Last Updated: July 27, 2017

Definition - What does Namarupa mean?

Namarupa is a Buddhist concept that refers to the interdependence of the mind and body. The term comes from the Sanskrit and Pali languages in which nama means “name” and rupa means “form,” “likeness” or “matter.” In Pali, nama also refers to such immaterial concepts as consciousness and perception. Namarupa is typically translated as “mind and body” or as a compound word, “bodymind,” indicating the inseparability of the individual's physical and mental existence.

Namarupa describes a similar concept in Hinduism. Nama refers to the essential (spiritual) properties of a living being or an object, whereas rupa is the substantial (physical presence).

Yogapedia explains Namarupa

In Buddhism, namarupa does not refer to two concepts that are joined together, but one concept that represents the existence of a human being. Namarupa is the fourth of the Buddha's doctrine of 12 links of dependent origination, which describes how beings are created, exist and cease to be.

Namarupa is also used to describe the five skandhas, or the aggregates of existence that, when joined, form a human being. The first two skandhas represent the rupa aspect of namarupa, while the others represent nama.

The skandhas are:

  • Form (matter or body)
  • Sensations and feelings obtained from the form
  • Perceptions
  • Mental formations or activity
  • Consciousness

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