Thera; 8 Definition(s)


Thera means something in Buddhism, Pali, Marathi. 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)

"Elder." An honorific title automatically conferred upon a bhikkhu of at least ten years standing. Compare mahathera.(Source): Access to Insight: A Glossary of Pali and Buddhist Terms

Name of a monk in Rajagaha. He lived in solitude, the virtues of which state he extolled. Hearing this, the Buddha sent for him and taught him how the solitary life could be perfected in detail (S.ii.282f).

(Source): Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

M (Ancient). bhikkhu having a seniority of at least ten years or more.

(Source): Dhamma Dana: Pali English Glossary
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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).


Thera can be translated as Elder or senior monk, a monk who has been ordained for at least ten years.

(Source): Buddhist Information: A Survey of Paramattha Dhammas
Abhidhamma book cover
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Abhidhamma (अभिधम्म) usually refers to the last section (piṭaka) of the Pali canon and includes schematic classifications of scholastic literature dealing with Theravāda Buddhism. Primary topics include psychology, philosophy, methodology and metaphysics which are rendered into exhaustive enumerations and commentaries.


thera : (m.) an elder; a senior; a monk who has spent 10 years from his upasampadā. adj. old; elder.

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Thera, (Vedic sthavira. Derivation uncertain. It may come from sthā in sense of standing over, lasting (one year or more), cp. thāvara old age, then “old=venerable”; (in meaning to be compared w. Lat. senior, etc. from num. sem “one”=one year old, i.e. lasting over one and many more years). Cp. also vetus=Gr. e)/tos, year, E. wether, one year old ram, as cpd. w. veteran, old man. Or it may come from sthā in der. *stheǔā in sthūra (sthūla: see etym. under thūla) thus, “strong= venerable”) t. t. only used with ref. to the bhikkhus of Gotama Buddha’s community.—(a) (adj.) senior, Vin. I, 47, 290 (th. bhikkhū opp. navā bh.), 159 (th. bhikkhu a senior bh. opp. to navaka bh. a novice), 187; II, 16, 212. Therânutherā bhikkhū seniors & those next to them in age dating not from birth, but from admission to the Order). Three grades are distinguished, thera bh. , majjhima bh. , nava bh. , at D. I, 78.—See also A. II, 23, 147, 168; V, 201, 348; D. III, 123 sq. , 218; Dh. 260, 261. In Saṅgha-thera, used of Bhikkhus not senior in the Order, the word thera means distinguished. Vin. II, 212, 303. In Mahāthera the meaning, as applied to the 80 bhikkhus so called, must also have some similar meaning Dīpv IV. 5 Psalms of the Brethren xxxvi.; J. V, 456. At A. II, 22 it is said that a bhikkhu, however junior, may be called thera on account of his wisdom. It is added that four characteristics make a man a thera —high character, knowing the essential doctrines by heart, practising the four Jhānas, and being conscious of having attained freedom through the destruction of the mental intoxications. It is already clear that at a very early date, before the Aṅguttara reached its extant shape, a secondary meaning of thera was tending to supplant that of senior-that is, not the senior of the whole Order, but the senior of such a part of the Saṅgha as live in the same locality, or are carrying out the same function.—Note. thera in thero vassiko at S. IV, 161 is to be read tero-vassiko.

—gāthā hymns of senior bhikkhus, N. of a canonical book, incorporated in the Khuddaka-Nikāya. Theratara, very senior, oppd to navatara, novice D. II, 154. —vāda the doctrine of the Theras, the original Buddhist doctrine M. I, 164; Dpvs. IV, 6, 13. (Page 310)

(Source): Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
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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.

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

thēra (थेर).—m A caste or an individual of it. They are merry andrews, strolling players, monkey-exhibiters &c. 2 A boy that dances and sports in the guise of a female. 3 n m f Mimicry, mockery, taking off. v kara, āṇa, māja, nācava g. of o. 4 n Applied as a term for a queer, odd, vitiously eccentric, disreputable fellow. 5 n m Dissolute practices: also childish pranks. (These two senses arise from the quality of the business and the character of the subjects of the thēra caste).

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary
context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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