Dharana, aka: Dharaṇa, Dhāraṇa, Dhāraṇā; 23 Definition(s)

Introduction

Dharana 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

Yoga (school of philosophy)

Dhāraṇā (धारणा, “contemplation”) is a Sanskrit word referring to “your thoughts”. It is one of the eight brances of yoga, also known as the eightfold-path (aṣṭānga). Also see the fifth section of the Varāha-upaniṣad.

In yoga philosophy, this is the stage just before medition; the goal is to become aware of nothing but the object on which you are concentrating;

(Source): Wisdom Library: Yoga

As Ballāla notes, Dhāraṇā (धारणा) can mean both fixing of the mind on a single object and fixing of the breath. (The two are linked: Vyāsa in his commentary to Yogasūtra 2.52 states that mental Dhāraṇā is brought about through breath-control; cf. Haṭhapradīpikā 4.23.)

(Source): Google Books: The Khecarividya of Adinatha
Yoga book cover
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Yoga is originally considered a branch of Hindu philosophy (astika), but both ancient and modern Yoga combine the physical, mental and spiritual. Yoga teaches various physical techniques also known as āsanas (postures), used for various purposes (eg., meditation, contemplation, relaxation).

Purana

1) Dhāraṇā (धारणा).—One of the eight means of Rājayoga (One of the ways of union with the supreme Spirit). Yama, Niyama, Āsana, Prāṇāyāma, Pratyāhāra, Dhāraṇā, Dhyāna and Samādhi are the eight means (See under Rājayoga).

2) Dhāraṇa (धारण).—A king born in the family of Candravatsa. (Mahābhārata Udyoga Parva, Chapter 7, Stanza 16).

3) Dhāraṇa (धारण).—A nāga (serpent) of the family of Kaśyapa. (Mahābhārata Udyoga Parva, Chapter 103, Stanza 16).

4) Dharaṇa (धरण).—A measure. In ancient times a dharaṇa was made up of ten palas. (Manusmṛti).

(Source): archive.org: Puranic Encyclopaedia

Dhāraṇā (धारणा).—A form of Yoga in which the mind is controlled; dhyāna; seeing in himself, the characteristic of Siddhi; the time and place for doing it; not near fire, forest, river-bed, burial place, Caitya; the performer should not be hungry, careworn or be anxious; else the doer becomes mad, deaf and dumb or blind; hence pure Dhāraṇā is required; one engaged in this Yoga could take curds and Yava paste; enables Vāyu to go up and stand in its place; other branches of; thinking. of the upper worlds, mountains and oceans in his heart; eating mud from dried beans; 1000 pots of water for bath;1 the dharma of the Yoga destroys sins;2 800 times in the head;3 Dhāraṇa Agne1yī a special form of samādhi practised by Sati, the daughter of Dakṣa.4

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa I. 2. 42-3; III. 4. 26; 22. 75; Vāyu-purāṇa 11. 22-64; Viṣṇu-purāṇa VI. 7. 75-8.
  • 2) Vāyu-purāṇa 10. 76, 93.
  • 3) Ib. 12. 17; 19. 41; 104. 24.
  • 4) Ib. 30. 54.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
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.

Vastushastra (architecture)

Dhāraṇa (धारण) is another name (synonym) for stambha, a Sanskrit technical term referring to “pillar”. These synonyms are defined in texts such as Mayamata (verse 15.2), Mānasāra (verse 15.2-3), Kāśyapaśilpa (verse 8.2) and Īśānaśivagurudevapaddati (Kriya, verses 31.19-20).

(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.

Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Dhāraṇā (धारणा, “yoga practices”).—In Patañjali, the word dhāraṇā is used in a somewhat limited sense viz; ‘fixation of mind on a particular spot’. In Vijñānabhairava it is used in the wide sense of fixation or concentration of mind or yoga. The word yoga is used both in the sense of communion (with the Divine) and the means (upāya) for that communion. Vijñānabhairava mentions 112 dhāraṇās or types of yoga.

The means of communion with Bhairava have been classified under four broad heads in Śaivāgama, viz.,

  1. anupāya,
  2. śāmbhava,
  3. śākta,
  4. āṇava.
(Source): archive.org: Vijnana Bhairava or Divine Consciousness

Dhāraṇa (धारण) or Dhāraṇāgama refers to one of upāgamas (supplementary scriptures) of the Vimalāgama which is one of the twenty-eight Siddhāntāgama: a classification of the Śaiva division of Śaivāgamas. The Śaivāgamas represent the wisdom that has come down from lord Śiva, received by Pārvatī and accepted by Viṣṇu. The purpose of revealing upāgamas (eg., Dhāraṇa Āgama) is to explain more elaborately than that of mūlāgamas (eg., Vimala-āgama) and to include any new idea if not dealt in mūlāgamas.

(Source): Shodhganga: Iconographical representations of Śiva

Dhāraṇā (धारणा, “fixation”) refers to one of the six members (aṅga) of the Ṣaḍaṅgayoga, as taught in the early Śaiva Siddhānta.—Ṣaḍaṅgayoga is taught as the standard yoga of the Śaivasiddhānta (Siddhānta) a mainstream, Veda congruent dualist tradition. See, for example, the 6th century texts of Raurava-āgama, Kiraṇa-āgma, Sarvajñānottara-āgama, Svāyambhuvasūtrasaṃgraha, the 7th century Mālinīvijayottara and the 9th century Tantrasadbhāva.

Dhāraṇā (yogic fixation ) involves breath retention and internal mantra enunciation coupled with concentration on a particular location in the body while visualizing various structures and events. There are two main types that have come down to us. The older one is of four kinds, perhaps itself derived from a twofold type related to the sun correlated with fire, and the moon correlated with water. These are localised in the body in the navel and the forehead respectively. They become fourfold by the addition of transcendent fire and water. The second type utilises the five elements: earth, water, fire, air, and ether.

(Source): academia.edu: The Śaiva Yogas and Their Relation to Other Systems of Yoga

Dhāraṇā (धारणा, “introspections ”) is dealt with in the Yogapāda section of the Mālinīvijayottara’s, which is concerned with the conquest of the levels of reality (tattvajaya).

(Source): academia.edu: The Yoga of the Mālinīvijayottaratantra
Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

Vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar)

1) Dhāraṇa (धारण).—Suppression of a consonant, out of two successive consonants which is looked upon as a fault of recital; e.g. ह्वयामि (hvayāmi) when recited as वयामि (vayāmi); ef. धारणमनुपलब्धिः (dhāraṇamanupalabdhiḥ) Uvvata on R.Pr.XIV. 6;

2) Dhāraṇa.—Repetition of a consonant which is also a fault; e.g. ज्ज्योतिष्कृत् (jjyotiṣkṛt) for ज्योतिष्कृत्ः (jyotiṣkṛtḥ) cf. Uvvata on XIV.6;cf. also धारयन्त (dhārayanta); परक्रमं (parakramaṃ) etc. explained by Uvvata as सान्तस्थस्य संयोगस्य आदौ रक्तं धारयन्तो विलम्बमानाः परक्रमं कुर्वन्ति (sāntasthasya saṃyogasya ādau raktaṃ dhārayanto vilambamānāḥ parakramaṃ kurvanti) where धारयन्तः (dhārayantaḥ) means 'lengthening’ or 'prolonging' cf. R.Pr. on XIV.23;

3) Dhāraṇa.—The peculiar position of the mouth (मुखसं-धारणम् (mukhasaṃ-dhāraṇam)) by which a double consonant is recited as a single one, cf. द्विवर्णमेकवर्णवत् (dvivarṇamekavarṇavat) (एकप्रयत्ननिर्वर्त्य (ekaprayatnanirvartya)) धारणात् (dhāraṇāt) e.g. व्यात्तम्, कुक्कुटः (vyāttam, kukkuṭaḥ), cf. V.Pr. IV.144.

(Source): Wikisource: A dictionary of Sanskrit grammar
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Vyakarana (व्याकरण, vyākaraṇa) refers to Sanskrit grammar and represents one of the six additional sciences (vedanga) to be studied along with the Vedas. Vyakarana concerns itself with the rules of Sanskrit grammar and linguistic analysis in order to establish the correct context of words and sentences.

Itihasa (narrative history)

Dhāraṇa (धारण) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. V.72.16, V.101.16/V.103, XIV.8.26, XIV.8) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Dhāraṇa) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

(Source): JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
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Itihasa (इतिहास, itihāsa) refers to ‘epic history’ and represents a branch of Sanskrit literature which popularly includes 1) the eighteen major Puranas, 2) the Mahabharata and 3) the Ramayana. It is a branch of Vedic Hinduism categorised as smriti literature (‘that which is remembered’) as opposed to shruti literature (‘that which is transmitted verbally’).

Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

Dhāraṇā (धारणा) is explained by Lakṣmaṇadeśika in his 11th-century Śaradātilaka.—The sixth limb is dhāraṇā, which is the fixation of the vital air (prāṇa) on the sixteen parts of the body (24–5). These parts are known as “places” (sthāna) in the Prapañcas, as “vital points” (marmasthāna) in the Vasiṣṭha-saṃhitā, and as “supports” (ādhāra) in various other texts.

(Source): academia.edu: The Śāradātilakatantra on Yoga
Shaktism book cover
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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.

Pancaratra (worship of Nārāyaṇa)

Dhāraṇā (धारणा) refers to one of the three functions of saṃyama (self-control).—The Pāñcarātrāgama offers its own treatment which has a significant contribution. Dhāraṇā is retaining the mind in God, dhyāna is joining the mind in God and meditating upon Him and samādhi is mere appearance of the nature of the object, (God). According to Viṣṇupurāṇa. (VI.7.86), dhāraṇā is stability of the citta In God, dhyāna is continuity of that cognition without any desire for other things (ibid. VI.7.91) and samādhi is a stage in Yogic practise in which God’s own nature is grasped without any imagined appendage (ibid. VI.7.92).

(Source): archive.org: Isvara Samhita Vol 1
Pancaratra book cover
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Pancaratra (पाञ्चरात्र, pāñcarātra) represents a tradition of Hinduism where Narayana is revered and worshipped. Closeley related to Vaishnavism, the Pancaratra literature includes various Agamas and tantras incorporating many Vaishnava philosophies.

General definition (in Hinduism)

Dharana: Sanskrit word that means "holding" or "concentration." Refers to the yogic discipline of concentration on an object or symbol.

(Source): Google Books: The Tree of Life: An Illustrated Study in Magic

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

See Varana.

(Source): Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names
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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).

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Dharaṇa (धरण) is the father of Padmaprabha according to Digambara (according to Śvetāmbara he is named Dhara), according to the Ācāradinakara (14th century work on Jain conduct written by Vardhamāna Sūri). Padmaprabha is the sixth of twenty-four Tīrthaṅkaras in Janism. A Tīrthaṅkara is an enlightened being who has conquered saṃsāra (cycle of birth and death), leaving behind him a path for others to follow.

The wife of Dharaṇa is is Susīmā. It is an ancient Jain practice to worship the Tīrthaṅkara’s parents in various rites, such as the pratiṣṭhāvidhi.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Jainism

Dhāraṇā (धारणा, “retention”) refers to one of the four divisions of sensory knowledge (mati).What is retention (dhāraṇā)? After cognizing in perceptual judgment, retaining that knowledge for use in the future is retention e.g. after cognizing the crane not to forget the crane and its peculiarities in future.

according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 1.13, “The function of mati is the cognition with the aid of mind and sense organs through the stages of apprehension /sensation, speculation /discrimination, perceptual judgment and retention (dhāraṇā)”.

(Source): Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 1

Dharaṇa (धरण) refers to one of the two Indras (lords) of the Nāgakumāra (serpentine youths) class of “residential celestial beings” (bhavanavāsin), itself a main division of devas (celestial beings) according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 4.3. The Nāgakumāras live on the mountains and in sandalwood trees. Dharaṇa and Bhūtānanda are the two lords in the Fiendish-youths residential celestial beings.

(Source): Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 4: The celestial beings (deva)
General definition book cover
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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.

Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

dharaṇa : (nt.) a weight comprising about 2/5 of an ounce.

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Dhāraṇā, (f.) (to dhāraṇa) 1. memory Miln.79.—2. the earth (“the upholder, ” cp. dharaṇī) J.VI, 180. (Page 341)

— or —

Dharaṇa, (adj.) bearing, holding, comprising VvA.104 (suvaṇṇassa pañcadasa° nikkha holding, i.e. worth or equal to 15 parts of gold).—f. —ī bearing, i.e. pregnant with Sn.26 (of cows: godharaṇiyo paveniyo=gabbhiniyo SnA 39). As n. the Earth J.V, 311; VI, 526; Miln.34; dharaṇī-ruha N. of a tree J.VI, 482, 497; Miln.376. (Page 340)

— or —

Dhāraṇa, (nt.) (cp. Sk. dhāraṇa, to dhāreti) 1. wearing, in mālā° (etc.) D.I, 5=A.II, 210=Pug.58; KhA 37; cīvara° A.II, 104=Pug.45.—2. maintaining, sustaining, keeping up Miln.320 (āyu° bhojana).—3. bearing in mind, remembrance Vin.IV, 305; M.II, 175 (dhamma°). (Page 341)

(Source): Sutta: The Pali Text Society's 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.

Marathi-English dictionary

dharaṇa (धरण).—n (S) A dam or bank across a river or stream. 2 W An aggregate of nine āṇā. 3 S Holding, possessing, having. dha0 phuṭaṇēṃ g. of s. To have the menstrual discharge. dha0 bāndhaṇēṃ To tie a medicinal root with charms &c. around the neck of a pregnant woman (to prevent miscarriage).

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dhāraṇa (धारण).—f Rate, market or current price. Pr. dhā0 āṇi maraṇa kōṇhāsa samajata nāhīṃ.

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dhāraṇa (धारण).—n (S) Holding, having, keeping, maintaining, lit. fig. 2 Taking up or adopting (a fashion, a course).

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dhāraṇa (धारण).—m C or dhāraṇī f C The main post, in poor houses, reaching from the ground to the roof.

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dhāraṇā (धारणा).—f (S) Mental retention; remembrance or memory. 2 S Continuance in rectitude; perseverance in the right way. 3 Fortitude, firmness, steadiness. 4 A part of a Yog or religious exercise;--suspending the breath, abstracting the mind, and restraining all natural wants. 5 Way, style, fashion, particular or appropriate manner.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

dharaṇa (धरण).—n A dam or bank across a river or stream, holding.

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dhāraṇa (धारण).—f Rate, market or current price. Holding.

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dhāraṇa (धारण).—m dhāraṇī f The main post. in poor houses, reaching from the ground to the roof.

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dhāraṇā (धारणा).—f Mental retention; memory. Fortitude, firmness, steadiness. Way, style, fashion.

(Source): DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
context information

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.

Sanskrit-English dictionary

Dhāraṇa (धारण).—a. (-ṇī f.) [धृ-णिच्-ल्युट् (dhṛ-ṇic-lyuṭ)] Holding, bearing, carrying, preserving, sustaining, protecting, having, assuming, &c.

-ṇau (du.) The two female breasts.

-ṇam 1 The act of holding, bearing, supporting, preserving or keeping back.

2) Possessing, possession.

3) Observing; holding fast.

4) Retaining in the memory; ग्रहणधारणपटुर्बालकः (grahaṇadhāraṇapaṭurbālakaḥ).

5) Being indebted (to any one).

6) Steady abstraction of the mind.

7) Keeping, maintaining.

8) Restraining.

9) (In gram.) Pronouncing imperfectly.

-ṇī 1 A row or line.

2) A vein or tubular vessel.

3) Steadiness.

4) A mystical verse or charm to assuage pain.

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Dhāraṇā (धारणा).—1 The act of holding, bearing, supporting, preserving, &c.

2) The faculty of retaining in the mind, a good or retentive memory; धीर्धारणावती मेधा (dhīrdhāraṇāvatī medhā) Ak.

3) Memory in general.

4) Keeping the mind collected, holding the breath suspended, steady abstraction of mind; (paricetumupāṃśu dhāraṇām). R.8.18; Ms.6.72; Y.3. 21 (dhāraṇetyucyate ceyaṃ dhāryate yanmano tayā).

5) Fortitude, firmness, steadiness.

6) A fixed precept or injunction, a settled rule, conclusion; इति धर्मस्य धारणा (iti dharmasya dhāraṇā) Ms.8.184; 4.38;9.124.

7) Understanding, intellect; Y.3.73.

8) Continuance in rectitude, propriety, decorum.

9) Conviction or abstraction.

1) A kind of योगाङ्ग (yogāṅga); देशबन्धश्चित्तस्य धारणा (deśabandhaścittasya dhāraṇā) Yogadarśana.

(Source): DDSA: The practical 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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