Dhanus; 11 Definition(s)

Introduction

Dhanus 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.

In Hinduism

Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Dhanus in Purana glossary... « previous · [D] · next »

Dhanu (धनु): A unit of measurement of distance, according to the Vāyu Purāṇa (वायु पुराण). The following table gives some idea about their relations to each other:

8 Aṅgulas = Prādeśa (?);
21 Aṅgulas = Ratni;
24 Aṅgulas = Hasta;
2000 Dhanus = Gavyūti;
12 Aṅgulas = Vitasti;
2 Ratnis or 42 Aṅgulas = Kiṣku;
4 hastas = Dhanus;
8000 Dhanus = Yojana.
Source: Google Books: Cultural History from the Vāyu Purāna
Purana book cover
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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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Shilpashastra (iconography)

Dhanus is the bow. It has three different shapes. The first is like an arc of a circle, with the ends joined by a string or thong taking the place of the chord. In the second variety, it has three bends, the top and bottom bends being smaller and turned in a direction opposite to that of the middle bend which is the larger one. The third variety has five bends and belongs to a much later period in the evolution of this weapon.

Source: Google Books: Elements of Hindu iconography

1) Dhanus (धनुस्, “bow”) refers to one of the several “attributes” (āyudha) or “accessories” of a detiy commonly seen depicted in Hindu iconography, defined according to texts dealing with śilpa (arts and crafs), known as śilpaśāstras.—Dhanus is the bow. It has three different shapes. The first is like an arc of arc of a circle, with the ends joined by a string or thong taking the place of the chord. In the second variety, it has three bends, the top and bottom bends being smaller and turned in a direction opposite to that of the middle bend which is the larger one. The third variety has five bends.

2) Dhanus (धनुस्) or Dhanurhasta refers to “bow-hold” and represents one of the twenty-four gestures with a single hand, as defined according to texts dealing with śilpa (arts and crafs), known as śilpaśāstras.—Accordingly, pratimā-lakṣaṇa (body postures of the icons) is comprised of hand gestures (hasta, mudrā or kai-amaiti), stances/poses (āsanas) and inflexions of the body (bhaṅgas). There are thirty-two types of hands [viz., dhanus-hasta] classified into two major groups known as tolirkai (functional and expressive gestures) and elirkai (graceful posture of the hand).

Source: Shodhganga: The significance of the mūla-beras (śilpa)
Shilpashastra book cover
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Shilpashastra (शिल्पशास्त्र, śilpaśāstra) represents the ancient Indian science (shastra) of creative arts (shilpa) such as sculpture, iconography and painting. Closely related to Vastushastra (architecture), they often share the same literature.

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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Dhanus (धनुस्, “bow”).—There are four acts related to the (use of the) bow, according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 11.

  1. parimārjana (preparing),
  2. ādāna (taking an arrow),
  3. sandhāna (taking an aim),
  4. mokṣaṇa (shooting).

The dhanus (“bow”) should measure should measure eight tālas (unit of measurement) and the distance between the bow and the string at the time of shooting should be 2 hastakas, according to Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 23. In dramatic plays, weapons such as dhanus 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
Natyashastra book cover
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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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Dhanurveda (science of warfare)

Dhanus (धनुस्) refers to a weapon (“bow”). 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: Dhanurveda
Dhanurveda 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.

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Vastushastra (architecture)

Dhanus (धनुस्) corresponds with the Sagittarius zodiac sign and refers to the ninth of twelve rāśi (zodiacal sign), according to the Mānasāra. Rāśi is one of the three alternative principles, besides the six āyādiṣaḍvarga, used to constitute the “horoscope” of an architectural or iconographic object. Their application is intended to “verify” the measurements of the architectural and iconographic object against the dictates of astrology that lay out the conditions of auspiciousness.

The particular rāśi (eg., dhanus) of all architectural and iconographic objects (settlement, building, image) must be calculated and ascertained. This process is based on the principle of the remainder. An arithmetical formula to be used in each case is stipulated, which engages one of the basic dimensions of the object (breadth, length, or perimeter/circumference). All twelve rāśis, except the eighth (vṛścika) are auspicious.

Source: Wisdom Library: Vāstu-śāstra
Vastushastra book cover
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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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General definition (in Hinduism)

Dhanus (धनुस्, the ‘bow’), frequently mentioned in the Rigveda and later, was the chief weapon of the Vedic Indian. The last act of the funeral rite included the removal of the bow from the right hand of the dead man. The weapon was composed of a stout staff bent into a curved shape (vakra),5 and of a bowstring (Jyā) made of a strip of cowhide6 which joined the ends. The tips of the bow, when the string was fastened, were called Ārtnī. Relaxed when not in actual use, the bow was specially strung up when needed for shooting. The stages of the process are given in detail in the Vājasaneyi-saṃhitā: the stringing (ātan) of the bow, the placing (pratidhā) of the arrow, the bending (āyam) of the bow, and the shooting (as). The arrow was discharged from the ear, and is hence called karṇa-yoni, ‘having the ear as its point of origin’. The making of bows was a regular profession (dhanuṣkāra, dhanuṣkṛt). For the arrow see Iṣu, and for the handguard Hastaghna.

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

In Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

Dhanus (धनुस्) refers to a “bow” and represents one of the items held in the left hand of Heruka: one of the main deities of the Herukamaṇḍala described in the 10th century Ḍākārṇava chapter 15. Heruka is positioned in the Lotus (padma) at the center; He is the origin of all heroes; He has 17 faces (with three eyes on each) and 76 arms [holding, for example, dhanus]; He is half black and half green in color; He is dancing on a flaming sun placed on Bhairava and Kālarātrī.

Source: academia.edu: The Structure and Meanings of the Heruka Maṇḍala
Tibetan Buddhism book cover
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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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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

Dhanus in Pali glossary... « previous · [D] · next »

dhanu : (nt.) a bow.

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
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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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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Dhanus (धनुस्).—a. [dhan śabde-asi] Armed with a bow. n.

1) A bow; धनुर्वंशविशुद्धोऽपि निर्गुणः किं करिष्यति (dhanurvaṃśaviśuddho'pi nirguṇaḥ kiṃ kariṣyati) Subhāṣ. धनुष्यमोघं समधत्त बाणम् (dhanuṣyamoghaṃ samadhatta bāṇam) Ku.3.66; so इन्द्रधनुः (indradhanuḥ) &c. (At the end of Bahu. comp. dhanus is changed to dhanvan; adhijyadhanvā vicacāra dāvam R.2.8.).

2) A measure of length equal to four hastas; धनुःशतं परीणाहो ग्रामे क्षेत्रान्तरं भवेत् (dhanuḥśataṃ parīṇāho grāme kṣetrāntaraṃ bhavet) Y.2.167; Ms. 8.237.

3) An arc of a circle.

4) The sign Sagittarius of the zodiac.

5) A desert; cf. धन्वन् (dhanvan) -m. Name of Śiva.

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Dhanus (धनुस्).—mfn. (-nuḥ-nuḥ-nu) Armed with a bow. mn. (-nuḥ-nu) 1. A. bow. 2. Sagittarius, the sign. m.

(-nuḥ) The piyal tree, (Buchanania latifolia, Rox.) E. dhana to produce, (as grain,) to throw forth, (darts, &c.) Unadi affix usi; also with u affix dhanu, and with ū affix, dhanū.

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