Vitarka; 10 Definition(s)


Vitarka means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, 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

Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Vitarka  (वितर्क, “supposition”) refers to ‘consequent supposition’ or hypotheses expressing doubt. Vitarka represents one of the thirteen garbhasandhi, according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 21. This element is also known by the name Rūpa. Garbhasandhi refers to the “segments (sandhi) of the development part (garbha)” and represents one of the five segments of the plot (itivṛtta or vastu) of a dramatic composition (nāṭaka).

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

Vitarka (वितर्क, “deliberation”) is caused by determinants (vibhāva) such as doubt, cogitation, perplexity and the like. It is to be represented on the stage by consequents (anubhāva) such as various discussions, settling the definition, accepting the deliberation and the like.

Source: Natya Shastra
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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Itihasa (narrative history)

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Vitarka (वितर्क) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.89.51) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Vitarka) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

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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In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Vitarka (वितर्क, “examination”) refers to one of the five characteristics of the first dhyāna according to the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter XXVIII).—“are vitarka and vicāra one and the same thing or are they two different things? Answer.—They are two different things. Vitarka is the first moment of a coarse mind, vicāra is a more subtle (sūkṣma) analysis. Thus, when a bell is struck, the first sound is strong, the subsequent sound is weaker; this is vicāra”.

Also, “although the two things reside in the same mind, their characteristics re not simultaneous: at the moment of vitarka, the vicāra is blurred (apaṭu); at the moment of vicāra, the vitarka is blurred. Thus, when the sun rises, the shadows disappear. All the minds (citta) and all the mental events receive their name prorata with time: [vitarka and vicāra are distinct names of one single mind]”.

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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General definition (in Buddhism)

Vitarka (वितर्क, “thinking”) refers to one of the fourty “conditions” (saṃskāra) that are “associated with mind” (citta-samprayukta) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 30). The Dharma-samgraha (Dharmasangraha) is an extensive glossary of Buddhist technical terms in Sanskrit (eg., vitarka). The work is attributed to Nagarjuna who lived around the 2nd century A.D.

Vitarka also refers to one of the “twenty-four minor defilements” (upakleśa) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 69).

Source: Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgraha

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

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1) Vitarka (वितर्क).—Scriptural knowledge is called vitarka i.e. knowledge which is free from contradictions /doubts/ arguments.

2) Vitarka (वितर्क, “scriptural knowledge”).—One of the seven sub categories of ascetics (nirgrantha-muni);—What are the peculiarities amongst different kind of ascetics with reference to ‘scriptural knowledge’ (vitarka)? The husk (pulāka), the tainted (bakuśa), and pratisevana-kuśīla ascetics have knowledge of ten pūrvas maximum. The kaṣāya-kuśīla and unbound (nirgrantha) ascetics can have knowledge of all 14 pūrvas.

At the minimum level the knowledge of husk (pulāka) ascetic can be of the first limb of inner corpus of Jains, namely: Ācārāṃga, while those of the spotted (bakuśa) and pratisevana-kuśīla ascetics the minimum knowledge and practice of the five attitude of self-control (samitis) and three attitudes of restraint (guptis) called collectively eightfold alphabet of scriptures (mātrakāpada) is essential.

Source: Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 9: Influx of karmas
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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Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

Vitarka in Marathi glossary... « previous · [V] · next »

vitarka (वितर्क).—m (S) A thought, a reasoning, a conjecture, a fancy, conceit, scheme, device, speculation. In this sense the use is generally plural, and the implication is of Deviousness, wildness, airiness, flightiness. 2 S Reasoning or considering widely and largely; contemplating the bearings, the alternatives, the contingencies, the possible issues.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

vitarka (वितर्क).—m A thought, a reasoning.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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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

Vitarka (वितर्क).—

1) Argument, reasoning, inference.

2) Guess, conjecture, supposition, belief; शिरीषपुष्पाधिकसौकुमार्यौ बाहू तदीयाविति मे वितर्कः (śirīṣapuṣpādhikasaukumāryau bāhū tadīyāviti me vitarkaḥ) Ku.1.41.

3) Fancy, thought; राग- ग्राहवती वितर्कविहगा (rāga- grāhavatī vitarkavihagā) Bh.3.45.

4) Doubt; नुनोद तस्य स्थल- पद्मिनीगतं वितर्कम् (nunoda tasya sthala- padminīgataṃ vitarkam) Ki.4.5;13.2.

5) Deliberation, discussion.

6) A teacher in divine knowledge.

7) False or adverse conjecture; वितर्कं निश्चयाज्जयेत् (vitarkaṃ niścayājjayet) Mb.12.274.11.

8) Purpose, intention.

Derivable forms: vitarkaḥ (वितर्कः).

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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