Sakka, aka: Sakkā; 4 Definition(s)

Introduction

Sakka means something in Buddhism, Pali. 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)

1. Sakka

Almost always spoken of as devanam indo, chief (or king) of the devas.

The Samyutta Nikaya (S.i.229; DhA.i.264) contains a list of his names:

he is called Maghava, because as a human being, in a former birth, he was a brahmin named Magha. (But see Magha; cf. Sanskrit Maghavant as an epithet of Indra).

As such he bestowed gifts from time to time, hence his name Purindada (Cf. Indras epithet Purandara, destroyer of cities) (generous giver in former births or giver in towns).

Because he gives generously and thoroughly (sakkaccam) he is known as Sakka. Sakra occurs many times in the Vedas as an adjective, qualifying gods (chiefly Indra), and is explained as meaning able, capable. It is, however, not found as a name in pre Buddhist times.

Because he gives away dwelling places (avasatham) he is called Vasava (But see Vasava).

Because in one moment he can think of one thousand matters, he is called Sahassakkha (also Sahassanetta).

Because he married the Asura maiden Suja, he is called Sujampati. For the romantic story of Sakkas marriage, see Suja. Thus Sujas father, Vepacitti, became Sakkas father in law. Several quaint stories are related about father and son in law. The two sometimes quarrelled and at others lived together in peace (SA.i.265).

Because he governs the devas of Tavatimsa he is called Devanam Indo (See Inda).

Elsewhere (E.g., D.ii.270; M.i.252) Sakka is addressed as Kosiya.

He is also spoken of as Yakkha. M.i.252; cf. S.i.206 (Sakkanamako Yakkho); at S.i.47 Maghadevaputta (Sakka) is called Vatrabhu, slayer of Vrtra (SA.i.83);

Sakka is also, in the Jatakas, called Gandhabbaraja (J.vi.260) and Mahinda (J.v.397, 411).

Sakka rules over Tavatimsa devaloka, the lowest heaven but one of the lower plane. His palace is Vejayanta and his chariot bears the same name. Though king of the Tavatimsa devas, he is no absolute monarch. He is imagined rather in the likeness of a chieftain of a Kosala clan. The devas meet and deliberate in the Sudhamma sabha and Sakka consults with them rather than issues them commands. On such occasions, the Four Regent Devas are present in the assembly with their followers of the Catummaharajika world (See, e.g., D.ii.207f., 220f). Among the Tavatimsa devas, Sakka is more or less primus inter pares, yet lie surpasses his companions in ten things: length of life, beauty, happiness, renown, power; and in the degree of his five sense experiences: sight, hearing, smelling, taste and touch. A.iv.242; these are also attributed to the rulers of the other deva worlds.

In the Samyutta Nikaya (S.i.228, 229, 231; cf. Mil. 90; for details of these see Magha) the Buddha gives seven rules of conduct,

-- or --

. See Sakya.

Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

Almost always spoken of as “devānam indo," chief (or king) of the devas.

The Samyutta Nikāya (S.i.229; DhA.i.264) contains a list of his names:

  • he is called Maghavā, because as a human being, in a former birth, he was a brahmin named Magha. (But see Magha; cf. Sanskrit Maghavant as an epithet of Indra).
  • As such he bestowed gifts from time to time, hence his name Purindada (Cf. Indra's epithet Purandara, destroyer of cities) (generous giver in former births or giver in towns).
  • Because he gives generously and thoroughly (sakkaccam) he is known as Sakka. Sakra occurs many times in the Vedas as an adjective, qualifying gods (chiefly Indra), and is explained as meaning “able, capable." It is, however, not found as a name in pre Buddhist times.
  • Because he gives away dwelling places (āvasatham) he is called Vāsava (But see Vāsava).
  • Because in one moment he can think of one thousand matters, he is called Sahassakkha (also Sahassanetta).
  • Because he married the Asura maiden Sujā, he is called Sujampati. For the romantic story of Sakka's marriage, see Sujā. Thus Sujā's father, Vepacitti, became Sakka's father in law. Several quaint stories are related about father  and son in law. The two sometimes quarrelled and at others lived together in peace (SA.i.265).
  • Because he governs the devas of Tāvatimsa he is called Devānam Indo (See Inda).
  • Elsewhere (E.g., D.ii.270; M.i.252) Sakka is addressed as Kosiya.
  • He is also spoken of as Yakkha. M.i.252; cf. S.i.206 (Sakkanāmako Yakkho); at S.i.47 Māghadevaputta (Sakka) is called Vatrabhū, slayer of Vrtra (SA.i.83);
  • Sakka is also, in the Jātakas, called Gandhabbarāja (J.vi.260) and Mahinda (J.v.397, 411).

Sakka rules over Tāvatimsa devaloka, the lowest heaven but one of the lower plane. His palace is Vejayanta and his chariot bears the same name. Though king of the Tāvatimsa devas, he is no absolute monarch. He is imagined rather in the likeness of a chieftain of a Kosala clan. The devas meet and deliberate in the Sudhammā sabhā and Sakka consults with them rather than issues them commands. On such occasions, the Four Regent Devas are present in the assembly with their followers of the Cātummahārājika world (See, e.g., D.ii.207f., 220f). Among the Tāvatimsa devas, Sakka is more or less primus inter pares, yet lie surpasses his companions in ten things: length of life, beauty, happiness, renown, power; and in the degree of his five sense experiences: sight, hearing, smelling, taste and touch. A.iv.242; these are also attributed to the rulers of the other deva worlds.

In the Samyutta Nikāya (S.i.228, 229, 231; cf. Mil. 90; for details of these see Magha) the Buddha gives seven rules of conduct, which rules Sakka carried out as a human being, thus attaining to his celestial sovereignty. When the devas fight the Asuras they do so under the banner and orders of Sakka. For details of Sakka's conquest of the Asuras see Asura. The Asuras called him Jara Sakka (J.i.202). Pajāpati, Vamna and Isāna are also mentioned as having been associated with him in supreme command (S.i.219).

In the Samyutta Nikāya a whole Samyutta - one of the shortest, consisting of twenty five short suttas -  is devoted to Sakka.

  • In the first and second suttas Sakka praises energy (viriya);
  • in the third he denounces timidity;
  • in the fourth he shows forbearance to his enemy; (*16)
  • in the fifth lie advocates the conquest of anger by kindness;
  • in the sixth kindness to animals;
  • in the seventh he denounces trickery, even towards enemies;
  • and in the ninth he preaches courtesy and honour towards the wise.
  • In the eleventh are described the seven life long habits which raised him to his present eminent position;
  • twelve and thirteen repeat this and explain his titles.
  • In the fourteenth Sakka explains how new gods, who outshine the old ones, do so because they have observed the Buddha's teaching.
  • In the fifteenth he describes as the most beautiful spot that where arahants dwell;
  • in the sixteenth he praises gifts to the Order (*17);
  • in the seventeenth he praises the Buddha, but is told by Sahampati that he has selected the wrong attributes for praise.
  • In eighteen to twenty he says that whereas brahmins and nobles on earth and the gods of the Cātummahārājika world and of Tāvatimsa worship him, he himself worships good men and arahants.
  • Numbers twenty one, twenty two, twenty four and twenty five are against anger, and twenty three is against deceit.

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).

Discover the meaning of sakka in the context of Theravada from relevant books on Exotic India

Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

Sakka in Pali glossary... « previous · [S] · next »

sakka : (adj.) able; possible. (m.), 1. a man of the Sākya race; 2. the king of devas. || sakkā (ind.) it is possible.

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Sakkā, (indecl.) (originally Pot. of sakkoti=Vedic śakyāt; cp. Prk. sakkā with Pischel’s explanation in Prk. Gr. § 465. A corresponding formation, similar in meaning, is labbhā (q. v.)) possible (lit. one might be able to); in the older language still used as a Pot. , but later reduced to an adv. with infin. E. g. sakkā sāmaaññphalaṃpaññāpetuṃ would one be able to point out a result of samaṇaship, D. I, 51; khādituṃ na sakkā, one could not eat, J. II, 16; na sakkā maggo akkhātuṃ, the way cannot be shown, Mil 269; sakkā etaṃ mayā ñātuṃ? can I ascertain this? D. I, 187; sakkā honti imāni aṭṭha sukhāni vindituṃ, these eight advantages are able to be enjoyed, J. I, 8; sakkā etaṃ abhavissa kātuṃ, this would be possible to do, D. I, 168; imaṃ sakkā gaṇhituṃ, this one we can take J. IV, 219. See also SnA 338, 376 (=labbhā); PvA. 12, 69, 96. (Page 660)

— or —

Sakka, (adj.) (fr. śak, cp. Sk. śakya) able, possible Sn. 143. sasakkaṃ (=sa3+s.) as much as possible, as much as one is able to M. I, 415, 514. (Page 660)

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.

Discover the meaning of sakka in the context of Pali from relevant books on Exotic India

Relevant definitions

Relevant text

Like what you read? Consider supporting this website: