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(Sanskrit: Extinction) In Indian religious thought, the transcendent state of freedom achieved by the extinction of desire and of individual consciousness. Nirvana is the supreme goal of the disciplines of meditation, particularly in Buddhism. Release from desire (and consequent suffering) and the continuous round of rebirths constitutes enlightenment, or the experience of nirvana. Theravada Buddhism conceives of nirvana as tranquillity and peace; Mahayana Buddhism equates it with sunyata (emptiness), dharma-kaya (the essence of the Buddha), and dharma-datu (ultimate reality).
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on nirvana, visit Britannica.com.