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Cakra, aka: Chakra, Cakrā; 17 Definition(s)

Introduction

Cakra means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit. 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

Nāṭyaśāstra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Cakra (चक्र) refers to the “disc”, a weapon which should measure should measure twelve aṅguli (unit of measurement), according to Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 23. In dramatic plays, weapons such as cakra should be made by experts using proper measurements and given to persons engaged in a fight, angry conflict or siege. It forms a component of āhāryābhinaya (extraneous representation).

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

One of the saṃyutta-hastāni (Twenty-four combined Hands).—Cakra (discus): Ardha-candra hands askew, the palms in contact.Usage: discus.

Source: archive.org: The mirror of gesture (abhinaya-darpana)Nāṭyaśāstra book cover
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Nāṭyaśāstra (नाट्यशास्त्र, natya-shastra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition of performing arts, (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 (nāṭya) and poetic works (kāvya).

Śilpaśāstra (iconography)

Cakra (चक्र, ‘discus’) is a weapon (āyudha or bādhra) according to the Vāstusūtra Upaniṣad.

Source: Google Books: The Theory of Citrasutras in Indian Painting

Chakra is also a characteristically Vaiṣṇava weapon. It is also carried by Durgā, who is said to be the sister and as such the female form of Viṣṇu. It is shown in sculptures in two different forms. In the first variety, it is shaped like the wheel of a cart, with spokes, nave and all, and is meant to be grasped by the rim. But in the other form, it is highly ornamented, the spokes are made to resemble the petals of a lotus so that the interal parts appear like a full blown lotus in the tout ensemble.

Source: Google Books: Elements of Hindu iconography

The Discus (cakra) in Viṣṇu’s upper right hand is called Sudarśana which means 'pleasing-to-see', it is usually shown in iconography with a hexagon in the centre. The six points of the two triangles represent the six seasons in a yearly time cycle, in the centre nave is the seed sound (bīja) ‘Hrīm’, which represents the changeless, motionless centre , the Supreme Cause.

The Cosmic Mind has the unlimited power which creates and destroys all spheres of existence (lokas) and forms of the universe, the nature of which is to revolve. The Discus represents the “will-to-multiply”. There is only one centre to the wheel but it is said to have a thousand spokes.

Source: Red Zambala: Hindu Icons and Symbols | Trinity

Cakra (Discus or wheel) - The wheel is the symbol of the Dharma which rotates and spins its beneficial influence in all directions. It also symbolises the cycle of Samsāra — of repeated birth and death which turns endlessly and from which we desire to be liberated. It is also used as a weapon and it's speed is faster than the speed of the mind — thus representing the cosmic mind which destroys our enemies in the form of the afflictive emotions.

Source: Red Zambala: Hindu Icons and Symbols | IntroductionŚilpaśāstra book cover
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Śilpaśāstra (शिल्पशास्त्र, shilpa-shastra) represents the ancient Indian science of creative arts such as sculpture, iconography and painting. Closely related to Vāstuśāstra (architecture), they often share the same literature.

Pāñcarātra (worship of Nārāyaṇa)

1) Cakra (चक्र, “discus”):—One of the nine symbols representing the cosmic principles of the universe, according to the Pāñcarātra literature. These nine weapons and ornaments symbolize the principles which they represent as the presiding deity. The Discus (cakra) represents universal mind.

2) Cakra (चक्र) refers to an aspect of nṛsiṃha (‘man-lion’), according to the Vihagendra-saṃhitā 4.17, which mentions seventy-four forms (inlcuding twenty forms of vyūha). He is also known as Cakranṛsiṃha or Cakranarasiṃha. Nṛsiṃha is a Tantric deity and refers to the furious (ugra) incarnation of Viṣṇu.

The 15th-century Vihagendra-saṃhīta is a canonical text of the Pāñcarātra corpus and, in twenty-four chapters, deals primarely with meditation on mantras and sacrificial oblations.

Source: Wisdom Library: Pāñcarātra

The Discus (cakra):—

bala svarūpam atyanta javenāntaritānilam |
cakra svarūpañca mano dhatte viṣṇuḥ kare sthitam ||

“In the form of mighty power, revolving swifter than the winds—the Universal Mind in the form of a wheel is held in the hand of Vishnu.” (Viṣṇu-purāṇa. 1;22; 70.)

The Cosmic Mind has the unlimited power which creates and destroys all spheres of existence (lokas) and forms of the universe, the nature of which is to revolve. According to the Ahirbudhnya Samhita 2;26, the Discus represents the “will-to-multiply”. In the beginning the Lord said to Himself eko'ham bahu syam—“I am one, may I become many”. And thus He projected the manifold universe that we see around us. There is only one center to the wheel but it is said to have a thousand spokes (sahasrāra).

The Wheel has eight spokes and 8 wings, which represent the eight syllables of the sacred Aṣṭākṣarī mantra, while the outer circle of the wheel represents ‘māya’, the divine power of manifestation.

In the microcosm the Universal Mind corresponds to the active-notion-of-individual-existence (rajas ahamkara) that is associated with the fiery principle.

“The prodigious power of the mind can destroy all forms of ignorance, hence the discus is the fearful weapon which cuts off the heads of all the demons of error”. ( Śrī Viṣṇnu tattva sidhanta 5;19 44 - 45)

Source: SriMatham: Vaiṣṇava Iconology based on Pañcarātra ĀgamaPāñcarātra book cover
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Pāñcarātra (पाञ्चरात्र, pancaratra) represents a tradition of Hinduism where Nārāyaṇa is revered and worshipped. Closeley related to Vaiṣnavism, the Pāñcarātra literature includes various Āgamas and tantras incorporating many Vaiṣnava philosophies.

Śaivism (Śaiva philosophy)

Cakra (चक्र):—According to tantric principles, the cakra is an inward representation of a maṇḍala, interiorized into the human body. These mystic centres are usually represented as a lotus. Different systems of such centres are recognized with varying number and symbolism. Gorakṣanātha (author of kādiprakaraṇa or kubjikāmata-tantra) recognizes twenty-eight or more of such centres with presiding deity and śaktis. These cakras symbolize the cosmic processes of emanation and re-integration in six levels and in them the Sāṃkhya categories and the letters of the Sanskrit alphabet are represented.

Source: Wisdom Library: Kubjikāmata-tantraŚaivism book cover
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Śaiva (शैव, shaiva) or Śaivism (shaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshipping Śiva as the supreme being. Closeley related to Śāktism, Śaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

Vāstuśāstra (architecture)

Cakra (चक्र):—The Sanskrit name for a classification of a ‘temple’, according to the Agnipurāṇa, featuring a list of 45 temple types. It is listed under the group named Triviṣṭapa, featuring octagonal-shaped temples. This list represents the classification of temples in North-India.

Source: Wisdom Library: Vāstu-śāstra

The Cakras of the microcosm are:

  1. Mūlādhāra, the support of all the Cakras;
  2. Maṇipūra, the seat of mind (manas);
  3. Svādhiṣṭhāna, the seat of intellect (buddhi);
  4. Anāhata, the seat of the principle of articulate sound (Śabdabrahman);
  5. Viśuddhi, the seat of Ether (ākāśa)
  6. and Sahasrāra or Śiva-Śakti or Bindu, the point limit between the unmanifest and the manifest.

The eight Cakras are also given as the eight means necessary to control the inclinations of the inner faculties. They are:

  1. Yama, restriction,
  2. Niyama, opbservances,
  3. Āsana, sitting posture,
  4. Prāṇāyāma, breath control,
  5. Pratyāhāra, emptying the mind from external objects,
  6. Dhāraṇa, its subsequent concentration,
  7. Dhyāna, keeping it concentrated
  8. and Samādhi, merging and dissolving it in the object of its concentration.
Source: Google Books: The Hindu Temple, Volume 1Vāstuśāstra book cover
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Vāstuśāstra (वास्तुशास्त्र, vastu-shastra) refers to the knowledge of architecture. It is a branch of ancient Indian science dealing with topics such architecture, construction, sculpture and their relation with the cosmic universe.

Purāṇa

1a) Cakra (चक्र).—A son of Satyabhāmā and Kṛṣṇa.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 47. 17.

1b) The Discus of Hari (Trailokyamohana)1 filed off from the tejas of the sun by Viśvakarman; cut off Rāhu's head.2

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa I. 9. 4; VI. 8. 23; VII. 1. 45. IX. 5. 1. Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 72. 11; IV. 44. 116; Vāyu-purāṇa 51. 38; 55. 12; 84. 83.
  • 2) Matsya-purāṇa 11. 29; 45. 15-16; 129. 35; 149. 8; 150. 73; 151. 8; 152. 2; 153. 198; 177. 9; 178. 13; 217. 32; 215. 14. Viṣṇu-purāṇa III. 2. 11; IV. 15. 13; V. 17. 29.

1c) Mountain a hill of Kuśadvīpa.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa V. 20. 15.

1d) A tīrtha visited by Balarāma.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. 78. 19.

1e) A mountain that entered the sea from fear of Indra—also Cakravat.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 18. 78; Matsya-purāṇa 121. 72.

1f) The wheel of nakṣatras, and planets.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 50. 93; 58. 23; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 13. 85 and 98.

1g) One of the seven ratnas of a king.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 57. 68.

2) Cakrā (चक्रा).—A R. of the Bhadra continent.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 43. 25.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana IndexPurāṇa book cover
context information

The Purāṇas (पुराण, purana) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahāpurāṇas total over 400,000 ślokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

Dhanurveda (science of warfare)

Cakra (चक्र) refers to a weapon (also known as Sudarśana; A discus of sharp circular missile weapon). It is a Sanskrit word defined in the Dhanurveda-saṃhitā, which contains a list of no less than 117 weapons. The Dhanurveda-saṃhitā is said to have been composed by the sage Vasiṣṭha, who in turn transmitted it trough a tradition of sages, which can eventually be traced to Śiva and Brahmā.

Source: Wisdom Library: DhanurvedaDhanurveda book cover
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Dhanurveda (धनुर्वेद) refers to the “knowledge of warfare” and, as an upaveda, is associated with the Ṛgveda. It contains instructions on warfare, archery and ancient Indian martial arts, dating back to the 2nd-3rd millennium BCE.

General definition (in Hinduism)

Cakra (चक्र):—The chariot (ratha) has, as a rule, two wheels (cakra), to which reference is frequently made. The wheel consisted of a rim (Pavi), a felly (Pradhi), spokes (Ara), and a nave (Nabhya). The rim and the felly together constitute the Nemi. The hole in the nave is called Kha: into it the end of the axle was inserted ; but there is some uncertainty whether Āṇi denotes the extremity of the axle that was inserted in the nave, or the lynch-pin used to keep that extremity in the wheel. Sometimes a solid wheel was used.

Source: archive.org: Vedic index of Names and Subjects

Chakra (चक्र): An energy node in the human body. The seven main chakras are described as being aligned in an ascending column from the base of the spine to the top of the head. Each chakra is associated with a certain colour, multiple specific functions, an aspect of consciousness, a classical element, and other distinguishing characteristics.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

In Buddhism

General definition (in Buddhism)

A wheel in Yoga, one of the psychic centres of the body.Source: Buddhist Door: Glossary

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Cakra (चक्र, “discus”).—One of the fourteen gems (ratna) serving the Cakravartin;—The cakra is a discus embellished with jewels; the Cakravartī hurls it in the battle againts his opponent. Provided with unfailing power, it returns into the hand of the one who has thrown it, after it has smashed the head of the enemy. If it does not immediately kill the opponent for some reason, then it follows him, likea falcon its booty where it can destroy him.

Source: Google Books: Jainism: An Indian Religion of Salvation

Relevant definitions

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