Dharani, aka: Dharaṇī, Dhāraṇī, Dharanī, Dharaṇi; 12 Definition(s)


Dharani 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

Nāṭyaśāstra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Dhāraṇī (धारणी) is a Sanskrit word referring to “rows” of good seats, to be build upon the stage (raṅgaśīrṣa) within the playhouse (nāṭyamaṇḍapa), according to the Nāṭyaśāstra 2.75-80.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra
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).


Dharaṇī (धरणी).—Earth as the wife of Dhruva and the mother of celestials;1 visits Meru and complains to gods of her tribulations from the asuras.2

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa VI. 6. 12.
  • 2) Viṣṇu-purāṇa V. 1. 12-28; 29. 30.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purāṇa book cover
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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.

Śilpaśāstra (iconography)

Dhāraṇī (धारणी) is a synonym for adhiṣṭhāna (‘platform’), according to the Kāśyapaśilpa 6.1-2. The word adhiṣṭhāna is Sanskrit technical term referring to the “base” or “platform” on which a structure is built.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Śilpa-śāstra
Śilpaśāstra 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.

In Buddhism


dharaṇī : (f.) the earth.

(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.

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

A lake in Kuveras city. D.iii.201.

(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).

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Dhāraṇī (धारणी) refers to a set of five hundred qualities acquired by the Bodhisattvas accompanying the Buddha at Rājagṛha on the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata, according to the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter X. In the Tsin language, dhāraṇī means ‘capable of holding’ (dhāraṇa) or ‘capable of preventing’ (vidhāraṇa). Dhāraṇa refers to “joining all sorts of good Dharmas (kuśaladharma)”: dharāṇī ‘holds’ them so that they are not dispersed or lost. Vidhāraṇa refers to “detesting the roots of evil (akuśalamūla)”: dhāraṇī prevents them from arising. It prevents the committing of evil by those who would want to commit it.

There are many types, eg.,

  1. śrutadhara-dhāraṇī (never forgetting the words and the teachings),
  2. vibhajyajñāna-dhāraṇī (knowing in detail the qualities of beings),
  3. ghoṣapraveṣa-dhāraṇī (neither rejoiced nor irritated by sounds).

In all, there are five hundred dhāraṇīs.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
Mahayana book cover
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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.

General definition (in Buddhism)

Dhāraṇī (धारणी) refers to the “four retentions” as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 52):

  1. ātma-dhāraṇī (the rentention of oneself),
  2. grantha-dhāraṇī (the rentention of a book),
  3. dharma-dhāraṇī (the rentention of the dharma),
  4. mantra-dhāraṇī (the rentention of a spell).

The Dharma-samgraha (Dharmasangraha) is an extensive glossary of Buddhist technical terms in Sanskrit (eg., dhāraṇī). The work is attributed to Nagarjuna who lived around the 2nd century A.D.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgrahaA mystic form of praying, mantra or spells of Tantric order, ofter in Sanskrit, usually transliterated and not translated. It is believed that Dharani is able to lay hold of the good so that it cannot be lost, and those of evil so that it cannot arise.(Source): Buddhist Door: Glossary

A dharani is a type of ritual speech similar to a mantra. The terms dharani and satheesh may even be seen as synonyms, although they are normally used in distinct contexts.

The Japanese Buddhist philosopher Kukai drew a distinction between dharani and mantra and used it as the basis of his theory of language. Mantra is restricted to esoteric Buddhist practice whereas dharani is found in both esoteric and exoteric ritual. Dharanis for instance are found in the Pali Canon. Kukai coined the term shingon (lit. "true word") as a Japanese translation of mantra.

According to Red Pine, mantra and dharani were originally interchangeable, but at some point dharani came to be used for meaningful, intelligible phrases, and mantra for syllabic formulae which are not meant to be understood.[2] Jan Nattier writes that, whereas mantra has ancient Hindu usage back to the Vedas, dharani does not predate Buddhism.

(Source): WikiPedia: Buddhism

Dhāraṇī (धारणी, “mystical incantation”).—The verbal meaning of the word dhāraṇī is that which holds. It is a magical formula in the form of a mantra in Sanskrit. The mystic mantra has a potential to hold the Buddha's teachings in the heart of him who recites. It is recited in order to attain mindfulness (smṛti), power (bala) and wisdom (prajñā). Its recitation brings in good luck such as a long life, victory, protection from snakes and removes evils such as disease. Pañcarakṣā, that is, the “collection of the five dhāraṇīs” is popular in Nepal.

(Source): DLMBS: Buddhānusmṛti

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

dharaṇī (धरणी).—f (dharaṇēṃ) Style, fashion, manner, tenor preserved, character maintained (of speech, conduct, composition &c.)

--- OR ---

dharaṇī (धरणी).—f (S) The earth or the ground. Ex. dē māya dha0 ṭhāva O mother Earth, receive me into thy bosom. 2 The terraqueous globe. dha0 vara paḍaṇēṃ To be about to die. (Dying persons are removed from their cot to the ground.)

--- OR ---

dharaṇī (धरणी).—f (dharaṇēṃ) A party (of constables &c.) despatched to apprehend; a posse comitatus.

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

dharaṇī (धरणी).—f Style, fashion. The earth. dharaṇī- vara paḍaṇēṃ To be about to die.

--- OR ---

dharaṇī (धरणी).—f n A party (of constables &c., des- patched to apprehend). The setting in restraint at the door of a debtor.

(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.

Relevant definitions

Search found 58 related definition(s) that might help you understand this better. Below you will find the 15 most relevant articles:

Ātmadhāraṇī (आत्मधारणी) or simply Ātma refers to “the rentention of oneself” and represents the...
Granthadhāraṇī (ग्रन्थधारणी) or simply Grantha refers to “the rentention of a book” and represe...
Dharmadhāraṇī (धर्मधारणी) or simply Dharma refers to “the rentention of the dharma” and represe...
Mantradhāraṇī (मन्त्रधारणी) or simply Mantra refers to “the rentention of a spell” and represen...
Asaṅgadhāraṇī (असङ्गधारणी) refers to a set of “the dhāraṇī without obstacles”, representing a q...
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1) Dhāraṇa (धारण).—Suppression of a consonant, out of two successive consonants which is looked...
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