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Muni (Skt., etym. uncertain; perhaps from √man, ‘think’, ‘be silent’; or mud, ‘intoxicated ecstasy’; or muka, ‘dumb’). In Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism, one who has progressed far on the way to enlightenment. In Hinduism, a muni in the Vedic period is one who possesses magical powers (Ṛg Veda 136. 2), a wise ascetic, especially one who has taken a vow of silence. In the Upaniṣads (e.g. Katha Upaniṣad 1. 4), a muni is one who has transcended attachment to this world and life by the realization of ātman.

In Buddhism, it is used of one who has achieved tranquillity (santi; cf. ŚANTI) as a result of emancipating himself from views (see DIṬṬHI) and passions (rāgā) and who therefore advocates the doctrine of tranquillity (santivāda—Sutta Nipāta 5. 845). In later canonical and post-canonical Buddhist literature the word is used to mean one who practises restraint in the triple activity of thought, word, and deed. In Jainism, it has become the common word to denote the avowed ascetic.

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