Samatha, Shamatha, Śamatha, Śamaṭha: 17 definitions


Samatha means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, biology. 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 terms Śamatha and Śamaṭha can be transliterated into English as Samatha or Shamatha, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Source: Puranic Encyclopedia

Śamaṭha (शमठ).—A learned brahmin. He once gave Yudhiṣṭhira a description of the yajña performed by King Gaya, son of Amūrtarayas. (Vana Parva, Chapter 95, Verse 17).

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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In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

Source: Dhamma Dana: Pali English Glossary

Samatha (“tranquillity”, “serenity”).—Concentration bringing about calm and mental clarity. The practice of samatha lies in focusing ones concentration on a single object so as to lessen the flow of discursive thoughts, which cause hindrances (nivaranas), in a first stage, and then to experience a jhana. The practice of samatha alone does not lead to nibbana.

Source: Pali Kanon: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines

Samatha (“tranquillity”, “serenity”) is a synonym of samādhi (concentration), cittekaggatā (one-pointedness of mind) and avikkhepa (undistracted ness). Samatha is one of the mental factors in wholesome consciousness. Cf. foll. and bhāvanā.

Tranquillity (samatha) [Cf. Bhavana] is the concentrated, unshaken, peaceful, and therefore undefiled state of mind, whilst insight (vipassanā) is the intuitive insight into the impermanence, misery and impersonality (anicca, dukkha, anattā; s. tilakkhana) of all bodily and mental phenomena of existence, included in the 5 groups of existence, namely, corporeality, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness; s. khandha. Tranquillity, or concentration of mind, according to Sankhepavannana (Commentary to Abhidhammattha-sangaha), bestows a threefold blessing: favourable rebirth, present happy life, and purity of mind which is the condition of insight.

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)

Source: A Study and Translation of the Gaganagañjaparipṛcchā

1) Śamatha (शमथ) refers to “peaceful meditation”, according to the Gaganagañjaparipṛcchā: the eighth chapter of the Mahāsaṃnipāta (a collection of Mahāyāna Buddhist Sūtras).—Accordingly, “The great vehicle (mahāyāna) is made with four wheels (cakra), namely with the means of attraction, the spokes (ara) are well fitted as the roots of good have been transformed with intention (āśaya), [...] it is carried on by a yoke yoked with the team of insight and expedient means, it is fastened in the holes of peaceful meditation and expanded vision (śamatha-vipaśyanā), it is powered by the power of understanding four holy truths (catuḥsatya), it has the power of a thousand well-bred horses, [...]”.

2) Śamatha (शमथ) refers to “mental quiescence”, according to the Gaganagañjaparipṛcchā: the eighth chapter of the Mahāsaṃnipāta (a collection of Mahāyāna Buddhist Sūtras).—Accordingly, “Then, the Lord went on to speak these verses: ‘[...] (46) The morality pacifies [minds], pacifies afflictions (kleśa), brings to the completion of the mental quiescence and transcendental analysis (śamatha-vipaśyana), 431 and guides to the ultimate [liberation]. [...]’”.

Source: WikiPedia: Mahayana Buddhism

Śamatha (शमथ) refers to “single-pointed consciousness” according to the Mahāyāna Sūtras.—One of the most prominent, the (Āryaratnameghasūtra, “Cloud of Jewels Sutra”) divides all forms of meditation into either śamatha or vipaśyanā, defining śamatha as “single-pointed consciousness” and vipaśyanā as “seeing into the nature of things”. In a formulation originating in the Śrāvakabhūmi section of the Yogācārabhūmi-śāstra śamatha practice is said to progress through nine “mental abidings” or Nine stages of training the mind (navākārā cittasthiti), leading to śamatha proper (the equivalent of “access concentration” in the Theravāda system), and from there to a state of meditative concentration called the first dhyāna (Pāli: jhāna; Tibetan: bsam gtan) which is often said to be a state of tranquillity or bliss.

The Nine Mental Abidings connected with śamatha are described by Kamalaśīla as follows:

  1. Placement of the mind (cittasthāpana),
  2. Continuous placement (samsthāpana),
  3. Repeated placement (avasthāpana),
  4. Close placement (upasthāpana),
  5. Taming (damana),
  6. Pacifying (śamana),
  7. Fully pacifying (vyupaśamana),
  8. Single-pointing (ekotīkarana),
  9. Balanced placement (samādhāna).
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)

Source: Shambala Publications: General

Shamatha (śamatha), Skt., lit., “dwelling in tranquillity.” In the Gelug school of Tibet­an Buddhism it is stressed that the precondition of “concentration” (samādhi) is intentional development of “dwelling in tranquillity” and “special insight” (vipashyanā ). Dwelling in tranquillity calms the mind, while special in­sight, through analytical examination, leads to vision of genuine reality, which is emptiness (shūnyatā). Shamatha is first developed in preliminary practice and later further refined in connection with vipashyanā. Dwelling in tranquillity is compared to a still, clear lake in which the “fish of special insight” plays.

Biology (plants and animals)

Source: Google Books: CRC World Dictionary (Regional names)

Samatha in India is the name of a plant defined with Butea monosperma in various botanical sources. This page contains potential references in Ayurveda, modern medicine, and other folk traditions or local practices It has the synonym Rudolphia frondosa (Willd.) Poir. (among others).

Example references for further research on medicinal uses or toxicity (see latin names for full list):

· A Numerical List of Dried Specimens (5569)
· Prodr. (DC.) (1825)
· Revisio Generum Plantarum (1891)
· Encyclopédie Méthodique, Botanique (1786)
· Journal of Economic and Taxonomic Botany (1996)
· Die Natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien (1894)

If you are looking for specific details regarding Samatha, for example pregnancy safety, extract dosage, health benefits, chemical composition, side effects, diet and recipes, have a look at these references.

Biology book cover
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This sections includes definitions from the five kingdoms of living things: Animals, Plants, Fungi, Protists and Monera. It will include both the official binomial nomenclature (scientific names usually in Latin) as well as regional spellings and variants.

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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

[«previous next»] — Samatha in Pali glossary
Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

samatha : (m.) calm; quietude of heart; settlement of legal questions.

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

Samatha, (fr. śam, cp. BSk. śamatha) 1. calm, quietude of heart M. I, 33; A. I, 61, 95; II, 140; III, 86 sq. (ceto°), 116 sq. , 449; IV, 360; V, 99; D. III, 54, 213, 273; DhA. II, 177; S. IV, 362; Dhs. 11, 15, 54; cessation of the Saṅkhāras S. I, 136; III, 133; A. I, 133; Sn. 732; Vin. I, 5. ‹-› 2. settlement of legal questions (adhikaraṇa) Vin. II, 93; IV, 207; cp. DhsA. 144; s. paṭivijjhati Pts. I, 180.

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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Sanskrit dictionary

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Śamatha (शमथ).—[śam-athac]

1) Tranquillity, calmness; especially mental calmness, absence of passion.

2) A counsellor, minister.

Derivable forms: śamathaḥ (शमथः).

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

Śamatha (शमथ).—often written sa°, m. (= Sanskrit Lex. id., Pali samatha), (1) tranquillity, tranquillization; especially often associated with vipaśyanā or (less often) its syn. vidarśanā, see these two; when [compound] they form a dvandva, never a tatp. as suggested erroneously in [Pali Text Society’s Pali-English Dictionary] (in every passage there quoted samatha and vipassanā are parallel and coordinate, usually not even [compound]); also often with dama- (tha): dama-śamatham ākāṅkṣamāṇā(ḥ) Saddharmapuṇḍarīka 80.9; dama- samathe Lalitavistara 169.5 (verse); paramadama-samatha- 427.22; [Page523-b+ 71] ātma-dama-(iii.52.18 °damatha-) -śamatha-pariṇirvāṇār- thaṃ Mahāvastu ii.157.5; iii.52.18; uttama-damatha (so Senart, but mss. dama) -śamatha-pāramitā- iii.64.6; śamatha- saṃbhāra Lalitavistara 35.14; 427.21; śamatha-sukha-vyavasthitaḥ Laṅkāvatāra-sūtra 15.4; smara…śamathaṃ Lalitavistara 11.14; samatha- dhanu gṛhītvā Lalitavistara 156.5 (verse), taking the bow of…; samatha- nirvāṇa-puram anupravekṣyāmi Mahāvastu ii.148.6; tranquilliza- tion of the mind as a process, a course of practice, dvāda- śavarṣābhyastaḥ śamathaś (or sa°) cittasya Divyāvadāna 47.3; 461.20; adhyātmaṃ (adv.) cetaḥśamathaṃ (riñcanti) Mūla-Sarvāstivāda-Vinaya iii.11.18; sarva(iii.314.5 pūrva)-saṃskāra-samatho (so read in ii.285.20) or °tha-Mahāvastu ii.285.20; iii.314.5, the tranquillizing of (all) the (former) saṃskāra, compare Pali sabbasaṃkhārasa- matho Vin. i.5.2; (2) (= Pali adhikaraṇa-sa°) adhikaraṇa- śamathā(ḥ), settling, appeasement, of disputed questions: Mahāvyutpatti 8630 (see adhikaraṇa 1).

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Samatha (समथ).—often written for śamatha, q.v.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Śamatha (शमथ).—m.

(-thaḥ) 1. Quiet, tranquillity: (see the last) 2. A counsellor, a minister. E. śam to be calm, Unadi aff. athac .

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Benfey Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Śamatha (शमथ).—[śam + atha], m. 1. Quiet, tranquillity of mind, absence of passion. 2. A counsellor.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Cappeller Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Śamatha (शमथ).—[masculine] quiet, tranquillity, rest, calm, peace; cessation, extinction.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Śamaṭha (शमठ):—[from śam] m. (cf. [Uṇādi-sūtra i, 102 [Scholiast or Commentator]]) Name of a Brahman, [Mahābhārata]

2) Śamatha (शमथ):—[from śam] m. quiet, tranquillity, absence of passion, [Lalita-vistara]

3) [v.s. ...] a counsellor, minister, [cf. Lexicographers, esp. such as amarasiṃha, halāyudha, hemacandra, etc.]

4) Samatha (समथ):—[wrong reading] for śamatha, [Lalita-vistara]

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Yates Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Śamatha (शमथ):—(thaḥ) 1. m. Quiet, tranquillity; a counsellor.

[Sanskrit to German]

Samatha in German

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Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family (even English!). 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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