Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Religious Studies

First Advisor

Granoff, Phyllis


This dissertation explores the meaning of the Sanskrit term kṣānti in the Mahābhārata and the Pali term khanti in the Pali Canon. There is considerable debate and confusion within the scholarly community as to what these terms mean, and scholars have chosen to translate the verbal root from which they derive using a wide range of terms: “ be patient,” “forgive,” “tolerate,” “endure,” “suffer,” “pardon,” “forbear,” “wait,” “allow,” “indulge,” and so on. Through a thorough and close examination of the Mahābhārata and the Pali Canon, this dissertation unveils the precise meanings of these terms in these texts. This dissertation will demonstrate that kṣānti had two distinct meanings in the Mahābhārata which were differentiated based on several factors - varṇa or caste, duration of practice, relationship with anger, classification as virtuous or dharma, and perception as a strength or weakness. On the other hand, khanti in the Pali canon, referred to a specific two-step psychological process – the negation of anger, followed by the cultivation of a positive feeling towards others, mettā. The dissertation then engages in a comparative analysis of the differing treatments of kṣānti and khanti in the Mahābhārata and Pali Canon, respectively, noting major differences, elements of intertextuality and hypothesizing their process of development. Through these findings, the dissertation will provide a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the ideas of patience and forgiveness in these early Indian narrative texts.