84000 Glossary of Terms

Our trilingual glossary combining entries from all of our publications into one useful resource, giving translations and definitions of thousands of terms, people, places, and texts from the Buddhist canon.

བསྙེན་གནས། | Glossary of Terms

    བསྙེན་གནས།

    bsnyen gnas

    upavāsa

  • Term
Publications: 1
Translation by Celso Wilkinson · Laura Goetz
  • Abstinence
  • བསྙེན་གནས།
  • bsnyen gnas
  • upavāsa

As expressed in the Sanskrit and translated literally into Tibetan, the term means “to dwell near.” The term comes from the older Vedic traditions in which during full moon and new moon sacrifices, householders would practice abstinence in various forms such as fasting and refraining from sexual activity. These holy days were called upavasatha days because it was said that the gods that were the recipients of these sacrifices would “dwell” (√vas) “near” (upa) the practitioners of these sacrifices. While sacrificial practices were discarded by Buddhists, the framework of practicing fortnightly abstinence evolved into the poṣadha observance, and in fact the term poṣadha is etymologically related to the term upavasatha. See Dutt (1962), p. 73.