Śakra


Śakra

"For the Belgian publisher see Sakka (publisher)."

Śakra (Sanskrit) or Sakka (Pāli) (zh: 帝釋天尊) is a name of a deity mentioned in Vedic religion, Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.

Vedic religion and Hinduism

The name Śakra "powerful", used as an epithet of Indra, is found in several verses of the Rig Veda [ [http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/rv01010.htm Rig Veda: Rig-Veda Book 1: HYMN X. Indra ] ] . It is also found many times in the other Vedas such as the Samaveda [ [http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/sv.htm Hymns of the Samaveda ] ] and Atharva Veda [http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/av/av208.htm] . The name is also copiously used in many later texts like the Mahabharata [ [http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/m13/m13a017.htm The Mahabharata, Book 13: Anusasana Parva: Anusasanika Parva: Section XVII ] ] .

Jainism

In Jain texts, Śakra appears several times as a name of the king of the devas. [ [http://www.sacred-texts.com/jai/sbe22/sbe2284.htm Jaina Sutras, Part I: Lives of the Ginas: Life of Mahâvîra, Lecture 4 ] ] .

Buddhism

"Śakra" (Sanskrit) or "Sakka" (Pāli) is the ruler of the IAST|Trāyastriṃśa Heaven in Buddhist cosmology. His full title is "IAST|Śakro devānām indraḥ" (Pāli: "IAST|Sakko devānaṃ indo" "Śakra, lord of the devas" [http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_names/sa/sakka.htm Sakka ] ] ). In Buddhist texts Śakra is the proper name and not an epithet of this deity; conversely, "indra" in Sankrit and "inda" Pali are sometimes used as an epithet for Śakra as "lord". In the Chinese tradition, he is usually analogous with the Taoist Jade Emperor, whose birthday is celebrated on the ninth day of the first lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually in February).

In Buddhist texts, Śakra's myth and character are very different from those of the Vedic Indra. According to G.P. Malalasekara, "Sakka and Indra are independent conceptions. None of the personal characteristics of Sakka resemble those of Indra. Some epithets are identical but are evidently borrowed, though they are differently explained."

The IAST|Trāyastriṃśa heaven which Śakra rules is located on the top of Mount Sumeru (cf. Meru), imagined to be the polar center of the physical world, around which the Sun and Moon revolve. IAST|Trāyastriṃśa is the highest of the heavens which is in direct contact with the Earth. Like the other deities of this heaven, Śakra is long-lived but mortal. When one Śakra dies, his place is taken by another deity who becomes the new Śakra. Buddhist stories about Śakra (past or present) are found in the Jātaka stories and in several sutras, particularly in the IAST|Saṃyutta Nikāya.

Śakra is married to Sujā [ [http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_names/s/sujaa.htm Sujá ] ] , daughter of the chief of the Asuras, Vemacitrin (Pāli "Vepacitti"). Despite this relationship, a state of war generally exists between the Thirty-three gods and the Asuras, which Śakra manages to resolve with minimal violence and no loss of life.

Śakra is mentioned in many Buddhist sūtras, and is often shown consulting the Buddha on questions of morality. Together with Brahmā, he is considered a protector of the Buddhist religion.

References


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