaṇa of vṛ (vṛṇoti), see nibbuta & cp. nivāraṇa] an obstacle, hindrance, only as tt. applied to obstacles in an ethical sense & usually enumd or referred to in a set of 5 (as pañca nīvaraṇāni and p. āvaraṇāni), viz. kāmacchanda, (abhijjhā – )vyāpāda, thīna – middha, uddhaccakukkucca, vicikicchā i. e. sensuality, ill – will, torpor of mind or body, worry, wavering (cp. Dhs. trsl. p. 310): D i.73 (˚e, acc. pl.), 246; ii.83, 300; iii.49 sq., 101, 234, 278; S ii.23; iii.149; v.60, 84 sq., 93 sq., 145, 160, 226, 327, 439; M i.60, 144, 276; iii.4, 295; A i.3, 161; iii.16, 63, 230 sq.; 386; iv.457; v.16, 195, 322; Sn 17; Nd1 13; Nd2 379; Ps i.31, 129, 163; Pug 68; Dhs 1059, 1136, 1495; Vbh 199, 244, 378; Nett 11, 13, 94; Vism 146, 189; DA i.213; Sdhp 459, 493 and passim. <-> Other enumns are occasionally found e. g. 10 at S v.110; 8 at M i.360 sq.; 6 at Dhs 1152.

They both mean obstacle or hindrance. So at first pass it doesn’t seem a stretch to view them as synonyms. Will be very interested to hear how their specific usages in the EBT distinguish their meaning.


The sense that I get is that nīvaraṇa is usually used in the context of meditation or bhāvanā in general, while antarāya has a broader context, as in something that can halt one’s spiritual progress altogether.

Antarāya also seems to have a nuance of danger that nīvaraṇa doesn’t have.

Another synonym for nīvaraṇa, that often appears together with it, is āvaraṇa.


The above answers pretty much address the general question, but I’d be interested to see the specific context.


Hi bhante @sujato, this is what was written:

Buddhasahassanāmāvali - Verse 46
अग्गलमुत्तो सब्बधि;
बुद्धं तं पणमाम्यहं.

Aggalamutto sabbadhi;
Buddhaṃ taṃ paṇamāmyahaṃ.

I bow to the Buddha,
Who was free of all hindrances,
In every way, free of all obstructions,
Fetters and impediments.

sabbantarāyavimutto - free of all hindrances
antarāyo - obstacle, hindrance, obstruction
aggalamutto sabbadhi - free of all obstructions
aggala - lit : bolt fastening the door: can not enter, fig.: obstruction
sabbabyavadhānamutto - free of all fetters and impediments
byavadhāna/vyavadhāna - covering, shelter

Five Hindrances -Pañca Nīvaraṇa

kāmacchanda - craving
vyāpāda - aversion, ill will, desire to injure, hatred
thīna-middha - sluggishness, sloth, torper
uddhacca-kukkucca - agitation
vicikicchā - doubt, perplexity, uncertainty



Hi Gabriel,

This verse is found in the Buddhaguṇagāthāvalī, of which I know exactly nothing. However, it is clearly a late work. The combination of verse and lateness means both the wording and the grammar will often differ significantly from that found in the suttas. So although antarāya in the suttas is used in a much broader sense than nīvaraṇa, it is not surprising to find these words used differently in a text such as this one.


Thank you for your attention and reply, bhante. :anjal:

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