Vajra, aka: Vajrā; 23 Definition(s)

Introduction

Vajra means something in Buddhism, Pali, 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.

In Hinduism

Shilpashastra (iconography)

[Vajra in Shilpashastra glossaries]

Vajra (वज्र, ‘thunderbolt’) is a weapon (āyudha or bādhra) according to the Vāstusūtra Upaniṣad.

(Source): Google Books: The Theory of Citrasutras in Indian Painting

Vajra is the thunder-bolt. This has a long history beginning from the Buddhistic period. In later Hindu mythology, it is shown in almost the same form which it had in earlier times. It is made up of two similar limbs, each having three claws resembling the claws of birds; and both its parts are connected together by the handle in the middle.

(Source): Google Books: Elements of Hindu iconography

Vajra (Thunderbolt) - Diamond wisdom — the ultimate truth as adamantine and indestructible, but which destroys all that is other than truth. Symbol of sovereignty and the Cosmic Order.

(Source): Red Zambala: Hindu Icons and Symbols | Introduction

Vajra (वज्र) is a Sanskrit technical term for one of the attributes held in the hands of the deities in sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses.—Vajra is the thunderbolt. It is made up of two similar limbs, each having three claws resembling the claws of birds and both its parts are connected together by the handle in the

(Source): Shodhganga: The significance of the Mula beras in the Hindu temples of Tamilnadu
Shilpashastra book cover
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Shilpashastra (शिल्पशास्त्र, śilpaśāstra) represents the ancient Indian science (shastra) of creative arts (shilpa) such as sculpture, iconography and painting. Closely related to Vastushastra (architecture), they often share the same literature.

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Purana

[Vajra in Purana glossaries]

Vajra (वज्र):—It is mentioned in the Ṛgveda mostly as a weapon of Indra. It is suggested that it was originally made of stone and later of bone. In later literature its use as a weapon becomes rare. The Vāyu-purāṇa uses it mostly in connection with Indra and Śiva. It, however, shows a stage when vajra as a weapon was proably no longer in use and the term was often metaphorically used.

(Source): Google Books: Cultural History from the Vāyu Purāna

1) Vajra (वज्र).—Son of Viśvāmitra. He was an expounder of Vedas. (Mahābhārata Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 4, Stanza 52).

2) Vajra (वज्र).—The son of Aniruddha, who was the grandson of Śrī Kṛṣṇa. Mention is made in Mahābhārata, Mausala Parva, Chapter 7, Stanza 72, that after the extermination of the Yādavas by the mausala fight (the fight with grass grown from the filings of the iron-pestle), Arjuna anointed Vajra as the King of the remaining Yādavas. When the Pāṇḍavas began the Mahāprasthāna (the great departure), Yudhiṣṭhira called Subhadrā and instructed her to look after Vajra with particular care. (Mahābhārata Mahā Prasthāna Parva, Chapter 1, Stanza 8).

(Source): archive.org: Puranic Encyclopaedia

1a) Vajra (वज्र).—Indra's thunderbolt; a weapon shaped out of Dadhīci's limbs by Viśvakarman for the use of Indra; with this Indra was able to break the back of the mountains. By this Vṛtra was slain. But it was of no use against Namuci; the embodiment of Brahmanical energy;1 from the tejas of the sun;2 a weapon of war;3 in the battle with Kṛṣṇa.4

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa VI. 10. 13; VIII. 11. 33-36; Matsya-purāṇa 7. 55; Vāyu-purāṇa 30. 235; 67. 103; 78. 53; Viṣṇu-purāṇa V. 20. 41.
  • 2) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 5. 69; IV. 19. 76 and 85; 37. 17. Matsya-purāṇa 11. 29.
  • 3) Ib. 135. 37, 54; 160. 9; 162. 31; 174. 42; 177. 13.
  • 4) Viṣṇu-purāṇa V. 30. 69; 31. 4.

1b) A son of Aniruddha and Subhadrā, and father of Pratibāhu: Installed king of Śūrasenas at Mathurā by Yudhiṣṭhira after Arjuna crowned him at Indraprastha after the decease of Kṛṣṇa.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. 90. 37-38; I. 15. 39; XI. 31. 25; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 15. 41-2; V. 32. 6; 37. 63-65.

1c) A thief of Kāñcī stole bit by bit from the city and stored the riches in a secret place in the neighbouring woods. A certain kirāta gathering fuel for sale observed this once and took a portion of the property home. His wife, charitably disposed, wanted to utilise it for digging wells and ponds. So a pond was constructed but before it was completed, all money had been spent. He got more of the thief's wealth and completed the embankment; built temples of Śiva and Viṣṇu, besides giving gifts to Brāhmaṇas who were pleased and renamed him and his wife as Dvijavarma and Śīlāvatī: He also built a town and named it after his Purohita, Devarāta. At his death, as he built all out of stolen wealth Nārada ruled that he should wander in air for 12 years, while his wife went to Brahmaloka. As she refused, she was advised to recite śatarudra and get her husband released from the sin of theft. When Vajra died he got half of Dvijavarman's virtue. Dvijavarman attained Kailāsa.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 7. 10-61.

1d) A son of Upasanga.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 47. 22.

1e) A son of Aśvasuta and Sutanu.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 96. 251; 109. 3.

2a) Vajrā (वज्रा).—A Varṇa Śakti.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 44. 60.

2b) A R. sacred to Lalitā.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 33. 29-33.
(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.

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Rasashastra (chemistry and alchemy)

[Vajra in Rasashastra glossaries]

Vajra (वज्र, “Diamond”):—One of the nine gems (navaratna) according to the 13th century Rasaprakāśasudhākara. It also known by the name Hirāka (हिराक).

It has several variations, such as:

  1. Puṃvajra (man, or, nara),
  2. Strīvajra (woman, or, nārī),
  3. and Napuṃsakavajra (neuter).

The diamonds of the same gender may be used the same gender person. If used otherwise means in different genders it may not give desired results except male diamonds. In the same way the diamonds of the same caste may be used in the same caste persons. This ruling is given by the lord ‘Bhairava’ and is applicable in the case of ratna group of drugs.

The Diamond (vajra) has Pharmaco-therapeutic properties and the vajra-bhasma is capable of destroying the prakopa of all the three doṣas, it is considered to give the āyu (longevity) and also considered as vṛṣyatama (best aphrodisiac). It always proves bandhakara (solidyfire) of rasendra (mercury) and may prevent the untimely death like that of śudhā (amṛta/nectar)

(Source): Wisdom Library: Rasa-śāstra

Vajra (वज्र) or Vajramūṣā refers to an “diamond crucible” and is a type of mūṣā (crucible) used for smelting metals.—Vajra-mūṣā was a specially made hard-crucible which contained specific proportion of the above ingredients. It was used for extraction of metals from ores, where moderate temperatures are needed. Also see Rasaratnasamuccaya 5.171, 230 and Rasārṇava 14.151.

(Source): Indian Journal of History of Science, 31(4), 1996: Mūṣāvijñāna
Rasashastra book cover
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Rasashastra (रसशास्त्र, rasaśāstra) is an important branch of Ayurveda, specialising in chemical interactions with herbs, metals and minerals. Some texts combine yogic and tantric practices with various alchemical operations. The ultimate goal of Rasashastra is not only to preserve and prolong life, but also to bestow wealth upon humankind.

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Ayurveda (science of life)

[Vajra in Ayurveda glossaries]

Vajrā (वज्रा) is another name for Balāka, which is a Sanskrit word referring to Pavonia odorata (fragement mallow plant), from the Malvaceae family. It is classified as a medicinal plant in the system of Āyurveda (science of Indian medicine) and is used throughout literature such as the Suśrutasaṃhita and the Carakasaṃhitā.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Āyurveda and botany
Ayurveda book cover
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Āyurveda (आयुर्वेद, ayurveda) is a branch of Indian science dealing with medicine, herbalism, taxology, anatomy, surgery, alchemy and related topics. Traditional practice of Āyurveda in ancient India dates back to at least the first millenium BC. Literature is commonly written in Sanskrit using various poetic metres.

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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

[Vajra in Natyashastra glossaries]

1) Vajra (वज्र) is a Sanskrit word referring to “thunderbolt”, the destroyer of daityas (demons). Acording to the Nāṭyaśāstra 1.82-88, when Brahmā, Indra and all other gods went to inspect the playhouse (nāṭyamaṇḍapa) designed by Viśvakarmā, he assigned different deities for the protection of the playhouse itself, as well as for the objects relating to dramatic performance (prayoga).

As such, Brahmā assigned Vajra to the Jarjara (Indra’s banner staf). The protection of the playhouse was enacted because of the jealous Vighnas (malevolent spirits), who began to create terror for the actors.

2) Vajra is to be worshipped during raṅgapūjā, according to the Nāṭyaśāstra 3.1-8. Accordingly, the master of the dramatic art who has been initiated for the purpose shall consecrate the playhouse after he has made obeisance (eg., to Vajra).

3) Vajra (वज्र) is a Sanskrit word referring to a “diamond”. When constructing the plinth of the stage (raṅgaśīrṣa), of a playhouse (nāṭyamaṇḍapa), there should be jewels and precious stones be placed underneath by expert builders, according to the Nāṭyaśāstra 2.72-74. Accordingly, diamond (vajra) is to be put in the east (pūrva).

4) Vajra (वज्र, “thunderbolt”) refers to ‘an adamant’: blunt response made to the face. Vajra represents one of the thirteen pratimukhasandhi, according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 21. Pratimukhasandhi refers to the “segments (sandhi) of the progressing part (pratimukha)” and represents one of the five segments of the plot (itivṛtta or vastu) of a dramatic composition (nāṭaka).

(Description of Vajra): “harsh words uttered on one’s face is called thunderbolt (vajra)”.

5) Vajra (वज्र) refers to one of the four limbs (aṅga) belonging to Prāveśikī type of song (dhruvā) defined in the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 32.9-16. Accordingly, “depending on different conditions, the dhruvās are known to be of five classes”.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra
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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Dhanurveda (science of warfare)

[Vajra in Dhanurveda glossaries]

Vajra (वज्र) refers to a weapon (“thunderbolt”). It is a Sanskrit word defined in the Dhanurveda-saṃhitā, which contains a list of no less than 117 weapons. The Dhanurveda-saṃhitā is said to have been composed by the sage Vasiṣṭha, who in turn transmitted it trough a tradition of sages, which can eventually be traced to Śiva and Brahmā.

The vajra should measure should measure four tālas (unit of measurement), according to Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 23. In dramatic plays, weapons such as vajra should be made by experts using proper measurements and given to persons engaged in a fight, angry conflict or siege. It forms a component of āhāryābhinaya (extraneous representation).

(Source): Wisdom Library: Dhanurveda
Dhanurveda book cover
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Dhanurveda (धनुर्वेद) refers to the “knowledge of warfare” and, as an upaveda, is associated with the Ṛgveda. It contains instructions on warfare, archery and ancient Indian martial arts, dating back to the 2nd-3rd millennium BCE.

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Chandas (prosody, study of Sanskrit metres)

[Vajra in Chandas glossaries]

Vajra (वज्र) is the name of a Sanskrit metre (chandas) to which Hemacandra (1088-1173 C.E.) assigned the alternative name of Madhu-karikā in his auto-commentary on the second chapter of the Chandonuśāsana. Hemacandra gives these alternative names for the metres by other authorities (like Bharata), even though the number of gaṇas or letters do not differ.

(Source): Shodhganga: a concise history of Sanskrit Chanda literature
Chandas book cover
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Chandas (छन्दस्) refers to Sanskrit prosody and represents one of the six Vedangas (auxiliary disciplines belonging to the study of the Vedas). The science of prosody (chandas-shastra) focusses on the study of the poetic meters such as the commonly known twenty-six metres mentioned by Pingalas.

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Itihasa (narrative history)

[Vajra in Itihasa glossaries]

Vajra (वज्र) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. XIII.4.51, XIII.4) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Vajra) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

Vajra also refers to the name of a Weapon mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.29.19).

(Source): JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
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Itihasa (इतिहास, itihāsa) refers to ‘epic history’ and represents a branch of Sanskrit literature which popularly includes 1) the eighteen major Puranas, 2) the Mahabharata and 3) the Ramayana. It is a branch of Vedic Hinduism categorised as smriti literature (‘that which is remembered’) as opposed to shruti literature (‘that which is transmitted verbally’).

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General definition (in Hinduism)

[Vajra in Hinduism glossaries]

Vajra (वज्र) is a Sanskrit word for a weapon translating to “thunderbolt”. Sculptures or other depictions of Hindu dieties are often seen holden this weapon in their hand.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Hinduism

Vajra (वज्र).—The great grandson of Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa. He became the king of Mathurā when Lord Kṛṣṇa left this world.

(Source): ISKCON Press: Glossary

In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

[Vajra in Mahayana glossaries]

1) Vajra (वज्र) refers to a type of jewel (ratna), into which the universe was transformed by the Buddha’s miraculous power (ṛddhibala) according to the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter XV).

Also, “These jewels (eg, vajra) are of three types, Human jewels (manuṣya-ratna), Divine jewels (divya-ratna) and Bodhisattva jewels (bodhisattva-ratna). These various jewels remove the poverty (dāridrya) and the suffering (duḥkha) of beings”.

2) Vajra (वज्र) according to the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter XLIX).—“The thunderbolt (vajra) at the top of a mountain (giryagra) gradually sinks down to the bottom of the diamond level (vajrabhūmi) and there, rejoining its own element (prakṛti or svabhāva), it stops. It is the same with dharmas: when one analyzes and explores them wisely, one reaches the very center of the tathatā and, on leaving this tathatā, one enters into the intrinsic nature (prakṛti or svabhāva).” (Notes:) The thunderbolt (vajra), cast by the powerful deities, strikes the summit of the mountains, passes through the earth (pṛthivī) and rejoins its natural element, the diamond level (vajrabhūmi) where it dissolves.

(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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(Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

[Vajra in Tibetan Buddhism glossaries]

Vajrā (वज्रा):—One of the six ‘Queens of Yoga’ projecting the rites of enrichment—The yellow bat-headed Vajrā holding a razor occupies the northwest petal of this chakra. The bat lives in dark caves, symbolising relatively unimportant dimly lit chakras. Here a nāḍī to the Liver centre is implied, and represents the flow of prāṇas that are the experiential gain from the field of desire. Generally this gain is relatively inconsequential as far as the development of wisdom is concerned because the person seeks to satiate the objective of desire over and over again. Pleasure is sought, as well as the consequential myriad karma-creating forms of emotional highs and lows. Ignorance is thus perpetuated, hence the bat flies in darkness,

(Source): Google Books: An Esoteric Exposition of the Bardo Thodol Part A

Vajra (वज्र).—The vajra is usually red in color, and sometimes described as blazing and adorned with shining streamers. It is generally five-pointed—the four jutting angles plus the central spoke—which are said in the Abhisamayamañjarī to symbolize “the five knowledges combined into one essence”. Vajravārāhī holds it outstretched, pointing her forefinger threateningly at all ignorance and evil. This is a gesture common among wrathful deities, who shake their weapons menacingly so that they become “terrifying even to fear itself”.

(Source): Google Books: Vajrayogini
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)

[Vajra in Buddhism glossaries]

Vajrā (वज्रा) refers to the first of the “six Yoginīs” (ṣaḍyoginī) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 13). The Dharma-samgraha (Dharmasangraha) is an extensive glossary of Buddhist technical terms in Sanskrit (eg., ṣaṣ-yoginī and Vajrā). The work is attributed to Nagarguna who lived around the 2nd century A.D.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgraha

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

[Vajra in Marathi glossaries]

vajra (वज्र).—n m (S) The thunderbolt of Indra; a thunderbolt in general. 2 A diamond. 3 Lightning. 4 m The fifteenth of the twenty-seven yōga. 5 fig. A term for an impetuous and overawing man (of war or of science). Many compounds occur more or less useful. Such as demand explanation follow below: some others are vajrakēśa, vajradanta, vajradaṃṣṭra, vajradṛṣṭi, vajrapṛṣṭha, vajrabāhu, vajravṛṣṭi or vajra- dhārā, vajrasama, vajrākāra or vajrākṛti, vajrākṣa or vajra- nētra, vajrahasta. vajracūḍēmaṇḍita (Adorned with diamonds &c.) An epithet used in letters before the names of women whose husbands are living. vajrāparīsa tikhaṭa Harder or more piercing than the thunderbolt--speech &c.

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

vajra (वज्र).—n m A thunderbolt. A diamond. Lightning.

(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

[Vajra in Sanskrit glossaries]

Vajra (वज्र).—a. [vaj-ran Uṇ.2.28]

1) Hard, adamantine.

2) Severe.

3) Forked, zigzag.

4) Cross.

-jraḥ, -jram 1 A thunderbolt, the weapon of Indra (said to have been formed out of the bones of the sage Dadhīchi q. v.); आशंसन्ते समितिषु सुराः सक्तवैरा हि दैत्यैरस्याधिज्ये धनुषि विजयं पौरुहूते च वज्रे (āśaṃsante samitiṣu surāḥ saktavairā hi daityairasyādhijye dhanuṣi vijayaṃ pauruhūte ca vajre) Ś.2.16.

2) Any destructive weapon like the thunderbolt.

3) A diamond-pin, an instrument for perforating jewels; मणौ वज्रसमुत्कीर्णे सूत्रस्येवास्ति मे गतिः (maṇau vajrasamutkīrṇe sūtrasyevāsti me gatiḥ) R.1.4.

4) A diamond in general, an adamant; वज्रादपि कठोराणि मृदूनि कुसुमादपि (vajrādapi kaṭhorāṇi mṛdūni kusumādapi) U.2.7; R.6.19; मुक्तां मरकतं पद्मरागं वज्रं च विद्रुमम् (muktāṃ marakataṃ padmarāgaṃ vajraṃ ca vidrumam) Śiva B.3.12.

5) Sour gruel.

-jraḥ 1 A form of military arrray.

2) A kind of Kuśa grass.

3) Name of various plants.

4) A kind of pillar.

-jram 1 Steel.

2) A kind of talc.

3) Thunderlike or severe language.

4) A child.

5) Emblic myrobalan.

6) The blossom of the sesamum or Vajra plant.

7) Denunciation in strong language.

8) A particular posture in sitting.

(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.

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