I am told that the word jihad can have different meanings in different contexts.  Evidently, the word jihad is a kind of action or verbal noun called an infinitive. It literally means ‘he struggles.’  In spoken Arabic it simply means  struggle — any sort of strenuous effort, endeavor, or striving.  Some take it, in a religious context,  to mean an aggressive external holy war against infidels.  Others take it as a threefold internal spiritual struggle with oneself; to submit oneself,  to develop faith, and to live righteously. I found the latter interpretation kind of interesting. There are two  somewhat similar Buddhist terms; padhana / pradhana, and pahana / prahana.  These words are a kind of action noun called a gerund; a verb ending with the suffix  -ing  that is used as a noun.

Padhana or pradhana is translated as struggle, exertion, endeavor, striving, and so on. I should add that it has other meanings in other contexts. In the context of the Eightfold Path;  padhana  refers to the meditation practice or spiritual exercise called  samma vayama / samyak vyayama, commonly translated as Right Effort.  Right effort is explained in detail as catarro sammappadhana / samyak catur pradhana;  the fourfold right struggle.

The word consists of two parts;  pradha and -na.  Pradha means ‘to strive.’  It can broken down into two; the prefix pra-, plus the verb dhi.  Pra- is a cognate of pre-, pro-, per,  and fore. It can have several meanings. In this case, it means for, in the sense of purpose or use. Dhi- means to hold, to fasten, to firm up, and so on.  The suffix -na is a cognate of -ing, and is commonly used to form gerunds.

Pahana / prahana is the second of the four struggles.  The word consists  of the prefix pra, the verb  ha, and the suffix -na. ‘ Ha’ means to abandon, to give up, to relinquish,  to eliminate, to sever, and so on.  In Buddhism, pahana padhana  means the spiritual struggle to abandon unwholesome mental states; such as enmity, intolerance, greed, or delusion, that have already arisen.

At any rate, the Buddhist concept of the fourfold padhana is similar to jihad in the sense of the third spiritual struggle with oneself; the struggle to live righteously. Buddhism places primary importance on the cetana, the internal mental state that motivates deeds,  over the the external action. For example, superficial acts of charity, with the egoistic aim of receiving social credit, or the prideful desire to feel superior to others; would not be wholesome. The mental state of authentic compassion has to be present.

Moreover, from a Buddhist perspective,  there is no such thing as righteous indignation.  The correct Buddhist response to injustice or insults is not to be offended and arouse enmity.  Instead, one should block any dormant enmity, relinquish any  ill feelings that have already arisen, cultivate khanti / kshanti {forgiving tolerance} as an antidote, and then strive to maintain a equanimous,  discerning mind rooted in cheerful kindness.   On the other hand, the calm and selective use of necessary force,  provided it is  rooted in  compassion for all involved,  and applied with discerning wisdom, with the objective of preventing immediate harm, could sometimes be wholesome.

  • cattarimani or cattaro sammappadhanani  / catur samyak-pradhana
    四正勤 {si zheng qin / shi shogon} :  Fourfold Right Struggle; to overcome mental afflictions / unwholesome mental states.
  • catarro sammapahana  四正斷 {si zheng duan / shi shodan} : Fourfold Elimination [of mental  afflictions]
  • pahana / prahana 斷:  Abandonment or elimination  of mental afflictions that have already arisen.