'understanding, knowledge, wisdom, insight', comprises a very wide field. The specific Buddhist knowledge or wisdom, however, as part of the Noble Eightfold Path (magga, q.v.) to deliverance, is insight (vipassanā, q.v.), i.e. that intuitive knowledge which brings about the 4 stages of holiness and the realization of Nibbāna (s. ariyapuggala), and which consists in the penetration of the impermanency (anicca, q.v.), misery (dukkha, s. sacca) and impersonality (anattā) of all forms of existence. Further details, s. under tilakkhana.
With regard to the condition of its arising one distinguishes 3 kinds of knowledge knowledge based on thinking (cintā-mayā-paññā), knowledge based on learning (suta-mayā-paññā), knowledge based on mental development (bhāvanā-mayā-paññā) (D. 33).
" 'Based on thinking' is that knowledge which one has accquired through one's own thinking, without having learnt it from others. 'Based on learning' is that knowledge which one has heard from others and thus acquired through learning. 'Based on mental development' is that knowledge which one has acquired through mental development in this or that way, and which has reached the stage of full concentration" (appanā, q.v.) (Vis.M. XIV).
Wisdom is one of the 5 mental faculties (s. bala), one of the 3 kinds of training (sikkhā, q.v.), and one of the perfections (s. pāramī) For further details, s. vipassanā, and the detailed exposition in Vis.M. XIV, 1-32.