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Jāti (Buddhism)

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In Buddhism, Jāti (Sanskrit/Pāli), "birth", refers to physical birth; to rebirth, the arising of a new living entity within saṃsāra (cyclic existence); and to the arising of mental phenomena.

Translations of
English birth
Pali Jāti
Sanskrit Jāti
Burmese ဇာတိ
(IPA: [zàtḭ])
(rōmaji: shō)
Khmer ជាតិ
Shan ၸႃႇတီႉ
([tsaa2 ti5])
Sinhalese ජාති
Vietnamese sinh
Glossary of Buddhism



Within the teachings on the Four Noble Truths, jāti refers to physical birth, and is qualified as dukkha (suffering): "Now this, monks, is the noble truth of dukkha: birth (jati) is dukkha, aging is dukkha, death is dukkha."

In traditional Buddhist thought, there are four forms of birth:[1][2]

  • birth from an egg (Sanskrit: Andaja; Pali: Aṇḍaja; Chinese: 卵生; Standard Tibetan: Sgongskyes)—like a bird, fish, or reptile;
  • birth from a womb (Sanskrit: Jarayuja; Pali: Jalābuja; Chinese: 胎生; Standard Tibetan: Mnal-skyes)—like most mammals and some worldly devas;
  • birth from moisture (Sanskrit: Samsvedaja; Pali: Saṃsedaja; Chinese: 濕生; Standard Tibetan: Drod-skyes)—probably referring to the appearance of animals whose eggs are microscopic, like maggots appearing in rotting flesh;
  • birth by transformation (Sanskrit: Upapaduka; Pali: Opapatika; Chinese: 化生; Standard Tibetan: Rzus-skyes)—miraculous materialization, as with most devas.
  The 12 Nidānas:  
Name & Form
Six Sense Bases
Old Age & Death

Jāti is the eleventh link within the eleventh Nidāna of paṭiccasamuppāda ("dependent arising" or "dependent origination"), where it can refer both to rebirth and to the arising of mental phenomena.[3] The Vibhanga, the second book of the Theravada Abbidhamma, treats it in both ways. In the Suttantabhajaniya it is described as rebirth, which is conditioned by becoming (bhava), and gives rise to old age and death (jarāmaraṇa) in a living being. In the Abhidhammabhajaniya it is treated as the arising of mental phenomena.[3]



  • Analayo (2007), "Rebirth and the Gandhabba" (PDF), Journal of Buddhist Studies 1: 91-105

Further readingEdit

Single suttas
Commentaries and interpretations
  • Ajahn Sumedho (2002), The Four Noble Truths, Amaravati Publications
  • Ajahn Sucitto (2010), Turning the Wheel of Truth: Commentary on the Buddha's First Teaching, Shambhala
  • Das, Surya (1997), Awakening the Buddha Within, Broadway Books, Kindle Edition
  • Epstein, Mark (2004), Thoughts Without A Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective, Basic Books, Kindle Edition
  • Goldstein, Joseph (2002), One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism, HarperCollins
  • Moffitt, Phillip (2008), Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering, Rodale, Kindle Edition
  • Nhat Hanh, Thich (1999), The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, Three River Press
  • Rahula, Walpola (2007), What the Buddha Taught, Grove Press, Kindle Edition
  • Trungpa, Chogyam (2009), The Truth of Suffering and the Path of Liberation (edited by Judy Leif), Shambhala
  • Tulku, Ringu (2005), Daring Steps Toward Fearlessness: The Three Vehicles of Tibetan Buddhism, Snow Lion
  • Gethin, Rupert (1998), Foundations of Buddhism, Oxford University Press
  • Harvey, Peter (1990), Introduction to Buddhism, Cambridge University Press
  • Kalupahana, David J. (1992), A history of Buddhist philosophy, Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited
  • Keown, Damien (2003), Dictionary of Buddhism, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-860560-9
Preceded by
Twelve Nidānas
Succeeded by