Bija, aka: Bīja; 18 Definition(s)


Bija means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Marathi. 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 Hinduism

Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

A bīja need not be a single Sanskrit alphabet. It could be a combination of alphabets. For example, sa is a bīja and it is a single alphabet, whereas hṛīṃ is also a bīja but a combination of many alphabets. Each alphabet in Sanskrit has a meaning. If we take the first letter a in Sanskrit alphabet, it conveys many things. It is the origin of (OM); it also means unification, non-destruction, etc. The interpretation of meaning for such bīja's mostly depends on the context in which it is used.

Source: Manblunder: Pañcadaśi Mantra
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Shakta (शाक्त, śākta) or Shaktism (śāktism) represents a tradition of Hinduism where the Goddess (Devi) is revered and worshipped. Shakta literature includes a range of scriptures, including various Agamas and Tantras, although its roots may be traced back to the Vedas.

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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Bīja (बीज, “seed”) refers to one of the “five elements of the plot” (arthaprakṛti), according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 21. These five elements represents the five means of attaining objects of the Plot (itivṛtta or vastu).

The associated ‘stage of action’ (avasthā) of bīja is the prārambha (beginning). These stages represent a Hero’s striving towards the object in a dramatic playwright (nāṭaka).

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

Bīja (बीज, “germ”).—One of the five elements of the plot (arthaprakṛti);—That which scattered in a small measure, expands itself in various ways and ends in fruition, is called the Seed of the Plot (bīja).

Source: Natya Shastra
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Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (śāstra) of performing arts, (nāṭya, e.g., theatrics, drama, dance, music), as well as the name of a Sanskrit work dealing with these subjects. It also teaches the rules for composing dramatic plays (nataka) and poetic works (kavya).

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Bīja (बीज).—From Īśvara and Yoni; from Prakṛti; from Nārāyaṇa.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 101. 228.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Vastushastra (architecture)

Bīja (बीज).—The potency of the seed syllables (bīja) owes to the conceived undifferentiated unity of nāda and bindu in them. The bīja syllables, la, va., ra, ya, and ha. are the “sounds” of the five elements from earth to space respectively, and correspond to the five faces respectively of sadāśiva in the kartṛsadākhya mode. Mantras composed of these syllables are hṛllekha, “furrowed in the heart”, and their recital effects the enshrinement of the unmanifested deity in the he art, as well as the sublimation of elements.

Source: McGill: The architectural theory of the Mānasāra
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Vastushastra (वास्तुशास्त्र, vāstuśāstra) refers to the ancient Indian science (shastra) of architecture (vastu), dealing with topics such architecture, sculpture, town-building, fort building and various other constructions. Vastu also deals with the philosophy of the architectural relation with the cosmic universe.

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Jyotisha (astronomy and astrology)

Bīja (बीज).—1. Algebra. 2. A conversion constant to adjust astronomical parameters; (lit., seed). Note: Bīja is a Sanskrit technical term used in ancient Indian sciences such as Astronomy, Mathematics and Geometry.

Source: Wikibooks (hi): Sanskrit Technical Terms
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Jyotisha (ज्योतिष, jyotiṣa or jyotish) refers to ‘astronomy’ or “Vedic astrology” and represents the fifth of the six Vedangas (additional sciences to be studied along with the Vedas). Jyotisha concerns itself with the study and prediction of the movements of celestial bodies, in order to calculate the auspicious time for rituals and ceremonies.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

The concept of bīja-mantra is also found in Buddhist Tantra. It is a mono-syllabic mantra and stands for different manifestations commonly known as Devatā. A (अ) is the bīja mantra of creation which is represented in Buddhism by Vairocana. Ba (ब) is the bīja-mantra of Dharma which represents here Amitābha. Being the first letter and the bīja mantra of creation, A (अ) is said to be the representative of Śūnyatā or Prajñā. The letter A is an indeterminate letter. In the Mahāsukhaprakāśa of the Advaya-Vajra-Saṃgraha it has been said that the bīja proceeds from Śūnyatā knowledge, and from the bīja is produced the reflection or the form of particular gods and goddesses. Dr. Benayatosh Bhattacharya has given the history of bīja-mantra.

In the Mantra-paṭala of Hevajra Tantra we find that the bīja-mantra of Tathāgata is oṃ ḥa huṃ phaṭ svāhā ; that of the goddess, krūm aṃ jiṃ khaṃ huṃ, and that of Heruka, taṃ maṃ paṃ taṃ baṃ oṃ deva picuvajre huṃ huṃ huṃ phaṭ svāhā. According to Vasubandhu the real significance of a mantra lies in its being meaningless, the constant meditation of which brings the realisation of the absolute void or Śūnyatā. Here meaningless means non-understanding of the esoteric significance of the mantra, for the common man. But, for a Sādhaka mantras, which stand for the deeper and richer significance of Tantrism, are highly meaningful. Mere repetition of a mantra cannot bring any fruitful result.

Source: Google Books: Tantra, Its Mystic and Scientific Basis

In Vajrayana Buddhism and Hinduism, the term bīja is used for mystical “seed syllables” contained within mantras. These seeds do not have precise meanings, but are thought to carry connections to spiritual principles. The best-known bīja syllable is Om, first found in the Hindu scriptures the Upanishads.

In some tantric traditions, the Bija of the 'Varnamala' (Sanskrit; English: "garland of letters"; which may be rendered as alphabet) are understood as aniconic representations and sound embodiments of the matrikas (a group of goddesses).

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

In Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

In Tibetan Buddhism the bīja (seed syllables) corresponding to the Three Vajras are: a white oṃ (enlightened body), a red āḥ (enlightened speech) and a blue hūṃ (enlightened mind). In the Bön tradition of Tibet, it's a little different: a white āḥ, a red oṃ and a blue hūṃ.

Bījas are often the vehicle of esoteric transmission of terma to a ‘terton’ (Tibetan; English: “revealer of terma”), such as that experienced by Dudjom Lingpa.

Source: WikiPedia: Tibetan Buddhism
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Tibetan Buddhism includes schools such as Nyingma, Kadampa, Kagyu and Gelug. Their primary canon of literature is divided in two broad categories: The Kangyur, which consists of Buddha’s words, and the Tengyur, which includes commentaries from various sources. Esotericism and tantra techniques (vajrayāna) are collected indepently.

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Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Bīja (बीज) or Bījāśuci refers to the “impurity of seed” and represents one of the five “impurities of the body” (kāyāśuci), contemplating on which, the Yogin can obtain the four “foundations of mindfulness” (smṛtyupasthāna), forming part of the thirty-seven auxiliaries to enlightenment (bodhipākṣika), according to the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter XXXI.

Accordingly, the impurity of Bīja is described as follows: “by means of the wind of deceptive concepts and wrong thoughts, the father and mother blow upon the fire of sexual desire; blood, marrow and fat escape, get hot and are changed into sperm. The seed-consciousness conditioned by previous actions settles in the blood and whitish sperm. That is what is called the seed of the body (kāyabīja)... That is what is called the impurity of the seed (bīja-aśuci)”.

Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
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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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In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Bīja (बीज, “seed”).—One of the ten kinds of “plant-bodies” (vanaspati) a soul (jīva) can be reborn as due to karma. Bīja and other plant-bodies are within the animal world (tiryag-gati) which is one of the four divisions of saṃsāra where souls are reborn.

Source: Wisdom Library: Jainism

Bīja (बीज, “seed”) refers to “seed intellect” and represents one of the eighteen types of extraordinary intellect (buddhi), which itself is a subclass of the eight ṛddhis (extraordinary powers). These powers can be obtained by the Ārya (civilized people) in order to produce worldly miracles. The Āryas represent one of the two classes of human beings according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 3.46, the other being Mleccha (barbarians).

What is meant by extraordinary seed intellect (bīja-buddhi-riddhi)? This is the intellect which understands the meaning of the entire scripture by reading just one of its aphorisms.

Source: Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 3: The Lower and middle worlds
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

bīja : (nt.) seed; germ; generating element.

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Bīja, (nt.) (cp. Vedic bīja) 1. seed, germ, semen, spawn. Used very frequently in figurative sense: see on similes J. P. T. S. 1907, 116.—D. I, 135 (°bhatta seed-corn & food); III, 44 (the five kinds: see below under °gāma); M. I, 457; S. I, 21, 134, 172, 227; III, 54, 91; IV, 315; A. I, 32 (ucchu°), 135, 223, 229, 239; III, 404; IV, 237; V, 213 (ucchu°); Sn. 77 (saddhā bījaṃ tapo vuṭṭhi, cp. SnA 142 sq. , where a detailed discussion on bīja is found), 209, 235 (khīṇa° adj. fig.); J. I, 242 (tiṇa°-ādīni grass and other seeds), 281; Pv. I, 11; Vism. 555 (in simile); KhA 194 (on Sn. 235, in another comparison); Sdhp. 24, 270 sq. , 318. nibbatta° (or nivatta°) (adj.) that which has dropped its seed (hence a lawful food) Vin. I, 215, cp. II. 109; IV, 35.—2. element, in udaka° whose element is the water J. VI, 160.—gāma seed-group, seed-kingdom, seed-creation (opp. bhūta-gāma). There are 5 kinds of seeds usually enumd, e.g. at D. I, 5 (expld at DA. I, 77, trsln at Dial. I. 6 and passim), viz. mūla°, khandha°, phalu°, agga°, bija°, or plants propagated by roots, cuttings, joints, buddings, shoots, seeds (Dial. III, 40: tubers, shoots, berries, joints, seeds). The same set occurs at D. III, 44, 47; Vin. IV, 34; SnA 144.—Without ref. to the 5 kinds at M. III, 34; S. V, 46; Miln. 33.—jāta species of seed S. III, 54.—bīja one of the 5 groups of edible or useful plants, falling under bījagāma. It is expld at Vin. IV, 35 & DA. I, 81 by the terms pubbaṇṇa (i.e. the seven dhaññāni or grains, sāli, vīhi, yava, godhūma, kaṅgu, varaka, kudrūsa) and aparaṇṇa (i.e. beans and other leguminous plants, and gourds such as mugga, māsa, tila, kulattha, alābu, kumbhaṇḍa).—sakaṭa a cart (-load) of seeds SnA 137. (Page 488)

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary
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Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

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Marathi-English dictionary

bīja (बीज).—f (dvitīyā S Bidz.) The second day of the waxing or the waning moon. 2 n (Bidz.) From the word below (Bij) q. v. in the five first senses.

--- OR ---

bīja (बीज).—n (S) Seed. Pr. yathā bīja tathā aṅkura: As the seed, so the shoot. 2 A seed. 3 Progeny, offspring, seed. 4 The originating or original point, matter, fact, act; the principle, root, source, spring, ground, occasion. 5 Deep purpose or purport; intention, import, or meaning at the bottom; as hēṃ tumhī mhaṇatāṃ hyānta bīja kāya? 6 Algebra. 7 A cabalistic letter,--the mystical letter which forms the essential part of the mantra of any deity. bhraṣṭa or bharjita bīja aṅkurata nāhīṃ; bharjita or bhraṣṭa bi- jāsa aṅkura nāhīṃ; bhājalēṃ bīja ugavata nāhīṃ; bhāja- lēlyā bijāsa mōḍa yēta nāhīṃ (A burned seed germinates not.) Mortified (i.e. disinterested, unselfish, purely spiritual, prompted by divine love) deeds bear no fruit (no product whether of good or evil in a future birth). That is,--they entitle or qualify the doer to the supreme bliss of mōkṣa.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

bijā (बिजा).—Several times, frequently.

--- OR ---

bīja (बीज).—n Seed. Progeny. Root. Deep purpose, import, meaning. The second day of the waning moon.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Bīja (बीज).—1 Seed (fig. also), seedcorn, grain; अरण्यबीजाञ्जलिदानलालिताः (araṇyabījāñjalidānalālitāḥ) Ku.5.15; बीजाञ्जलिः पतति कीटमुखावलीढः (bījāñjaliḥ patati kīṭamukhāvalīḍhaḥ) Mk.1.9; R.19.57; Ms.9.33.

2) A germ, element.

3) Origin, source, cause; बीजप्रकृतिः (bījaprakṛtiḥ) Ś.1.1 (v. l.).

4) Semen virile; यदमोघमपामन्तरुप्तं बीजमज त्वया (yadamoghamapāmantaruptaṃ bījamaja tvayā) Ku.2.5,6.

5) The seed or germ of the plot of a play, story &c.; see S. D.318.

6) Marrow.

7) Algebra.

8) The mystical letter forming the essential part of the Mantra of a deity.

9) Truth, divine truth.

1) A receptacle, place of deposit.

11) Calculation of primary germs.

12) Analysis.

13) The position of the arms of a child at birth.

-jaḥ The citron tree. (bījākṛ means

1) To sow with seed; vyomani bījākurute Bv.1.98.

2) To plough over after sowing).

Derivable forms: bījam (बीजम्).

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Bīja (बीज).—n.

(-jaṃ) See vīja .

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary
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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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