Gāthā Sentence Translation Sentence Structure
Vocabulary&Grammar Commentary Pronunciation
List of Abbreviations

buddhaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi

dhammaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi

saṅghaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi


I take refuge in the Buddha.
I take refuge in the Teaching.

I take refuge in the Community.

Sentence structure:

List of Abbreviations

buddhaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi
|                   |              |

N.m.          N.n.     V.act.in.

Acc.Sg.    Acc.Sg.  3.Sg.pres.

|                   |________|


List of Abbreviations

dhammaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi
|                     |               |

N.m.           N.n.       V.act.in.

Acc.Sg.     Acc.Sg.    3.Sg.pres.

|                     |________|


List of Abbreviations

saṅghaṃ saraṇaṃ gacchāmi
|                  |               |

N.m.         N.n.      V.act.in.

Acc.Sg.   Acc.Sg.   3.Sg.pres.

|                  |________|


Vocabulary and Grammar:

List of Abbreviations

buddhaṃ: buddha-, Adj.: p.p. of the verb budh-, to awaken. Awakened One, Enlightened One. Here as a noun: a being who has attained nirvana. The historical Buddha Shakyamuni. Acc.Sg.: buddhaṃ.

saraṇaṃ: saraṇa-, N.n.: refuge. Acc.Sg.: saraṇaṃ.

gacchāmi: verb gam-, to go. Here 1st person singular of active indicative, present tense: I go.

List of Abbreviations

dhammaṃ: dhamma-, N.m.: Buddha's Teaching. The Law. Derived from the verb dha-, to hold. Thus dhamma "holds the world together". Acc.Sg.: dhammaṃ.

saṅghaṃ: saṅgha-, N.m.: community. The community of the Buddha's followers. It is of two kinds: the saṅgha of lay followers and the saṅgha of monks and nuns. Acc.Sg.: saṅghaṃ.

List of Abbreviations

    The first word (buddhaṃ) is in the accusative case. This case is used for object of the sentence and its attributes, for the object that undergoes the action of an active verb. It is an answer to the question "[See] whom?" "[Do] what?".

    As the second word (saraṇaṃ) is an attribute of the object, it is in the same case, namely the accusative. [I go] to the Buddha (buddhaṃ, accusative) to the refuge (saraṇaṃ, accusative).

    Last word (gacchāmi) is the verb. In this sentence it is necessary -- only when the verb is "to be" we can omit it. It is in the present tense (the action is happening now), indicative mood (the verb is indicating or simply relating something), active voice (the whole sentence is therefore active -- "I go"; it is not -- as is very common in Indian languages in passive -- "By me is gone"), first person (denoting "I" or "we") and singular number (the combination of first person and singular means that the subject of the sentence is "I").

    The second and third lines form separate sentences with the same structure as the first sentence.


    This is the "credo of Buddhism". It is called Threefold Refuge or tisaraṇa in Pali. It is by repeating these three sentences, that one officially becomes a Buddha's follower. It is usually recited every morning or as an opening part of a ceremony.

    By this phrase we take refuge in the Buddha -- we accept him as our teacher, as a highest authority for our life. We take refuge in his teaching -- in other words we accept his teaching as our guidance on the path towards awakenment. And we take refuge in the community of Buddha's followers -- the spiritual friends, who progress together with us and who can help us on our way.


Sentence pronunciation

Word pronunciation: