Pasāda vs Saddhā: What's the Difference?

Faith, provisional faith, belief, confidence, a faith born out of confidence… what is the distinction between pasāda and saddhā and how are these two words used to convey different meanings? Is one closer to faith-trust and the other closer to faith-confidence?

Thank you.

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Saddhā is the most commonly used word when talking about faith. Although I personally prefer to translate it rather as inspiration. Pasāda as far as I understand, has a more general meaning along the line of purity and goodness, wherein faith may be only a side connotation.

The outstanding practical example is illustrated by the way to stream entry and stream entry and its results, where unshakable confidence is attained. The way to stream entry is comprised of practical methods of overcoming faith through appropriate attention:

" Association with people of integrity is a factor for stream-entry. Listening to the true Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry. Appropriate attention is a factor for stream-entry. Practice in accordance with the Dhamma is a factor for stream-entry.

— Samyutta Nikaya 55.5, appropriate attention, Majhima Nikaya 2 & 19

Stream entry and its results:

“There is the case where the disciple of the noble ones is endowed with unwavering confidence in the Awakened One… unwavering confidence in the Dhamma… unwavering confidence in the Sangha… He/she is endowed with virtues that are appealing to the noble ones: untorn, unbroken, unspotted, unsplattered, liberating, praised by the wise, untarnished, leading to concentration.”

AN 10.92

Hi Paul. I am not sure your post has sufficiently explained a difference here. For example, the word “saddha” is used in relation to the Noble Disciple in SN 48.9. In SN 48.9, each faculty (faith, energy, mindfulness, concentration & wisdom) seem described in a way pertaining to the Noble Disciple, i.e., at least stream-entry.

AN 10.92 uses the term " aveccappasāda" therefore it may not explain ‘pasada’ because it has added ‘avecca’ to it.


  1. understanding, having penetrated

At least based on AN 10.92, alone, if ‘pasada’ implicitly meant ‘verified confidence’ then it seems adding the prefix ‘avecca’ would not be necessary.

Hello Michael. Possibly we can start with a basic etymology here; before proceeding to examine contextual examples used in the suttas. Personally, I have no expertise in etymology but possibly a Pali scholar such as @Sunyo can assist. Possibly both words share the root word of ‘sad’? If so, the prefix ‘pa’ seems to be an intensifier.

  • saddha = (?) from sad + dhā

  • pasāda = from pa + sad

  • dha; inclinable (!?); here, in this place; in this world; in this existence; in this teaching. SuttaCentral

  • pa˚; indeclinable; directional prefix of forward motion, in applied sense often emphasising the action as carried on in a marked degree or even beyond its mark. SuttaCentral

AN 4.34 is a sutta using ‘pasāda’ for very lofty dhammas.

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