Prātimokṣa/Patimokkha meaning

In prātimokṣa, the mokṣa, I assume, is “liberation”, but what is prāti-/pati-? Is it “precept”? That seems unlikely, because prāti- looks like a suffix that denotes some kind of relation, like “for” or “to”.

Anyone care to educate me?


It’s controversial. I’m not sure if a consensus has emerged, but it has been explained in two basic ways.

Either pati- has the sense of “anti-” in which case it means “anti-freedom”, i.e. “binding code”.

Or else pati-, like so many prefixes for -mokkha and related terms, is a mere qualifier or intensifier, so it would mean “liberator”.


The word pātimokkha is variously explained, the oldest explanation being that the observance of the rules is the face (mukhaṃ), the chief (pamukhaṃ) of good qualities.


with Childers plausibly as paṭi + mokkha, grd. of muc (Caus. mokṣ˚) with lengthening of paṭi as in other grd. like pāṭidesaniya.
Thus in reality the same as paṭimokkha 2 in sense of binding, obligatory obligation, cp. Ja.v.25. The spelling is freq. pāti (BB pāṭi˚).
The Sk. prāṭimokṣa is a wrong adaptation fr. P. pātimokkha, it should really be pratimokṣya “that which should be made binding.”
An expln of the word after the style of a popular etym. is to be found at Vism.16


Would anyone be kind to check what is found in Vism.16 ?

If it’s the binding sense then it might have a similar ‘etymological history’ as religion (from religare - to bind).

1 Like