Christianity is an Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the New Testament. Its adherents, known as Christians, believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and savior of all people, whose coming as the Messiah was prophesied in the Old Testament. Depending on the specific denomination of Christianity, practices may include baptism, prayer, confirmation, burial rites, marriage rites and the religious education of children. Most denominations hold regular group worship services. Christianity developed during the 1st century CE as a Jewish Christian sect of Second Temple Judaism, it soon attracted Gentile God-fearers, which lead to a departure from Jewish customs, the establishment of Christianity as an independent religion. During the first centuries of its existence Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, to Ethiopia and some parts of Asia. Constantine the Great decriminalized it via the Edict of Milan; the First Council of Nicaea established a uniform set of beliefs across the Roman Empire.
By 380, the Roman Empire designated Christianity as the state religion. The period of the first seven ecumenical councils is sometimes referred to as the Great Church, the united full communion of the Roman Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, before their schisms. Oriental Orthodoxy split after the Council of Chalcedon over differences in Christology; the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church separated in the East–West Schism over the authority of the Pope. In 1521, Protestants split from the Catholic Church in the Protestant Reformation over Papal primacy, the nature of salvation, other ecclesiological and theological disputes. Following the Age of Discovery, Christianity was spread into the Americas, sub-Saharan Africa, the rest of the world via missionary work and colonization. There are 2.3 billion Christians in the world, or 31.4% of the global population. Today, the four largest branches of Christianity are the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church and Oriental Orthodoxy.
Christianity and Christian ethics have played a prominent role in the development of Western civilization around Europe during late antiquity and the Middle Ages. In the New Testament, the names by which the disciples were known among themselves were "brethren", "the faithful", "elect", "saints" and "believers". Early Jewish Christians referred to themselves as'The Way' coming from Isaiah 40:3, "prepare the way of the Lord." According to Acts 11:26, the term "Christian" was first used in reference to Jesus's disciples in the city of Antioch, meaning "followers of Christ," by the non-Jewish inhabitants of Antioch. The earliest recorded use of the term "Christianity" was by Ignatius of Antioch, in around 100 AD. While Christians worldwide share basic convcitions, there are differences of interpretations and opinions of the Bible and sacred traditions on which Christianity is based. Concise doctrinal statements or confessions of religious beliefs are known as creeds, they began as baptismal formulae and were expanded during the Christological controversies of the 4th and 5th centuries to become statements of faith.
The Apostles' Creed is the most accepted statement of the articles of Christian faith. It is used by a number of Christian denominations for both liturgical and catechetical purposes, most visibly by liturgical churches of Western Christian tradition, including the Latin Church of the Catholic Church, Lutheranism and Western Rite Orthodoxy, it is used by Presbyterians and Congregationalists. This particular creed was developed between the 9th centuries, its central doctrines are those of God the Creator. Each of the doctrines found in this creed can be traced to statements current in the apostolic period; the creed was used as a summary of Christian doctrine for baptismal candidates in the churches of Rome. Its main points include: Belief in God the Father, Jesus Christ as the Son of God, the Holy Spirit The death, descent into hell and ascension of Christ The holiness of the Church and the communion of saints Christ's second coming, the Day of Judgement and salvation of the faithful; the Nicene Creed was formulated in response to Arianism, at the Councils of Nicaea and Constantinople in 325 and 381 and ratified as the universal creed of Christendom by the First Council of Ephesus in 431.
The Chalcedonian Definition, or Creed of Chalcedon, developed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, though rejected by the Oriental Orthodox churches, taught Christ "to be acknowledged in two natures, unchangeably, inseparably": one divine and one human, that both natures, while perfect in themselves, are also united into one person. The Athanasian Creed, received in the Western Church as having the same status as the Nicene and Chalcedonian, says: "We worship one God in Trinity, Trinity in Unity. Many evangelical Protestants reject creeds as definitive statements of faith while agreeing with some or all of the substance of the creeds. Most Baptists do not use creeds "in that they have not sought to establish binding
The Yuan dynasty the Great Yuan, was the empire or ruling dynasty of China established by Kublai Khan, leader of the Mongolian Borjigin clan. It preceded the Ming dynasty. Although the Mongols had ruled territories including modern-day North China for decades, it was not until 1271 that Kublai Khan proclaimed the dynasty in the traditional Chinese style, the conquest was not complete until 1279, his realm was, by this point, isolated from the other khanates and controlled most of modern-day China and its surrounding areas, including modern Mongolia. It was the first foreign dynasty to rule all of China and lasted until 1368 which ended in Ming dynasty defeating the Yuan dynasty, the rebuked Genghisid rulers retreated to their Mongolian homeland and continued to rule the Northern Yuan dynasty; some of the Mongolian Emperors of the Yuan mastered the Chinese language, while others only used their native language and the'Phags-pa script. The Yuan dynasty was the khanate ruled by the successors of Möngke Khan after the division of the Mongol Empire.
In official Chinese histories, the Yuan dynasty bore the Mandate of Heaven. The dynasty was established by Kublai Khan, yet he placed his grandfather Genghis Khan on the imperial records as the official founder of the dynasty as Taizu. In the Proclamation of the Dynastic Name, Kublai announced the name of the new dynasty as Great Yuan and claimed the succession of former Chinese dynasties from the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors to the Tang dynasty. In addition to Emperor of China, Kublai Khan claimed the title of Great Khan, supreme over the other successor khanates: the Chagatai, the Golden Horde, the Ilkhanate; as such, the Yuan was sometimes referred to as the Empire of the Great Khan. However, while the claim of supremacy by the Yuan emperors was at times recognized by the western khans, their subservience was nominal and each continued its own separate development. In 1271, Kublai Khan imposed the name Great Yuan. "Dà Yuán" is from the clause "大哉乾元" in the Commentaries on the Classic of Changes section regarding the first hexagram Qián.
The counterpart in the Mongolian language was Dai Ön Ulus rendered as Ikh Yuan Üls or Yekhe Yuan Ulus. In Mongolian, Dai Ön was used in conjunction with the "Yeke Mongghul Ulus", resulting in ᠳᠠᠢᠦᠨᠶᠡᠬᠡᠮᠣᠩᠭᠣᠯᠦᠯᠦᠰ, meaning "Great Yuan Great Mongol State"; the Yuan dynasty is known by westerners as the "Mongol dynasty" or "Mongol Dynasty of China", similar to the names "Manchu dynasty" or "Manchu Dynasty of China" which were used by westerners for the Qing dynasty. Furthermore, the Yuan is sometimes known as the "Empire of the Great Khan" or "Khanate of the Great Khan", which appeared on some Yuan maps, since Yuan emperors held the nominal title of Great Khan. Both terms can refer to the khanate within the Mongol Empire directly ruled by Great Khans before the actual establishment of the Yuan dynasty by Kublai Khan in 1271. Genghis Khan united the Mongol tribes of the steppes and became Great Khan in 1206, he and his successors expanded the Mongol empire across Asia. Under the reign of Genghis' third son, Ögedei Khan, the Mongols destroyed the weakened Jin dynasty in 1234, conquering most of northern China.
Ögedei offered his nephew Kublai a position in Hebei. Kublai was unable to read Chinese but had several Han teachers attached to him since his early years by his mother Sorghaghtani, he sought the counsel of Chinese Confucian advisers. Möngke Khan succeeded Ögedei's son, Güyük, as Great Khan in 1251, he granted his brother Kublai control over Mongol held territories in China. Kublai built schools for Confucian scholars, issued paper money, revived Chinese rituals, endorsed policies that stimulated agricultural and commercial growth, he adopted as his capital city Kaiping in Inner Mongolia renamed Shangdu. Many Han Chinese and Khitan defected to the Mongols to fight against the Jin. Two Han Chinese leaders, Shi Tianze, Liu Heima, the Khitan Xiao Zhala defected and commanded the 3 Tumens in the Mongol army. Liu Heima and Shi Tianze served Ogödei Khan. Liu Heima and Shi Tianxiang led armies against Western Xia for the Mongols. There were 4 Han Tumens and 3 Khitan Tumens, with each Tumen consisting of 10,000 troops.
The three Khitan Generals Shimobeidier and Xiaozhacizhizizhongxi commanded the three Khitan Tumens and the four Han Generals Zhang Rou, Yan Shi, Shi Tianze, Liu Heima commanded the four Han tumens under Ogödei Khan. Möngke Khan commenced a military campaign against the Chinese Song dynasty in southern China; the Mongol force that invaded southern China was far greater than the force they sent to invade the Middle East in 1256. He died in 1259 without a successor. Kublai returned from fighting the Song in 1260 when he learned that his brother, Ariq Böke, was challenging his claim to the throne. Kublai convened a kurultai in Kaiping. A rival kurultai in Mongolia proclaimed Ariq Böke Great Khan. Kublai depended on the cooperation of his Chinese subjects to ensure that his army received ample resources, he bolstered his popularity among his subjects by modeling his government on the bureaucracy of traditional Chinese dynasties and adopting the Chinese era name of Zhongtong. Ariq Böke was hampered by inadequate supplies and surrendered in 1264.
The Tang dynasty or the Tang Empire was an imperial dynasty of China spanning the 7th to 10th centuries. It was followed by the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period. Historians regard the Tang as a high point in Chinese civilization, a golden age of cosmopolitan culture. Tang territory, acquired through the military campaigns of its early rulers, rivaled that of the Han dynasty; the Tang capital at Chang'an was the most populous city in the world in its day. The Lǐ family founded the dynasty, seizing power during the collapse of the Sui Empire; the dynasty was interrupted when Empress Wu Zetian seized the throne, proclaiming the Second Zhou dynasty and becoming the only Chinese empress regnant. In two censuses of the 7th and 8th centuries, the Tang records estimated the population by number of registered households at about 50 million people, yet when the central government was breaking down and unable to compile an accurate census of the population in the 9th century, it is estimated that the population had grown by to about 80 million people.
With its large population base, the dynasty was able to raise professional and conscripted armies of hundreds of thousands of troops to contend with nomadic powers in dominating Inner Asia and the lucrative trade-routes along the Silk Road. Various kingdoms and states paid tribute to the Tang court, while the Tang conquered or subdued several regions which it indirectly controlled through a protectorate system. Besides political hegemony, the Tang exerted a powerful cultural influence over neighboring East Asian states such as those in Japan and Korea; the Tang dynasty was a period of progress and stability in the first half of the dynasty's rule, until the An Lushan Rebellion and the decline of central authority in the half of the dynasty. Like the previous Sui dynasty, the Tang dynasty maintained a civil-service system by recruiting scholar-officials through standardized examinations and recommendations to office; the rise of regional military governors known as jiedushi during the 9th century undermined this civil order.
Chinese culture further matured during the Tang era. Two of China's most famous poets, Li Bai and Du Fu, belonged to this age, as did many famous painters such as Han Gan, Zhang Xuan, Zhou Fang. Scholars of this period compiled a rich variety of historical literature, as well as encyclopedias and geographical works; the adoption of the title Tängri Qaghan by the Tang Emperor Taizong in addition to his title as emperor was eastern Asia's first "simultaneous kingship". Many notable innovations occurred including the development of woodblock printing. Buddhism became a major influence with native Chinese sects gaining prominence. However, in the 840s the Emperor Wuzong of Tang enacted policies to persecute Buddhism, which subsequently declined in influence. Although the dynasty and central government had gone into decline by the 9th century and culture continued to flourish; the weakened central government withdrew from managing the economy, but the country's mercantile affairs stayed intact and commercial trade continued to thrive regardless.
However, agrarian rebellions in the latter half of the 9th century resulted in damaging atrocities such as the Guangzhou massacre of 878–879. The Li family belonged to the northwest military aristocracy prevalent during the Sui dynasty and claimed to be paternally descended from the Daoist founder, Laozi the Han dynasty General Li Guang and Western Liang ruler Li Gao; this family was known as the Longxi Li lineage. The Tang Emperors had Xianbei maternal ancestry, from Emperor Gaozu of Tang's Xianbei mother, Duchess Dugu. Li Yuan was Duke of Tang and governor of Taiyuan, modern Shanxi, during the Sui dynasty's collapse, caused in part by the Sui failure to conquer the northern part of the Korean peninsula during the Goguryeo–Sui War, he had prestige and military experience, was a first cousin of Emperor Yang of Sui. Li Yuan rose in rebellion in 617, along with his son and his militant daughter Princess Pingyang, who raised and commanded her own troops. In winter 617, Li Yuan occupied Chang'an, relegated Emperor Yang to the position of Taishang Huang or retired emperor, acted as regent to the puppet child-emperor, Yang You.
On the news of Emperor Yang's murder by General Yuwen Huaji on June 18, 618, Li Yuan declared himself the emperor of a new dynasty, the Tang. Li Yuan, known as Emperor Gaozu of Tang, ruled until 626, when he was forcefully deposed by his son Li Shimin, the Prince of Qin. Li Shimin had commanded troops since the age of 18, had prowess with bow and arrow and lance and was known for his effective cavalry charges. Fighting a numerically superior army, he defeated Dou Jiande at Luoyang in the Battle of Hulao on May 28, 621. In a violent elimination of royal family due to fear of assassination, Li Shimin ambushed and killed two of his brothers, Li Yuanji and Crown prince Li Jiancheng, in the Xuanwu Gate Incident on July 2, 626. Shortly thereafter, his father abdicated in his favor and Li Shimin ascended the throne, he is conventionally known by his temple name Taizong. Although killing two brothers and deposing his father contradicted the Confucian value of filial piety, Taizong showed himself to be a capable leader who listened to the advice of the wisest members of his council.
In 628, Emperor Taizong held a Buddhist memorial service for the casualties of war, in 629 he ha
Nestorianism is a Christian theological doctrine that upholds several distinctive teachings in the fields of Christology and Mariology. It opposes the concept of hypostatic union and emphasizes a radical distinction between two natures of Jesus Christ; this Christological position is defined as radical dyophisitism. Nestorianism was named after Christian theologian Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople from 428 to 431, influenced by Christological teachings of Theodore of Mopsuestia at the School of Antioch. Nestorius' teachings brought him into conflict with other prominent church leaders, most notably Cyril of Alexandria, who criticized his rejection of the title Theotokos for Mary, the mother of Jesus. Nestorius and his teachings were condemned as heretical at the Council of Ephesus in 431, again at the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which led to the Nestorian Schism. Following that, many of Nestorius's supporters relocated to the Sasanian Empire, where they affiliated with the local Christian community, known as the Church of the East.
Over the next decades the Church of the East became Nestorian in doctrine, leading to it becoming known alternatively as the Nestorian Church. Nestorianism is a radical form of dyophysitism, differing from the orthodox dyophysitism on several points by opposition to the concept of hypostatic union, it can be seen as the antithesis to monophysitism. Where Nestorianism holds that Christ had two loosely united natures and human, monophysitism holds that he had but a single nature, his human nature being absorbed into his divinity. A brief definition of Nestorian Christology can be given as: "Jesus Christ, not identical with the Son but united with the Son, who lives in him, is one hypostasis and one nature: human." This contrasts with Nestorius' own teaching that the Word, eternal, the Flesh, not, came together in a hypostatic union,'Jesus Christ', Jesus thus being both man and God, of two ousia but of one prosopon. Both Nestorianism and monophysitism were condemned as heretical at the Council of Chalcedon.
Monophysitism developed into the Miaphysitism of the Oriental Orthodoxy. Nestoranism was condemned as heresy at the Council of Ephesus; the Armenian Church rejected Council of Chalcedon because they believed Chalcedonian Definition was too similar to Nestorianism. The Persian Nestorian Church, on the other hand, supported the spread of Nestorianism in Persarmenia; the Armenian Church and other eastern churches saw the rise of Nestorianism as a threat to the independence of their Church. Peter the Iberian, a Georgian prince strongly opposed the Chalcedonian Creed. Thus, in 491, Catholicos Babken I of Armenia, along with the Albanian and Iberian bishops met in Vagharshapat and issued a condemnation of the Chalcedonian Definition. Nestorians held that the Council of Chalcedon proved the orthodoxy of their faith who had started persecuting non-Chalcedonian or monophysite Syrian Christians during the reign of Peroz I. In response to pleas for assistance from the Syrian Church, Armenian prelates issued a letter addressed to Persian Christians reaffirming their condemnation of the Nestorianism as heresy.
Following the exodus to Persia, scholars expanded on the teachings of Nestorius and his mentors after the relocation of the School of Edessa to the Persian city of Nisibis in 489, where it became known as the School of Nisibis. Nestorian monasteries propagating the teachings of the Nisbis school flourished in 6th century Persarmenia. Despite this initial Eastern expansion, the Nestorians' missionary success was deterred. David J. Bosch observes, "By the end of the fourteenth century, the Nestorian and other churches—which at one time had dotted the landscape of all of Central and parts of East Asia—were all but wiped out. Isolated pockets of Christianity survived only in India; the religious victors on the vast Central Asian mission field of the Nestorians were Islam and Buddhism". Nestorius developed his Christological views as an attempt to understand and explain rationally the incarnation of the divine Logos, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity as the man Jesus, he had studied at the School of Antioch.
Nestorius took his Antiochene leanings with him when he was appointed Patriarch of Constantinople by Byzantine emperor Theodosius II in 428. Nestorius's teachings became the root of controversy when he publicly challenged the long-used title Theotokos for Mary, he suggested that the title denied Christ's full humanity, arguing instead that Jesus had two persons, the divine Logos and the human Jesus. As a result of this prosopic duality, he proposed Christotokos as a more suitable title for Mary. Nestorius' opponents found his teaching too close to the heresy of adoptionism – the idea that Christ had been born a man, "adopted" as God's son. Nestorius was criticized by Cyril of Alexandria, Patriarch of Alexandria, who argued that Nestorius's teachings undermined the unity of Christ's divine and human natures at the Incarnation; some of Nestorius's opponents argued that he put too much emphasis on the human nature of Christ, others debated that the difference that Nestorius implied between the human nature and the divine nature created a fracture in the si
Kūkai known posthumously as Kōbō-Daishi, 774–835, was a Japanese Buddhist monk, civil servant, scholar and artist who founded the Esoteric Shingon or "mantra" school of Buddhism. Shingon followers refer to him by the honorific title of Odaishisama and the religious name of Henjō-Kongō. Kūkai is famous as a engineer. In legend he is attributed with the invention of the kana syllabary, with which the Japanese language is written to this day, as well as the Iroha poem, which helped standardise and popularise kana. Kūkai was born in 774 in the present-day Zentsū-ji precincts in the province of Sanuki on the island of Shikoku, his family were members of a branch of the ancient Ōtomo clan. There is some doubt as to his birth name: Tōtomono is recorded in one source, while Mao is recorded elsewhere. Mao is used in modern studies. Kūkai was born in a period of important political changes with Emperor Kanmu seeking to consolidate his power and to extend his realm, taking measures which included moving the capital of Japan from Nara to Heian.
Little more is known about Kūkai's childhood. At the age of fifteen, he began to receive instruction in the Chinese classics under the guidance of his maternal uncle. During this time, the Saeki-Ōtomo clan suffered government persecution due to allegations that the clan chief, Ōtomo Yakamochi, was responsible for the assassination of his rival Fujiwara no Tanetsugu; the family fortunes had fallen by 791 when Kūkai journeyed to Nara, the capital at the time, to study at the government university, the Daigakuryō. Graduates were chosen for prestigious positions as bureaucrats. Biographies of Kūkai suggest that he became disillusioned with his Confucian studies, but developed a strong interest in Buddhist studies instead. Around the age of 22, Kūkai was introduced to Buddhist practice involving chanting the mantra of the Bodhisattva Ākāśagarbha. During this period, Kūkai sought out isolated mountain regions where he chanted the Ākāśagarbha mantra relentlessly. At age 24 he published his first major literary work, Sangō Shiiki, in which he quotes from an extensive list of sources, including the classics of Confucianism and Buddhism.
The Nara temples, with their extensive libraries, possessed these texts. During this period in Japanese history, the central government regulated Buddhism through the Sōgō and enforced its policies, based on the ritsuryō system. Ascetics and independent monks, like Kūkai, were banned and lived outside the law, but still wandered the countryside or from temple to temple. During this period of private Buddhist practice, Kūkai had a dream, in which a man appeared and told Kūkai that the Mahavairocana Tantra is the scripture which contained the doctrine Kūkai was seeking. Though Kūkai soon managed to obtain a copy of this sūtra which had only become available in Japan, he encountered difficulty. Much of the sūtra was in untranslated Sanskrit written in the Siddhaṃ script. Kūkai found the translated portion of the sūtra was cryptic; because Kūkai could find no one who could elucidate the text for him, he resolved to go to China to study the text there. Ryuichi Abe suggests that the Mahavairocana Tantra bridged the gap between his interest in the practice of religious exercises and the doctrinal knowledge acquired through his studies.
In 804, Kūkai took part in a government-sponsored expedition to China in order to learn more about the Mahavairocana Tantra. Scholars are unsure why Kūkai was selected to take part in an official mission to China, given his background as a private, not state-sponsored, monk. Theories include family connections within the Saeki-Ōtomo clan, or connections through fellow clergy or a member of the Fujiwara clan; the expedition included four ships, with Kūkai on the first ship, while another famous monk, Saichō was on the second ship. During a storm, the third ship turned back. Kūkai's ship arrived weeks in the province of Fujian and its passengers were denied entry to the port while the ship was impounded. Kūkai, being fluent in Chinese, wrote a letter to the governor of the province explaining their situation; the governor allowed the ship to dock, the party was asked to proceed to the capital of Chang'an, the seat of power of the Tang dynasty. After further delays, the Tang court granted Kūkai a place in Xi Ming Temple where his study of Chinese Buddhism began in earnest as well as studies of Sanskrit with the Gandharan pandit Prajñā, educated at the Indian Buddhist university at Nalanda.
It was in 805 that Kūkai met Master Huiguo the man who would initiate him into the esoteric Buddhism tradition at Chang'an's Qinglong Monastery. Huiguo came from an illustrious lineage of Buddhist masters, famed for translating Sanskrit texts into Chinese, including the Mahavairocana Tantra. Kūkai describes their first meeting: Accompanied by Jiming and several other Dharma masters from the Ximing monastery, I went to visit him and was granted an audience; as soon as he saw me, the abbot smiled, said with delight, "since learning of your arrival, I have waited anxiously. How excellent, how excellent that we have met today at last! My life is ending soon, yet I have no more disciples to whom to transmit the Dharma. Prepare without delay the offerings of incense and flowers for your entry into the abhisheka mandala". Huiguo bestowed upon Kūkai the first level abhisheka
Tathāgata is a Pali and Sanskrit word. The term is thought to mean either "one who has thus gone" or "one who has thus come"; this is interpreted as signifying that the Tathāgata is beyond all coming and going – beyond all transitory phenomena. There are, other interpretations and the precise original meaning of the word is not certain; the Buddha is quoted on numerous occasions in the Pali Canon as referring to himself as the Tathāgata instead of using the pronouns me, I or myself. This may be meant to emphasize by implication that the teaching is uttered by one who has transcended the human condition, one beyond the otherwise endless cycle of rebirth and death, i.e. beyond dukkha. The term Tathāgata has a number of possible meanings; the word's original significance is not known and there has been speculation about it since at least the time of Buddhaghosa, who gives eight interpretations of the word, each with different etymological support, in his commentary on the Digha Nikaya, the SUMAṄGALAVILĀSINĪ: He who has arrived in such fashion, i.e. who has worked his way upwards to perfection for the world's good in the same fashion as all previous Buddhas.
He who walked in such fashion, i.e. he who at birth took the seven equal steps in the same fashion as all previous Buddhas or he who in the same way as all previous Buddhas went his way to Buddhahood through the four Jhanas and the Paths. He who by the path of knowledge has come at the real essentials of things, he who has won Truth. He who has discerned Truth, he who declares Truth. He whose words and deeds accord; the great physician whose medicine is all-potent. Monks, in the world with its devas and Brahma, in this generation with its ascetics and brahmins and humans, whatever is seen, heard and cognized, searched into, pondered over by the mind—all, understood by the Tathagata; that is. Modern scholarly opinion opines that Sanskrit grammar offers at least two possibilities for breaking up the compound word: either tathā and āgata, or tathā and gata. Tathā means "thus" in Sanskrit and Pali, Buddhist thought takes this to refer to what is called "reality as-it-is"; this reality is referred to as "thusness" or "suchness", indicating that it is what it is.
Tathāgata is defined as someone who "knows and sees reality as-it-is". Gata "gone" is the past passive participle of the verbal root gam "go, travel". Āgata "come" is the past passive participle of the verb meaning "come, arrive". In this interpretation, Tathāgata means either “the one who has gone to suchness” or "the one who has arrived at suchness". Another interpretation, proposed by the scholar Richard Gombrich, is based on the fact that, when used as a suffix in compounds, -gata will lose its literal meaning and signifies instead "being". Tathāgata would thus mean "one like that", with no motion in either direction. According to Fyodor Shcherbatskoy, the term has a non-Buddhist origin, is best understood when compared to its usage in non-Buddhist works such as the Mahabharata. Shcherbatskoy gives the following example from the Mahabharata: "Just as the footprints of birds in the sky and fish in water cannot be seen, Thus is going of those who have realized the Truth." The French author René Guénon, in an essay distinguishing between Pratyēka-Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, writes that the former appear outwardly superior to the latter because they are allowed to remain impassible, whereas the latter must in some sense appear to rediscover “a way” or at least recapitulate it, so that others, may “go that way,” hence tathā-gata.
A number of passages affirm that a Tathāgata is "immeasurable", "inscrutable", "hard to fathom", "not apprehended". A tathāgata has abandoned that clinging to the skandhas that render citta a bounded, measurable entity, is instead "freed from being reckoned by" all or any of them in life; the aggregates of form, perception, mental formations, cognizance that compose personal identity have been seen to be dukkha, an enlightened individual is one with "burden dropped". The Buddha explains "that for which a monk has a latent tendency, by, he reckoned, what he does not have a latent tendency for, by, he not reckoned; these tendencies are ways in which the mind becomes clings to conditioned phenomena. Without them, an enlightened person cannot be "reckoned" or "named". In one passage, Sariputta states that the mind of the Buddha cannot be "encompassed" by him; the Buddha and Sariputta, in similar passages, when confronted with speculation as to the status of an arahant after death, bring their interlocutors to admit that they cannot apprehend an arahant, alive.
As Sariputta puts it, his questioner Yamaka "can't pin down the Tathagata as a truth or reality in the present life." These passages imply that condition of the arahant, both before and after parinirvana, lies beyond the domain where the descriptive powers of ordinary language are at home. In the Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta, an ascetic named Vaccha questions the Buddha on a variety of metaphysical issues; when Vaccha asks about the status of a tathagata after death, the Buddha asks him in which direction a fire goes when it has gone out. Vaccha replies
Nirvana is the earliest and most common term used to describe the goal of the Buddhist path. The literal meaning is "blowing out" or "quenching." It is the ultimate spiritual goal in Buddhism and marks the soteriological release from rebirths in saṃsāra. Nirvana is part of the Third Truth on "cessation of dukkha" in the Four Noble Truths, the summum bonum destination of the Noble Eightfold Path. Within the Buddhist tradition, this term has been interpreted as the extinction of the "three fires", or "three poisons", passion and ignorance; when these fires are extinguished, release from the cycle of rebirth is attained. Nirvana has been deemed in Buddhism to be identical with anatta and sunyata states. In time, with the development of Buddhist doctrine, other interpretations were given, such as the absence of the weaving of activity of the mind, the elimination of desire, escape from the woods, cq. the five skandhas or aggregates. Buddhist scholastic tradition identifies two types of nirvana: sopadhishesa-nirvana, parinirvana or anupadhishesa-nirvana.
The founder of Buddhism, the Buddha, is believed to have reached both these states. Nirvana, or the liberation from cycles of rebirth, is the highest aim of the Theravada tradition. In the Mahayana tradition, the highest goal is Buddhahood, in which there is no abiding in Nirvana, but a Buddha continues to take rebirths in the world to help liberate beings from saṃsāra by teaching the Buddhist path; the term nirvana describes a state of freedom from suffering and rebirth, but different Buddhist traditions have interpreted the concept in different ways. The origin is pre-Buddhist, its etymology may not be conclusive for its meaning; the term was a more or less central concept among the Jains, the Ajivikas, the Buddhists, certain Hindu traditions, it may have been imported into Buddhism with much of its semantic range from other sramanic movements. Nirvana has a wide range of meanings, although the literal meaning is "blowing out" or "quenching", it refers both to the act and the effect of blowing to put it out, but the process and outcome of burning out, becoming extinguished.
The term nirvana in the soteriological sense of "blown out, extinguished" state of liberation does not appear in the Vedas nor in the pre-Buddhist Upanishads. According to Collins, "the Buddhists seem to have been the first to call it nirvana." However, the ideas of spiritual liberation using different terminology, is found in ancient texts of non-Buddhist Indian traditions, such as in verse 4.4.6 of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad of Hinduism. The prevalent interpretation of nirvana as "extinction" is based on the etymology of nir√vā to "blow out". Nir is a negative, while va is taken to refer to "to blow"; the term nirvana is part of an extensive metaphorical structure, established at a early age in Buddhism. According to Gombrich, the number of three fires alludes to the three fires which a Brahmin had to keep alight, thereby symbolise life in the world, as a family-man; the meaning of this metaphor was lost in Buddhism, other explanations of the word nirvana were sought. Not only passion and delusion were to be extinguished, but all cankers or defilements.
Exegetical works developed a whole new set of folk etymological definitions of the word nirvana, using the root vana to refer to "to blow", but re-parsing the word to roots that mean "weaving, sewing", "desire" and "forest or woods": vâna, derived from the root word √vā which means "to blow": blow. Vāna, derived from the root word vana which means "woods, forest":based on this root, vana has been metaphorically explained by Buddhist scholars as referring to the "forest of defilements", or the five aggregates; the "blowing out" does not mean total annihilation, but the extinguishing of a flame, which returns, exists in another way. The term nirvana can be used as a verb: "he or she nirvāṇa-s," or "he or she parinirvānṇa-s"; the term nirvana, "to blow out", has been interpreted as the extinction of the "three fires", or "three poisons", namely of passion or sensuality, aversion or hate and of delusion or ignorance. Another explanation of nirvana is the absence of the weaving of activity of the mind.
Author Paul Swanson states that some contemporary Buddhism scholars have questioned the above etymologies and whether these are consistent with the core doctrines of Buddhism about anatman and pratityasamutpada. Matsumoto Shirō, for example, states that the original etymological root of nirvana should not be considered as nir√vā which means "extinction", but should be considered to be nir√vŗ, to "uncover"; the problem with considering it as extinction or liberation, is that it presupposes a "self" to be extinguished or liberated. According to Matsumoto, the original meaning of nirvana was therefore not "to extinguish" but "to uncover" the atman from that, anatman. Other Buddhist scholars such as Takasaki Jikidō disagree, states S