Ahamkara, aka: Ahaṅkāra, Ahaṃkāra, Ahankara; 9 Definition(s)


Ahamkara means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Buddhism, Pali, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

Ahaṃkāra (अहंकार, “ego”):—In Hindu iconology, Kālī (‘goddess of time’) holds a
severed head in one of her hands. The head represents the ego (the notion of individuality). The severed head reminds all living beings that there is no escape from time (which is represented as Kālī).

(Source): Wisdom Library: Śāktism
Shaktism book cover
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Shakta (शाक्त, śākta) or Shaktism (śāktism) represents a tradition of Hinduism where the Goddess (Devi) is revered and worshipped. Shakta literature includes a range of scriptures, including various Agamas and Tantras, although its roots may be traced back to the Vedas.

Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Ahamkara: Buddhi generates Ahamkara (the I-doer) or ego, which has the sense of possessiveness. Ahamkara determines whether an object is his or not. Its dominant quality is Rajas.

(Source): bhagavadgitausa.com: Kashmir Saivism
Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

Yoga (school of philosophy)

Ahaṃkāra (अहंकार) is a Sanskrit word referring to the “individuality, ego”. It is one of the fourteen Adhyātma (pertaining to the body) mentioned in the Subālopaniṣad (fifth section). The corresponding Ādhibhūta (pertaining to the elements) is called ahaṃkartavya (that which is done by the self) and the corresponding Adhidaivata (presiding deity) is rudra. Accordingly, “the nādis form their bond (or connect them). He who moves in the ego (ahaṃkāra), in ahaṃkartavya, in rudra, in the nādis, in prāṇa, in vijñāna, in ānanda, in the ākāśa of the heart and within all else—That is Ātman. It is that which should be worshipped. It is without old age, death, fear, sorrow or end.”

(Source): Wisdom Library: Yoga
Yoga book cover
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Yoga is originally considered a branch of Hindu philosophy (astika), but both ancient and modern Yoga combine the physical, mental and spiritual. Yoga teaches various physical techniques also known as āsanas (postures), used for various purposes (eg., meditation, contemplation, relaxation).


Ahaṅkāra (अहङ्कार).—One of the tatvas; description of.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 103. 38; Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 2, 36-46.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

General definition (in Hinduism)

Ahamkara (अहंकार): A Sanskrit term that refers to the ego of one's self, the identification of one's own ego.

(Source): WikiPedia: Hinduism

Ahaṅkāra literally means ‘egoism’. Ahaṅkāra is that which produces abhimāna, the sense of I and ‘mine.’ According to Sāṅkhyan metaphysics, a large part of which is accepted by Vedānta, ahaṅkāra is the principle of individuation that arises after mahat or buddhi in the process of evolution from prakṛti (nature). It is regarded as a substance since it is the material cause of other substances like the mind or the sense-organs. Through its action the different puruṣas (individual selves) become endowed each with a separate mental background. These puruṣas identify themselves with the acts of prakṛti through ahaṅkāra.

At the individual level it makes the puruṣa feel that he receives the sensations through the senses and the mind, and decides about appropriate action, through the intellect. At the cosmic level, the five senses of cognition (jñānendriyas), the five organs of action (karmendriyas), the mind (manas) and the five subtle elements like the earth (tanmātras) are produced out of ahaṅkāra.

In some works of Vedānta, ahaṅkāra is considered as a function of antahkaraṇa (internal instrument or mind), responsible for ego-sense and possessiveness.

(Source): Hindupedia: The Hindu Encyclopedia

Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

ahaṃkāra : (m.) egotism; arrogance.

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
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Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

Marathi-English dictionary

ahaṅkāra (अहंकार).—m (S) Pride, haughtiness, conceit. 2 Conscious feeling or regard; apprehension of self as an existence distinct from the Deity or from the World without; assertion or assurance of personality.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

ahaṅkāra (अहंकार).—m Pride; conscious feeling; conceit; assertion of personality.

(Source): DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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