Makara, aka: Makāra, Mākara; 24 Definition(s)


Makara means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, 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

Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Makara (मकर) refers to a gesture (āṅgika) made with ‘combined hands’ (saṃyuta), according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 8. The hands (hasta) form a part of the human body which represents one of the six major limbs (aṅga) used in dramatic performance. With these limbs are made the various gestures (āṅgika), which form a part of the histrionic representation (abhinaya).

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

One of the saṃyutta-hastāni (Twenty-six combined Hands).—Makara: Ardha-candra hands, one enclosing the other, palms downwards, the thumbs moving. Patron deity Mahendra. Usage: the sea, overflowing of a river, deer-face, prosperity, solidity, platform, crocodile.

Source: The mirror of gesture (abhinaya-darpana)

1) Makara (मकर).—A type of gesture (āṅgika) made with combined hands (saṃyuta-hasta);—(Instructions): When the two Patāka hands with their thumbs raised are turned down and placed on each other the Makara hand is produced. (Uses): It is used to indicate lion, tiger, elephant, crocodile, shark and fish and other carnivorous animals.

2) Makara (मकर).—Description of a women of makara type;—A woman who has a large head, a steady neck, a mouth wide open, very loud voice and is cruel, has habits of a fish, is known to have the nature of a makara.

Source: Natya Shastra
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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Ayurveda (science of life)

Makara (मकर) is a Sanskrit word referring to the animal “great Indian crocodile”. The meat of this animal is part of the māṃsavarga (‘group of flesh’), which is used throughout Āyurvedic literature. The animal Makara is part of the sub-group named Vāriśaya, refering to animals “living in waters”. It was classified by Caraka in his Carakasaṃhitā sūtrasthāna (chapter 27), a classical Āyurvedic work. Caraka defined such groups (vargas) based on the dietic properties of the substance.

Source: Wisdom Library: Āyurveda and botany

Makara (मकर)—Sanskrit word for a fish (fabulous). This animal is from the group called Sāmudra-matsya (‘marine fish’). Sāmudra-matsya itself is a sub-group of the group of animals known as Ānupa (those that frequent marshy places).

Source: Sushruta samhita, Volume I
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Āyurveda (आयुर्वेद, ayurveda) is a branch of Indian science dealing with medicine, herbalism, taxology, anatomy, surgery, alchemy and related topics. Traditional practice of Āyurveda in ancient India dates back to at least the first millenium BC. Literature is commonly written in Sanskrit using various poetic metres.

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Makara in Purana glossary... « previous · [M] · next »

1a) Makara (मकर).—A mountain to the north of Meru.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa V. 16. 27.

1b) A sea monster; gift of a golden one in the ceremony of digging tanks, etc.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 58. 19.

1c) One of the eight nidhis of Kubera.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 41. 10.

1d) The Tamil month, Tai; with Sūrya,1 in the Capricornus; the sun entering which, Uttarāyaṇa commences.2

  • 1) Vāyu-purāṇa 105. 48.
  • 2) Viṣṇu-purāṇa II. 8. 28, 68.

1e) The sons born to the daughters of Ṛkṣa.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 7. 415.

2) Makāra (मकार).—Is Pluta, consonant and svarloka; the third mātrā is plutavatī, protracted as a vowel.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 20. 9, 10, 14.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

Makara (मकर) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.27) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Makara) 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
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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Vastushastra (architecture)

Makara (मकर) corresponds with the Capricorn zodiac sign and refers to the tenth 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., makara) 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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Vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar)

Makāra (मकार).—The consonant म् (m) with the vowel अ (a) and the affix कार (kāra) added for facility of use and pronunciation; cf. T.Pr.I.17 and 21.

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.

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Jyotisha (astronomy and astrology)

Makara (मकर).—Capricorn. Note: Makara is a Sanskrit technical term used in ancient Indian sciences such as Astronomy, Mathematics and Geometry.

Source: Wikibooks (hi): Sanskrit Technical Terms
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Jyotisha (ज्योतिष, jyotiṣa or jyotish) refers to ‘astronomy’ or “Vedic astrology” and represents the fifth of the six Vedangas (additional sciences to be studied along with the Vedas). Jyotisha concerns itself with the study and prediction of the movements of celestial bodies, in order to calculate the auspicious time for rituals and ceremonies.

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Shilpashastra (iconography)

Makara (मकर, “fish”) refers to a type of animal form, representing 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.—The śilpa texts have classified the various accessories under the broad heading of āyudha or karuvi (implement), including even flowers, animals, and musical instruments. The animals and birds found as vehicles for the deities or held as attributes or weapons in the hands of the deities are, for example, Makara.

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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General definition (in Hinduism)

Makara (मकर):—Mount of Varuṇa. It is a mythical sea-monster associated with eiter a shark or a crocodile. Varuṇa is the presiding deity of the invisible world and represents the inner reality of things.

Source: Wisdom Library: Hinduism

1) Makara (Sanskrit: मकर) is a sea-creature in Hindu mythology. It is generally depicted as half terrestrial animal in the frontal part, in animal forms of an elephant, crocodile, stag, or deer, and in the hind part as an aquatic animal, in the form of a fish or seal tail.

2) Makara is the vahana (vehicle) of the Ganga - the goddess of river Ganges (Ganga) and the sea god Varuna. It is also the insignia of the love god Kamadeva.

3) Makara is the astrological sign of Capricorn, one of the twelve symbols of the Zodiac. It is often portrayed protecting entryways to Hindu and Buddhist temples.

4) Makara symbolized in ornaments are also in popular use as wedding gifts for bridal decoration.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

A floodgate in the Parakkamasamudda from which ran the Gambhira Canal. Cv.lxxix.40.

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).

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Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Makara (मकर) refers to the “king of the fish” (matsyarāja) according to a story found in the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter 13. Accordingly, “Once there were five hundred merchants who had gone to sea to search for precious stuffs. They encountered Mo k’ie lo (Makara), king of the fish (matsyarāja): the water of the sea rushed into its gaping mouth and the ship was about to be engulfed. The captain (karṇadhāra) asked the man in the look-out: “What do you see?” He answered: “I see three suns (āditya), ranges of white mountains (avadātaparvatarāji) and a waterfall (jalaprapāta) at the entrance to a cave.” The captain shouted: “It is the Makara, the king of the fish; he is holding his mouth agape; the first sun is the real sun, the other two suns are his eyes (akṣi); the white mountains are his teeth (danta): the waterfall is the sea water that is rushing into his mouth.”

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.

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Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

Makara (मकर) is the name of a Vīra (hero) who, together with the Ḍākinī named Makarī forms one of the 36 pairs situated in the Jalacakra, according to the 10th century Ḍākārṇava chapter 15. Accordingly, the jalacakra refers to one of the three divisions of the saṃbhoga-puṭa (‘enjoyment layer’), situated in the Herukamaṇḍala. The 36 pairs of Ḍākinīs and Vīras [viz., Makara] are white in color; the shapes of their faces are in accordance with their names; they have four arms; they hold a skull bowl, a skull staff, a small drum, and a knife..

Source: 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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India history and geogprahy

Makara is the name of a sluice associated with Gambhīrā: one of the twenty canal-systems associated with Parakkamasamudda waters that existed in the Polonnaruva (Polonnaruwa) district of Ceylon (Sri Lanka).—The Pūjāvaliya gives the name Mahāsamudra to the Parakkamasamudda at Polonnaruva. The canal system associated with Parakkamasamudda is described and named in the Cūlavamsa as follows:—[...] Gambhīrā canal, from the Makara sluice; [...].

Source: Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 1963
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 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

Makara in Pali glossary... « previous · [M] · next »

makara : (m.) a sea-monster; a sword-fish.

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Makara, (cp. Epic Sk. makara) a mythical fish or sea monster, Leviathan (cp. Zimmer, Altind. Leben 97) J. II, 442; III, 188; Miln. 131, 377; ThA. 204.—f. makarinī Miln. 67.

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary
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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

makara (मकर).—m (S) An aquatic monster understood usually of the alligator, crocodile, and shark, but, properly, a fabulous animal. It is the emblem of the god of love. 2 One of the signs of the zodiac. It corresponds with Capricorn.

--- OR ---

makara (मकर).—n ( A) Fraud, feint, pretence, sham: also craft or cunning.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

makara (मकर).—m A crocodile. The sign Capri- corn. n Fraud.

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.

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Makara (मकर).—[maṃ viṣaṃ kirati kṝ-ac Tv.]

1) A kind of seaanimal, a crocodile, shark; झषाणां मकरश्चास्मि (jhaṣāṇāṃ makaraścāsmi) Bg.1.31; मकरवक्त्र (makaravaktra) Bh.2.4. (Makara is regarded as an emblem of Cupid; cf. comps. below).

2) The sign Capricornus of the zodiac.

3) An array of troops in the form of a Makara; दण्डव्यूहेन तन्मार्गं यायात्तु शकटेन वा । वराहमकराभ्यां वा (daṇḍavyūhena tanmārgaṃ yāyāttu śakaṭena vā | varāhamakarābhyāṃ vā) ... Ms.7.187; Śukra.4.11.

4) An ear-ring in the shape of a Makara.

5) The hands folded in the form of a Makara.

6) Name of one of the nine treasures of Kubera.

7) The tenth arc of thirty degrees in any circle.

Derivable forms: makaraḥ (मकरः).

--- OR ---

Makāra (मकार).—

1) The syllable म (ma).

2) Each of the following five मद्य, मत्स्य, मांस, मैथुन (madya, matsya, māṃsa, maithuna) and मुद्रा (mudrā); see पञ्चमकार (pañcamakāra).

Derivable forms: makāraḥ (मकारः).

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Mākara (माकर).—a. (- f.) Belonging to the sea-monster, Makara q. v.

-rī Name of the seventh day in the bright half of Māgha; तन्मे रोगं च शोकं च माकरी हन्तु सप्तमी (tanme rogaṃ ca śokaṃ ca mākarī hantu saptamī) Tithyādi.

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Makara (मकर).—n. of a nāga king: Mvy 3236; Māy 247.5.

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

Makara (मकर).—m.

(-raḥ) 1. A marine monster, confounded usually with the crocodile and shark, but properly a fabulous animal: as a fish it might be conjectured to be the horned-shark, or the unicorn fish; but it is often drawn, as it in the pictured sign Capricornus of the zodiac, with the head and forelegs of an antelope, and the body and tail of a fish: it is the emblem of the god of love. 2. One of the signs of zodiac, corresponding with the above, and like the Greek representation of that sign, being an animal in the foreparts, and ending in the tail of a fish. One of the nine treasures of Kuvera. 3. A particular array of troops, in the form of a Makara. 4. An ear-ring in that shape. E. ma for mukha the mouth, kṛ to scatter, aff. ac; or māṅ prohibitive aff., kṛ to do, ac aff., form irr.; grammarians however, sometimes consider this word as a primitive.

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Mākara (माकर).—f. (-rī) Belonging to the sea-monster Makara.

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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