Uposatha, Upoṣatha, Uposhatha, Uposathā: 12 definitions


Uposatha 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.

The Sanskrit term Upoṣatha can be transliterated into English as Uposatha or Uposhatha, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

Source: Access to Insight: A Glossary of Pali and Buddhist TermsObservance day, corresponding to the phases of the moon, on which Buddhist lay people gather to listen to the Dhamma and to observe special precepts. On the new moon and full moon uposatha days monks assemble to recite the Patimokkha rules.Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

1. Uposatha - King, son of Varakalyana and an ancestor of the Sakyan tribe. His son was Mandhata (Dpv.iii.4). He was one of the kings at the beginning of the kappa (J.ii.311; iii.454). In the Digha Commentary (DA.i.258) he is given as the son of Varamandhata and the father of Cara. In the northern texts he is called Uposadha. Mtu.i.348; Divy.210.

2. Uposatha - The name of the Elephant Treasure of the Cakkavatti Mahasudassana. He was all white, sevenfold firm (sattappatittha), wonderful in power, flying through the sky. (D.ii.174; M.iii.173f). In the Lalita Vistara his name is given as Bodhi.

Uposatha is also the name of a tribe of elephants, the ninth in a series of ten tribes, of ascending importance (DA.ii.573; UdA.403). It is said that a cakkavattis elephant belongs either to the Chaddanta tribe or to the Uposatha. If a Chaddanta elephant comes to a cakkavatti, it is the youngest of the tribe that comes, if an Uposatha elephant, then it will be the foremost (DA.ii.624; J.iv.232, 234; KhA.172). When the cakkavatti dies, the elephant goes back to his fellows (DA.ii.635). The strength of an Uposatha elephant is equal to that of one thousand million men (BuA.37). In the Milindapanha (p.282), the king of the Uposatha elephants is described as being gentle and handsome, eight cubits in height and nine in girth and length, chewing signs of rut in three places on his body, all white, sevenfold firm. Just as this elephant could never be put into a cow pen or covered with a saucer, so could no one keep as slaves the children of Vessantara.

3. Uposatha - Known as Uposatha kumara. The eldest of the ninety nine brothers of Samvara, king of Benares. When Samvara ascended the throne, his brothers protested and laid siege to his city; but Uposatha, having discovered by means of questions put to Samvara, that he was in character by far the best suited for kingship, persuaded the others to renounce their claims to the throne. Uposatha is identified with Sariputta. J.iv.133ff.

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A pious lay devotee of Saketa. She did many deeds of merit, and was born in Tavatimsa, her abode being known as the Uposatha vimana. It is said that she was known in Saketa as Uposatha, because of the life she led. She expresses to Moggallana her remorse that she should have desired to be born in Nandana vana, instead of listening to the Buddhas teaching and putting an end to all birth. Vv.20f; VvA.115f.

Source: Dhamma Dana: Pali English Glossary

M Reading of the rules of patimokkha within the sima at every full moon and each new moon.

This term does also define the practice of the five or ten precepts that some laity do observe on full, new and half moon days.

Source: Pali Kanon: Manual of Buddhist Terms and Doctrines

lit. 'fasting', i.e. 'fasting day',

  • is the full-moon day,
  • the new-moon day,
  • and the two days of the first and last moon-quarters.

On full-moon and new-moon days, the Disciplinary Code, the Pātimokkha, is read before the assembled community of monks (bhikkhu), while on the mentioned 4 moon-days many of the faithful lay devotees go to visit the monasteries, and there take upon themselves the observance of the 8 rules (attha-sīla; sikkhāpada). See A.VIII.41ff.

Source: Pali Kanon: Fundamentals of Vipassanā Meditation

In the time of the Buddha there was a girl called Uposatha at Saketa, which lies in Kosala region in Central India. She lived by the teachings of the Buddha and became a Stream winner. When she died she was born in Tavatimsa heaven. There she lived in a magnificent palace.

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).

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Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

Uposatha (उपोसथ) is a Pali word similar to Upavasatha (i.e., the day preceding the lunar quarters, a sacred weekly day or Sabbath), according to the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter XXII.—Accordingly, In the Vedas, upavasatha is the day of preparation preceding the Soma sacrifice. The word has passed into Buddhism, not without having gone through transformations: in Pāli, uposatha; in Sanskrit, upoṣadha (Mahāvastu; Avadānakalpalatā), and, more frequently, poṣadha (cf. Lalitavistara; Divyāvadāna; Mahāvyutpatti, no. 9101, 9287). In Jaina Prakrit, there is posaha. Hence the tradtitional Tibetan translation gso-sbyoṅ “that which nourishes (gso = poṣa) the merits and which washes (sbyoṅ = dhav) sins”. The person who is practicing upavāsa is called upoṣadhika (cf. Mahāvastu), poṣadhika (cf. Mahāvyutpatti, no. 8726), poṣadhoṣita (cf. Divyāvadāna) or upavāsastha (cf. Kośa).

Mahayana book cover
context information

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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General definition (in Buddhism)

Source: Wisdom Library: Buddhism

Uposatha (उपोसथ) (son of Varakalyāna and father of Mandhātu) is the name of an ancient king from the Solar dynasty (sūryavaṃśa) and a descendant of Mahāsaṃmata, according to the Dīpavaṃśa and the Mahāvaṃśa. Uposatha is also mentioned in the Mahābuddhavaṃsa or Maha Buddhavamsa (the great chronicle of Buddhas) Anudīpanī chapter 1, compiled by Ven. Mingun Sayadaw. The twenty-seven kings [viz., Uposatha] after Mahāsammata were his descendants. Some of these twenty-eight kings reigned in Kusavatī City, others in Rājagaha and still others in Mithilā.

Uposatha is known as Upoṣadha according to the Mahāvastu of the Mahāsaṃghikas (and the Lokottaravāda school). Uposatha is known as Utpoṣadha according to the Dulva (the Tibetan translation of the Vinaya of the Sarvāstivādins). These twenty-eight kings were of long lives of asaṅkhyeyya (asaṃkhyeya) years.

India history and geography

Source: archive.org: Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society 1963

Uposatha is the name of a house that formed a principal part of the Cetiyapabbata Vihāra: a locality that once existed in the ancient kingdom of Anurādhapura, Ceylon (Sri Lanka).—Kuṭakaṇṇa Tissa (B.C. 44-22) also built a great Uposatha House and he planted a Bodhi Tree. In the reign of Kaṇirajānutissa (29-32) there was a lawsuit over the Uposatha House and the king had thrown down to death on the Kanīra precipice 60 bhikkhus who were involved in treason

Source: Shodhganga: Ajanta’s antiquity

Upoṣatha refers to an “observance day” within traditional Buddhism, occurring on full moon, new moon, and quarter moon days.—The four monthly holy days which continue to be observed in Theravada countries - the new moon, full moon, and quarter moon days. Known in Sri Lanka as Poya Day.Devaṣeṇa (r. 455-480 CE) is a king from the Eastern Vākāṭakas (Nandivardhana branch) dynasty of ancient India. During the rule of the Vākāṭakas (founded by Vindhyaśakti), there was a burst of patronage and creative energy directed at the Ajantā caves at West-Khandesh (West-Khaṇḍeśa, modern Jalgaon) that existed since the 3rd century BCE. During this time the region was ruled by kings (e.g., Devaṣeṇa) and descendants of the Sātavāhana lineage. Devaṣeṇa was preceded by Sarvaṣeṇa II and succeeded by Hariṣeṇa.

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 mythology, zoology, 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

Pali-English dictionary

[«previous next»] — Uposatha in Pali glossary
Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

uposatha : (m.) Sabbath day; observance of 8 precepts; biweekly recitation of the Vinaya rules by a chapter of Buddhist monks.

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary

Uposatha, (Vedic upavasatha, the eve of the Soma sacrifice, day of preparation). At the time of the rise of Buddhism the word had come to mean the day preceding four stages of the moon’s waxing and waning, viz. 1st, 8th, 15th, 23d nights of the lunar month that is to say, a weekly sacred day, a Sabbath. These days were utilized by the pre-Buddhistic reforming communities for the expounding of their views, Vin. I, 101. The Buddhists adopted this practice and on the 15th day of the half-month held a chapter of the Order to expound their dhamma, ib. 102. They also utilized one or other of these Up. days for the recitation of the Pāṭimokkha (pāṭimokkhuddesa), ibid. On Up. days laymen take upon themselves the Up. vows, that is to say, the eight Sīlas, during the day. See Sīla. The day in the middle of the month is called cātudassiko or paṇṇarasiko according as the month is shorter or longer. The reckoning is not by the month (māsa), but by the half-month (pakkha), so the twenty-third day is simply aṭṭhamī, the same as the eighth day. There is an accasional Up. called sāmaggi-uposatho, “reconciliation-Up. ”, which is held when a quarrel among the fraternity has been made up, the Gen. confession forming as it were a seal to the reconciliation (Vin. V, 123; Mah. 42).—Vin. I, 111, 112, 175, 177; II, 5, 32, 204, 276; III, 164, 169; D. III, 60, 61, 145, 147; A. I, 205 sq. (3 uposathas: gopālaka°, nigaṇṭha°, ariya°), 208 (dhamm°), 211 (devatā°); IV, 248 (aṭṭhaṅga-samannāgata), 258 sq. (id.), 276, 388 (navah aṅgehi upavuttha); V, 83; Sn. 153 (pannaraso u); Vbh. 422; Vism. 227 (°sutta = A. I, 206 sq.); Sdhp. 439; DA. I, 139; SnA 199; VvA. 71, 109; PvA. 66, 201.—The hall or chapel in the monastery in which the Pāṭimokkha is recited is called uposathaggaṃ (Vin. III, 66), or °āgāraṃ (Vin. I, 107; DhA. II, 49). The Up. service is called °kamma (Vin. I, 102; V, 142; J. I, 232; III, 342, 444; DhA. I, 205). uposathaṃ karoti to hold the Up. service (Vin. I, 107, 175, 177; J. I, 425). Keeping the Sabbath (by laymen) is called uposathaṃ upavasati (A. I, 142, 144, 205, 208; IV, 248; see upavasati), or uposathavāsaṃ vasati (J. V, 177). The ceremony of a layman taking upon himself the eight sīlas is called uposathaṃ samādiyati (see sīlaṃ & samādiyati); uposatha-sīla observance of the Up. (VvA. 71). The Up. day or Sabbath is also called uposatha-divasa (J. III, 52). (Page 150)

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.

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Sanskrit dictionary

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary

Upoṣatha (उपोषथ).—name of a nāga king: MPS 34.132.

context information

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