Shunya, aka: Śūnya, Śūnyā, Śunya; 10 Definition(s)


Shunya 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 Śūnya and Śūnyā and Śunya can be transliterated into English as Sunya or Shunya, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Śūnyā (शून्या, “vacant”) refers to a specific “glance” (dṛṣṭi), according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 8. This is a type of glance that expresses a ‘transitory state’ (saṃcāribhāva). There are a total thirty-six glances defined.

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

A type of glance (or facial expression): Śūnya (vacant): eyelids level, pupils visible, motionless, gaze vacant. Usage: misunderstanding (bāhyārtha-grahaṇa).

Source: The mirror of gesture (abhinaya-darpana)

Śūnyā (शून्या).—A type of glance (dṛṣṭi) expressing a transitory state (saṃcāribhāva);—The Glance which is weak and motionless and in which the eyeballs and the eyelids are in ordinary position (lit. level), and which turns to the space and is not attentive to external objects is called Śūnyā (vacant).

Uses of Śūnyā (vacant)—in anxiety and paralysis (motionlessness).

Source: Natya Shastra
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).

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Jyotisha (astronomy and astrology)

Śunya (शुन्य).—Void. Note: Śunya 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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Jyotisha (ज्योतिष, jyotiṣa or jyotish) refers to ‘astronomy’ or “Vedic astrology” and represents the fifth of the six Vedangas (additional sciences to be studied along with the Vedas). Jyotisha concerns itself with the study and prediction of the movements of celestial bodies, in order to calculate the auspicious time for rituals and ceremonies.

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In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Śūnya (शून्य, “empty”) refers to one of the eight kinds of contemplations (anupaśyanā) among the Buddha’s disciples, according to the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter XVI). Accordingly, “for them, everything is impermanent (anitya), suffering (duḥkha), empty (śūnya), egoless (anātmaka), like a sickness (roga), an ulcer (gaṇḍa), like an arrow (śalya) stuck in one’s body, like an agony (agha)”.

Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
Mahayana book cover
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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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India history and geogprahy

Śūnya.—(IE 7-1-2), ‘cypher’. Note: śūnya is defined in the “Indian epigraphical glossary” as it can be found on ancient inscriptions commonly written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or Dravidian languages.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Indian Epigraphical Glossary
India history book cover
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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.

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Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

śūnya (शून्य).—n (S) Voidness, vacancy, inanity, emptiness, nihility or nothingness: also a void or vacuum, the profundum or inane. 2 (Because represents emptiness.) A cipher. Applied also (from the circularity of its form) to the dot of the anu- svāra & visarga; and to a dot more generally. 3 Shy or space, the profundum or inane.

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śūnya (शून्य).—a (S) Void, vacant, empty, destitute, wanting. In this sense, although not confined to composition, śūnya most frequently and approvedly occurs thus; as dravyaśūnya, jñānaśūnya, yuktiśūnya, artha- śūnya, jalaśūnya, śaktiśūnya, vṛkṣaśūnya, puṣpaśūnya, parṇaśūnya. 2 Bare, naked, unfurnished, drearily or disagreeably empty or void. 3 Desolate or desert. Ex. śūnyamandira, śūnyagṛha, śūnyaprānta, śūnyasthala. 4 Benumbed or of lost sensation. śūnyasthānīṃ paḍaṇēṃ To be lost or wasted; to be cast upon the sands, given to the winds &c. Ex. jaisēṃ annēṃ kēlīṃ svādiṣṭa || pari jēvaṇāra tē rōgiṣṭa || tariṃ tē sugariṇīcē kaṣṭa || śūnyasthānīṃ paḍiyēlē ||.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

śūnya (शून्य).—n Voidness. A cipher; a dot. The profundum. a Void, vacant, empty, destitute. Frequently in com. as dravyaśūnya. Bare. Desolate. Of lest sensation.

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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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Śunya (शुन्य).—a. Empty.

-nyam 1 A number of bitches.

2) A cypher; (more properly śūnya q. v.).

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Śūnya (शून्य).—a. [śūnāyai prāṇivadhāya hitaṃ rahasyasthānatvāt yat Tv.]

1) Empty, void.

2) Vacant (applied also to the heart, glances &c.), absent, listless; गमनमलसं शून्या दृष्टिः (gamanamalasaṃ śūnyā dṛṣṭiḥ) Māl. 1.17; see शून्यहृदय (śūnyahṛdaya) below.

3) Non-existent.

4) Lonely, desolate, secluded, deserted; शून्येषु शूरा न के (śūnyeṣu śūrā na ke) K. P.7; Bk.6.9; शून्यं मन्ये जगदविरतज्वालमन्तर्ज्वलामि (śūnyaṃ manye jagadaviratajvālamantarjvalāmi) U.3. 38; M¯l.9.2.

5) Dejected, downcast, dispirited; शून्या जगाम भवनाभमुखी कथंचित् (śūnyā jagāma bhavanābhamukhī kathaṃcit) Ku.3.75; Ki.17.39.

6) Utterly devoid or deprived of, without, wanting in (with instr. or in comp.); अङ्गुलीयकशून्या मे अङ्गुलिः (aṅgulīyakaśūnyā me aṅguliḥ) Ś. 5; दया°, ज्ञान° (dayā°, jñāna°), &c.

7) Indifferent.

8) Guileless.

9) Nonsensical, unmeaning; मुहुरविशदवर्णां निद्रया शून्यशून्याम् (muhuraviśadavarṇāṃ nidrayā śūnyaśūnyām) Śi.11.4.

1) Bare, naked.

-nyam 1 A vacuum, void, blank.

2) The sky, space, atmosphere.

3) A cipher, dot.

4) Non-entity, (absolute) non-existence; दूषण- शून्यबिन्दवः (dūṣaṇa- śūnyabindavaḥ) N.1.21.

5) Name of Brahman.

6) An earring; शून्यकर्णः (śūnyakarṇaḥ) Amaru.

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Śūnyā (शून्या).—

1) A hollow reed.

2) A barren woman.

3) The prickly pear.

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Śunya (शुन्य).—mfn.

(-nyaḥ-nyā-nyaṃ) Empty, void. n.

(-nyaṃ) 1. A number of dogs. 2. A eipher. E. śvan a dog, and vat aff., the vowel substituted for the semi-vowel; more commonly śūnya .

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Śūnya (शून्य).—mfn.

(-nyaḥ-nyā-nyaṃ) 1. Empty, void. 2. Lonely, desert. 3. Vacant. 4. Dovoid of. 5. Indifferent. 6. Guileless. 7. Absent-minded. 8. Nonsensical. 9. Naked, bare. n.

(-nyaṃ) 1. Heaven, sky, æther. 2. A dot, a spot. 3. A cipher. 4. A vacuum. 5. Non-entity. f.

(-nyā) 1. A hollow reed. 2. The prickly-pear. 3. A barren woman. E. śuna a dog, yata aff. of fitness, and the vowel substituted for the semi-vowel, and made optionally long.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara 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.

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Relevant definitions

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