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Sūtra

Sūtra (Skt., ‘thread’).
1. In Hinduism, sūtras seem to have originated as manuals for those concerned with household and other rituals. Sūtra literature is written in a condensed prose. The Kalpasūtras are concerned with ritual, and fall into three major categories: Śrautasūtras, Gṛhyasūtras, and Dharmasūtras. As the names imply, the first deal with the performance of sacrifices (in complex detail), the second with home rituals including saṃskāras, and the third with these and with other duties belonging to the āśramas. They were extended in the verse-form śastra literature. Sūtras are also sharp and elliptical works which are commented on in the darśana (philosophical) works: e.g. Jaimini, Bādarāyaṇa, Kaṇāda, Patañjali.

2. In Buddhism, sūtras (Pāli, sutta) are the collections of the discourses or teachings of the Buddha. In Theravāda, they are gathered in the second part of the Pāli canon (tripiṭaka), the Sūtra-(Sutta-) piṭaka. They are then divided into five collections, nikāyas (Skt., āgama). In Mahāyāna, many additional sūtras have been preserved, some of which become foundational for particular schools of Buddhism (e.g. the Lotus Sūtra, Sukhāvatīvyūha, Laṇkāvatāra-Sūtra).

3. For Jain sūtras, see AṄGA.

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Sutra

Sutra Sacred or authoritative text in Indian philosophy or religion. In Hinduism, it is a concise work for use within an oral tradition. Most philosophical traditions had their own sutras, which were written down in the first few centuries of the Christian era. In Buddhism, a sutra was often a lengthy sacred text dealing with a specific point of doctrine.

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Sutra

Sutra (Arab., ‘to conceal, veil’). In Islam, an object (often a rosary) which a worshipper places before him during ṣalāt, in the direction of the qibla, making a protected place, free from human (or demonic spiritual) interference (cf. capella—cloak pulled over one in prayer—chapel).

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sutra

sutra a rule or aphorism in Sanskrit literature, or a set of these on grammar or Hindu law or philosophy; also, a Buddhist or Jainist scripture. The word comes from Sanskrit sūtra ‘thread, rule’, from siv ‘sew’.

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sutra

su·tra / ˈsoōtrə/ • n. a rule or aphorism in Sanskrit literature, or a set of these on a technical subject. See also Kama Sutra. ∎  a Buddhist or Jain scripture.

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Sutra

Sutra: see Sanskrit literature.

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sutra

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