From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Translations of
sustained effort
(IAST: vīrya)
(MLCTS: wə rḭ ja̰)
Chinese勤(T) / 勤(S),
精進(T) / 精进(S)
(Rōmaji: shōjin)
(UNGEGN: thamôpôl)
Korean, 정진
(RR: geun, jeongjin)
(Wylie: brtson 'grus;
THL: tsöndrü
VietnameseTinh Tấn
Glossary of Buddhism

Vīrya (Sanskrit; Pali: viriya) is a Buddhist term commonly translated as "energy", "diligence", "enthusiasm", or "effort". It can be defined as an attitude of gladly engaging in wholesome activities, and it functions to cause one to accomplish wholesome or virtuous actions.


Vīrya literally means "state of a strong human" or "manliness."[1] In Vedic literature, the term is associated with heroism and virility.

In Buddhism, virya refers to a practitioner's "energy",[2][3][4] "persistence",[4][5] "persevering,"[6] "vigour", "effort", "diligence",[7][8] or "exertion", and is repeatedly identified as a necessary prerequisite for achieving liberation.

Mental factor[edit]

Within the Buddhist Abhidharma teachings, virya is identified as:

In this context, virya is defined as the attitude of gladly engaging in what is wholesome; its function is to cause one to accomplish wholesome actions.[7][8]

The Abhidharma-samuccaya states:

What is virya? It is the mind intent on being ever active, devoted, unshaken, not turning back and being indefatigable. It perfects and realizes what is conducive to the positive.[7]

In the context of the Mahayana Abhidharma, virya is commonly translated as diligence.[7]

Pali literature[edit]

In Buddhism's Pali literature, viriya is identified as critical component in each of the following sets of qualities conducive to Enlightenment (bodhi-pakkhiyā-dhammā):

It is also associated with "Right Effort" (sammā-vāyāma) of the Noble Eightfold Path (Pāli: aṭṭhaṅgiko maggo; Skt.: aṣṭāṅga mārga) and with the "Four Right Exertions" (samma-ppadhāna).

In the Kīṭāgiri Sutta (MN 70), the Buddha instructs his followers:

... For a faithful disciple who is intent on fathoming the Teacher's Dispensation, it is natural that he conduct himself thus: 'Willingly, let only my skin, sinews, and bones remain, and let the flesh and blood dry up on my body, but my energy [Pali: viriya] shall not be relaxed so long as I have not attained what can be attained by manly strength [purisa-tthāmena], manly energy [purisa-viriyena], and manly persistence [purisa-parakkamena]...."[2]

Other characterizations[edit]

Viriya stands for strenuous and sustained effort to overcome unskillful ways (akusala dhamma), such as indulging in sensuality, ill will and harmfulness (see, e.g., ahiṃsā and nekkhamma).[citation needed]

Viriya can also be aroused by strong feelings of saṃvega and the practice of the charnel ground meditations as outlined in the Satipatthana sutta.

It stands for the right endeavour to attain dhyāna.[citation needed]

Vīrya can also signify courage and physical strength and was cultivated by Buddhist guardians including the Shaolin monks. It signifies strength of character and persistent effort for the well-being of others as well as the ability to defend the Triratna from attacks.[9]

In the absence of sustained effort in practicing meditation, craving creeps in and the meditator comes under its influence. Right effort (vīryabala) is thus required to overcome unskillful mental factors and deviation from dhyāna.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ See, e.g., which Monier Williams (1899), entry for "Vīryà," p. 1006: Defines vīryà in part as: "manliness, valour, strength, power, energy, RV &c. &c.; heroism/heroinism, heroic deed, ibid.; manly vigour, virility, semen virile, MBh.; Kāv. &c;...."
  2. ^ a b Ñāṇamoli & Bodhi (2001), "Kīṭāgiri Sutta" (MN 70), pp. 583–84.
  3. ^
    • "Meghiya Sutta: Meghiya". www.accesstoinsight.org. Translated by Ireland, John D. 1998. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
    • "Pade Sutta: In the Foot". www.accesstoinsight.org. Translated by Walshe, Maurice O'Connell. 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  4. ^ a b c See, e.g., Bullitt (2005), entry for "viriya," which defines this term as: "Persistence; energy. One of the ten perfections (paramis), the five faculties (bala; see bodhi-pakkhiya-dhamma), and the five strengths/dominant factors (indriya; see bodhi-pakkhiya-dhamma)". Retrieved 3 February 2011.
  5. ^ "Kitagiri Sutta: At Kitagiri". www.accesstoinsight.org. Translated by Thanissaro, Bhikkhu. 2005. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  6. ^ "Gilana Sutta: Ill". www.accesstoinsight.org. Translated by Piyadassi, Thera. 1999. Retrieved 22 November 2022.
  7. ^ a b c d Guenther (1975), Kindle Locations 578–580.
  8. ^ a b Kunsang (2004), p. 25.
  9. ^ "Buddha Quotes". BrainyQuote. Retrieved 22 November 2022.