What is the Theravadian attitude toward the word holy?

I hope this letter finds you happy and healthy.

Could You tell me please, What is the Theravadian attitude toward the word holy?

What does the word “holy” means when translating from both English and Pāli.

Is there anything holy in Theravāda?


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“(IV) Through the path of Holiness (Arahatta-magga ) one further becomes free from the 5 higher fetters”—ariya-puggala, “Buddhist Dictionary,” Nyanatiloka.

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Ajahn Brahm explains what it means to live the ‘Holey life’. :smiley: :sunflower:


Yeah, you’re going to have to define that term for this to be answerable.


Holy is not a common word in English these days. It means something exalted and an object of devotion because it’s good and right. It can also refer simply to anything (a temple, an object, a book, a congregation) that’s devoted to what’s pure and divine.

The Chinese translation of arya is a word equivalent to holy (聖), which most English translations change back to the usual translation of arya as “noble,” but it’s meaning is closer to holy.


I recall reading in one of Lama Govinda’s books that in the early days of Buddhism in Germany the members of one particular group (I think it was either the Altbuddhistische Gemeinde of Georg Grimm or the Buddhistische Haus of Paul Dahlke) got into a dispute over whether an ariyasacca was an edle Wahrheit (“noble truth”) or a heilige Wahrheit (“holy truth”). Apparently each side had such an emotional investment in its own opinion that the group ended up splitting into two factions, the Noble-Truthers and the Holy-Truthers, each refusing to meet or talk with the other.



Yeah, I can understand why we chose “noble” in English. It boils down to connotations and politics. In Chinese, the word wasn’t associated with a deity, so it’s a better fit.


Includes the four noble persons:

“This sangha is called the āryasaṅgha “noble Sangha”.[190] All forms of Buddhism generally reveres these āryas (Pali: ariya , “noble ones” or “holy ones”) who are spiritually attained beings. Aryas have attained the fruits of the Buddhist path.[191]”—Buddhism, Wikipedia

The nobility of the truths and the responsibilities that attend them:


That’s very Noble and Holy attitude indeed! :+1: :sweat_smile:


11 posts were split to a new topic: Disuse of the impersonal pronoun one