David Gray

in Buddhism

ISBN: 9780195393521
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:


The term sādhana is a Sanskrit term literally meaning “means of achievement.” It is a term that mainly designates ritual and meditative practices. It is related to terms such as sādhaka, the performer of the ritual, and the sādhya, the object or “victim” of the practice, in the case of practices that are intended to directly affect another person. In tantric Buddhist and Hindu traditions, the term sādhana came to designate, first, the instructions on ritual and meditative practices given by a guru to his or her disciples, and eventually signified a genre of literature consisting precisely of written accounts of these instructions. As such, it most commonly designates (typically) short meditation manuals, but the term can also designate ritual guidebooks as well, particularly those that integrate internal visualizations with external ritual actions. Since it appears that visualization is a component of virtually all sādhana, this genre tends to include detailed descriptions of the deities to be visualized. As a result, sādhanas (and most importantly, sādhana collections) have proved to be an invaluable resource for the study of tantric iconography. However, since sādhana literature has traditionally been viewed as esoteric and to be restricted to those who have received proper instruction and empowerment, relatively few translations of sādhanas have been published.

Article.  4042 words. 

Subjects: Buddhism ; Tibetan Buddhism ; Zen Buddhism

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