Stupa, Stūpa: 15 definitions

Introduction

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.

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In Hinduism

Vastushastra (architecture)

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

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.

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)

Source: archive.org: Vedic index of Names and Subjects

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.

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

Source: Access to Insight: A Glossary of Pali and Buddhist TermsOriginally, 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.
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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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Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

Source: archive.org: The Indian Buddhist Iconography

Stūpa (स्तूप) represents the “the embodiment of the Buddhist Universe”, according to Vajrayāna or Tibetan Buddhism.—Besides the sacred symbols connected with Buddha’s life and teachings, worship was offered by the Buddhists to numerous other objects. One of the most important among these objects is the Stūpa which is regarded as the embodiment of the Buddhist Universe with all the heavens as conceived in Buddhism. The stūpas received worship even in the life-time of the Buddha and continued throughout the centuries after his Māhaparinirvāṇa. Such stūpas are found in abundance in the Buddhist countries.

A few celebrated stūpas in Nepal are [...] the Stūpas of the Svayambhūnātha (vulgo-Śimbhu), the Bodhnāth and Kaṭhe Śimbhu. Besides the Stūpas, the Three Jewels of Buddhism, known by the names of the Buddha, Dharma and Saṅgha were conceived in the form of deities and worship was freely offered to them by the Buddhists in both symbolic and human forms. [...] Out of the three,one Dharma is a goddess.

Tibetan Buddhism book cover
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Tibetan Buddhism includes schools such as Nyingma, Kadampa, Kagyu and Gelug. Their primary canon of literature is divided in two broad categories: The Kangyur, which consists of Buddha’s words, and the Tengyur, which includes commentaries from various sources. Esotericism and tantra techniques (vajrayāna) are collected indepently.

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General definition (in Buddhism)

Source: Buddhist Door: GlossarySanskrit 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: WikiPedia: Buddhism

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: Shambala Publications: General

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.

India history and geogprahy

Source: Wikipedia: India History

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: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Indian Epigraphical Glossary

Stūpa.—(CII 3; BL; LL), technical name of a type of Buddhist monument; a Buddhist structure enshrining relics. Sometimes the term ratna-gṛha (i. e. the house enshrining the three ratnas or the best amongst the three) seems to be used to denote a stūpa. (EI 2), a Jain religious establishment. (SITI), pinnacle of a temple. Note: stūpa is defined in the “Indian epigraphical glossary” as it can be found on ancient inscriptions commonly written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or Dravidian languages.

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

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

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: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary

Stūpa (स्तूप).—m. (1) (rarely nt.; = Pali thūpa, AMg. thūbha, rarely thūva; Sanskrit Lex., in lit. only Buddh. and Jain), relic-mound, tope: Mahāvyutpatti 6999; Saddharmapuṇḍarīka 239.1 ff.; Mahāvastu ii.287.3; 363.16; Avadāna-śataka i.119.7; °pa-bimbāni Kāraṇḍavvūha 13.11; 36.19; °pa- bhedanam Mahāvyutpatti 2334, one of the upānantarīya, q.v.; °pa-bhedaka Kāraṇḍavvūha 94.23; common everywhere; as nt., stūpaṃ kāritaṃ (n. sg.) Mahāvastu i.61.1; (2) (Pali, see next but one) turret or pinnacle of a building, in prākārapari- khādvāra-stūpābhinigūḍhaḥ Avadāna-śataka ii.115.8, see Speyer's note.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Stūpa (स्तूप).—m.

(-paḥ) 1. A heap, a pile of earth, &c. 2. A funeral pile. 3. A Bud'dhistic construction for keeping holy relics. E. ṣṭūp to heap, aff. ac; or ṣṭu to praise, pak Unadi aff., and the vowel made long.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Stupa (स्तुप):—[from stu] m. (cf. stūpa) a knot or tuft of hair etc. (See stukā), [Vājasaneyi-saṃhitā; Śatapatha-brāhmaṇa]

2) Stūpa (स्तूप):—[from stu] a etc. See p. 1260, col. 1.

3) [from stūp] b m. ([according to] to [Sāyaṇa] [from] √styai [according to] to [Uṇādi-sūtra] [from] √3. stu; [probably] connected with stupa, under √3. stu) a knot or tuft of hair, the upper part of the head, crest, top, summit (cf. [Greek] στύπος), [Ṛg-veda; Taittirīya-saṃhitā]

4) [v.s. ...] [Pañcaviṃśa-brāhmaṇa]

5) [v.s. ...] a heap or pile of earth or bricks etc., ([especially]) a Buddhist monument, dagoba (generally of a pyramidal or dome-like form and erected over sacred relics of the great Buddha or on spots consecrated as the scenes of his acts), [Monier-Williams’ Buddhism 504]

6) [v.s. ...] any relic-shrine or relic-casket (made of various materials, such as terra cotta, clay, elaborately formed brick or carved stone; often very small and portable, and enclosing a fragment of bone or a hair etc. of some saint or deceased relative, or inscribed with a sacred formula; these are carried long distances and deposited in hallowed spots such as Buddha-Gayā), [Monier-Williams’ Buddhism 397, 504]

7) [v.s. ...] any heap, pile, mound, tope, [Hemādri’s Caturvarga-cintāmaṇi]

8) [v.s. ...] the main beam (of a house), [Āpastamba-gṛhya-sūtra]

9) [v.s. ...] ([cf. Lexicographers, esp. such as amarasiṃha, halāyudha, hemacandra, etc..also], ‘wind; fight; = kūla; = bala; = niṣprayojana’).

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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