What is meant in Ratana sutta?

In ratana sutta, there’s a passage describing immersion in Nibbāna. (amataṁ vigayha)

Dedicated to Gotama’s dispensation,
Ye suppayuttā manasā daḷhena,
strong-minded, free of sense desire,
Nikkāmino gotamasāsanamhi;
they’ve attained the goal, plunged into freedom from death,
Te pattipattā amataṁ vigayha,
and enjoy the quenching they’ve freely gained.
Laddhā mudhā nibbutiṁ bhuñjamānā; Variant: nibbutiṁ → nibbuti (mr)
This sublime gem is in the Saṅgha:
Idampi saṅghe ratanaṁ paṇītaṁ,
by this truth, may you be well!
Etena saccena suvatthi hotu.

There’s immediately 2 possibilities for this: either cessation of perception and feelings, which in MN59, has been hinted as the highest happiness, but not explicitly stated as such, MN 59: Bahuvedanīyasutta—Bhikkhu Sujato (suttacentral.net) or the perception of nibbāna itself, which seems to be limited to only arahants, as stream winner like Ānanda didn’t knew about it. AN 10.7: Sāriputtasutta—Bhikkhu Sujato (suttacentral.net)

Points for the first possibility is that it’s also what we and orthodox theravada would regard as parinibbāna, just that it’s temporary, so plunging into nibbāna seems apt to have cessation, also it’s implied to be the highest happiness, which is usually just reserved for Nibbāna. Points against it is that non-returners can also attain it and it seems contradictory to the ratana sutta requirement of those who has reached the goal. And the ratana sutta said freely gained, whereas the cessation of perception and feeling seems to be not available for arahants who are wisdom liberated, that is without formless attainments.

Points for the second one is that it seems to fit that only arahants has it and it’s freely gained, but it’s a bit open to whether it’s considered higher happiness than cessation. Philosophically speaking it’s quite hard to beat no feelings as the highest happiness. Or if we drop the unstated requirement for this plunging into the deathless as the highest happiness, we can fit this.


Note: Please don’t turn this into another platform for arguing for something after parinibbāna, there’s enough topics out there already for those.


In my understanding, “amataṁ vigayha” refers to all 2 types of arahant, not only to 1 of the 2 types of arahant: one freed both ways (ubhatobhāgavimutto) and one freed by wisdom (paññāvimutto). Therefore, in my understanding, it refers to both 2 types of immersion, not just either 1 of them.

Arahants and immersion are different things. So can clarify your post again?

If both types of arahant should have access to it, then you should favour the perception of nibbāna as what ratana sutta is talking about.

If we follow this, that says the perception of nibbāna is not immersion into Nibbāna, then the logical conclusion is that ratana sutta is referring to cessation of perception and feeling. A paradoxical perception in the Pāli discourses?

Hi Venerable,

Seems to me nibbāna/nibbutiṁ here refers to the ending of greed, hatred, and delusion, which they find happiness in.



haha. Yes, very intuitive. I think this might be my very first idea as well, when I encounter ratana sutta in english initially. Just that I got influenced by Bhante Aggacitta’s new research for this year’s workshop round.

Where he equates the immersion with the perception of nibbāna.



I agree. What I meant is: In Ratanasutta Snp 2.1, “amataṁ vigayha” was pointing to 2 types of arahant and was not pointing to any type of immersion specifically. One freed both ways (ubhatobhāgavimutto) can access to both immersions while one freed by wisdom (paññāvimutto) can access only the perception of nibbāna. But because Ratanasutta Snp 2.1 was pointing to both 2 types of arahant so it was also pointing (implicitly) to both 2 types of immersions.

In other words, what I meant is: If we are looking for which type of immersion that Ratanasutta Snp 2.1 was pointing to, then we are looking at the wrong sutta because that phrase “amataṁ vigayha” was pointing to both 2 types of arahants and therefore implicitly was pointing to both 2 types of immersions.

Maybe if you want to compare these 2 types of immersion then perhaps other sutta like MN70 Kīṭāgirisutta is more suitable. It seems that immersion in perception of nibbāna is superior than cessation of feeling and perception (in the case that after exiting cessation of feeling and perception but still couldn’t cleanse all the defilements yet). I must said that it’s only a theory and my own understanding.


To my understanding, those who have reached the goal no longer have any notion of ‘I’. When there is no longer any notion of ‘I’, there is ‘no one’ to die. When there is no longer anyone to die, the deathless has been realized. It has been plunged into (amatam vigayha), it is a constant knowing or abiding.

Dispelling the conceit ‘I am’
is truly the ultimate happiness.
Asmimānassa yo vinayo
etaṁ ve paramaṁ sukhaṁ.