Pali term for the so-called "Triple Gem", "Three Jewels", or Three Refuges of Buddhism: the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. Also called tisarana, the "Threefold Refuge". A follower of Buddhism traditionally goes for refuge to the Tiratana; many consider a declaration of refuge in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha to be the only requirement to be a Buddhist. In the Dhammapada, the Triple Gem is said to be the supreme refuge or protector, because following the Buddhist teachings leads to the end of suffering and trouble

In the Theravada interpretation of the refuge formula, the Buddha is both the historical Buddha, Buddha Gotama and his enduring presence in the world following his parinibbana in the form of his memory and teachings. It can also refer to the continuing chain of Buddhas stretching both backwards and forwards in history according to the Hinayana conception of the sequence of Buddhas.

The Dhamma is the teachings of the Buddha, as embodied in the suttas and the oral and commentarial traditions of the Buddhist orders. The Dhamma exists independently of the Buddha- he is the revealer of the doctrine, but the Dhamma exists as an entity of its own right, forgotten by generations of deluded beings, and then revealed anew by a new rediscoverer (a Buddha).

The Sangha is the assembly of the followers of the Buddha's teachings. It is sometimes used to refer only to ordained monks and nuns, or to refer to the religious institution of a specific region, school, or nation. One can speak of the Thai Sangha, the Theravada Sangha, the Boston Sangha, or even the Harvard University Sangha. In traditional conception, the Sangha consisted of four types of people: ordained male followers (bhikkhu), ordained female followers (bhikkhuni), male lay followers, and female lay followers. Sangha can also be used universally to speak of all followers and devotees of Buddhism. The Sangha as an institution preserves and carries forward the teachings of the Buddha, and support of the ordained Sangha provides the laity with an opportunity to make merit (improve their karma/kamma through gifts and support).

The Sanskrit form of tiratana is triratna, and the Mahayana view of the Three Jewels encompasses meanings not found in the Theravada

Pali formula for Seeking Refuge from the Triple Gem

These verses are traditionally recited daily by Buddhist monks (and some lay followers), and are used at all ceremonial occasions, such as the ordination of a new monk or Vesak. The Velthius scheme is used to transcribe the Pali:


Buddha"m sara.na"m gacchaami.
I go to the Buddha for refuge.
Dhamma"m sara.na"m gacchaami.
I go to the Dhamma for refuge.
Sa"ngha"m sara.na"m gacchaami.
I go to the Sa"ngha for refuge.

Dutiyampi buddha"m sara.na"m gacchaami.
A second time, I go to the Buddha for refuge.
Dutiyampi dhamma"m sara.na"m gacchaami.
A second time, I go to the Dhamma for refuge.
Dutiyampi sa"ngha"m sara.na"m gacchaami.
A second time, I go to the Sa"ngha for refuge.

Tatiyampi buddha"m sara.na"m gacchaami.
A third time, I go to the Buddha for refuge.
Tatiyampi dhamma"m sara.na"m gacchaami.
A third time, I go to the Dhamma for refuge.
Tatiyampi sa"ngha"m sara.na"m gacchaami.
A third time, I go to the Sa"ngha for refuge.

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