Nibbāna in the locative case?

Hello Dhamma friends! :grinning: :pray:

Wikipedia - Locative case:

In grammar, the locative case (abbreviated loc) is a grammatical case which indicates a location. It corresponds vaguely to the English prepositions “in”, “on”, “at”, and “by”.

When reading the suttas please always check the Pali since there are 3 versions of Nibbāna in the locative case: Nibbānasmiṃ, Nibbānamhi & Nibbāne.

And these are found in numerous suttas. :hugs:

  1. Nibbānasmiṃ: This is Nibbāna inflected into the locative case. The suffix “-asmiṃ” indicates “in.” So, “Nibbānasmiṃ” translates to “in Nibbāna” or “at Nibbāna.” It denotes the state or condition of being in Nibbāna, which is the ultimate goal of liberation from suffering in Buddhism. It implies a sense of being situated within the sphere of Nibbāna.
  2. Nibbānamhi: Similarly, “Nibbānamhi” is another form of Nibbāna in the locative case. The suffix “-mhi” also denotes “in” or “at.” Therefore, “Nibbānamhi” translates to “in Nibbāna” or “at Nibbāna.” It carries the same sense as “Nibbānasmiṃ” but with a slightly different grammatical form.
  3. Nibbāne: “Nibbāne” is again Nibbāna inflected into the locative case, but this form doesn’t include the explicit locative suffix as seen in the previous examples. Instead, it’s more simplified. It still signifies “in Nibbāna” or “at Nibbāna,” but without the additional explicit locative marker. This form might be used in certain contexts for brevity or poetic expression.

In essence, all three forms denote the state of being in Nibbāna or at Nibbāna, emphasizing the ultimate goal of liberation and enlightenment in Buddhism. These variations in grammar allow for nuanced expressions within Buddhist texts and teachings.

1 Like

Welcome to to forum!

I’m a little confused. Are you suggesting that the 3 different ending of the locative, singular ending in -a have different meanings?

This is not how I have understood the matter. The different endings are, as far as I understand it, to do with meter and the age of the text.

I’d suggest you review AK Warder Introduction to Pali Chapter 16 (pg 100) to get a clear understanding of the uses of the locative in Pali, rather than using Wikipedia as your reference.

Taking single words out of context of there sentence is going to lead you astray.


I have been teaching Pali for 8 years and can say there is very little that’s correct about this.

It’s good to study a language properly before trying to teach others about it.


Indeed, the locative doesn’t exactly work like that.

For the deeper issue of treating Nibbāna as a “location”, see Soonil Hwang’s book on “The Doctrinal History of Nirvana”


Thank you Venerable @Pasanna & Venerable @Khemarato.bhikkhu ! :grinning: :pray: I’ll look up the books you mentioned.

1 Like

@Dhabba - You can get a copy of Warder here :blush:


Hello Venerable @Sunyo! :pray:

“asmiṁ”: This is a locative form of the pronoun “asma” which means “in this” or “in that.” So, “nibbānasmiṁ” can be translated as “in Nibbana” or “within Nibbana.”

MN 1
Nibbānaṁ nibbānato sañjānāti;
nibbānaṁ nibbānato saññatvā nibbānaṁ maññati, nibbānasmiṁ maññati, nibbānato maññati, nibbānaṁ meti maññati, nibbānaṁ abhinandati.

So, in this context, “nibbānasmiṁ” means “in Nibbana” or “within Nibbana.”

Venerable Sujato translates this as:
”they conceive it in extinguishment.”
Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi as:
”he conceives himself in Nibbāna.”

The same applies to Nibbānamhi & Nibbāne.

So exactly how is there ”very little that is correct” about this? :thinking:

There doesn’t seem much evidence for this.

Have you been reading texts in Pali for a while?

Ok but I’m only pointing out that these variations of Nibbāna are found in the suttas:

Nibbānasmiṃ, Nibbānamhi & Nibbāne.
It is said that all three of these are in the locative case.

Even translated as ”in Nibbāna” by both Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi and Venerable Sujato in MN 1, as I pointed out in my post above.

Surely there are suttas where the usage of any of these three: Nibbānasmiṃ, Nibbānamhi or Nibbāne in the locative case has a different meaning compared to if only ”Nibbāna” was used?

I thought it was interesting to find these variations of Nibbāna and wanted to share it with others. :slight_smile:

It’s wonderful to develop an interest in the Pali language.
Best wishes for your Pali explorations. I strongly suggest a systematic study before drawing and presenting any overarching conclusions.


Perhaps this post could have been framed as a question or a request for authentication rather than an assertion, but as someone who does not know Pali and who is very ignorant of the underlying subject matter, I would appreciate if those who are experts could expand on the details of the critique and what has been mistaken. Thanks! :pray:

1 Like

Thanks for your post. You have piqued my interest. Whilst it is unlikely that the different vibhatti endings will yield nuanced meanings (as I think others have pointed out), I was interested to find out where in the Tipiṭaka these forms occur.

So I did some searching on suttacentral.

Interestingly, the form “nibbānasmiṃ” only occurs in one sutta - MN1.


Nibbānaṁ nibbānato sañjānāti; nibbānaṁ nibbānato saññatvā nibbānaṁ maññati, nibbānasmiṁ maññati, nibbānato maññati, nibbānaṁ meti maññati, nibbānaṁ abhinandati

This roughly translates as (my translation):

(He) perceives nibbāna from nibbāna. Having perceived nibbāna from nibbāna, he conceives nibbāna, conceives “from nibbāna”, conceives “in nibbāna”, conceives “nibbāna is mine”, he relishes nibbāna.

This is shown by the Buddha to be a false view, because later on in #50.1, having “directly experienced” nibbāna, he stops conceiving nibbāna, “from nibbāna”, “in nibbāna”, “nibbāna is mine” and stops relishing nibbāna.

I was not able to find any instances of “nibbānamhi” in the Tipiṭaka.

“nibbāne” does occur in a few places in the Tipiṭaka, and it could potentially be used in the “locative” sense, but it more often used in the accusative sense for example SN22.90#6.9. It can sometimes be used as a 7th case ending (which is generally regarded having the sense of locative), but in these examples the sense is actually possessive, eg. DN14#3.13.3

saṅkhārānaṁ ādīnavaṁ okāraṁ saṅkilesaṁ nibbāne ānisaṁsaṁ pakāsesi.

which translates to roughly (again, my translation):

(He) talked about the unsatisfactoriness, inferiority, impurity of volitional constructions, and the benefit in (of) nibbāna.

And SN12.70#13.3:

“Pubbe kho, susima, dhammaṭṭhitiñāṇaṁ, pacchā nibbāne ñāṇan”ti.

Which I translate roughly as:

Indeed before, O Susima, the knowledge of relationship of ideas or states*, after understanding in (of) nibbana.

*“the knowledge of relationship of ideas or states” is the definition given in DPD. My literal translation would be more like “knowledge of the invariance of natural laws/principles”

None of these examples talk about the “state of being in Nibbāna or at Nibbāna” as that is regarded as a wrong view (my opinion). Nibbāna is not a “state” that you can be “in”.

Anyway, just my views.

1 Like

Thank you so much for your reply! :pray: :smiley:

Tipitaka Search has 3 instances of “nibbānamhi”.
(Maybe from commentary?)

I limited the search to EBT only.

This is not on tranlations but i feel this is not oke @christie

The sutta’s really describe Nibbana as a sublime state of supreme peace…(for example MN79)

also MN26: 15. "Having gong forth, bhikkhus, in search of what is wholesome,
seeking the supreme state of sublime peace…

Nibbana is in general described as state of peace which one can attain.

1 Like

If that is what you are striving for, I hope you find it.

I don’t think the suttas you quoted say what you think they say.

For example MN26#15:

So evaṁ pabbajito samāno kiṅkusalagavesī anuttaraṁ santivarapadaṁ pariyesamāno yena āḷāro kālāmo tenupasaṅkamiṁ. upasaṅkamitvā āḷāraṁ kālāmaṁ etadavocaṁ

santivarapadaṁ literally translates as “peace excellent way/position”. I note that you are relying on the translation “supreme state of sublime peace” - although flowery, this is not quite what the Pali compound word represent.

In any case, “santivarapadaṁ” was what the Gotama - pre-enlightenment - was seeking for when he approached Āḷāra Kālāma. He thought that was the goal, but despite him mastering Āḷāra Kālāma’s teachings, he did not achieve it.

Then he sought the same from Uddaka son of Rāma, and he did not achieve it either.

He then realised that neither of the two teachers will lead him to the goal he sought. With disappointment he said:

‘nāyaṁ dhammo nibbidāya na virāgāya na nirodhāya na upasamāya na abhiññāya na sambodhāya na nibbānāya saṁvattati’

He then realised a fundamentally different approach, using very different words, is required in #18.1:

So kho ahaṁ, bhikkhave, attanā jātidhammo samāno jātidhamme ādīnavaṁ viditvā ajātaṁ anuttaraṁ yogakkhemaṁ nibbānaṁ pariyesamāno ajātaṁ anuttaraṁ yogakkhemaṁ nibbānaṁ ajjhagamaṁ, attanā jarādhammo samāno jarādhamme ādīnavaṁ viditvā ajaraṁ anuttaraṁ yogakkhemaṁ nibbānaṁ pariyesamāno ajaraṁ anuttaraṁ yogakkhemaṁ nibbānaṁ ajjhagamaṁ, attanā byādhidhammo samāno byādhidhamme ādīnavaṁ viditvā abyādhiṁ anuttaraṁ yogakkhemaṁ nibbānaṁ pariyesamāno abyādhiṁ anuttaraṁ yogakkhemaṁ nibbānaṁ ajjhagamaṁ, attanā maraṇadhammo samāno maraṇadhamme ādīnavaṁ viditvā amataṁ anuttaraṁ yogakkhemaṁ nibbānaṁ ajjhagamaṁ, attanā sokadhammo samāno sokadhamme ādīnavaṁ viditvā asokaṁ anuttaraṁ yogakkhemaṁ nibbānaṁ ajjhagamaṁ, attanā saṅkilesadhammo samāno saṅkilesadhamme ādīnavaṁ viditvā asaṅkiliṭṭhaṁ anuttaraṁ yogakkhemaṁ nibbānaṁ pariyesamāno asaṅkiliṭṭhaṁ anuttaraṁ yogakkhemaṁ nibbānaṁ ajjhagamaṁ.

Note that the Buddha no longer uses the word “santivarapadaṁ” to describe what he realised - he had been searching for the wrong goal. “Sublime peace” isn’t a state, but one can be peaceful from extinguishment, which is the principle that he expounds clearly:

‘adhigato kho myāyaṁ dhammo gambhīro duddaso duranubodho santo paṇīto atakkāvacaro nipuṇo paṇḍitavedanīyo.

Note that I am deliberately not translating these passages. I think it is very important to read them in Pali and not in English. That way, there is no possibility of misunderstanding from a translation.

I hope this helps. If not, please ignore what I have said and I wish you the best in your path.

1 Like

The problem is, if i ask different Pali experts they all have different translation and ideas. Especially on how to translate Dhamma texts. If so, what does Pali expertise mean? I think i see that translators are often led by their own understanding of Dhamma. I do not believe anymore that the Pali expertise is really the issue.

If i read some translations of @Sujato, especially those are often very different from others.
Take for example Dhp1. Such a huge difference with all others. But there are many examples.

Now as a person with no Pali expertise what must i think about all this? Are all those other people no Pali experts? I think there are probably two very different things: being a Pali expert and translation Sutta’s. That last does not only rely on Pali expertise. That is very clear. We do not have to discuss this.

Regarding Nibbana:

The Buddha is constant described as at ease, peaceful, detached, unburdened, free… and this is no state he called Nibbana?

That wise mendicant here
rid of desire and lust,
has found the peace free of death,
Nibbana, the imperishable state. (Snp1.11)

Do you really think that this peace free of death, an imperishable state, here described, refers to ‘the peace’ and the imperishable state of a mere cessation? A mere cessation as peace and an imperishable state? That is cynical talk. To refer to mere cessation as a state is nonsense.

Not at all. He ony realised, like the suttas also say, that jhana is just a temporary peace. That is not what he searched for. This dependend peace. He found the peace that is arrived at via uprooting all inner causes and conditions that can cause disease, restlessness, agitation, clinging. That is a very different peace, because it is not temporary, and he called it the sublime state of supreme peace, Nibbana, Because defilements are extinguished, agitation is gone.

But plenty of these below, aside from ”extinguishment” (Nibbāna), could be considered a state, right?

the unconditioned, the uninclined, the undefiled, the truth, the far shore, the subtle, the very hard to see, the freedom from old age, the constant, the not falling apart, that in which nothing appears, the unproliferated, the peaceful, the freedom from death, the sublime,
the state of grace( :wink:),
the sanctuary, the ending of craving, the incredible, the amazing, the untroubled, the not liable to trouble, extinguishment, the unafflicted, dispassion, purity, freedom, not clinging, the island, the protection, the shelter & the refuge.

For @christie too,

AN3.55 says that Nibbana is directly visible
AN9.47 explains the same
Dhp114 says one can see the Deathless state. Better one day alive and seeing it, then living 100 years without seeing it
MN98 says Nibbana is attained by non-grasping
SN38.1 says that the destruction of lobha, dosa and moha is called Nibbana
SN45.7 says the same but now the removal of those three
AN4.23 Nibbana is supreme peace not accessible for fear
Snp1.11 Nibbana an imperishable state, a peace free of death
AN9.34 describes Nibbana as happiness
MN143 Nibbana is the peak of peace
MN140 The supreme noble peace, namely, the pacification of lust, hate, and delusion
MN35: The Blessed One has attained Nibbana and he teaches the Dhamma for attaining Nibbana
MN86: "Bhikkhus, this supreme state of sublime peace has been discovered by the Tathagata, that is, liberation through not clinging,
MN116: Upanita attained the state of peace, Nibbana
SN1.3: A seeker of peace should drop the world’s bait.
SN4.25 “Having conquered the army of the pleasant and agreeable, Meditating alone, I discovered bliss, The attainment of the goal, the peace of the heart.
SN8.2: Proficient, long trained in concentration, Honest, discreet, without longing, The sage has attained the peaceful state, Depending on which he bides his time Fully quenched within himself.”
(ofcourse this is Nibbana)
SN43.14-43: The Buddha teaches the Path to the peaceful
Dhp285: Crush your sense of self-allure Like an autumn lily in the hand Nurture only the path to peace, Nibbana, As taught to the One Well Gone (
Iti43: The sorrowless stainless state
Iti63: Touching liberation with the heart, the state of peace unsurpassed, consummate in terms of signs, peaceful, delighting in the peaceful state, judicious, an attainer-of-wisdom makes use of classifications but can’t be classified
iti73: the Rightly Self-awakened One teaches the state with no sorrow, no dust.
Iti77: : …seeing the danger in acquisitions, you’ve gone beyond birth & death. Having reached the foremost peace, you bide your time, composed.
Snp2.8: He who has drawn out the arrow and is not dependent (on anything) will obtain peace of mind; he who has overcome all sorrow will become free from sorrow, and blessed

If you look at all these texts, why would one still think Nibbana is not a state of peace arrived at via the removal of all that leads to clinging? Why can that peace, Nibbana, not be known?