Vimana, aka: Vimāna; 18 Definition(s)


Vimana means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Buddhism, Pali, 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.

In Hinduism

Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Vimana in Purana glossary... « previous · [V] · next »

Vimāna (विमान) refers to a “chariot-like structure”, as explained in the Śivapurāṇa 1.11. Accordingly, as Sūta explains the mode of worshipping the phallic form of Śiva: “A vimāna (chariot-like structure) of artistic beauty shall be made at first wherein the divine attendants shall be represented. In its firm and beautiful sanctum sanctorum shining like a mirror studded with the nine precious gems—sapphire, lapis lazuli, Emerald, pearl, coral, gomedaka, diamonds and rubies, the emblem shall be installed on the altar”.

Source: Siva Purana - English Translation

1a) Vimāna (विमान).—A temple with eight floors and a number of towers; the toraṇa is of 34 hastas.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 269. 28, 32, 47.

1b) Indra took Ditī and the Maruts in it to heaven;1 Vivasvān took Samjñā with him.2

  • 1) Matsya-purāṇa 7. 64.
  • 2) Ib. 11. 37.

1c) Vehicles of gods;1 built by Viśvakarma.2

  • 1) Vāyu-purāṇa 30. 96.
  • 2) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 10. 119; 16. 14 and 51; 59. 18; IV. 17. 16; Vāyu-purāṇa 66. 30.
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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Vastushastra (architecture)

1) Vimāna (विमान).—Vimānas represent the ‘aerial chariots’ of the gods, but also refers to seven-storey palaces. According to the 11th-century Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra (chapter 49), long ago Brahmā created five prime Vimānas for gods:

  1. Vairāja for Brahmā himself,
  2. Kailāśa for Śiva,
  3. Puṣpaka for Kubera,
  4. Maṇika for Varuṇa,
  5. Triviṣṭapa for Viṣṇu,

Like these he created so many other Vimānas meant for the use of other gods such as Sūrya, etc.—having of course the shapes etc. in the likeness with those of the deities using them. It is from the self-same five shapes of Vimānas that later on, Brahmā created the Prāsāda. They are to be built in towns and are made of stone or burnt bricks.

2) Vimāna (विमान) refers to a type of temple (prāsāda) classified under the group named Vairāja, according to Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra chapter 49. The Vairāja group contains twenty-four out of a sixty-four total prāsādas (temples) classified under five prime vimānas (aerial car/palace), which were created by Brahmā for as many gods (including himself). The group represents temples (eg. Vimāna) that are to be square shaped. The prāsādas, or ‘temples’, represent the dwelling place of God and are to be built in towns. The Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra is an 11th-century encyclopedia dealing with various topics from the Vāstuśāstra.

Vimāna is also listed in the Agnipurāṇa which features a list of 45 temple types. It is listed under the group named Vairāja, featuring square-shaped temples. This list represents a classification of temples in Nort-India.

3) Vimāna can also refer to a “residence” in general, according to the lists of synonyms given in the Mayamata XIX.10-12 and the Mānasāra XIX.108-12, both populair treatises on Vāstuśāstra.

4) Vimāna can also refer to the tower above the main shrine (consisting of six parts, ṣaḍvarga).

Source: Wisdom Library: Vāstu-śāstra

The definition of vimāna, according to the Texts, is that part of the structure starting from upāna, the lowest member of the plinth to the stūpi, i.e., the finial of the structure. Upāna is the mo ulding found throughout the temple building. But the stūpi is found only at the apex of the tower abo ve the sanctum. Therefore, the definition applies to the sanctum part only, but the tower abo ve the sa nctum is al so called by the name vimāna.

Source: Shodhganga: Development of temple architecture in Southern Karnataka

Vimāna (विमान):—The common word denoting the ‘temple’ is Vimāna (dwelling of God), in practically all the manuals on architecture e.g., in the Mānasāra, buildings of one to twelve storeys are called Vimānas (XVIII). There is a great metaphysical or more correctly a cosmological truth embedded in this word.

The Vāyu-purāṇa (IV.30-31) says:—“To measure () is to make a thing by giving shape to it and existence”. Vimāna, therefore, measured in its parts, is the form of God, which is this Universe, the macrocosm, and the temple the microcosm. To measure, as the Samarāṅgaṇa-sūtradhāra has aptly said, is to create—there is an idntity between the measure and the object. Whatever is produced is called meya.

Dr. Kramrisch has very beautifully brought out the significance of the word denoting and connoting temple both in its architectural and spiritual implications—“The temple as Vimāna, proportionately measured throughout, is the house and body of God. By temple is understood the main shrine only in which is contained the Garbhagṛha, the womb and house of the Embryo, the small, innermost sanctuary with its generally square plan.”

Source: Digital Library of India: Bharatiya Vastu-sastra volume 1

Vimāna (विमान).—The definition of vimāna according to the Texts is that part of the structure starting from upāna, the lowest member of the plinth (adhiṣṭhāna), to the stūpi i.e. the finial of the structure. According to the texts, the temple should consist of six main parts (ṣaḍvarga) in the elevation. They are adhiṣṭhāna, bhitti, prastara, grīva, śikhara and stūpi. The Texts refer to this part as vimāna. In this ṣaḍvarga, tower consisting of tiers is not included. The tower is then an optional member. Therefore the use of the term vimāna for the tower above is ambiguous. It may refer to the main shrine or to the tower above it.

Source: Shodhganga: Temples of Salem region Up to 1336 AD

Vimāna (विमान, “tower”) refers to a common concept found in the ancient Indian “science of architecture” (vāstuvidyā).—Śikhara (for north Indian temples) or vimāna (for south Indian temple) is the tower over the garbhagṛha.

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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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Vimāna (विमान) refers to the “celestial car”; it is a Sanskrit technical term defined in the Nāṭyaśāstra.

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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Shilpashastra (iconography)

Vimāna (विमान) refers to the “towered sanctuary” of the Hindu temple.—The temple contains the sanctuary known as vimāna or towered sanctuary. Over the vimāna is the śikhara or the spire/tower. The topmost part of the śikhara, whose sloping walls lead towards a point, is the stūpi or the finial or the apex.

Source: Shodhganga: The significance of the mūla-beras (śilpa)
Shilpashastra book cover
context information

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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General definition (in Hinduism)

Vimāna (विमान) used in South India for the temple, refers as well to the portable “car” in which the image is taken in procession.

Source: Prāsāda as Palace

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Vimāna (विमान, “heavenly abode”) refers to the residence of the empyrean gods (vaimānika), according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 4.16. The abodes, which make the beings residing in them feel as possessing merit are called vimāna. The living beings residing in them are called the empyrean gods. How many types of heavenly abodes (vimāna) are there? They are of three types namely: Indra, Śreṇībaddha and Prakīrṇaka.

Source: Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 4: The celestial beings (deva)
General definition book cover
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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India history and geogprahy

Vimāna.—(SITI), the pinnacle or upper structure over the sanctum of a temple; the central shrine of a temple (SII 3); also called śrī-vimāna (SII 13); same as garbha-gṛha. (EI 3, 23), a shrine. (IA 9), the steeple tower over a shrine; also called stupī. Note: vimāna 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

Pali-English dictionary

Vimana in Pali glossary... « previous · [V] · next »

vimana : (adj.) displeased; distracted. || vimāna (nt.) a mansion; heavenly palace.

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

1) Vimana, (adj.) (vi+mano) 1. perplexed, consternated Miln. 23, 118; PvA. 274.—2. infatuate Th. 2, 380. ‹-› 3. distracted, distressed Th. 1, 1051; J. VI, 523. (Page 630)

2) Vimāna, 2 (vi+māna) disrespect, contempt Sn. 887 (°dassin showing contempt). (Page 632)

3) Vimāna, 1 (nt.) (in the Pāli meaning not Vedic. Found in meaning “palace-chariot” in the Mbhārata and elsewhere in Epic Sk. ) lit. covering a certain space, measuring; the definitions given by Dhpāla refer it to “without measure, ” i.e. immeasurable. Thus=vigata-māne appamāṇe mahanta vara-pāsāda VvA. 131; =visiṭṭhamānaṃ, pamāṇato mahantaṃ VvA. 160.—applied meaning: heavenly (magic) palace, a kind of paradise, elysium.

General remarks: The notion of the vimāna is peculiar to the later, fantastic parts of the Canon, based on popular superstition (Vimāna & Peta Vatthu, Apadāna, Jātaka and similar fairy tales). It shows distinct traces of foreign (Hellenic-Babylonian) influence and rests partly on tales of sea-faring merchants (cp. location of V. in mid-ocean). On the other hand it represents the old (Vedic) ratha as chariot of the gods, to be driven at will (cp. below 5, 7, 8). Thus at Vv 16 (here as 500 chariots!), 36, 63, 64; J. I, 59 (deva-vimānasadisa ratha).

Also see the article Vimāna.

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
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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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Marathi-English dictionary

vimāna (विमान).—n (S) A chariot of the gods, serving as a throne or as a conveyance through the skies, self-directed and self-moving.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

vimanā (विमना).—a Sad. Perplexed. Of estranged mind.

--- OR ---

vimāna (विमान).—n A balloon.

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

Vimāna (विमान).—a. Disgraced, devoid of honour; तन्मक्षिकाभिर्व्यथितो विमानः (tanmakṣikābhirvyathito vimānaḥ) Bhāg.5.13.1.

--- OR ---

Vimāna (विमान).—

1) Disrespect, dishonour; आक्रोशनविमानाभ्यां नाबुधान् बोधयेद् बुधः (ākrośanavimānābhyāṃ nābudhān bodhayed budhaḥ) Mb.12.299.25; Bhāg.5. 1.25.

2) A measure.

3) A balloon, a heavenly car (moving through the skies); पदं विमानेन विगाहमानः (padaṃ vimānena vigāhamānaḥ) R. 13.1;7.51; विमानीकृतराजहंसमण्डलः (vimānīkṛtarājahaṃsamaṇḍalaḥ) K.; R.12.14; Ku. 2.45;7.4; V.4.43; Ki.7.11; विगते दिवसे ततो विमानं वपुषा सूर्य इव प्रदीप्यमानः (vigate divase tato vimānaṃ vapuṣā sūrya iva pradīpyamānaḥ) (āruroha) Bu. Ch.5.43.

4) A vehicle or conveyance in general; स नौविमानादवतीर्य रेमे (sa nauvimānādavatīrya reme) R.16.68.

5) A palace (with seven stories); 'विमानोऽस्त्री देवयाने सप्तभूमौ च सद्मनि (vimāno'strī devayāne saptabhūmau ca sadmani)' इति निघण्टुः (iti nighaṇṭuḥ); Rām.1.5.16; नेत्रा नीताः सततगतिना यद्विमानाग्रभूमीः (netrā nītāḥ satatagatinā yadvimānāgrabhūmīḥ) Me.71.

7) A horse.

8) An open palanquin carried on men's shoulders; इमां विमानेन सभां विशन्तीं पपावपाङ्गैरथ राजराजिः (imāṃ vimānena sabhāṃ viśantīṃ papāvapāṅgairatha rājarājiḥ) N.1.17.

9) A ship, boat.

Derivable forms: vimānaḥ (विमानः), vimānam (विमानम्).

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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Relevant definitions

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