Shaka, aka: Sāka, Śaka, Saka, Śāka, Sakā; 22 Definition(s)


Shaka means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, the history of ancient India, 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 terms Śaka and Śāka can be transliterated into English as Saka or Shaka, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Dharmashastra (religious law)

Śāka (शाक) is a Sanskrit word, identified with Tectona grandis (teak) by various scholars in their translation of the Śukranīti. This tree is mentioned as having thorns, and should therefore be considerd as wild. The King shoud place such trees in forests (not in or near villages). He should nourish them by stoole of goats, sheep and cows, water as well as meat.

The following is an ancient Indian horticultural recipe for the nourishment of such trees:

According to Śukranīti 4.4.110-112: “The powder of the dungs of goats and sheep, the powder of Yava (barley), Tila (seeds), beef as well as water should be kept together (undisturbed) for seven nights. The application of this water leads very much to the growth in flowers and fruits of all trees (such as śāka).”

(Source): Wisdom Library: Dharma-śāstra
Dharmashastra book cover
context information

Dharmashastra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharmaśāstra) contains the instructions (shastra) regarding religious conduct of livelihood (dharma), ceremonies, jurisprudence (study of law) and more. It is categorized as smriti, an important and authoritative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.


Śāka (शाक).—Another name for Rajata, which is one of the seven major mountains in Śākadvīpa, according to the Varāhapurāṇa chapter 86. Śākadvīpa is one of the seven islands (dvīpa), ruled over by Medhātithi, one of the ten sons of Priyavrata, son of Svāyambhuva Manu, who was created by Brahmā, who was in turn created by Nārāyaṇa, the unknowable all-pervasive primordial being.

The Varāhapurāṇa is categorised as a Mahāpurāṇa, and was originally composed of 24,000 metrical verses, possibly originating from before the 10th century. It is composed of two parts and Sūta is the main narrator.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Varāha-purāṇa

1) Śaka (शक).—A particular sect of people or caste. The following information about the Śakas is gathered from the Mahābhārata.

(i) Śakas were born from the breast of Nandinī, Vasiṣṭha’s cow. (Ādi Parva, Chapter 147, Verse 36).

(ii) Bhīmasena, during his triumphal tour of the eastern regions subjugated the Śakas. (Sabhā Parva. Chapter 32, Verse 14).

(iii) Nakula conquered them. (Sabhā Parva, Chapter 32, Verse 14).

(iv) King of the Śakas participated in Yudhiṣṭhira’s Rājasūya. (Sabhā Parva, Chapter 51, Verse 32).

(v) The Pāṇḍavas invited them to take part in the great war. (Udyoga Parva, Chapter 4, Verse 15).

(vi) They did along with Sudakṣiṇa, king of Kāmboja, service in Duryodhana’s army. (Udyoga Parva, Chapter 19, Verse 21).

(vii) Śrī Kṛṣṇa once conquered them. (Droṇa Parva, Chapter 119, Verse 45).

(viii) Karṇa once defeated them and conquered their country. (Karṇa Parva, Chapter 8, Verse 18).

(ix) Śakas who were originally Kṣatriyas were demoted as Śūdras as they incurred the displeasure and anger of brahmins. (Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 33, Verse 21).

(x) As the Śakas and the Yavanas had helped the Haihaya kings Paraśurāma, Sagara and Bharata defeated them in war and drove them off from the country. (Bhāgavata, Navama Skandha).

2) Śāka (शाक).—A tree in the Śāka island. The island got the name from this tree. (Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 11, Verse 23).

(Source): Puranic Encyclopaedia

Śāka (शाक) represents all green vegetables, forming part of a common diet in ancient Kashmir (Kaśmīra) as mentioned in the Nīlamatapurāṇa.—Most of the references to the articles of diet occur in the Nīlamata in connection with the offerings made to the gods but it is not difficult to infer from them the food and drink of the common people because “what a man eats his gods eat”.

(Source): Nilamata Purana: a cultural and literary study

1a) Śaka (शक).—A northern kingdom.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 16. 48.

1b) The tree after which the Śākadvīpa takes its name.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 19. 94, 140.

1c) A son of Bṛhadratha Maurya, ruled for 36 years; his grandson ruled for 17 years. (?)*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 272. 24.

1d) A hill tribe;1 were defeated by Paraśurāma, Sagara and Bharata; punished with half shaving;2 were denied the Vedic study and sacrifice and hence reduced to Mlecchahood.3

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 16. 67; III. 48. 23, 44 and 49; Vāyu-purāṇa 88. 122; 98. 107.
  • 2) Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 8. 5; 20. 30; III. 41. 39; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 3. 42;
  • 3) Ib. IV. 3. 48.

1e) The 18 kings (ten, Vāyu-purāṇa) of, ruled for 380 years;1 kingdom of;2 contemporaries of the Śiśunāgas, and after Gardabins; to be conquered by Kalki.3

  • 1) Matsya-purāṇa 50. 76; 273. 18; Vāyu-purāṇa 99. 268, 324, 359, 361.
  • 2) Matsya-purāṇa 114. 41; 121. 45; 144. 57.
  • 3) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 63. 120, 134; 73. 108; 74. 137. 172 and 175; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 3. 47.

2a) Śāka (शाक).—Is Śākadvīpa;1 the hill after which the dvīpa is named.2

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa V. I. 32.
  • 2) Matsya-purāṇa 123. 36.

2b) The tree in the midst of Śākadvīpam.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 49. 88; Viṣṇu-purāṇa II. 4. 63.

2c) A tribe.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 45. 116; 47. 44.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
context information

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.

Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Śaka (शक) is the name of a tribe, usually to be represented by a reddish-yellow (gaura) color when painting the limbs (aṅgaracanā), according to Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 23. The painting is a component of nepathya (costumes and make-up) and is to be done in accordance with the science of āhāryābhinaya (extraneous representation).

(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).

Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Śāka (शाक) refers to one of the seven continents (saptadvīpa) situated within the world of the earth (pṛthivī), according to Parākhyatantra 5.61. It is also known as Śākadvīpa. These continents are located above the seven pātālas and may contain even more sub-continents within them, are round in shape, and are encircled within seven concentric oceans.

According to the Parākhya-tantra, “outside that is the continent Śāka, where the great Śāka tree stands. Because of its length a band was put about it by Indra. Beyond that is the ocean called ‘Milk’, in which there is pure milk. This ocean was drunk from by Upamanyu as much as he wished”.

The Parākhyatantra is an old Śaiva-siddhānta tantra dating from before the 10th century.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Śaivism
Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

Kavya (poetry)

Śaka (शक) is the name a locality mentioned in Rājaśekhara’s 10th-century Kāvyamīmāṃsā.—This is the Śakasthan, where the Śakas first settled after coming India. Sakala or Sialkot is situated in the Lahore and Punjab, which may be identified with this Śaka of Rājaśekhara. Sakala was the first made capital by Greek king Demetrius. Sakala was in ruins when Hiuen Thsang was on his travels in India. So it is possible that before Hiuen Thsang‟s times several Hindu kings had attacked the Śakas and destroyed their capital at Sakala.

(Source): Shodhganga: The Kavyamimamsa of Rajasekhara
context information

Kavya (काव्य, kavya) refers to Sanskrit poetry, a popular ancient Indian tradition of literature. There have been many Sanskrit poets over the ages, hailing from ancient India and beyond. This topic includes mahakavya, or ‘epic poetry’ and natya, or ‘dramatic poetry’.

Itihasa (narrative history)

Śaka (शक) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. II.47.19, II.47.26, II.48.15, III.48.20, V.19.21, V.158.20, VI.10.43, VI.10.50, VI.20.13, VI.52.7, VIII.51.18) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Śaka) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

(Source): JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
context information

Itihasa (इतिहास, itihāsa) refers to ‘epic history’ and represents a branch of Sanskrit literature which popularly includes 1) the eighteen major Puranas, 2) the Mahabharata and 3) the Ramayana. It is a branch of Vedic Hinduism categorised as smriti literature (‘that which is remembered’) as opposed to shruti literature (‘that which is transmitted verbally’).

General definition (in Hinduism)

Śāka (शाक) refers to “vegetable”. It is used throughout Āyurvedic literature such as the Carakasaṃhitā or the Suśrutasaṃhitā.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Hinduism

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

A tribe, mentioned in a list. The name probably refers to the Scythians. Mil. 327, 331.

(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).

General definition (in Buddhism)

(Shaka) Japanese for Shakyamuni (Buddha);

(Source): The Art of Asia: Who is Who in Heaven

India history and geogprahy

Saka is the era named after King Salivahana reckond from AD 78. The word Salivahana is from Satavahanas. A line of Kings of this dynasty is said to have ruled in the north-west of Mysore under the general name Satakarni and consequently the Mysore state has been spoken of in 1717 as in the Salivahana country.

(Source): South Indian Festivities

Śaka (शक) is the name of a tribe mentioned in the Gupta inscriptions. The Gupta empire (r. 3rd-century CE), founded by Śrī Gupta, covered much of ancient India and embraced the Dharmic religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. These tribes (eg., the Śakas, latin: Shakas) migrated to places other than their original settlemenets and gave their names to the janapadas they settled. They replaced the old Vedic tribes in Punjab and Rajasthan though some of them are deemed as offshoots of the main tribe..

(Source): Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions

Śaka (शक) is the name of a tribe mentioned as inhabiting the region around ancient Kaśmīra (Kashmir valley) according to the Nīlamatapurāṇa.—Driven off from the countries on the Oxus by Yeuh-chi, the Śakas had proceeded to south and occupied Ki-pin (Kapiśā—Kafiristan). Their tribes then spread over the country and formed different kingdoms including the dependencies of Hiau siun and Siun-tu (Sindh). Tarn has suggested that the southern part of Kaśmīra was, for sometime, ruled over by Demetrius. Menander, too, probably occupied Kaśmīra as Ptolemy mentions Kaspeiria in Menander’s home kingdom. Milindapañha refers to a dialogue between Menander and Nāgārjuna held at a place only twelve yojanas from Kaśmīra.

(Source): Nilamata Purana: a cultural and literary study (history)

Sakas = Scythians: There were numerous migrations of the Sakas of Bactria & Gandhara to eastern Europe and northern Anatolia via Pontic Steppe since Vedic times. After Mahabharata war (3162 BCE), many large groups of Scythians also migrated to Central Asia, Eastern Europe and Northern Anatolia around 3100-3000 BCE. Most probably, the Hittites and the Mitannis of Anatolia were none other than the migrated Scythians of India who worshiped Vedic gods like Mithra, Indra, Varuna, Nāsatya etc. In fact, these migrated groups of Scythians introduced the worship of Mithra god or sun in the west after 3000 BCE. The same has been evolved into a religion of Mithraism after 2000 BCE.

(Source): The Chronology of Ancient Gandhara and Bactria

The epoch of the Śaka Era.—The Śaka era was popularly used for dating in the ancient and medieval period inscriptions and literature in India, Nepal, Burma, Camobdia and Java (Indonesia). It is generally believed that the Śaka era commenced in 78 CE. The critical and comprehensive study of epigraphic and literary references of the Śaka era apparently leads us to the conclusion that the Śaka era and the Śakānta era are not identical. The epoch of the Śaka era commenced in 583 BCE whereas the epoch of the Śakānta era commenced in 78 CE. The chronological history of ancient India has been brought forward by 661 years because these two different epochs have been mistakenly considered as identical.

(Source): The Epoch of the Saka Era
India history book cover
context information

The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

saka : (adj.) one's own. (m.) a relation. (nt.) one's own property. || sāka (m.; nt.), vegetable; pot herb.

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Saka, (adj.) (sa4+ka) own D. I, 106, 119, 231; II, 173 (sakaṃ te “all be your own, ” as greeting to the king); M. I, 79; Vin. I, 3, 249 (ācariyaka); S. V, 261 (id.); Sn. 861; It. 76; Nd1 252; Pv. I, 51 (ghara); II, 61 (bhātā).—Opp. assaka2. — appassaka having little or nothing as one’s own (=daḷidda) A. I, 261; II, 203; kamma-ssaka possessing one’s own kamma M. III, 203 sq.; A. V, 288; Miln. 65; Dhs. 1366.

—gavacaṇḍa violent towards one’s own cows, harassing one’s own Pug. 47. (Page 659)

— or —

Sāka, (nt.) (Epic Sk. śāka) 1. vegetable, potherb D. I, 166; M. I, 78, 156; A. I, 241, 295; II, 206; Pug. 55; Vism. 70; Vv 3333; J. III, 225; IV, 445; V, 103.—2. (m.) name of a tree (teak; Tectona grandis) D. I, 92; DA. I, 259; Vism. 250. °-vatthu ground for cultivation of vegetables J. IV, 446; sāka-paṇṇavaṇṇa “like the colour of vegetable leaf” (said of teeth) J. V, 206 (cp. 203). (Page 701)

(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.

Marathi-English dictionary

śaka (शक).—m ( P) Doubt: also suspicion, misgiving, evil surmise.

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śaka (शक).—m (S) A period commencing from an epoch or a date at which some sovereign established a computation of time, an era. Ex. narmadēcē alīkaḍē śālivāhanaśaka cālatō palīkaḍē vikramaśaka cālatō. 2 śaka is especially applied to an era which is dependent on the solar year, and dates from the birth of śālivāhana. It commences on the 1st of vaiśākha 3179 of kaliyuga, or on Monday 14th March 78 A. D. Julian style. 3 Reign, the period of a king's government: also rule, domination, sway, authoritative direction. 4 Familiarly. Superiority or ascendancy over; upperhandedness or mastery. v caḍha, basa, lāga, g. of s. & vara of o. 5 A people or an individual of it. They are the followers or descendants of śāka or śālivāhana. śaka gājaviṇēṃ To become conspicuously eminent; to rise into glorious celebrity.

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śāka (शाक).—f ē (In Sanskrit m & n) A pot-herb generally; any leaf, fruit, bean, seed, root, &c. used as a vegetable. 2 A mango nearly ripened on the tree, fit for pāḍa or the gathering.

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śāka (शाक).—m S The sixth of the seven dwipas or divisions of the world, including, according to Wilford, the British isles. 2 An era, a period commencing with some celebrated prince as Vikramaditya, Shalivahana &c., who thence are denominated Shakeshwara.

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saka (सक).—n m (ṣaṭaka S) An aggregate of six. Used only of the 6 on a die, and of the number 6 in multiplying a number by it; as sakarējā, dahāsaka sāṭha. Sometimes it takes a plural form; as tīna sakē aṭharā.

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sāka (साक).—f ē or ī The palm of the hand as drawn up and hollowed (to hold water, grain &c.) sākēnēṃ pāṇī piṇēṃ To drink from the hand.

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sāka (साक).—f ē (sākṣa) A person, or a line of persons, set to watch or look out for (travelers &c. expected). v basava, ṭhēva, rākha.

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sāka (साक).—f and by redup. sākapāka f (Properly sākha) Mercantile credit or repute: also character generally. sākīpākīcā Having credit or good character.

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sākā (साका) [or सांका, sāṅkā].—m A mixture of copper and inferior gold, used in soldering trinkets. 2 Base metal foisted into a trinket together with the gold; so as to make up the weight whilst a portion of the gold is abducted. According to the revelations of a goldsmith sākā is composed of copper one part, of silver two parts. 3 Straws, rubbish, and dirt as deposited or gathered by a stream, alluvium; also as blocking up a water-channel. 4 Dregs, lees, or sediment in general.

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

śaka (शक).—m An era. Rule. Superiority. Doubt.

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śāka (शाक) [-kha, -ख].—f A vegetable, a pot-herd.

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śāka (शाक).—or śākhapālā m-bhājī f A general term for pot-herbs and esculent vege- tables.

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saka (सक).—n m An aggregate of six; as dahāsaka sāṭha.

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sāka (साक).—f Mercantile credit.

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sākā (साका).—m A mixture of copper and inferior gold.

(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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