Dharmadhatu, Dharma-dhatu, Dharmadhātu: 10 definitions



Dharmadhatu 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.

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In Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

Source: archive.org: The Indian Buddhist Iconography

Dharmadhātu (धर्मधातु) or Dharmadhātulokeśvara refers to number 90 of the 108 forms of Avalokiteśvara found in the Machhandar Vahal (Kathmanu, Nepal). [Machhandar or Machandar is another name for for Matsyendra.].


“Dharmadhātu is identical with [Piṇḍapātra Lokeśvara] in form, but here the god holds in his two hands the water-pot near his navel.—Piṇḍapātra Lokeśvara is one-faced and two-armed and stands on a lotus. He holds the Piṇḍapātra (the bowl) in his two hands near the navel”.

The names of the 108 deities [viz., Dharmadhātu] possbily originate from a Tantra included in the Kagyur which is named “the 108 names of Avalokiteshvara”, however it is not yet certain that this is the source for the Nepali descriptions.

Tibetan Buddhism book cover
context information

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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Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

[«previous (D) next»] — Dharmadhatu in Mahayana glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Lokottaravāda

Dharmadhātu (धर्मधातु) is the name of a Buddha under whom Śākyamuni (or Gautama, ‘the historical Buddha’) acquired merit along the first through nine bhūmis, according to the Mahāvastu. There are in total ten bhūmis representing the ten stages of the Bodhisattva’s path towards enlightenment.

Dharmadhātu is but one among the 500 Buddhas enumerated in the Mahāvastu during a conversation between Mahākātyāyana and Mahākāśyapa, both principle disciples of Gautama Buddha. The Mahāvastu is an important text of the Lokottaravāda school of buddhism, dating from the 2nd century BCE.

Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

Dharmadhātu (धर्मधातु) refers to the “fundamental element” and is mentioned as one of the synonyms of Dharmatā (the ‘dharma-nature’ or ‘true nature’ of dharmas), according to Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter XLIX. Accordingly, “dharmas taken individually (pṛthak, pratyeka) are empty. These emptinesses have their own respective modalities (viśeṣa) which are, however, Tathatā. Together they form a single emptiness: the dharmadhātu. [...] This dharmadhātu itself is also of two kinds: the first, with a mind free of attachment, distinguishes dharmas as each having its own nature (svabhāva, prakṛti); the second is the immense dharma (apramāṇadharma), i.e., the true nature of dharmas (dharmatā)”.

Notes: The Śrāvakas attain the dharmadhātu, but since their wisdom (prajñā) is limited (sapramāṇa), they cannot speak of its immensity (apramāṇam). In the case of the dharmadhātu, they are like the man who goes to the great ocean (mahāsamudra) to empty out the water but who uses a vessel (bhājana) so small that he cannot collect the immense waters.

While not seeing permanent dharmas, seeing impermanence (anityatā) is a wrong view (mithyādṛṣṭi). And it is the same for the views of suffering, emptiness, non-self and impurity. That is what is called tathatā. [...] Having acquired this tathatā of dharmas, one penetrates into the dharmadhātu, one eliminates all opinions (vipaśyanā) and does not conceive any further beliefs, for “such is its essence. [...] Finally, to completely penetrate (supravidh-) the dharmadhātu is bhūtakoṭi.

Examples of Dharmadhātu: Having cultivated the tathatā, the practitioner enters into the immense dharmadhātu. The dharmadhātu is nirvāṇa; it is indivisible and eludes futile proliferation (niṣprapañca). The dharmadhātu is the fundamental element. Just as in yellow rock there is gold ore, just as in white rock there is silver ore, so, in all the dharmas of the world, there is the ‘nirvāṇa-ore’ (nirvāṇadhātu). [...] When the calf (vatsa) is tied up, it cries and bawls but, when it has found its mother again, it immediately stops crying. It is the same with dharmas: many and diverse, they are dissimilar in being taken (parigraha) and being rejected (utsarga), but as soon as they are gathered into their dharmadhātu, they cease at once: there is no way to go beyond that. That is the dharmadhātu.

Mahayana book cover
context information

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.

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General definition (in Buddhism)

[«previous (D) next»] — Dharmadhatu in Buddhism glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgraha

Dharmadhātu (धर्मधातु) or simply dharma refers to the “thought element” and represents one of the eighteen elements (dhātu) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 25). The Dharma-samgraha (Dharmasangraha) is an extensive glossary of Buddhist technical terms in Sanskrit (e.g., dharma-dhātu). The work is attributed to Nagarguna who lived around the 2nd century A.D.

Source: WikiPedia: Buddhism

Huayan teaches the Four Dharmadhātu, four ways to view reality:

  1. All dharmas are seen as particular separate events;
  2. All events are an expression of the absolute;
  3. Events and essence interpenetrate;
  4. All events interpenetrate.

Languages of India and abroad

Sanskrit dictionary

[«previous (D) next»] — Dharmadhatu in Sanskrit glossary
Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Dharmadhātu (धर्मधातु).—an epithet of Buddha.

Derivable forms: dharmadhātuḥ (धर्मधातुः).

Dharmadhātu is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms dharma and dhātu (धातु).

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary

Dharmadhātu (धर्मधातु).—(1) m. (compare Pali dhamma-dhātu), sphere of religion; regularly rendered by Tibetan chos kyi (of religion) dbyiṅs (whereas khams is the usual Tibetan for dhātu, q.v.); according to [Tibetan-English Dictionary], dbyiṅs = space, expanse; sphere …also that which is massed in indefinite compass: tulye (so read with WT) nāma dharmadhātu-praveśe Saddharmapuṇḍarīka 60.8, see s.v. tulya; dharmadhātu-gagana-gocarāṇāṃ tathāgata- mahājñāna-sūryacandramasāṃ Gaṇḍavyūha 500.8 (the sun and moon of the great knowledge of the Tathāgata have the heaven of the sphere of religion as their scope, gocara); °tum eva vicārayamāṇo Rāṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā 4.10 (meditating on…); sarva-dharma- dhātu-prasṛtaṃ tathāgatajñānam Rāṣṭrapālaparipṛcchā 4.12; dharmadhātu- viśuddhiḥ Mahāvyutpatti 110, as one of the five jñāna, q.v. (where note variant of Dharmasaṃgraha 94); śive virajase 'mṛte dharma- dhātau pratiṣṭhāpayiṣyati Lalitavistara 227.1, he will establish (creatures) in the auspicious, pure, immortal sphere-of- religion; (parijñāto) dharmadhātur vyavasthāpitaḥ sattva- dhātuḥ Lalitavistara 351.9, he (Buddha) has completely understood the sphere of religion and established the ‘sphere’ (community, mass; see s.v. dhātu 6) of creatures (presumably sc. in religion); dharmadhātu-paramāṇy ākāśadhātuparyava- sānāni sarvabuddhakṣetrāṇy Lalitavistara 290.7—8 (…which make the sphere of religion their supreme interest…? but Tibetan chos kyi dbyiṅs kyis klas pa, probably which are beyond the [Page279-a+ 71] dharmadhātu, otherwise Foucaux); dharmadhātv-asaṃ- bheda-cakraṃ Lalitavistara 423.1, wheel that causes no confusion in the sphere of religion; ananta-madhya-dharmadhātv- avikopana-cakraṃ 3; dharmadhātu-samavasaraṇa-cakraṃ 7, wheel of attainment (see samavasaraṇa) of the sphere of religion. The [compound] dharma-dhātu seems to be used differently in AbhidhK, see LaV-P's Index. On the other hand, the use of it described by Lévi, Asaṅga (Mahāyāna-sūtrālaṃkāra) p. *24, can be recon- ciled with that which I have described, and which is the only use I have noted in my texts. (2) name of a former Buddha: Mahāvastu i.137.10.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Dharmadhātu (धर्मधातु):—[=dharma-dhātu] [from dharma > dhara] m. ‘the element of l° or of existence’, one of the 18 Dhātus of the Buddhists

2) [v.s. ...] a Buddha (whose essence is l°), [cf. Lexicographers, esp. such as amarasiṃha, halāyudha, hemacandra, etc.]

context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family (even English!). 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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