Sakyamuni, aka: Śākyamuni, Shakya-muni, Shakyamuni; 9 Definition(s)


Sakyamuni means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit. 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.

The Sanskrit term Śākyamuni can be transliterated into English as Sakyamuni or Shakyamuni, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

"Sage of the Sakyans"; an epithet for the Buddha.(Source): Access to Insight: A Glossary of Pali and Buddhist Terms

An epithet of the Buddha. See Bu.xxvi.9; Mil. 115.

(Source): Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names
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).


sakyamuni : (m.) the noble sage of the Sakyans.

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise 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.

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Śākyamuni (शाक्यमुनि) is the name of both the first as well as the present Buddha, according to the Vibhāṣā and the Kośa mentioned in the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter VI). Accordingly, “In one of his earlier lives, the present Buddha Śākyamuni was a potter (kumbhakāra) called Prabhāsa. At that time, there was a Buddha called Śākyamuni; his disciples were called Śāriputra, Maudalyāyana and Ānanda”.

Note: According to the Vibhāṣā and the Kośa, the ancient Śākyamuni was the first Buddha whom the present Śākyamuni venerated. At that time, the latter was a potter named Prabhāsa (cf. Kośavyākhyā). The Mahāvastu I, also is aware of a Buddha Śākyamuni who lived an infinite number of numberless kalpas ago, also from Kapilavastu, and who received the generosity of the present Śākyamuni, then a merchant (śreṣṭhin).

According to chapter LII, “Śākyamuni who appeared in an impure land and at a bad age, increased his preaching but did not always convince his auditors. The inhabitants of Magadha criticized him and his cousin Devadatta accused him of charlatanism”.

(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.

General definition (in Buddhism)

Śākyamuni (शाक्यमुनि):—One of the Thirty-five buddhas of confession, according to the Trīskhandhadharmasūtra (‘Sutra of the Three Heaps’), which is a Mahāyāna sūtra. The sūtra describes the practice of purifying the transgressions of vows (especially the Bodhisattva-vows), by making prostrations to these Buddhas. In the Tibetan language (Wyl.), he is known as: sangs rgyas shAkya thub pa. His name means “the perfect buddha”.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Buddhism

Śākyamuni (शाक्यमुनि) refers to the last of the “seven Buddhas” (saptatathāgata) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 6). The Dharma-samgraha (Dharmasangraha) is an extensive glossary of Buddhist technical terms in Sanskrit (eg., saptatathāgata and Śākyamuni). The work is attributed to Nagarguna who lived around the 2nd century A.D.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgrahaSakayamuni in Sanskrit, Shakyamuni in Pali. The founder of Buddhism. He was born as the Prince of Sakyans, and was called Siddhartha Goutama. At the age of 35, he attained the supreme Enlightenment and became the Buddha and was the called Shakyamuni. The word means "capability and kindness".(Source): Buddhist Door: GlossaryShakyamuni (Chinese: Shih chia; Japanese: Shaka), the Historical Buddha, was born in the 6th century B.C. in Lumbini (present day Nepal), achieved enlightenment at the age of thirty five, and spent the remaining forty five years of his life preaching his doctrine of salvation to others.(Source): The Art of Asia: Who is Who in Heaven

Shākyamuni Buddha, the historical Buddha, is not the first and only buddha. Already in the early Hīnayāna texts, six buddhas who preceded him in earlier epochs are mentioned: Vipashyin (Pali, Vipassi), Shikin (Sikhī), Vishvabhū (Vessabhū), Krakuchchanda (Kakusandha), Konagamana, and Kashyapa (Kassapa). The buddha who will follow Shākyamuni in a future age and renew the dharma is Maitreya. Be­yond these, one finds indications in the litera­ture of thirteen further buddhas, of which the most important is Dīpamkara, whose disci­ple Shākyamuni was in his previous existence as the ascetic Sumedha. The stories of these leg­endary buddhas are contained in the Buddhavamsa, a work from the Khuddaka­nikāya.

(Source): Shambala Publications: General

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