Nimitta; 13 Definition(s)


Nimitta means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, 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


[Nimitta in Purana glossaries]

1a) Nimitta (निमित्त).—The son of Daṇḍapāṇi and father of Kṣemaka.*

  • * Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 21. 15-6.

1b) Science of astrology;1 throbbing of limbs on the right, auspicious, and on the left, inauspicious; the results of such movements;2 gifts of suvarṇa to the Brahmana;3 a list of things that must not come against or cross the path when the king goes on a march; if seen, prayer to Keśava, mitigates effects;4 in connection with the installation of images.5

  • 1) Matsya-purāṇa 215. 9.
  • 2) Ib. 240. 15; 241. 1 ff.
  • 3) Ib. 241. 4-12.
  • 4) Ib. 243. 2-3.
  • 5) Ib. 264. 9.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
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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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

[Nimitta in Natyashastra glossaries]

Nimitta (निमित्त) is another name (synonym) for vibhāva, referring to “determinants”, according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 6.31 and chapter 7.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra
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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Vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar)

[Nimitta in Vyakarana glossaries]

1) Nimitta (निमित्त).—The formal cause of a grammatical operation; cf. निमित्ताभावे नैमित्तिकस्याप्यभाव (nimittābhāve naimittikasyāpyabhāva); given as a Paribhasa by many grammarians like Vyadi, Siradeva and others; cf. also प्रकृत्युपपदोपाधयो निमित्तं प्रत्यये निमित्ती (prakṛtyupapadopādhayo nimittaṃ pratyaye nimittī) M.Bh. on III.1.1 Vart. 2;

2) Nimitta.—Distinguishing sign यः प्रेक्षापूर्वकारी भवति सः अध्रुवेण निमित्तेन ध्रुवं निमित्तमुपादत्ते वेदिकां पुण्डरीकं वा (yaḥ prekṣāpūrvakārī bhavati saḥ adhruveṇa nimittena dhruvaṃ nimittamupādatte vedikāṃ puṇḍarīkaṃ vā), M.Bh. on I.1.26 Vart.5.

(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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In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

[Nimitta in Theravada glossaries]
Mental sign, image, or vision that may arise in meditation. Uggaha nimitta refers to any image that arises spontaneously in the course of meditation. Paribhaga nimitta refers to an image that has been subjected to mental manipulation.(Source): Access to Insight: A Glossary of Pali and Buddhist Terms

N (Image, object, sign). Steady meditation support, on which the mind does focus so as to develop samatha concentration (which brings about tranquillity).

(Source): Dhamma Dana: Pali English Glossary

The object in samatha bhavana is called nimitta.

(Source): Journey to Nibbana: Patthana Dhama

mark, sign; image; target, object; cause, condition. These meanings are used in, and adapted to, many contexts of which only the doctrinal ones are mentioned here.

1. 'Mental (reflex-) image', obtained in meditation. In full clarity, it will appear in the mind by successful practice of certain concentration-exercises and will then appear as vividly as if seen by the eye. The object perceived at the very beginning of concentration is called the preparatory image (parikamma-nimitta). The still unsteady and unclear image, which arises when the mind has reached a weak degree of concentration, is called the acquired image (uggaha-nimitta). An entirely clear and immovable image arising at a higher degree of concentration is the counter-image (patibhāga-nimitta). As soon as this image arises, the stage of neighbourhood (or access) concentration (upacāra-samādhi) is reached. For further details, s. kasina, samādhi.

2. 'Sign of (previous) kamma' (kamma-nimitta) and 'sign of (the future) destiny' (gati-nimitta); these arise as mental objects of the last karmic consciousness before death (maranāsanna-kamma; s. karma, III, 3).

Usages (1) and (2) are commentarial (s. App.). In sutta usage, the term occurs, e.g. as:

3. 'Outward appearance': of one who has sense-control it is said- that "he does not seize upon the general appearance' of an object (na nimittaggāhī; M. 38, D. 2; expl. Vis I, 54f; see sīla).

4. 'Object': the six objects, i.e. visual, etc. (rūpa-nimitta; S. XXII, 3). Also, when in explanation of animitta-cetovimutti, signless deliverance of mind (s. cetovimutti, vimokkha), it is said, 'sabba-nimittānam amanasikārā', it refers to the 6 sense-objects (Com. to M. 43), and has therefore to be rendered "by paying no attention to any object (or object-ideas)." - A pleasant or beautiful object (subha-nimitta, q.v.) is a condition to the arising of the hindrance of sense-desire; a 'repellent object' (patigha-nimitta) for the hindrance of ill-will; contemplation on the impurity of an object (asubha-nimitta; s. asubha) is an antidote to sense-desire.

5. In Pts.M. II, in a repetitive series of terms, nimitta appears together with uppādo (origin of existence), pavattam (continuity of existence), and may then be rendered by 'condition of existence' (s. Path, 194f.).

(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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In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

[Nimitta in Jainism glossaries]

Nimitta (निमित्त, “cause”).—What is the meaning of cause (nimitta)? Any event or object which is conducive to successfully complete an activity is called the nimitta.

(Source): Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 1
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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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

[Nimitta in Pali glossaries]

nimitta : (nt.) sign; omen; portent; cause.

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Nimitta, (nt.) (cp. Sk. nimitta, to , although etym. uncertain) 1. sign, omen, portent, prognostication D. I, 9 (study of omens=n. satthaṃ DA. I, 92, q. v. for detailed expln); J. I, 11 (caturo nimitte nâddasaṃ); Miln. 79, 178. Esp. as pubba° signs preceding an event, portents, warnings, foreshadowings S. V, 154, 278, 442; It. 76 (cp. Divy 193, of the waning of a god); J. I, 48, 50 (32 signs before birth, some at DA. I, 61), 59; Miln. 298; Vism. 577. ‹-› 2. outward appearance, mark, characteristic, attribute, phenomenon (opp. essence) D. III, 249; A. I, 256; III, 319, 375 sq.; IV, 33, 418 sq.; J. I, 420; Ps. I, 60, 91 sq. , 164, 170; II, 39, 64; Vbh. 193 sq.—Mental reflex, image (with ref. to jhāna) Vism. 123, cp. DhsA. 167.—Specified e.g. as foll. : oḷārika S. V, 259; pasādaniya S. V, 156; paccavekkhana° D. III, 278; Vbh. 334; bahiddhā-saṅkhārā° Ps. I, 66 sq.; bāla° (opp. paṇḍita°) M. III, 163; A. I, 102; mukha° (=face) D. I, 80; S. III, 103; V, 121; A. V, 92, 97 sq. , 103; rūpa°, sadda° etc. S. III, 10; M. I, 296; Ps. I, 92, 112; samatha° D. III, 213; samādhi° etc. A. I, 256 sq.; subha° (& asubha°) S. V, 64, 103 sq.; A. I, 3 sq. , 87, 200; V, 134; Vism. 178 sq. nimittaṃ gaṇhāti to make something the object of a thought, to catch up a theme for reflection Vin. I, 183, cp. S. V, 150 sq. (°ṃ uggaṇhāti); M. I, 119 (=five sorts of mental images); Nd2 659; DhsA. 53 (=ākāra). See below n-gāhin & animitta. ‹-› nimittaṃ parivajjeti to discard the phenomenal S. I, 188; Sn. 341.—3. mark, aim: in nimittaṃ karoti to pick out the aim, to mark out J. V, 436; Nd2 235, 1d; Miln. 418. ‹-› 4. sexual organ (cp. lakkhaṇa) Vin. III, 129 (n. & a°, as term of abuse); see also kāṭa & koṭacikā.—5. ground, reason, condition, in nimittena (Instr.) and nimittaṃ (Acc.) as adv. =by means of, on account of DhA. III, 175 (Instr.) PvA. 8, 97 (jāti-nimittaṃ), 106 (kiṃ n°ṃ=kissa hetu), 242 (yaṃ n°ṃ=yato nidānaṃ). gahita-nimittena “by means of being caught” Vism. 144=DhsA. 116 (read trsln 154 accordingly!). adj. nimitta (-°) caused by, referring to PvA. 64 (maraṇa-nimittaṃ rodanaṃ).—animitta free from marks or attributes, not contaminated by outward signs or appearance, undefiled, unaffected, unconditioned (opp. sa°) S. I, 188; IV, 225 (phassa), 268, 360 (samādhi); M. I, 296 (cetovimutti); A. I, 82; III, 292; IV, 78; Vin. III, 129; Th. 1, 92; D. III, 219, 249; Dh. 92; Sn. 342; Ps. I, 60, 91; II, 36, 59 sq. (vimokha), 65 sq. , 99; Dhs. 530 (read a° for appa°); Vism. 236; DhsA. 223 (absence of the 3 lakkhaṇas); Miln. 333, 413; DhA. II, 172; ThA. 50. See also Cpd. 199, 2115. sanimitta S. V, 213 sq.; A. I, 82.

—ânusārin following outward signs (=°gāhin) A. III, 292; Nett 25; —kamma prognostication, prophecy Vin. V, 172; Vbh. 353; —karaṇa=gāhin S. IV, 297; —gāhin “taking signs, ” enticed or led away by outward signs, entranced with the general appearance, sensuously attracted D. I, 70 (cp. Dialogues I. 80); III, 225; S. IV, 104, 168; A. II, 16; III, 99; V, 348; Pug. 20, 24, 58; Dhs. 1345; Miln. 367, 403. Cp. Vism. 151, 209. (Page 367)

(Source): Sutta: The Pali Text Society's 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.

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Marathi-English dictionary

[Nimitta in Marathi glossaries]

nimitta (निमित्त).—n (S) Object, purpose, aim, intention, view. Ex. pōṭa bharāyācē nimittānēṃ māṇasēṃ cākarī karitāta. 2 Cause, reason, account, ground. Ex. tō cōrīcē nimittānēṃ phāṃśīṃ gēlā. 3 Instrumental cause. 4 A false plea; a pretence, pretext, sham. Ex. pōṭadukhīcēṃ ni0 karūna gharīṃ rāhilā. 5 False imputation. v yē, lāga, ṭaḷa, lāva, āṇa, ṭhēva, ghē, kāḍha. Ex. tyānēṃ cōrī kēlī nasatāṃ cōrīcēṃ ni0 ālēṃ. 6 Used as prep On account of; for the sake of. Ex. cōrīnimitta māralēṃ; vidyēnimitta śrama kēlā. nimittācā That will furnish pretext for accusation or blame;--said of an article or a business which, although it seems good or fair, is in reality bad or intricate; and which, therefore, by its susceptibility of detriment in the use or management, is likely to bring unmerited censure upon the borrower or manager. 2 That will serve the occasion; that will do for a pretence; as nimittācī dēvapūjā-snāna-bhōjana-dānadharna. nimittācī bāyakō A woman that will pass as a wife: also nimittācā navarā-cākara-putra-ghōḍā &c. nimittāsa For appearance' sake; as a blind; as a make-believe. Ex. hyā kāmānta kōṇhī mōṭhā nimittāsa pāhijē. nimittāsa ṭēṅkaṇēṃ To watch or wait for a pretext; to seek occasion.

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

nimitta (निमित्त).—n Object, aim. Cause, reason A false plea; a pretext. False impu- tation. prep. On account of; for the sake of. nimittācā That will furnish pretext for accusation or blame. ni- mittācī bāyakō A woman that will pass as a wife. nimittāsa For appearance's sake; as a blind. nimittāsa ḍhēṅkaṇēṃ To wait for a pretext.

(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

[Nimitta in Sanskrit glossaries]

Nimitta (निमित्त).—[ni-mid-kta Tv.]

1) A cause, motive, ground reason; निमित्तनैमित्तिकयोरयं क्रमः (nimittanaimittikayorayaṃ kramaḥ) Ś.7.3.

2) The instrumental or efficient cause (opp. upādāna); धर्मार्थकाममोक्षाणां निमित्तान्यविरोधतः (dharmārthakāmamokṣāṇāṃ nimittānyavirodhataḥ) Bhāg.3.7.32.

3) Any apparent cause, pretext; निमित्तमात्रं भव सव्यसाचिन् (nimittamātraṃ bhava savyasācin) Bg.11.33; निमित्तमात्रेण पाण्डवक्रोधेन भवितव्यम् (nimittamātreṇa pāṇḍavakrodhena bhavitavyam) Ve.1.

4) A mark, sign, token.

5) A butt, mark, target; निमित्ते दूरपातित्वे लघुत्वे दृढवेधने (nimitte dūrapātitve laghutve dṛḍhavedhane) Mb.7.74.23; निमित्तादपराद्धेषोर्धानुष्कस्येव वल्गितम् (nimittādaparāddheṣordhānuṣkasyeva valgitam) Śi.2.27.

6) An omen, prognostic (good or bad); निमित्तं सूचयित्वा (nimittaṃ sūcayitvā) Ś.1; निमित्तानि च पश्यामि विपरीतानि केशव (nimittāni ca paśyāmi viparītāni keśava) Bg.1.31; R.1.86; Ms.6.5; Y.1.23;3.171.

7) Means of knowledge; तस्य निमित्तपरीष्टिः (tasya nimittaparīṣṭiḥ) MS.1.1.3.

8) Function, ceremony; एतान्येव निमित्तानि मुनीनामूर्ध्वरेतसाम् (etānyeva nimittāni munīnāmūrdhvaretasām) (kartavyāni); Mb.12.61.6. (nimitta is used at the end of comp. in the sense of 'caused or occasioned by'; kinnimitto'yamātaṅkaḥ Ś.3. nimittam, nimittena, nimittān 'because of', 'on occount of'.)

Derivable forms: nimittam (निमित्तम्).

(Source): DDSA: The practical 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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Patibhaga Nimitta
s. nimitta, kasina, samādhi.
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'preparatory image'; s. nimitta, kasina.
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s. nimitta.
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