Mara, aka: Māra; 17 Definition(s)


Mara 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 Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

The personification of evil and temptation.Source: Access to Insight: A Glossary of Pali and Buddhist Terms

Generally regarded as the personification of Death, the Evil One, the Tempter (the Buddhist counterpart of the Devil or Principle of Destruction). The legends concerning Mara are, in the books, very involved and defy any attempts at unravelling them. In the latest accounts, mention is made of five Maras

Khandha Mara, Kilesa Mara, Abhisankhara Mara, Maccu Mara and Devaputta Mara

as shown in the following quotations: pancannam pi Maranam vijayato jino (ThagA.ii.16); sabbamittehi khandha kilesa bhisankharamaccudeva puttasankhate, sabbapaccatthike (ThagA.ii.46); sankhepato va pancakilesa khandhabhi sankhara devaputta maccumare abhanji, tasma . . . bhagava ti vuccati (Vsm.211).

Elsewhere, however, Mara is spoken of as one, three, or four. Where Mara is one, the reference is generally either to the kilesas or to Death. Thus: Marenati kilesamarena (ItvA.197); Marassa visaye ti kilesamarassa visaye (ThagA.ii.70); jetvana maccuno senam vimokkhena anavaran ti lokattayabhibyapanato diyaddhasahassadi vibhagato ca vipulatta annehi avaritum patisedhetum asakkuneyyatta ca maccuno, Marassa, senam vimokkhena ariyamaggena jetva (ItvA.198); Marasena ti ettha satte anatthe niyojento maretiti Maro (UdA.325); nihato Maro bodhimule ti vihato samucchinno kilesamaro bodhirukkhamule (Netti Cty. 235); vasam Marassa gacchatiti kilesamarassa ca sattamarassa (?) ca vasam gacchi (Netti, p. 86); tato sukhmnataram Marabandhanan ti kilesabandhanam pan etam tato sukhumataram (SA.iii.82); Maro maro ti maranam pucchati, maradhammo ti maranadhammo (SA.ii.246).

It is evidently with this same significance that the term Mara, in the older books, is applied to the whole of the worldly existence, the five khandhas, or the realm of rebirth, as opposed to Nibbana. Thus Mara is defined at CNid. (No. 506) as kammabhisankharavasena patisandhiko kandhamaro dhatumaro, ayatanamaro. And again: Maro Maro ti bhante vuccati katamo nu kho bhante Maro ti? Rupam kho, Radha, Maro, vedanamaro, sannamaro, sankharamaro vinnanam Maro (S.iii.195); yo kho Radha Maro tatra chando pahatabbo. Ko ca Radha Maro? Rupam kho Radha Maro . . . pe . . . vedanamaro. Tatra kho Radha chando pahatabbo (S.iii.198); sa upadiyamano kho bhikku baddho Marassa, anupadiyamano mutto papimato (S.iii.74); evam sukhumam kho bhikkhave, Vepacittibandhanam; tato sukhumataram marabandhanam; mannamano kho bhikkhave baddho Marassa, amannamano mutto papimato (S.iv.202); labhati Maro otaram, labhati Maro arammanam (S.iv.85); santi bhikkhave cakkhuvinneyyarupa ... pe . . . tan ce bhikkhu abhinandati . . . pe . . . ayam vuccati bhikkhave bhikkhu avasagato Marassa, Marassa vasam, gato (S.iv.91); dhunatha maccuno senam nalagaram va kunjaro ti pannindriyassa padathanam (Netti, p. 40);

Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

M / N (Enemy).

Source: Dhamma Dana: Pali English Glossary

(lit. 'the killer'), is the Buddhist 'Tempter-figure. He is often called 'Māra the Evil One' (pāpimā māro) or Namuci (lit. 'the non-liberator', i.e. the opponent of liberation). He appears in the texts both as a real person (i.e. as a deity) and as personification of evil and passions, of the totality of worldly existence, and of death. Later Pāli literature often speaks of a 'fivefold Māra' (pañca-māra): 1. M. as a deity (devaputta-māra), 2. the M. of defilements (kilesa-m.), 3. the M. of the aggregates (khandha-m.), 4. the M. of the karma-formations (kamma-m.), and 5. Māra as death (maccu-m.).

As a real person, M. is regarded as the deity ruling over the highest heaven of the sensuous sphere (kāmāvacara), that of the paranimmitavasavatti-devas, the 'deities wielding power over the creations of others' (Com. to M. 1). According to tradition, when the Bodhisatta was seated under the Bodhi-tree, Māra tried in vain to obstruct his attainment of Enlightenment, first by frightening him through his hosts of demons, etc., and then by his 3 daughters' allurements. This episode is called 'Māra's war' (māra-yuddha). For 7 years M. had followed the Buddha, looking for any weakness in him; that is, 6 years before the Enlightenment and one year after it (Sn. v. 446). He also tried to induce the Buddha to pass away into Parinibbāna without proclaiming the Dhamma, and also when the time for the Buddha's Parinibbāna had come, he urged him on. But the Buddha acted on his own insight in both cases. See D. 16.

For (3) M. as the aggregates, s. S. XXIII, 1, 11, 12, 23. See Padhāna Sutta (Sn. v. 425ff.); Māra Samyutta (S. IV).

Source: Pali Kanon: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines
context information

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)

1) Māra (मार) refers to “the King of destruction of good works” according to the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter X. Accordingly, the Bodhisattvas (accompanying the Buddha at Rājagṛha on the Gṛdhrakūṭaparvata) have passed beyond the works of Māra.

There are four kinds of māras:

  1. the affliction-māra (kleśamāra),
  2. the aggregate-māra (skandhamāra),
  3. the death-māra (mṛtyumāra),
  4. the son-of-god-māra (devaputramāra), chief of the Parinirmitavaśavartin gods.

By attaining the state of Bodhisattva, these Bodhisattvas have destroyed the kleśamāra; by acquiring the dharmakāya, they have destroyed the skandhamāra; by being always one-pointed (ekacitta), by not adhering to any (heavenly) sphere and by entering into the immoveable concentrations (acalasamādhi), they have destroyed the Paranirmitavaśavartin devaputramāra. This is why it is said that they have passed beyond the works of Māra.

Why is he called Māra? He is called Māra because he carries off the āyuṣmat and because he destroys the good root of the dharmas of the Path and of the qualities (guṇa).The heretics (tīrthika) call him Yu tchou (Kāmādhipati), Houa tsien (Kusumāyudha) or also Wou tsien (Pañcāyudha). In the Buddhist texts, he is called Māra because he destroys all good works.

2) Māra (मार) is one of the three great leaders among the gods according to the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter XV). Accordingly, “King Māra is the leader of six classes of gods of the world of desire or kāmadhātu: (Caturmahārājika, Trayastriṃśa, Yāma, Tuṣita, Nirmāṇarati and Paranirmitavaśavartin)”.

Also, “King Māra constantly comes to bother the Buddha and he is leader of the whole world of desire (kāmādhātu); the Yāma, Tuṣita and Nirmāṇarati gods all depend on him”.

Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
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)

Māra (मार) refers to the “four destroyers” as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 80):

  1. skandha-māra (the components destroyer),
  2. kleśa-māra (the defilements destroyer),
  3. devaputra-māra (the destroyer-god Māra),
  4. mṛtyu-māra (death as destroyer).

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

Source: Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgrahaLiterally, "murderer". The Evil One who "takes" away the wisdom life of all living beings.Source: Buddhist Door: Glossary

Māra Skt., Pali, lit., “murder, destruction”; al­though actually the embodiment of death, Māra symbolizes in Buddhism the passions that overwhelm human beings as well as everything that hinders the arising of the wholesome roots and progress on the path of enlight­enment.

Māra is the lord of the sixth heaven of the de­sire realm and is often de­picted with a hundred arms, riding on an ele­phant.

Source: Shambala Publications: General

Māra (मार).—The personification of all such saṃsāric, or more emphatically, anti-nirvāṇic temptations is Māra (= Mṛtyu = Death = Yama). In the Saṃyutta-nikāya, Māra in the guise of a deity comes to the Buddha and says: “He who hates austerity and does not like to stay alone, who is addicted to beautiful forms and wishes to go to the heavenly realms, is competent to give advice regarding the attainment of the next world”.

Māra is shown repeatedly to have confidence in his own position as a promoter of the pitṛyāna. The Buddha’s primary adversary is thus not Ignorance nor Desire nor Aversion as one might expect. Death fulfils this role—but Life, as the other side of the coin, would be just as good a name for a being encouraging transmigration and discouraging nirvāṇa.

Source: Institute of Buddhist Studies: Buddhist Forum, Volume 4 (buddhism)

India history and geogprahy

Mara.—(EI 14), name of a measure. Note: mara is defined in the “Indian epigraphical glossary” as it can be found on ancient inscriptions commonly written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or Dravidian languages.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Indian Epigraphical Glossary
India history book cover
context information

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

māra : (m.) the Evil One; the tempter; death personified.

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Mara, (adj.) (fr. mṛ) dying; only neg. amara not dying, immortal, in phrase ajarāmara free from decay & death Th. II, 512; Pv. II, 611. See also amara. (Page 524)

— or —

Māra, (fr. mṛ, later Vedic, māra killing, destroying, bringing death, pestilence, cp. Lat. mors death, morbus illness, Lith. māras death, pestilence) death; usually personified as Np. Death, the Evil one, the Tempter (the Buddhist Devil or Principle of Destruction). Sometimes the term māra is applied to the whole of the worldly existence, or the realm of rebirth, as opposed to Nibbāna. Thus the defn of m. at Nd2 506 gives “kammâbhisaṅkhāra-vasena paṭisandhiko khandha- māro, dhātu°, āyatana°.—Other general epithets of M (quasi twin-embodiments) are given with Kaṇha, Adhipati, Antaka, Namuci, Pamattabandhu at Nd1 489=Nd2 507; the two last ones also at Nd1 455. The usual standing epithet is pāpimā “the evil one, ” e.g. S. I, 103 sq. (the famous Māra-Saṃyutta: see Windisch, Māra & Buddha); Nd1 439; DhA. IV, 71 (Māravatthu) & freq.—See e.g. Sn. 32, 422, 429 sq. , 1095, 1103; Dh. 7, 40, 46, 57, 105, 175, 274; Nd1 475; Vism. 79, 228, 376; KhA 105; SnA 37, 44 sq. , 225, 350 sq. , 386 sq.; Sdhp. 318, 449, 609. Further refs. & details see under Proper Names.

—âbhibhū overcoming M. or death Sn. 545=571. —kāyika a class of gods Miln. 285; KvuA 54. —dhītaro the daughters of M. SnA 544. —dheyya being under the sway of M.; the realm or kingdom of Māra A. IV, 228; Sn. 764; Dh. 34 (=kilesa-vaṭṭa DhA. I, 289). —bandhana the fetter of death Dh. 37, 276, 350 (=tebhūmaka-vaṭṭasaṅkhātaṃ DhA. IV, 69). —senā the army of M. Sn. 561, 563; SnA 528. (Page 530)

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
context information

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

mara (मर).—n The dead portion (of a crop, a tree, timber, stone, cloth &c.) 2 A crop utterly blasted. 3 n The completely burned material (straw &c.) of a kiln. Contrad. from karaḷa.

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mara (मर).—f Dying or very sickly state; close pressure of death. v yē, lāga, or marīsa yēṇēṃ-jāṇēṃ. marīṃ jāṇēṃ To waste or fail and draw towards death. marīṃ maraṇēṃ To expose or hazard one's life (in toiling hard &c.); to work and drudge as if for one's life.

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māra (मार).—m (Verbal of māraṇēṃ) A beating. v . 2 A firing at; a cannonading, bombarding, battering. 3 fig. A rushing upon; a crowding around; an eager pressing after. 4 In familiar phraseology. Exuberance; astonishing and overflowing plenty: also press and vigor or great quantity of any action or work. 5 Used expletively and emphatically in phrases expressing vehemence or extravagance or heedlessness of action. Ex. māra pagaḍī phēṅkūna; māra ḍaulānēṃ cālatō. See the verb. 6 A varying measure of land, as viṭhalapantī māra, rāyarī māra, sulatānī māra. māra māraṇēṃ or dēṇēṃ To attack with determination and vigor (a study, a business). māra māra or mārē mārē karaṇēṃ-phiraṇēṃ-hiṇḍaṇēṃ-karīta- phiraṇēṃ To go about proclaiming one's distress.

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mārā (मारा).—m (māraṇēṃ) An attack (upon a fort &c.); a battering, cannonading, bombarding. 2 A line of fire, a line in which guns bear. Ex. tyā mōracyānēṃ mārā cāṅgalā sādhalā; tyā killyāsa dōna mārē āhēta tisarēkaḍūna kōṭhūna gōḷā lāgū vhāyācā nāhīṃ. 3 The range or reach of fire. 4 A violent and general destruction, a sweep Ex. mahāmārīnēṃ tyā gāṃvā- cē dōna mārē ghētalē; hī nadī prativarṣīṃ ēka mārā ghētī. 5 A beating. Ex. mājhā cahuṅkaḍūna mārā hōtō. 6 (Or māra) Overbearing or overwhelming profusion or plenty (of anything whatever, good or bad). māṛyācē ānta yēṇēṃ To come within fire.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

mara (मर).—f Dead portion (of a crop, tree). A crop utterly blasted.

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mara (मर).—f Dying state. Close pressure of death. marīṃ maraṇēṃ To expose or hazard one's life.

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māra (मार).—m A beating. Fig. A rushing upon; a firing at. Exuberance.

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mārā (मारा).—m An attack; a line of fire; a sweep; beating.

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

Mara (मर).—Ved.

1) Death.

2) The earth.

Derivable forms: maraḥ (मरः).

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Māra (मार).—[mṛ-ghañ]

1) Killing, slaughter, slaying; अशेषप्राणिनामासीदमारो दश वत्सरान् (aśeṣaprāṇināmāsīdamāro daśa vatsarān) Rāj.T.5.64.

2) An obstacle, hindrance, opposition.

3) The god of love; श्यामात्मा कुटिलः करोतु कबरीभारोपि मारोद्यमम् (śyāmātmā kuṭilaḥ karotu kabarībhāropi mārodyamam) Gīt.3; (where māra primarily means 'killing'); Nāg.1.1.

4) Love, passion.

5) The thorn-apple (dhattūra).

6) An evil one, a destroyer; the tempter (according to Buddhists); सेर्ष्यं मारवधूभिरित्यभिहितो बोधौ जिनः पातु वः (serṣyaṃ māravadhūbhirityabhihito bodhau jinaḥ pātu vaḥ) Nāg.1.1; Pt.5. 14.

7) Death.

Derivable forms: māraḥ (मारः).

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Māra (मार).—m. (= Pali id.), the Evil One, the adversary and tempter; regularly with ep. pāpīyāṃs; often styled Namuci, q.v.; sometimes the great yakṣa, q.v.: in the singular, so usually, as the One who tries to thwart the Bodhisattva or Buddha and his followers, SP 63.6; 64.2; 145.2, 3; LV 260.17 ff.; 267.2; 299.20 ff. (long chapter on his temptations of and attacks on Śākyamuni); Divy 144.14; 145.4; 201.22 ff.; 202.2 ff. (here, as often, tempts Buddha to enter nirvāṇa); Jm 19.20 ff.; an unspecific plurality of Māras, SP 64.3; Śikṣ 49.7 f. mārāḥ pāpīyāṃso bodhisattvasya viheṭhanām (so with ms.) upasaṃharanti; in Gv 444.12 there is a Māra named Suvarṇaprabha who tries to interfere with a Bodhisattva named Vimala- prabha in his quest of enlightenment; Māra is converted(!) by Upagupta, Divy 357.1 ff.; there are ten Māra-karmāṇi, deeds of Satan, of which an erring Bodhisattva may be guilty, Śikṣ 151.13—152.19 (listed in detail); plurality of Māras, in Pali 3, 4, or 6 (in the latter case including Abhi- saṃkhāra-māra, which has not been noted in BHS, compare abhisaṃskāra), whereas in BHS they are standardly four, viz. (the order varies) Kleśa-māra, Skandha-māra, Mṛtyu-māra, and Devaputra-māra (the last means the anthropomorphic Evil One; excellent brief statements on the others, which mean in effect quasi-personifications of kleśa etc., in Childers s.v. Māro); to these corresp. Pali Kilesa-, Khandha-, Maccu-, and Devaputta-māra (but in Pali, even when the Māras number four, it need not be these four); only two named SP 290.9 (śrāvakāṃś) ca bodhisattvāṃś ca skandhamāreṇa vā kleśamāreṇa vā sārdhaṃ yudhyamānān…, in next line (10) sarva-māra- nirghātanaṃ; similarly in Mv iii.273.2 only two, Kleśa- māro bhagno; Devaputramāro bhagno; but usually all four are named, so Mv iii.281.7 f.; Dharmas 80; Śikṣ 198.10 f.; Sādh 20.1—2; exigences of meter may cause abbreviations, as in LV 224.18—19 where all mss. and Calc. have all four names in full, but meter requires Deva- māra instead of Devaputra°; so LV 354.11—12 (verses) anena jitu Skandhamāras tatha Mṛtyu-Kleśa-māraḥ (v.l. Mṛtyu- māra-Kleśamārāḥ, bad meter), anena jitu Devaputra- māras; four Māras referred to but not listed Dbh.g. 55(81).3, 14; Gv 472.15.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit 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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Relevant definitions

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Mara-kkaḍamai.—(SITI), Tamil; tax payable for trees. Note: mara-kkaḍamai is defined in the “Ind...
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