- Nirvana is the term used to refer to the state of liberation from the cycle of birth and rebirth, from worldly existence. The term probably originated within Buddhism. It literally means a “blowing out”—of the fires of worldly existence. In the early Buddhist context this implied the recogni-tion that nothing is permanent and that there is no permanent self, but only a shifting combina-tion of aspects that constitute themselves so as to make us believe in a permanent “self” or soul. nirvana 313 JEarly Buddhists tried not to describe this state elaborately as it is beyond human conception.The Jain tradition also adopted the word to refer to the blissful, powerful, superconscious state of liberation from birth and rebirth. In the Brahminical tradition it came to mean union with the ultimate reality. This implies a realization of the infinite being, consciousness, and bliss of the godhead.Further reading: George S. Arundale, Nirvana: A Study in Synthetic Consciousness (Adyar: Theosophical Pub-lishing House, 1978); Muni Shivkumar, The Doctrine of Liberation in Indian Religion: With Special Reference to Jainism (New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1984); Heinrich Zimmer, Philosophies of India (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1974).
Encyclopedia of Hinduism. A. Jones and James D. Ryan. 2007.