Śakra

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Statue of Śakra, Ming dynasty.

Śakra (P. Sakka; T. brgya byin བརྒྱ་བྱིན་; C. di-shi 帝釋) is an epithet for the Vedic god Indra used most commonly in Buddhist literature.[1] Śakra is chief of the devas of Trāyastriṃśa ("realm of the thirty-three"), which is located on the summit of Mount Meru.[1][2] He appears frequently during the life of the Buddha in a supportive role.[1]

The Princeton Dictionary states:

Typically described in Buddhist texts by his full name and title as “Śakra, the king of the gods” (Śakro devānām indraḥ), he is the divinity (deva) who appears most regularly in Buddhist texts.
Śakra ... is a god of great power and long life, but is also subject to death and rebirth; the Buddha details in various discourses the specific virtues that result in rebirth as Śakra. In both the Pāli canon and the Mahāyāna sūtras, Śakra is depicted as the most devoted of the divine followers of the Buddha, descending from his heaven to listen to the Buddha’s teachings and to ask him questions (and according to some accounts, eventually achieving the state of stream-enterer), and rendering all manner of assistance to the Buddha and his followers.[2]

The Tibetan translation for Śakra is "brgya byin" (meaning “one hundred sacrifices”). This translation follows the traditional Sanskrit semantic gloss that Śakra is an abbreviation of Śata-kratu, “one who has performed a hundred sacrifices.”[1]

In the Perfection of Wisdom in Twenty-five Thousand Lines, he is addressed by the Buddha and other interlocutors by his personal name, Kauśika.[1]

Each world-system with a central Mount Meru has a Śakra.[1]

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 84000.png Padmakara Translation Group (2023), The Perfection of Wisdom in Twenty-Five Thousand Lines, g.959 , 84000 Reading Room
  2. 2.0 2.1 Robert E. Buswell Jr., Donald S. Lopez Jr., The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism (Princeton: 2014), s.v. Śakra