Shastra, aka: Śāstra; 12 Definition(s)


Shastra means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, 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 Śāstra can be transliterated into English as Sastra or Shastra, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism


Śāstra (शास्त्र).—Sciences of which Purāṇa is the first; recalled by Brahmā.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 3. 3; 184. 43; 245. 87; Vāyu-purāṇa 30. 7; 57-12.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
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.

Mīmāṃsā (school of philosophy)

Śāstra (शास्त्र) refers to one of the three principle styles found in Sanskrit literature.—Śāstra are the Dharma-śāstras which although in different metres usually the one known as anuṣṭup, they are in the form of narratives in which the subject matter is discussed at great length. To this group also belong the Itihāsas and the Pūrāṇas with their prolix and often tediously long descriptions.

(Source): Srimatham: Mīmāṃsa: The Study of Hindu Exegesis

Śāstra (शास्त्र).—A “comprehensive definition” for śāstra was offered—by Mīmāṃsā, the school of Vedic ritual practice alld textual exegesis. Kumārila Bhaṭta, the great Mīmāṃsāka of the eighth century CE, crystallizes the precedent intuitions and speculations regarding the nature of śāstra in the following definition: “Śāstra is that which teaches people what they should and should not do. It does this by means of eternal words or those made by men. Descriptions of the nature of things/states can b e embrace d by the term śāstra insof ar as they are elements subordinate to injunctions to action” (Ślokavārttika, Śabdapariccheda 4-5).

In the definition quoted above , it is seen that Kumārila does admit a distinction betweenthe descriptive and prescriptive dimensions of śāstra, but almost immediately subverts itso as to nullify any sense of a dialectic between them.

(Source): McGill: The architectural theory of the Mānasāra (mimamsa)
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Mimamsa (मीमांसा, mīmāṃsā) 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.

Vastushastra (architecture)

Śāstra (शास्त्र, “weapon”) refers to one of the twelve effects of āya (“profit”), according to the Mānasāra. Āya is the first of the āyādiṣaḍvarga, or “six principles” that constitute the “horoscope” of an architectural or iconographic object. Their application is intended to “verify” the measurements of the architectural and iconographic object against the dictates of astrology that lay out the conditions of auspiciousness.

The particular āya (eg., śāstra) of all architectural and iconographic objects (settlement, building, image) must be calculated and ascertained. This process is based on the principle of the remainder. An arithmetical formula to be used in each case is stipulated, which engages one of the basic dimensions of the object (breadth, length, or perimeter/circumference). The twelve effects of āya may all be assumed as auspicious.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Vāstu-śāstra
Vastushastra book cover
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Vastushastra (वास्तुशास्त्र, vāstuśāstra) refers to the ancient Indian science (shastra) of architecture (vastu), dealing with topics such architecture, sculpture, town-building, fort building and various other constructions. Vastu also deals with the philosophy of the architectural relation with the cosmic universe.

Vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar)

Śāstra (शास्त्र).—Scientific treatment of a subject; a system of thoughts giving a scientific treatment of any subject. The word is applied to the rules of Panini and sometimes to an individual rule; cf. शास्त्रबाध (śāstrabādha) or अशास्त्रबाध (aśāstrabādha) or विप्रतिषेधशास्त्र (vipratiṣedhaśāstra),frequently used by the commentators; cf. न हि संदेहादलक्षणं शास्त्रामित्यर्थः (na hi saṃdehādalakṣaṇaṃ śāstrāmityarthaḥ) Nagesa's Par. Sek. on Pari. 1; cf. पदान्तादिष्वेव विकारशास्त्रम् (padāntādiṣveva vikāraśāstram) R.Pr.II.2.

(Source): Wikisource: A dictionary of Sanskrit grammar
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Vyakarana (व्याकरण, vyākaraṇa) refers to Sanskrit grammar and represents one of the six additional sciences (vedanga) to be studied along with the Vedas. Vyakarana concerns itself with the rules of Sanskrit grammar and linguistic analysis in order to establish the correct context of words and sentences.

Jyotisha (astronomy and astrology)

Śāstra (शास्त्र).—Learned discipline, science. Note: Śāstra is a Sanskrit technical term used in ancient Indian sciences such as Astronomy, Mathematics and Geometry.

(Source): Wikibooks (hi): Sanskrit Technical Terms
Jyotisha book cover
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Jyotiṣa (ज्योतिष, jyotisha or jyotish) basically refers to ‘astronomy’ or “Vedic astrology” and represents one of the six additional sciences to be studied along with the Vedas. Jyotiṣa concerns itself with the study and prediction of the movements of celestial bodies, in order to calculate the auspicious time for rituals and ceremonies.

Dharmashastra (religious law)

Śāstra (शास्त्र) refers to “learned disciplines” and formed part of the ancient Indian education system, which aimed at both the inner and the outer dimension of a person. The Śāstra are classified into apaurūṣeya (disciplines dealing with knowledge not contingent on individuals) and paurūṣeya (disciplines whose knowledge is contingent on the individual).

(Source): Knowledge Traditions & Practices of India: Education: Systems & Practices
Dharmashastra book cover
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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.

Discover the meaning of shastra or sastra in the context of Dharmashastra from relevant books on Exotic India

General definition (in Hinduism)

Śāstra is Sanskrit for rules in a general sense. The word is generally used as a suffix in the context of technical or specialized knowledge in a defined area of practice; e.g.

  • Bhautika Shastra (physics),
  • Rasayana Shastra (chemistry),
  • Jeeva Shastra (biology),
  • Vastu Shastra (architectural science),
  • Shilpa Shastra (science of sculpture),
  • Artha Shastra (economics),
  • and Neeti Shastra (political science).

In Buddhism, a shastra is often a commentary written at a later date to explain an earlier scripture or sutra.

In Hinduism sutra denotes a distinct type of literary composition, based on short aphoristic statements, generally using various technical terms.

A bearer of Shastra or the holder of this sacred knowledge is called Shashtradhari (Sanskrit: शास्त्रधारी, śāstradhārī).

(Source): WikiPedia: Hinduism

Śāstra (शास्त्र).—A linguistic analysis of the term śāstra itselî reveals just as much. The term derives from √śās, meaning “to teach,instruct, chastise, punish, correct,” and also “to order, command, role, govern.” Its syntactic derivation, in the Pāṇinian grammatical system, is explained as the addition of the suffix ‘tra’ to the verbal root, indicated by the kṛtpratyaya, “primary affix” (or “formative element”), ‘ṣṭran.’ The primary meaning of this suffix is instrumentality, that is, “the means by which an action is performed or carried to completion” (Richard Hayes, Continuing Sanskrit: Saṃskṛtabhāṣāpravartanam, Chapter 4, “Kṛt-pratyaya-niruktiḥ: Deriving nouns and adjectives from verbal roots,” p. 63).

The lexicographer V. S. Apte gives the semantic derivation of the neuter noun śāstram, from the verbal raot √śās as śiṣyate ’nena, which means “[that which is] taught without blemish” (Apte, A Practical Sanskrit-English Dictionary, p. 1549).

(Source): McGill: The architectural theory of the Mānasāra (hinduism)

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

śastra (शस्त्र).—n (S) A weapon. 2 A weapon figuratively, that in which one's prevalence or power consists;--as learning, beauty, sanctity, the pen &c. Applied also to any thing considered as the masterer, match, vanquisher, antidote &c., of any other thing. śa0 tuḷaṇēṃ or tōlaṇēṃ To point or set or hold in position one's weapon: also to wave or brandish it. śa0 dharaṇēṃ with vara of o. To take up arms against.

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śāstra (शास्त्र).—n (S) Institutes of religion, law, or letters; esp. as considered as of divine origin or authority; scripture. Ex. of comp. śāstramaryādā, śāstra- rīti, śāstramārga, śāstrapratipādita, śāstrābhyāsa, śāstrajña, śāstrajñāna, śāstratatva. Used singly it implies works of religion, literature, or science in general, or treatises upon the arts: it is therefore customarily connected with some other word to limit its application; as vēdāntaśāstra, dharmaśāstra, kāvyaśāstra, śilpaśāstra, kāmaśāstra, nyāyaśāstra, vyākaraṇaśāstra &c., the or a treatise or system of philosophical theology; the or a book of laws; a work on poetry; a work on the mechanical arts &c. 2 A treatise, disquisition, or book in general. śāstrāsa asaṇēṃ or śāstrācā or śāstra tā (asaṇēṃ- nasaṇēṃ &c.) To be enough indeed for the supplying, serving, or fulfilling of any matter or point required by the Shastra but without excess beyond; to exist in just sufficient quantity, or to be performed with just sufficient definiteness of action, as to warrant the name or designation borne, and to preclude disallowal of its existence or its performance; to be enough to swear by. Used of articles, substances, and actions. Ex. hā āpalā ugīca śāstrāsa cākū āhē hyānēṃ bōṭa dēkhīla kāpaṇāra nāhīṃ; āja gharānta śāstrāsa sākhara nāhīṃ maga śērabhara dēūṃ kuṭhalī; śāstrāsa snāna jhālēṃ kharēṃ malaśuddhi tī nirāḷī.

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

śastra (शस्त्र).—n A weapon. śastradharaṇēṃ Take up arms against.

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śāstra (शास्त्र).—n Institutes of religion, law, or letters. Science in general. A treatise. śāstrāsa asaṇēṃ or śāstrācā or śāstrāpuratāṃ (asaṇēṃ nasaṇēṃ &c.) To exist in just sufficient quantity or to be performed with just sufficient definiteness of action, as to warrant the name or designation borne, and to preclude disallowal of its existence or its performance. Ex. hā āpalā ugīca śāstrāsa cāku āhē, hyānēṃ bōṭa dēkhila kāpaṇāra nāhīṃ.

(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.

Sanskrit-English dictionary

Śastra (शस्त्र).—[śas-ṣṭran]

1) A weapon, arms; क्षमाशस्त्रं करे यस्य दुर्जनः किं करिष्यति (kṣamāśastraṃ kare yasya durjanaḥ kiṃ kariṣyati) Subhāṣ; R.2.4;3.51,52;5.28.

2) An instrument, a tool in general.

3) Iron; गृहीतशस्त्राः क्रोशन्ति चर्मिणो वाजिपृष्ठगाः (gṛhītaśastrāḥ krośanti carmiṇo vājipṛṣṭhagāḥ) Mb.6.2.29.

4) Steel.

5) A hymn of praise (stotra).

6) Repetition, recitation.

Derivable forms: śastram (शस्त्रम्).

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Śāstra (शास्त्र).—[śiṣyate'nena śās-ṣṭran]

1) An order, a command, rule, precept; अतिक्रामति यः शास्त्रं पितुर्धर्मार्थदर्शिनः (atikrāmati yaḥ śāstraṃ piturdharmārthadarśinaḥ) Mb.5.148. 21.

2) A sacred precept or rule, scriptural injunction; तस्माच्छास्त्रं प्रमाणं ते कार्याकार्यव्यवस्थितौ (tasmācchāstraṃ pramāṇaṃ te kāryākāryavyavasthitau) Bg.16.24.

3) A religious or sacred treatise, sacred book, scripture; see comps. below.

4) Any department of knowledege, science; इति गुह्यतमं शास्त्रम् (iti guhyatamaṃ śāstram) Bg.15.2; शास्त्रेष्वकुण्ठिता बुद्धिः (śāstreṣvakuṇṭhitā buddhiḥ) R.1.19; often at the end of comp. after the word denoting the subject, or applied collectively to the whole body of teaching on that subject; वेदान्तशास्त्र, न्यायशास्त्र, तर्कशास्त्र, अलंकार- शास्त्र (vedāntaśāstra, nyāyaśāstra, tarkaśāstra, alaṃkāra- śāstra) &c.

5) What is learnt, knowledge; Śi.5.47.

6) A work, treatise; तन्त्रैः पञ्चभिरेतच्चकार सुमनोहरं शास्त्रकम् (tantraiḥ pañcabhiretaccakāra sumanoharaṃ śāstrakam) Pt.1.

7) Theory (opp. prayoga or practice); इमं मां च शास्त्रे प्रयोगे च विमृशतु (imaṃ māṃ ca śāstre prayoge ca vimṛśatu) M.1.

8) The material and spiritual science together; तत्त्वाभेदेन यच्छास्त्रं तत्कार्यं नान्यथाविधम् (tattvābhedena yacchāstraṃ tatkāryaṃ nānyathāvidham) Mb. 12.267.9.

Derivable forms: śāstram (शास्त्रम्).

(Source): DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

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

Relevant definitions

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