Definition - What does Atmabhavadi-Parityagah mean?

Atmabhavadi-parityagah is a Sanskrit term that refers to the declaration of altruism and self-denial that is the final spiritual exercise of anuttara puja, also known as “supreme worship” or “seven-fold worship.” Atmabhavadi means “self surrender” and parityagah means “renunciation.” This step is sometimes referred to in English as “transference of merit and self-surrender.”

Anuttara puja is a method of devotion developed by the seventh-century Indian master, Shantideva. It consists of seven spiritual exercises and is typically practiced in the Buddhist tradition.

Yogapedia explains Atmabhavadi-Parityagah

In atmabhavadi-parityagah, all of the merit that has accumulated through the spiritual exercises of anuttara puja should be shared with others (transference of merit) for the benefit of all; therefore, the devotee declares his/her spiritual journey is not just for his/her own enlightenment. This renunciation of egoism paves the way for the goal of the spiritual journey – bodhicitta, a mind dedicated to others and to attaining enlightenment. It is similar to the ultimate goal of yoga – enlightenment and unification with the yogi's highest nature.

The spiritual exercises of anuttara puja, in order, include:

  • Vandana (obeisance, bowing down) and puja (worship) – paying homage to the Buddha.
  • Sarana-gamana (going for refuge) – committing to the path to enlightenment by seeking “refuge” in the Buddha, dharma or spiritual community.
  • Papadesana (confession of sins) – appraisal of one's shortcomings and a resolve to overcome them.
  • Punyanumodana (rejoicing in merit) – honoring one's own and others' positive qualities.
  • Adhyesana (prayer, entreaty) and yacana (supplication) – requesting the assistance of those who are more enlightened.
  • Atmabhavadi-parityagah (surrender) – the declaration of altruism and self-denial.

While some sources separate adhyesana and yacana, others separate vandana and puja as distinct steps, in each case creating a seven-fold path of worship.

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