Śakra (Buddhism)

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For for the Hindu deity, see Indra.

Śakra (Sanskrit; Pali: Sakka) is a deva and king of Trāyastriṃśa heaven in Buddhism.


  • Impermanent, alas, are compounded things.
    It is the nature of things to arise and pass away.
    Having come into existence they cease.
    Their appeasement is the highest bliss.
    • Dīgha Nikāya 16 (Mahāparinibbāna Sutta)
  • My mind isn’t easily upset;
    I’m not easily drawn into the maelstrom.
    I don’t get angry for long,
    anger doesn’t last in me.

    When I do get angry I don’t speak harshly,
    nor do I advertise my own virtues.
    I carefully restrain myself
    out of regard for my own welfare.
    • Saṃyutta Nikāya 11.22 (Dubbaṇṇiya Sutta)
  • Such as to weep are fain may still lament the dead,
    Weep not, O sage, ’Tis vain to weep the wise have said.
    If by our tears we might prevail against the grave,
    Thus would we all unite our dearest ones to save.
    • Migapotaka Jātaka (as former life of the Bodhisattva)
  • Happy life is theirs who live on remnants left from charity:
    Praise in this world is their lot, and in the next felicity.
    • Vighasa Jātaka (as former life of the Bodhisattva)
  • When the false Brethren, bowl in hand, in one robe clad, shall choose
    Tonsured the plough to follow, then the Black Hound I will loose.

    When Sisters of the Order shall in single robe be found,
    Tonsured, yet walking in the world, I will let loose the Hound.
    What time ascetics, usurers, protruding the upper lip,
    Foul-toothed and filthy-haired shall be—the Black Hound I'll let slip.

    When brahmins, skilled in sacred books and holy rites, shall use
    Their skill to sacrifice for pelf, the Black Hound shall go loose.

    Whoso his parents now grown old, their youth now come to an end,
    Would not maintain, although he might, gainst him the Hound I'll send.

    Who to his parents now grown old, their youth now come to an end,
    Cries, Fools are ye! gainst such as he the Black Hound I will send.

    When men go after others' wives, of teacher, or of friend,
    Sister of father, uncle's wife, the Black Hound I will send.

    When shield on shoulder, sword in hand, full-armed as highway men
    They take the road to kill and rob, I'll loose the Black Hound then.

    When widows' sons, with skin groomed white, in skill all useless found,
    Strong-armed, shall quarrel and shall fight, then I will loose the Hound.

    When men with hearts of evil full, false and deceitful men,
    Walk in and out the world about, I'll loose the Black Hound then.
    • Mahākaṇha Jātaka (as former life of the Bodhisattva)
  • I believe that for restraining the foolish
    silent patience is the best.
    When extreme hatred or anger or rage
    is suffered patiently, the other party will naturally calm down.
    Those without anger, without violence
    those are noble ones
    They are disciples of noble ones;
    those one should always befriend.
    For those filled with hatred and anger,
    their hatred is an obstacle heavy as a mountain.
    But if, at a time of hatred and anger,
    one can restrain oneself even a little,
    then that is called good karma
    like reining in an unruly horse.
    • Saṃyukta Āgama (2) 38 (Sakka debates with Vepacitti), trans. by Marcus Bingenheimer (2005)
  • I am extremely busy with heavenly affairs. I have both personal things to do and also things concerning the gods. I have forgotten what I was taught. Formerly, Maudgalyāyana, there was a battle with the demons (asura). On the very day the fighting broke out, the gods were victorious and the demons retreated. I personally went to fight at that time. Soon after the victory I returned as leader of the gods and took my seat in the uppermost heavenly palace named Vaijayanta Palace. The palace was given this name on account of our victory in battle.
    • Ekottarika Āgama 19.3 (The Exhortation of Śakra), trans. by Thích Huyên-Vi, Sara Boin-Webb, Bhikkhu Pāsādika (1998)

Quotes about Śakra[edit]

  • Originally, when Sakka was still a human being, he generously made offerings, led a pure life, and his mind was faithful. With a faithful mind he made offerings to the poor, renunciants, brāhmaṇas, and so on. When he made offerings, he offered drinks and refreshments, all kinds of hard and soft food, all kinds of garlands, all kinds of fragrance, incense, perfume, riches, and bedding. For this reason the gods called him Sakka.
    • The Buddha, in the Saṃyukta Āgama (2) 35 (The Names of Sakka)
  • Indra was the god of the thunderstorm that puts an end to the oppressive summer heat and opens the rainy season.... However, the Buddha arrived just in time for Indra to play a role in his career. it was Indra himself who persuaded the freshly awakened Shakyamuni to start preaching his newfound path. Buddhist monks then spread the cult of Indra to foreign lands as far as Japan. Indra’s weapon, the lightning or vajra, became the emblem of instant Enlightenment. The sought-after “Self-nature” (Chinese zixing) is present all the time, deep in all of us; but when we embark on the path of meditation and finally awaken to it, it strikes like lightning.
    • Elst, Koenraad. Hindu dharma and the culture wars. (2019). New Delhi : Rupa.

See also[edit]

Buddhism and Hinduism

External links[edit]

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