Stupa, aka: Stūpa; 8 Definition(s)


Stupa means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, the history of ancient India. 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.

In Hinduism

Vastushastra (architecture)

[Stupa in Vastushastra glossaries]

Stūpa (स्तूप, “relic mounds”) are a type of constructed temples dating back to the time of Buddha (6th century BCE). Originally the stūpas were made of bricks and surrounded by a wooden railing, then were enlarged and elaborated over centuries to magnificent complexes during the period of different empires and dynasties—Maurya empire, Śuṅga dynasty, Andhra period and Kuṣāṇ period.

(Source): Knowledge Traditions & Practices of India: Architecture (1): Early and Classical Architecture
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.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

[Stupa in Hinduism glossaries]

1) Stupa (स्तुप) means ‘tuft of hair’ in the Vājasaneyi-saṃhitā and the Śatapatha-brāhmaṇa (i. 3, 3, 5; iii. 5, 3, 4). See Stukā.

2) Stūpa (स्तूप) in the Rigveda and later denotes the ‘top-knot’ of hair as designating the upper part of the head.

(Source): Vedic index of Names and Subjects

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

[Stupa in Theravada glossaries]
Originally, a tumulus or burial mound enshrining relics of a holy person - such as the Buddha - or objects associated with his life. Over the centuries this has developed into the tall, spired monuments familiar in temples in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Burma; and into the pagodas of China, Korea, and Japan.(Source): Access to Insight: A Glossary of Pali and Buddhist Terms
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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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General definition (in Buddhism)

[Stupa in Buddhism glossaries]
Sanskrit word means burial mound, which contains the ashes or relics of an enlightened being. In China, it appears as pagoda, representing the place where Buddha "lives".(Source): Buddhist Door: Glossary

A stupa (stupa, literally meaning "heap") is a mound like structure containing Buddhist relics, once thought to be places of Buddhist worship, typically the remains of a Buddha or saint. In other Asian languages such monuments are called.

  • chorten (Tibetan, "dharma place/seat")
  • chedi (Thai, from the Pali chaitya)
  • dagobah (Sinhalese, from the Sanskrit dhatu)
  • tope (Hindi, from the Sanskrit)
  • garbha (Sanskrit, meaning a storehouse or repository)

After "stupa", "chorten" is the most commonly encountered English term. The term "reliquary" is sometimes used, after a Roman Catholic functional equivalent.

(Source): WikiPedia: Buddhism

Stūpa Skt. (Pali, thūpa; Sinh., dagoba; Tib., chöten), lit., “hair knot”; characteristic expres­sion of Buddhist architecture, one of the main symbols of Buddhism and a focal point in tem­ples and monasteries.

Originally stūpas were memorial monuments over the mortal remains of the his­torical Buddha and other saints. They also served, however, as symbolic reminders of vari­ous decisive events in the life of Shākya­muni Buddha. Thus stūpas were built at Lumbinī, Bodh-gayā, Kushinagara, Sārnāth, and so on. At the latest by the time of King Ashoka (3d century BCE) the venera­tion of saints had become a general custom; the stūpas from his time are still preserved.

Not every stūpa contains relics in the proper sense; in their place sacred texts and representa­tions are also enshrined, which confer their sa­credness on the stūpa. Stūpas are often purely symbolic structures; examples are Borobudur and the three-dimensional mandalas of Tibet.

The veneration of stūpas, in which the Bud­dha is “present,” has been known since the early period of Buddhism. Such veneration is usually expressed by circumambulating the stūpa in the direction of the sun’s course but also through other forms of worship (pūjā). It is not, how­ever, the relics themselves that are venerated; rather the stūpa serves as a support for medita­tion and as a symbolic reminder of the awak­ened state of mind.

(Source): Shambala Publications: General

India history and geogprahy

[Stupa in India history glossaries]

Stupa, also called dagoba and cetiya, is considered an outstanding type of architectural creation of ancient Sri Lanka. Under the influence of Buddhism, there were several changes in the field of architecture in Sri Lanka. The stupa commands a prominent place among these changes. The Stupa is also known by synonymous names such as chaithya, dagaba, thupa, seya and vehera. Stupas designed and constructed in Sri Lanka are the largest brick structures known to the pre-modern world.

(Source): Wikipedia: India History
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

Sanskrit-English dictionary

[Stupa in Sanskrit glossaries]

Stūpa (स्तूप).—

1) A heap, pile, mound (of earth &c.); बटुभिरुपहृतानां बर्हिषां स्तूपमेतत् (baṭubhirupahṛtānāṃ barhiṣāṃ stūpametat) Mu.3.15.

2) A Buddhistic monument, or kind of Tope erected for keeping sacred relics, as those of Buddha.

3) A funeral pile.

4) Strength, power.

Derivable forms: stūpaḥ (स्तूपः).

(Source): DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
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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. 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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