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Devadatta, aka: Devadattā; 9 Definition(s)


Devadatta means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, 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


1a) Devadatta (देवदत्त).—A chief Nāga of Pātāla.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa V. 14. 24; 24. 31; VI. 9. 35.

1b) The son of Uruśrava and father of Agniveśa.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 2. 20-21.

1c) The horse of Kalki.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa XII. 2. 19.
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.

Nāṭyaśāstra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Devadattā (देवदत्ता) is the name of an Apsara created for the sake of a type of dramatic perfomance. Acording to the Nāṭyaśāstra 1.46-51, after Brahmā asked Bharata for materials necessary for the Graceful Style (kaiśikī: a type of performance, or prayoga), Bharata answered “This Style cannot be practised properly by men except with the help of women”. Therefore, Brahmā created with his mind several apsaras (celestial nymphs), such as Devadattā, who were skillful in embellishing the drama.

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstraNāṭyaśāstra 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).

Kathā (narrative stories)

1) Devadatta (देवदत्त) is the name of one of the sons of Govindadatta, a learned Brāhman from Bahusuvarṇaka, which is a royal district on the bank of the Ganges, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 7.

Over time, Devadatta became an attendant (gaṇa) of Śiva, by the name Puṣpadanta:

“Then having seen the prosperity of his son, Devadatta considered that he had attained all his objects, and he too, with the princess, retired to the forest. There he again propitiated Śiva, and having laid aside his mortal body, by the special favour of the god he attained the position of a Gaṇa. Because he did not understand the sign given by the flower dropped from the tooth of his beloved, therefore he became known by the name of Puṣpadanta in the assembly of the Gaṇas.”

2) Devadatta (देवदत्त) is the son of king Jayadatta, and was secretly taken away by his mother, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 21. Their story is told by Piṅgalikā (a Brāhman woman) to Vāsavadattā in order to demonstrate that the hearts of women are hard as adamant in daring sin, but are soft as a flower when the tremor of fear falls upon them. Vāsavadattā is the queen-wife of Udayana (king of Vatsa).

The Kathāsaritsāgara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentioning Devadatta, is a famous Sanskrit epic story revolving around prince Naravāhanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the vidyādharas (celestial beings). The work is said to have been an adaptation of Guṇāḍhya’s Bṛhatkathā consisting of 100,000 verses, which in turn is part of a larger work containing 700,000 verses.

Source: Wisdom Library: KathāsaritsāgaraKathā book cover
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Kathās (कथा) are special kind of Sanskrit literature: they are a kind of a mix between Itihāsa (historical legends) and Mahākāvya (epic poetry). Some Kathās reflect socio-political instructions for the King while others remind the reader of the historical deeds of the Gods, sages and heroes.

General definition (in Hinduism)

Devadatta (देवदत्त):—Son of Uruśravā (son of Satyaśravā). He had a son named Agniveśya. (see Bhāgavata Purāṇa 9.2)

Source: Wisdom Library: Hinduism

Devadatta (देवदत्‍त): Name of Arjuna's conch, also Buddha's cousin.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

A cousin of the Buddha who tried to effect a schism in the sangha and who has since become emblematic for all Buddhists who work knowingly or unknowingly to undermine the religion from within.Source: Access to Insight: A Glossary of Pali and Buddhist Terms

Son of the Sakiyan Suppabuddha (maternal uncle of the Buddha) and his wife Amita. He had a sister Bhaddakaccana, who married Prince Siddhattha.

Mhv.ii.22; MT.136; DhA.iii.44. The Dulva (Rockhill, p.13) calls him the son of Amitodana and brother of Ananda. This is supported by Mtu. (ii.69), which says that after the Buddhas renunciation, Devadatta tried to tempt Bhaddakaccana. In one passage in the Vinaya (ii.189), Devadatta is spoken of as Godhiputta. Does this mean that his mothers name was Godhi? The Sanskrit books (e.g., Mtu) give several stories of his youth which show his malice. When Siddhattha was about to show his skill in the arts, a white elephant was being brought for him, and Devadatta, out of envy, killed it. The carcase blocked the city gates till Siddhattha threw it outside. The Pali Commentaries (e.g., SA.i.62) say that Devadatta had the strength of five elephants. On another occasion he quarrelled with Siddhattha, who protested against his shooting a goose.

When the Buddha visited Kapilavatthu after the Enlightenment and preached to the Sakiyans, Devadatta was converted together with his friends Ananda, Bhagu, Kimbila, Bhaddiya, Anuruddha, and their barber, Upali, and he sought the Buddha at Anupiya and entered the Order (Vin.ii.182). During the rainy season that followed, Devadatta acquired the power of iddhi possible to those who are yet of the world (puthujja nika iddhi) (Vin.ii.183; for particulars see Rockhill, p.85). For some time he seems to have enjoyed great honour in the Order, and in one passage he is mentioned in a list of eleven of the chief Elders of all of whom the Buddha speaks in praise. (Ud.i.5. Again in Vin.ii.189 Sariputta is mentioned as having gone about Rajagaha singing Devadattas praises; see also DhA.i.64f). Devadatta was later suspected of evil wishes (E.g., S.ii.156). About eight years before the Buddhas death, Devadatta, eager for gain and favour and jealous of the Buddhas fame, attempted to win over Ajatasattu.

The following account is summarised from various passages in the books, chiefly Vin.ii.184ff; iii.171f; 174f; iv.71; DhA.i.112ff; iii.154; A.iii.123, 402; ii.73; iv.160; J.i.113, 142, 185, 490; iv.37, 158; v.333ff; vi.129f., etc.

He assumed the form of a child having a girdle of snakes, and suddenly appeared on Ajatasattus lap, frightening him. He then resumed his own form, and Ajatasattu, much impressed, paid him great honour and, it is said, visited him morning and evening with five hundred chariots and sent him daily five hundred dishes of food. (According to J.i.186, 508, Ajatasattu built for him a monastery at Gayasisa and sent him, daily, five hundred pots of three year flavoured rice and the choicest dishes.

Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names
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).

General definition (in Buddhism)

A cousin of Shakyamuni. At first, he was a follower of Shakyamuni, but later left him and even attempted to kill him.Source: Buddhist Door: Glossary

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