Alara Kalama, Ālāra-kālāma, Alarakalama: 3 definitions


Alara Kalama means something in Buddhism, Pali. 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.

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

[«previous next»] — Alara Kalama in Theravada glossary
Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

One of the two teachers to whom Gotama, after his renunciation, first attached himself, the other being Uddaka Ramaputta. In the Milindapanha (p.236) Alara is mentioned as Gotamas fourth teacher. The ThigA. (p.2) says he went to Bhaggava before going to Alara. The Mtu. (ii.117f.) and the Lal. (330f), give quite different accounts.

In the Ariyaparivesana Sutta (M.i.163-5; also 240ff; ii.94ff, 212ff) the Buddha describes his visit to Alara. Gotama quickly mastered his doctrine and was able to repeat it by heart; but feeling sure that Alara not only knew the doctrine but had realised it, he approached him and questioned him about it. Alara then proclaimed the Akincannayatana, and Gotama, putting forth energy and concentration greater than Alaras, made himself master of that state. Alara recognised his pupils eminence and treated him as an equal, but Gotama, not having succeeded in his quest, took leave of Alara to go elsewhere (VibhA.432). When, after having practised austerities for six years, the Buddha attained Enlightenment and granted Sahampatis request to preach the doctrine, it was of Alara he thought first as being the fittest to hear the teaching. But Alara had died seven days earlier (Vin.i.7).

The books mention little else about Alara. The Maha Parinibbana Sutta (D.ii.130; Vsm.330) mentions a Mallian, Pukkusa, who says he had been Alaras disciple, but who, when he hears the Buddhas sermon, confesses faith in the Buddha. Pukkusa describes Alara to the Buddha as one who practised great concentration. Once Alara was sitting in the open air and neither saw nor heard five hundred passing carts though he was awake and conscious.

As already stated above, the aim of Alaras practices is stated to have been the attainment of Akincannayatana, the stage of nothingness. Whether this statement is handed down with any real knowledge of the facts of his teaching, it is not now possible to say. Asvaghosa, in his Buddhacarita (xii.17ff), puts into the mouth of Arada or Alara, a brief account of his philosophy. It has some resemblance - though this is slight - to the Sankhya philosophy, but in Alaras teaching some of the salient characteristics of the Sankhya system are absent. In reply to Gotamas questions about the religious life and the obtaining of final release, Alara describes a system of spiritual development which is identical with the methods of the Buddhist monk up to the last attainment but one. The monk reaches the four jhanas and then attains successively to the states of space, infinity and nothingness. The last three stages are described in the terms of the first three of the four Attainments. (For a discussion on this see Thomas, op. cit., p.229-30; see also MA.ii.881; VibhA.432). According to Buddhaghosa (AA.i.458),

context information

Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

Discover the meaning of alara kalama in the context of Theravada from relevant books on Exotic India

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

[«previous next»] — Alara Kalama in Mahayana glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

Ārāḷa Kālāma in Pali or Ārāḍa kālāma in Sanskrit, is one of the two teachers of the Buddha, according to the Mahāparinirvāṇa-sūtra (Pali, Mahāparinibbāna-sutta), as mentioned in the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter 36.—Notes: Meeting the Buddha between Kuśinagarī and Pāpā, a minister of the Mallas called Putkasa spoke to him about his teacher Ārāḍa Kālāma and his extraordinary power of concentration: one day when he was deep in meditation, Ārāḍa did not hear the noise of a caravan of five hundred wagons that passed by close to him. The Buddha affirmed that he too possessed a similar power of absorption and gave him as proof an incident that had occurred in the village of Ādumā (in Pāli, Ātumā).

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.

Discover the meaning of alara kalama in the context of Mahayana from relevant books on Exotic India

General definition (in Buddhism)

[«previous next»] — Alara Kalama in Buddhism glossary
Source: Buddhist Door: GlossaryAlara Kalama in Pali, Arada Kalama in Sanskrit. A sage under whom Shakyamuni studied meditation. The state reached by Alara Kalama was that of a higher formless world where matter no longer exists.

See also (Relevant definitions)

Relevant text

Let's grow together!

I humbly request your help to keep doing what I do best: provide the world with unbiased sources, definitions and images. Your donation direclty influences the quality and quantity of knowledge, wisdom and spiritual insight the world is exposed to.

Let's make the world a better place together!

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: