Paccekabuddha, Pacceka-buddha: 5 definitions


Paccekabuddha means something in Buddhism, Pali. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

[«previous next»] — Paccekabuddha in Theravada glossary
Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

The name given to one who is enlightened by and for himself- i.e., one who has attained to supreme and perfect insight, but who dies without proclaiming the truth to the world- hence the equivalent Silent Buddha sometimes found in translations. Pacceka Buddhas practise their parami for at least two thousand asankheyya kappas. They are born in any of the three kulas: brahmana, khattiya, or gahapati only in a vivattamana kappa, during which Buddhas are also born, but they never meet a Buddha face to face. They cannot instruct others; their realization of the Dhamma is like a dream seen by a deaf mute. They attain to all the iddhi, samapatti and patisanhida of the Buddhas, but are second to the Buddhas in their spiritual development. They do ordain others; their admonition is only in reference to good and proper conduct (abhisamacarikasikkha).

Sometimes (e.g., at J.iv.341) it is stated that a Pacceka Buddhas knowledge and comprehension of ways and means is less than that of a Bodhisatta. They hold their uposatha in the Ratanamalaka, at the foot of the Manjusarukkha in Gandhamadana. It is possible to become a Pacceka Buddha while yet a layman, but, in this case, the marks of a layman immediately disappear. Three caves in the Nandamulakapabbhara - Suvannaguha, Maniguha and Rajataguha- are the dwelling places of Pacceka Buddhas. Round the Ratanamalaka, q.v. (or Sabbaratanamalaka), seats are always ready to receive the Pacceka Buddhas. When a Pacceka Buddha appears in the world, he immediately seeks the Ratanamalaka, and there takes his appointed seat. Then all the other Pacceka Buddhas in the world assemble there to meet him, and, in reply to a question by the chief of them, he relates the circumstances which led to his enlightenment. Similarly, all the Pacceka Buddhas assemble at the same spot when one of them is about to die. The dying one takes leave of the others, and, after his death, they cremate his body and his relics disappear. These details are given in SNA.i.47, 51, 58, 63; KhA.178, 199; ApA.i.125; see also s.v. Gandhamadana.

But, according to another account, they die on the mountain called Mahapapata (q.v.). There does not seem to be any limit to the number of Pacceka Buddhas who could appear simultaneously. In one instance, five hundred are mentioned as so doing, all sons of Padumavati (q.v.), at the head of whom was Mahapaduma. In the Isigili Sutta (M.iii.68ff ) appears a long list of Pacceka Buddhas who dwelt on the Isigili Mountain (q.v.), and after whom the mountain was named.

According to Buddhaghosa (MA.ii.889ff), the names in this list belonged to the five hundred sons of Padumavati, but the number of the names is far less than five hundred. This discrepancy is explained by saying that as many as twelve bore the same name. Other names are found scattered over different texts,

Source: Dhamma Dana: Pali English Glossary

M (Distinct (pacceka); The one who knows (buddha)) Being who reaches the knowledge of the four nobles truths by himself, but who remains alone, being devoid of the capacity to teach dhamma to others. A paccekabuddha appears– by definition– apart from a sasana.

Source: Pali Kanon: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines

an 'Independently Enlightened One'; or Separately or Individually (=pacceka) Enlightened One (renderings by 'Silent' or 'Private Buddha' are not very apt).

This is a term for an Arahat (s. ariya-puggala) who has realized Nibbāna without having heard the Buddha's doctrine from others. He comprehends the 4 Noble Truths individually (pacceka), independent of any teacher, by his own effort. He has, however, not the capacity to proclaim the Teaching effectively to others, and therefore does not become a 'Teacher of Gods and Men', a Perfect or Universal Buddha (sammā-sambuddha). -

Pacceka-buddhas are described as frugal of speech, cherishing solitude. According to tradition, they do not arise while the Teaching of a Perfect Buddha is known; but for achieving their rank after many eons of effort, they have to utter an aspiration before a Perfect Buddha.

Canonical references are few; Pug. 29 (defin.); A.II.56; in M.116, names of many Pacceka-buddhas are given; in D.16 they are said to be worthy of a thūpa (dagoba); the Treasure-Store Sutta (Nidhikhandha Sutta, Khp.) mentions pacceka-bodhi; the C. Nidd. ascribes to individual Pacceka-buddhas the verses of the Rhinoceros Sutta (Khaggavisāna Sutta, Sn.) - See bodhi.

See The Pacceka-Buddha, by Ria Kloppenborg (WHEEL 305/307).

See Pacceka-Buddha in the Pali Proper Names Dictionary.

context information

Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

[«previous next»] — Paccekabuddha in Pali glossary
Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

paccekabuddha : (m.) one who is enlightened but does not preach truth to the world.

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary

Paccekabuddha refers to: one enlightened by himself, i.e. one who has attained to the supreme and perfect insight, but dies without proclaiming the truth to the world. M. III, 68; S. I, 92 (“Silent Buddha” translation); J. III, 470; IV, 114; Ud. 50 (P. Tagarasikhi); Nett 190; KhA 178, 199; SnA 47, 58, 63; DhA. I, 80, 171, 224, 230; IV, 201; PvA. 144, 263, 265 (=isi), 272, 283. (Page 385)

Note: paccekabuddha is a Pali compound consisting of the words pacceka and buddha.

Pali book cover
context information

Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

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