Shabda, aka: Śabda; 13 Definition(s)


Shabda 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.

The Sanskrit term Śabda can be transliterated into English as Sabda or Shabda, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Vaiśeṣika (school of philosophy)

Śabda (शब्द, “sound”) is one of the additional guṇas (‘qualities’) added by Praśastapāda, on top of the seventeen guṇas in the Vaiśeṣika-sūtras. These guṇas are considered as a category of padārtha (“metaphysical correlate”). These padārthas represent everything that exists which can be cognized and named. Together with their subdivisions, they attempt to explain the nature of the universe and the existence of living beings.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Vaiśeṣika
Vaiśeṣika book cover
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Vaiśeṣika (वैशेषिक, vaisheshika) refers to a school of orthodox Hindu philosophy (āstika), drawing its subject-matter from the Upaniṣads. Vaiśeṣika deals with subjects such as logic, epistemology, philosophy and expounds concepts similair to Buddhism in nature


Śabda (शब्द).—The guṇa of ākāśa; swallowed by Bhūta and others.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 102. 17.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purāṇa book cover
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The Purāṇas (पुराण, purana) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahāpurāṇas total over 400,000 ślokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

Nāṭyaśāstra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Śabda (शब्द, “sound”) refers to an aspect of the representation of objects and senses, according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 24. Accordingly, “by making a side-long glance, bending the hand sideways and putting a hand near the ear, one should represent the sound (śabda)”.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

Śabda (शब्द, “sound”) refers to an aspect of the representation of objects and senses;— By making a side-long glance, bending the hand sideways and putting a hand near the ear, one should represent the sound (śabda).

(Source): Natya Shastra
Nāṭyaśāstra book cover
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Nāṭyaśāstra (नाट्यशास्त्र, natya-shastra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition of performing arts, (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 (nāṭya) and poetic works (kāvya).

Mīmāṃsā (school of philosophy)

Śabda (शब्द, “verbal testimony”).—According to Jaimini, Knowledge of Dharma can be obtained only by Verbal Testimony (śabda /āgama = Veda) in other words through the medium of language. Mīmāṃsā affirms that verbal testimony (śabda) is the only means of Right Knowledge that can be used to know the nature of the invisible effects of action, and that all other means of Right Knowledge are necessary only to refute opponents.

(Source): Srimatham: Mīmāṃsa: The Study of Hindu Exegesis
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Mīmāṃsā (मीमांसा, mimamsa) refers to one of the six orthodox Hindu schools of philosophy, emphasizing the nature of dharma and the philosophy of language. The literature in this school is also known for its in-depth study of ritual actions and social duties.

General definition (in Hinduism)

Śabda (शब्द, “verbal testimony”) means relying on word, testimony of past or present reliable experts. Hiriyanna explains Sabda-pramana as a concept which means reliable expert testimony.

Śabda is defined as the statement of a trustworthy person (āptavākya), and consists in understanding its meaning. It can be of two types,

  1. Vaidika (Vedic), which are the words of the four sacred Vedas, and are described as the Word of God, having been composed by God,
  2. and Laukika, or words and writings of trustworthy human beings.

Vaidika testimony is preferred as the infallible word of God, and Laukika testimony must by its nature be questioned and overruled by more trustworthy knowledge if such becomes available.

(Source): WikiPedia: Hinduism

Śabda (sound) is the tanmatra (subtle attribute) of mahābhuta (primal element) ākasa (space). And through śabda one tries to turn his vision inwards from ākasa to daharākāsa, through chanting the mantra, by producing sound to slowly listening the anāhata sound without producing it. Eventually when mantra yoga is achieved, one achieves laya yoga also, since his consciousness is directed to daharākāsa where his devata resides.

(Source): Hindupedia: The Hindu Encyclopedia

In Buddhism

General definition (in Buddhism)

Śabda (शब्द, “sound”) or śabdāyatana refers to one of the “twelve sense spheres” (āyatana) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 24). The Dharma-samgraha (Dharmasangraha) is an extensive glossary of Buddhist technical terms in Sanskrit (eg., śabda). The work is attributed to Nagarjuna who lived around the 2nd century A.D.

Śabda also represents one of the “eighteen elements” (dhātu) as well as one of the “eleven form components” (rūpaskandha).

Śabda also refers to one of the “six spheres” (ṣaḍviṣaya) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 33).

Śabda also refers to the “five qualities” (pāñcabhautika) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 40).

(Source): Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgraha

Śabda (sound). There is a great difference between the esoteric conception of sound and scientific concept of sound. The sound of physics is really the shadow of original sound. All empirical knowledge is inferential. Knowledge is nothing but the subjectivization of external objkectivity. What we subjectivise is not real object but the different waves and vibrations. We subjectivise them with the help of our sensory organs. Physics deals with this ‘shadow of sound’ and not the original sound.

Swami Pratyagātmānanda says:

“The real sounds or the sound as it is can be heard only by an absolute ear. ‘The sound as it is’ is the original sound. The sound which you, I, scientists and yogis hear is the distortion of the original form”

(Source): Google Books: Buddhist Tantra: A Philosophical Reflection and Religious Investigation

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Śabda (शब्द, “literal”) refers to one of the seven types of naya (standpoint), according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 1.33.—To cognize an entity by looking at its attributes as primary and secondary depending on the intentions of the speaker or listener is called naya (standpoint/viewpoint).

What is meant by literal viewpoint? The viewpoint which discriminates between numbers, gender etc of the entity e.g. saying ‘he is a maidservant’ is wrong.

(Source): Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 1

Śabda (शब्द, “sound”) refers to the object of śrotas (ear/hearing), which represents one of the “five sense-organs” (pañcendriya), according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 2.19. Cognition which results by hearing the object of knowledge is called sound (śabda). How many types of sound are there? There is only one type of sound but they can broadly classified as of seven types namely Do, Re, Me, far, sew, la and tee or sā, re gā , mā , pā, dhā, ni and sā in Hindi. What is form of ear sense organ? It is of the form of barley tube (jau-nalī).

(Source): Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 2: the Category of the living
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.

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

śabda (शब्द).—m (S) Sound, any sound, or any voice or utterance. 2 A word. 3 In grammar. A declinable word. 4 Reproof, censure, blame. v lāga, yē, ṭhēva, lāva, āṇa. śabda ṭākaṇēṃ To speak a word (as in recommendation or intercession).

--- OR ---

śābda (शाब्द) [or शाब्दिक, śābdika].—a S Verbal, vocal, relating to words or to the voice. 2 Relating to sounds. 3 Nominal;--used of inflection.

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

śabda (शब्द).—m Sound, any voice. A word. Reproof. śabda ṭākaṇēṃ Speak a word (as in recommendation).

--- OR ---

śābda (शाब्द) [or śābdika, or शाब्दिक].—a Verbal, vocal. Nomi- nal-used of inflection.

(Source): DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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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.

Relevant definitions

Search found 117 related definition(s) that might help you understand this better. Below you will find the 15 most relevant articles:

śabdārtha (शब्दार्थ).—m The sense or meaning of a word.
cakāra-śabda (चकार-शब्द).—m A word, a syllable, any articulate utterance.
śabdadōṣa (शब्ददोष).—m (S) A blemish or an imperfection in words or a word (not as inherent or ...
Śabdākulita (शब्दाकुलित).—What is meant by ‘obstructed by noise /sound (śabdākulita) flaw’? To ...
Śabdadhatu (शब्दधतु) or simply śabda refers to the “sound element” and represents one of the ei...
Śabdāyatana (शब्दायतन) or simply śabda refers to the “sense sphere of sound” and represents one...
Śabdarūpaskandha (शब्दरूपस्कन्ध) or simply śabda refers to the “sound form component” and repre...
ni:śabda (नि:शब्द).—Better written niśśaṅka, niśśakta &c.
Śabdatattva (शब्दतत्त्व, “sound”):—One of the Thirty-six Tattvas, according to Śaiva d...
Śabdendriya (शब्देन्द्रिय, “ear-sense-organ”) is another word for Śrotendriya: one of the “five...
1) Śabdaratnākara (शब्दरत्नाकर).—Vāmanabhattabāṇa (about 1400 A.D.) is the compiler of this lex...
Śabdaratnāvalī (शब्दरत्नावली) is a synonymous lexicon, almost follows the Bhūriprayoga in arra...
Śabdakhaṇḍa (book on verbal testimony), second book (khaṇḍa) of the Tattvacintāmaṇi (by Gang...
1) Śabdacandrikā (शब्दचन्द्रिका) is a small lexicon ascribed to Vāmanabhaṭṭbāṇa. It has around ...
Śabdapradīpa (शब्दप्रदीप) is a dictionary of botanical terms ascribed to Sureśvara of the 11th...

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