Akshana, Akṣaṇa: 5 definitions

Introduction

Akshana means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

The Sanskrit term Akṣaṇa can be transliterated into English as Aksana or Akshana, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

Akṣaṇa (अक्षण) (Pāli, akkhaṇa) refers to “eight difficult conditions” according to the Chinese translation of the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter XIV).—There are eight (occasionally nine) akṣaṇa: belonging to one of the bad destinies, i.e., damned (naraka), animal (tiryagoni) or preta; being a human, one is lacking an organ, is plunged into wrong views, is living before or after the Buddha, or living in a border region; if one is a god, belonging to the class of the long-lived gods.

Mahayana book cover
context information

Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

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General definition (in Buddhism)

Source: Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgraha

Akṣaṇa (अक्षण, “inopportune”) refers to the “eight inopportune births” as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 134):

  1. narakopapatti (rebirth in hell),
  2. tiryag-upapatti (rebirth in the animal kingdom),
  3. yama-lokopapatti (rebirth in Yama’s world),
  4. pratyanta-janapadopapatti (rebirth in the border regions),
  5. dīrghāyuṣa-devopapatti (rebirth amongst the gods of long life),
  6. indriya-vikalatā (rebirth with impaired faculties),
  7. mithyā-dṛṣṭi (rebirth with wrong view),
  8. cittotpādarāgitatā (rebirth with a mind intent on passion).

The Dharma-samgraha (Dharmasangraha) is an extensive glossary of Buddhist technical terms in Sanskrit (eg., akṣaṇa). The work is attributed to Nagarjuna who lived around the 2nd century A.D.

Languages of India and abroad

Sanskrit-English dictionary

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Akṣaṇa (अक्षण).—a. [nāsti kṣaṇo yogyakālo yasya] Inopportune. unseasonable.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary

Akṣaṇa (अक्षण).—m. or nt. (= Pali akkhaṇa), inopportune birth, birth under such circumstances that one cannot learn from a Buddha. There are eight such in Pali, Dīghanikāya (Pali) iii.287.12 ff.; Aṅguttaranikāya (Pali) iv. 225.19 ff. (9 in Dīghanikāya (Pali) iii.263.31 ff.), viz.: (at a time when a Buddha is living) one is born (1) in a hell, (2) as an animal, (3) as a preta, (4) as one of the ‘long-lived gods’, (5) in border countries or barbarian regions, (6) with perverted, heretical mentality, (7) dull, stupid, incapable of distinguishing the gospel from what is inconsistent with it; or (8) he is born capable of profiting from the gospel but at a time when no Buddha exists to teach it. (Dīghanikāya (Pali) iii.263 ff. adds as 9th, after No. 3, birth as an asura.) These same 8, transposing 6 and 7, are briefly listed Mahāvyutpatti 2299—2306: (1) narakāḥ, (2) tiryañcaḥ, (3) pretāḥ, (4) dīrghāyuṣo devāḥ, (5) pratyantajanapadam, (6) indriyavai- kalyam, (7) mithyādarśanam, (8) tathāgatānām anutpādaḥ. In Dharmasaṃgraha 134 No. 5 is put before 4, otherwise 1—7 as in Mahāvyutpatti, but 8 (obviously by a secondary change) is wholly different: (1) narakopapattis, (2) tiryagupapattir, (3) yamalokopapattiḥ, (4) pratyantajanapadopapattir, (5) dīrghāyuṣadevopapattir, (6) indriyavikalatā, (7) mithyā- dṛṣṭiś, (8) cittotpādavirāgitatā (seems to be a different version of 6, which corresponds to Pali 7, while 8 of the others is omitted). As opposed to these there is only one kṣaṇa, opportune birth; see s.v. Eight akṣaṇa Mahāvastu ii.363.3; Lalitavistara 412.14; Śikṣāsamuccaya 2.4; 114.14; Gaṇḍavyūha 116.16; Suvarṇabhāsottamasūtra 41.13. The word never means misfortune in general, but only un- favorable birth, and in most cases clearly in just the sense described above. So Śikṣāsamuccaya 147.14 akṣaṇagatiṃ na gacchaty anyatra sattvaparipākāt, (a Bodhisattva) is not born in an inopportune birth, except to mature creatures (the translation(s) misunderstands); Lalitavistara 278.22 akṣaṇāni pithitāny abhūvan, and 279.19 akṣaṇāḥ pithitāḥ, are explained by Gaṇḍavyūha 112.19 sarvākṣaṇadvārakapāṭāni pithayiṣyati (or with text [Page003-a+ 71] pithapayiṣ°, see Chap. 43, s.v.) he will close the door-panels (opening into) all the inopportune births. The akṣaṇa are śodhita, purified, Lalitavistara 53.6; 357.5, or made śūnya, empty, Lalitavistara 358.13. Others: Lalitavistara 12.3; 34.22; 275.21; 327.13; 364.7; Mahāvastu ii.358.5; 371.12; 392.5 = Śikṣāsamuccaya 306.1; Avadāna-śataka i.291.12; Rāṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā 35.19; Śikṣāsamuccaya 69.5; Sukhāvatīvyūha 23.9; Gaṇḍavyūha 54.9 (preta-tiryaṅ- narakākṣaṇe-gatāḥ); compare Lévi, Asaṅga (Mahāyāna-sūtrālaṃkāra) 17.26. On Saddharmapuṇḍarīka 163.8 akṣaṇāḥ saṃvṛtā compare Senart's note Mahāvastu i.405 f.; it is (as Senart says) certainly secondary, the original being aghā(ḥ) aghasaṃvṛtā(ḥ), miseries, surrounded by miseries (in ap- position with lokāntarikā, q.v., sc. narakāḥ or nirayāḥ); akṣaṇāḥ in Saddharmapuṇḍarīka was, in my opinion as in Senart's (if I under- stand him), a noun and a near-synonym of aghā(ḥ), (constituting) unfavorable births, see agha (2). Perhaps akṣaṇasaṃvṛtā(ḥ) was originally read after it(?). In Daśabhūmikasūtra.g. 7(343).4 read probably akṣaṇāḥ for text akṣalāḥ: sarve ti pāpapatitā 'kṣalāḥ (text) prabhonti.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Akṣaṇa (अक्षण):—[=a-kṣaṇa] mfn. inopportune.

2) Ākṣāṇa (आक्षाण):—mfn. perf. p.akṣ q.v.

context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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