Kumbhaka: 22 definitions

Introduction:

Kumbhaka means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, the history of ancient India, 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

Dharmashastra (religious law)

Source: Wisdom Library: Dharma-śāstra

Kumbhaka (कुम्भक) refers to “total suspension” (of breath). It is one of the three types of ‘breath-suspension’ techniques, also known as prāṇāyāma. The word is used throughout Dharmaśāstra literature such as the Manusmṛti. (See the Manubhāṣya verse 6.70)

Dharmashastra book cover
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Dharmashastra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharmaśāstra) contains the instructions (shastra) regarding religious conduct of livelihood (dharma), ceremonies, jurisprudence (study of law) and more. It is categorized as smriti, an important and authoritative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.

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Yoga (school of philosophy)

[«previous next»] — Kumbhaka in Yoga glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Yoga

Kumbhaka (कुम्भक, “holding”) is a Sanskrit word referring to one of the three major breaths on which prāṇāyāma is built.

Source: Brill: Śaivism and the Tantric Traditions (yoga)

Kumbhaka (कुम्भक) refers to “breath retention”, according to the Kumbhakapaddhati, a 17th-century text dealing with Yoga.—The composition of such works indicates ongoing innovation and syncretisation in the practice of āsana, prāṇāyāma and the ṣaṭkarma that is also reflected in the extended Haṭhayoga texts.—The Kumbhakapaddhati describes over seventy varieties of breath retention (kumbhaka).

Source: ORA: Amanaska (king of all yogas): A Critical Edition and Annotated Translation by Jason Birch

Kumbhaka (कुम्भक) refers to the “practice of retention”, according to the Gorakṣaśataka verse 63cd, 64cd-65).—Accordingly, while teaching the attainment of Samādhi through the practice of retention (kumbhaka): “Now I shall teach the best way to Samādhi [...]. Correctly assuming a posture in exactly the same way as was taught earlier, [the Yogin] should stimulate Sarasvatī and control his breath. On the first day he should perform the four kumbhakas [...]”

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).

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

[«previous next»] — Kumbhaka in Purana glossary
Source: archive.org: Puranic Encyclopedia

1) Kumbhaka (कुम्भक).—A warrior of Skanda. (Śalya Parva, Chapter 45, Verse 75).

2) Kumbhaka (कुम्भक).—(Nikumbhaka). A very reputed sage. If he visited any place at dusk he left it only after a thousand years. He visited Kāśī once when King Divodāsa was ruling the state after having killed the Rākṣasa called Kṣemaka, who had lived like a king there. Kumbhaka lived in a forest in Kāśī with his disciples. Prosperity reigned supreme within a radius of three Yojanas from where the sage lived. Neither wild beasts nor famine infested the area.

2) Once a fierce famine broke out in Kāśī, and the failure of rain caused great havoc. Finding it impossible to feed the cows their keepers went with their live-stock every morning to Kumbhaka’s place where summer had not yet even peeped in, and after feeding their cows there, they returned home in the evening. But, one evening they led back with them the cows used by the sage for his Pūjās. When the sun set, as usual the sage sat before the sacred fire for Pūjā. But, the cow had not come. With his divine vision he found out the reason for the absence of the cow. He cursed that the region where the keepers of the cows lived be turned into a desert, and the kingdom of Kāśī became a desert place, whereupon king Divodāsa went to the banks of the Gomatī and founded a new kingdom there. (Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa Chapter 2).

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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Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Source: academia.edu: A Critical Study of the Vajraḍākamahātantrarāja (II) (shaivism)

Kumbhaka (कुम्भक) is the name of a Kṣetrapāla (field-protector) and together with Cāmuṇḍā they preside over Puṇḍravardhana: one of the twenty-four sacred districts mentioned in the Kubjikāmatatantra. Their weapon is the khaṭvāṅga. A similar system appears in the 9th century Vajraḍākatantra (chapter 18).

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.

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Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

Source: Google Books: Manthanabhairavatantram

Kumbhaka (कुम्भक) or Sthirakumbhaka refers to “retention” (of breath), according to the Śrīmatottara-tantra, an expansion of the Kubjikāmatatantra: the earliest popular and most authoritative Tantra of the Kubjikā cult.—Accordingly, “[...] Thus, it is beyond Form (rūpa) and Part (pada) and its sphere (of existence) is beyond the beyond. It is not an object of meditation. It is not involved in concentration, meditation or Yoga. There is no exhalation, no inhalation or retention of the breath [i.e., kumbhaka]. It is free of in-breathing and out-breathing and it has no form or characterizing feature. It resides in the teacher's lotus mouth -it cannot be obtained otherwise (except from there)”.

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.

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In Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

Source: Wisdom Library: Tibetan Buddhism

Kumbhaka (कुम्भक) is the name of a Pratyekabuddha mentioned as attending the teachings in the 6th century Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa: one of the largest Kriyā Tantras devoted to Mañjuśrī (the Bodhisattva of wisdom) representing an encyclopedia of knowledge primarily concerned with ritualistic elements in Buddhism. The teachings in this text originate from Mañjuśrī and were taught to and by Buddha Śākyamuni in the presence of a large audience (including Kumbhaka).

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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In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Source: The University of Sydney: A study of the Twelve Reflections

Kumbhaka (कुम्भक) refers to “holding (breath)” and represents one of the three kinds of “breath-control” (prāṇāyāma), according to the 11th century Jñānārṇava, a treatise on Jain Yoga in roughly 2200 Sanskrit verses composed by Śubhacandra.—Accordingly, “Breath control is praised by mendicants, whose own opinions are well-established, for the accomplishment of meditation and for steadiness of the inner self. Therefore, it should be learned directly and before [meditation] by the wise. Otherwise, even a little mastering of the mind cannot be done. It is considered by the teachers of old as threefold in accordance with the difference in characteristics. There is inhalation, holding (kumbhaka) and, immediately after that, exhalation”.

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.

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India history and geography

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Indian Epigraphical Glossary

Kumbhaka.—(LL), the base of a pillar. Note: kumbhaka is defined in the “Indian epigraphical glossary” as it can be found on ancient inscriptions commonly written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or Dravidian languages.

India history book cover
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The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as mythology, zoology, royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

[«previous next»] — Kumbhaka in Pali glossary
Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

kumbhaka : (nt.) the mast (of a ship).

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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Marathi-English dictionary

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

kumbhaka (कुंभक).—m S Closing the nostrils and mouth so as to suspend breathing. A religious exercise.

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.

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Sanskrit dictionary

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Kumbhaka (कुम्भक).—

1) The base of a column (used especially in this sense frequently in inscription).

2) A religious exercise (in Yoga phil.), stopping the breath by closing the mouth and both nostrils with the fingers of the right hand; प्राणापानौ संनिरुन्ध्यात्पूरकुम्भकरेचकैः (prāṇāpānau saṃnirundhyātpūrakumbhakarecakaiḥ) Bhāgavata 7.15.32.

Derivable forms: kumbhakaḥ (कुम्भकः).

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

Kumbhaka (कुम्भक).—m., the base of a pillar or column: Mahāvyutpatti 5574 = Tibetan ka rten. Not recorded in any Dict., but in Acharya, Dict. Hindu Architecture s.v., from inscriptions at Mathurā (Sanskrit?).

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

Kumbhaka (कुम्भक).—m.

(-kaḥ) Stopping the breath by shutting the mouth and closeing both nostrils with the fingers of the right hand. E. kan added to the last.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Benfey Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Kumbhaka (कुम्भक).—[kumbha + ka], I. m. A religious exercise, closing the nostrils and mouth so as to suspend breathing, [Vedāntasāra, (in my Chrestomathy.)] in Chr. 217, 18. Ii. f. bhikā, A small pot, [Kathāsaritsāgara, (ed. Brockhaus.)] 6, 41.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Cappeller Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Kumbhaka (कुम्भक).—= [preceding] adj —°; [masculine] [neuter] a cert. religious exercise to suspend the breath.

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

1) Kumbhaka (कुम्भक):—[from kumbha] m. ifc. a pot, [Kathāsaritsāgara]

2) [v.s. ...] a measure (of grain, etc.), [Jyotiṣa]

3) [v.s. ...] the prominence on the upper part of an elephant’s forehead, [Mahābhārata xii, 4280]

4) [v.s. ...] mn. stopping the breath by shutting the mouth and closing the nostrils with the fingers of the right hand (a religious exercise), [Bhāgavata-purāṇa; Vedāntasāra; Sarvadarśana-saṃgraha] etc.

5) [v.s. ...] m. the base of a column, [Buddhist literature]

6) [v.s. ...] Name of an attendant of Skanda, [Mahābhārata ix, 2577]

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Yates Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Kumbhaka (कुम्भक):—(kaḥ) 1. m. Shutting the mouth and closing the nostrils with the fingers of the right hand.

[Sanskrit to German]

Kumbhaka in German

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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Kannada-English dictionary

Source: Alar: Kannada-English corpus

Kuṃbhaka (ಕುಂಭಕ):—[noun] a stopping the breath by closing the mouth and both nostrils with fingers of the right hand, a yogic exercise; a retention of breath inside.

--- OR ---

Kuṃbhaka (ಕುಂಭಕ):—[noun] (archit.) a hemispherical roof or one formed by a series of rounded arches or vaults on a round or many-sided base; a large cupola; a dome.

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Kannada is a Dravidian language (as opposed to the Indo-European language family) mainly spoken in the southwestern region of India.

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