The word nirvāṇa literally means extinguishment. It implies the extinguishment of self. Bhagwat Geeta also mentions the word,

लभन्ते ब्रह्मनिर्वाणमृषय: क्षीणकल्मषा:|
छिन्नद्वैधा यतात्मान: सर्वभूतहिते रता: || 5.25||

कामक्रोधवियुक्तानां यतीनां यतचेतसाम् |
अभितो ब्रह्मनिर्वाणं वर्तते विदितात्मनाम् || 5.26||

But some Buddhists claim that this word is not present in Vedas but in BG that makes the fact of Bhagwat Geeta being post-Buddhist possible. I am looking for the usuage of the word in Vedas or Upanishads or scripture that predates Bhagwat Geeta.

P.S: In any case, absence of the word in Vedas doesn't imply BG to be post-Buddhist. Nirvana is a sanskrit word that means extinguishment & Brahman Nirvana simply means extinguishment in Brahman, etc. So, it's neither surprising to find the word in BG nor does it imply BG to be post-Buddhist.

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    There is a Upanishad named Nirvana Upanishad , it is one among 20 Sanyasa Upanishad. Since Sanyasa came into picture post Buddhism, so there is a possibility that the word may have taken from Buddhism in the context of liberation. Yeah sure the word is already present in Sanskrit; but the usage not sure if it's been used like Buddhism before.
    – TheLittleNaruto
    Commented Oct 24, 2020 at 9:30
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    The word appears in Mandukya Upanishad as far as you want it from main upanishads. But since it's chronology is difficult to resolve according to sources , I think it is not the best candidate for your query. Commented Oct 24, 2020 at 10:43
  • @SwiftPushkar Please answer. Commented Oct 26, 2020 at 8:11
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    The word nirvāṇa does not occur in any of the ancient Upanishads (including Mandukya Upanishad mentioned in above comment). But as mentioned in the question, Bhagavad Gita is pre-Buddha because there is not even a slight hint of existence of Buddhism. Gita mentions other systems such as Sankhya and Yoga, but not Buddhism. Since Buddhism was considered such a big influence, if Gita was post-Buddha, it should say either positive or negative things about Buddhism. This itself shows Gita is pre-Buddha.
    – RamAbloh
    Commented Dec 6, 2020 at 0:52
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    Interestingly according to van Buitenen the use of the term"Nirvana" was not confined to Buddhism only at the time the Bhagavad Gita.Need to find where he stated as such , but so far not been able to. Commented Dec 11, 2020 at 12:19

1 Answer 1


I don't have enough reputation to comment but 4.4.6 of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad seems to describe Nirvāṇa. Since Brihadaranyaka Upanishad is believed to be composed around [700 BCE][1] and Buddhism did not begin at least until [5th to 4th century BCE][1], Nirvāṇa should be considered as a pre-Buddhist term. Also, maybe the exact meaning we attribute to the word changed over time but the word in itself has pre-Buddhist origins.

  • Actually 4.4.6 of Br̥hadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad doesn't contain the term nirvāṇa or its derivatives. The OP is interested in knowing the term being used as it is, not for its explanation or idea in the texts. That is why wikipedia is not a good source for such kind of information, please be a bit wary or skeptical on using it, it's usually not trustable
    – Bingming
    Commented Jan 12, 2023 at 12:51

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