Apsaras, Apsarā, Apsara, Ap-sara: 25 definitions


Apsaras means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, Marathi, Hindi, Tamil. 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.

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In Hinduism

Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Source: archive.org: Puranic Encyclopedia

Apsaras (अप्सरस्).—* An Apsaras is a nymph (devastrī). These apsarā women were born at the churning of the ocean of Milk. (Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa, Bālakāṇḍa, Chapter 45, Verse 32 and Viṣṇu Purāṇa, Part I, Chapter 9 and Agni Purāṇa, Chapter 3). There are thousands of Apsaras. (Details given against the names of Apsaras).

*) Ariṣṭhā, a wife of Kaśyapa, delivered thirteen Apsaras. They were: Alambuṣā, Miśrakeśī, Vidyutparṇā, Tilottamā, Rakṣitā, Rambhā, Manoramā, Keśinī, Subāhu, Surajā, Suratā and Supriyā. Ariṣṭhā gave birth also to four Gandharvas, Hāhā, Hūhū, Atibāhu and Tumburu as mentioned in the following verse.

"ariṣṭāsūta subhagādevī devarṣitaḥ purā alambuṣā miśrakeśī vidyutparṇā tilottamā aruṇā rakṣitā caiva rambhā tadvat manoramā keśinī ca subāhuśca vikhyatau ca hahāhuhū tumburuśceti catvāraḥ smṛtāḥ gandharvasattamāḥ."

Source: archive.org: Shiva Purana - English Translation

Apsaras (अप्सरस्) refers to a group of deities, abounding the top of the Himālaya mountain, according to the Śivapurāṇa 2.2.22. Accordingly as Brahmā narrated to Nārada:—“[...] On the top of the mountain near the city of Himālaya (śailarājapura), Śiva sported about for a long time in the company of Satī. [...] Many kinds of semid-ivine beings the Aśvamukhas, the Siddhas, the Apsaras, the Guhyakas, etc. roamed there. Their women-folk, the Vidyādharīs, the Kinnarīs and the mountain lasses played about here and there. The celestial damsels played on their lutes, tabours and drums and danced with enthusiasm.”.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

Apsara (अप्सर).—Divine dancers born of Muni and Kaśyapa. Joined Gandharvas in milking the cow Earth; worship Barhiṣad pitṛs. Love sports with Gandharvas over the Himalayas.1 A group of celestial women who often go to Mount Kailāsa.2 Thirty-four3 wait on Indra.4 Joined the gods in offering prayers to Hari.5 Take their origin from the sportful motion of Hari.6 Danced at the avatār of Kṛṣṇa.7 Went to Dvāraka with gods and prayed for the return of Hari to Vaikuṇṭha.8 Their association with the wise and the righteous.9 Welcome Kṛṣṇa back to his own region.10 Were asked by Indra to obstruct the completion of Mārkaṇḍeya's tapas.11 Dance in front of the Sun god and move with him by turns.12 Live in Meru: Kāmadeva was their overlord;13 born on earth as 16000 gopis during Kṛṣṇa's avatāra;14 sprung from the churning of the ocean;15 strew fired grain at the conquering tour of Lalitā.16 Fourteen birth spots for them distinguished.17 Once when the Apsaras ladies, all daughters of Agni, were engaged in water sports in Mānasa, there came Nārada. Without saluting him they asked him how to attain the Lord as husband. He gave them a vrata but cursed that they would be separated from the Lord and become slaves of robbers; became the rekhas on the body of Vāmana.18

  • 1) Matsya-purāṇa 6. 45; 10. 24; 15. 3; 22. 59; 120. 1.
  • 2) Bhāgavata-purāṇa II. 1. 36; IV. 6. 9.
  • 3) Vāyu-purāṇa 69. 4; 101. 28.
  • 4) Bhāgavata-purāṇa VI. 7. 4.
  • 5) Ib. VII. 8. 38.
  • 6) Ib. VIII. 5. 40.
  • 7) Ib. X. 3. 6; 4. 11.
  • 8) Ib. XI. 6. 3.
  • 9) Ib. XI. 12. 3.
  • 10) Ib. XI. 31. 2.
  • 11) Ib. XII. 8. 16.
  • 12) Ib. XII. 11. 47; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 23. 27 and 50.
  • 13) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 15. 49; III. 8. 15; 7. 25-26.
  • 14) Ib. III. 71. 243-4; IV. 2. 26.
  • 15) Bhāgavata-purāṇa VIII. 8. 7.
  • 16) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 18. 9.
  • 17) Ib. IV. 33. 18-25.
  • 18) Matsya-purāṇa 70. 21-5; 246. 54.
Source: JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places

Apsarā (अप्सरा) refers to the name of a Lady mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.59.47, I.65, I.59.7, I.65, I.61.93). Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Apsarā) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

Purana book cover
context information

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.

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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

Apsara (अप्सर) is a Sanskrit word referring to “celestial nymphs”. Acording to the Nāṭyaśāstra 1.82-88, when Brahmā, Indra and all other gods went to inspect the playhouse (nāṭyamaṇḍapa) designed by Viśvakarmā, he assigned different deities for the protection of the playhouse itself, as well as for the objects relating to dramatic performance (prayoga).

As such, Brahmā assigned the Apsaras to its rooms (gallery, śālā). The protection of the playhouse was enacted because of the jealous Vighnas (malevolent spirits), who began to create terror for the actors.

Natyashastra book cover
context information

Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (shastra) of performing arts, (natya—theatrics, drama, dance, music), as well as the name of a Sanskrit work dealing with these subjects. It also teaches the rules for composing Dramatic plays (nataka), construction and performance of Theater, and Poetic works (kavya).

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Chandas (prosody, study of Sanskrit metres)

Source: Journal of the University of Bombay Volume V: Apabhramsa metres (2)

1) Apsarā (अप्सरा) is the name of an Apabhraṃśa metre classified as Dvipadi (metres with two lines in a stanza) discussed in books such as the Chandonuśāsana, Kavidarpaṇa, Vṛttajātisamuccaya and Svayambhūchandas.—Apsarā has 7 mātrās in a line, divided into groups of 5 and 2.

2) Apsarā (अप्सरा) is also the name of a catuṣpadi metre (as popularly employed by the Apabhraṃśa bards), as discussed in books such as the Chandonuśāsana, Kavidarpaṇa, Vṛttajātisamuccaya and Svayambhūchandas.—Apsarā has 16 mātrās in each of its four lines, divided into the groups of 5, 5, [ISI] and [S] mātrās.

Chandas book cover
context information

Chandas (छन्दस्) refers to Sanskrit prosody and represents one of the six Vedangas (auxiliary disciplines belonging to the study of the Vedas). The science of prosody (chandas-shastra) focusses on the study of the poetic meters such as the commonly known twenty-six metres mentioned by Pingalas.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

Source: Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

The Apsaras are celestial nymphs, the dancers in the court of Indra, the king of the Devas. All of them are extremely beautiful and skilled in both dance and music. They occur in persian mythology also, but there, they are water nymphs (apam=water), and are closely associated with ApamNapat.

They are many in number, and the most famous are

  1. Rambha,
  2. Menaka,
  3. Urvashi,
  4. Tilottama
  5. and Ghritachi.

Other nymphs who are mentioned in the Puranas are:

  1. Mishrakesi,
  2. Vapu,
  3. Viprachitti,
  4. Purvachitti,
  5. Sahajanya,
  6. Karnika,
  7. Punjikasthala,
  8. Viswachi,
  9. Rithisthala,
  10. Umlocha,
  11. Pramlocha,
  12. Swayamprabha,
  13. Janapadi,
  14. and Adrika.

For Tilottama and Urvashi, the story of their origins is available, but the others are believed to have sprung forth from the ocean-of-milk when it was churned by the Devas and Asuras.

They are closely associated with the Gandharvas, who are the celestial musicians. Some of the Apsaras are paired with a Gandharva, such as Tumburu with Rambha, and Menaka with Vishvavasu. But the relationship is temporary and is not a marriage tie.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

1) Apsarās (अपसरा): Heavenly nymphs, The dancing girls of Indra's court.

2) An Apsara (also spelled as Apsarasa) is a female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology.

3) Apsaras are beautiful, supernatural female beings. They are youthful and elegant, and superb in the art of dancing. They are often the wives of the Gandharvas, the court musicians of Indra. They dance to the music made by the Gandharvas, usually in the palaces of the gods, entertain and sometimes seduce gods and men. As ethereal beings who inhabit the skies, and are often depicted taking flight, or at service of a god, they may be compared to angels.

Apsaras are said to be able to change their shape at will, and rule over the fortunes of gaming and gambling. Urvasi, Menaka, Rambha and Tilottama are the most famous among them. Apsaras are sometimes compared to the muses of ancient Greece, with each of the 26 Apsaras at Indra's court representing a distinct aspect of the performing arts. They are associated with fertility rites.

There are two types of Apsaras; Laukika (worldly), of whom thirty-four are specified, and Daivika (divine), of which there are ten. The Bhagavata Purana also states that the Apsaras were born from Kashyap and Muni.

etymology: An Apsara (Sanskrit: अप्सराः apsarāḥ, plural अप्सरसः apsarasaḥ, stem apsaras-, a feminine consonant stem, អប្សរា), is also known as Vidhya Dhari or Tep Apsar (ទេពអប្សរ) in Khmer, Accharā (Pāli) or A Bố Sa La Tư (Vietnamese), Bidadari (Indonesian & Malay), Biraddali (Tausug), Hapsari or Widodari (Javanese) and Apson (Thai: อัปสร). English translations of the word "Apsara" include "nymph," "celestial nymph," and "celestial maiden."

Source: GRETIL e-library: Epic Mythology

Apsara (अप्सर):—The word Apsaras is explained as apsu rasa, the essence of the oceanwater produced at the churning, when Apsarasas and the physician god Dhanvantari first rose from it. There were sixty crores of them, not to speak of their “countless attendants”. In the Mahābhārata this origin is attributed to Dhanvantari but not to the nymphs, and Nārāyaṇa himself in māyā form plays the part of the seductive woman, who induced the Asuras to give up the ambrosia.

According to a late tradition, sundry Apsarasas were born of Brahman’s fancy (‘faculty of imagination’); others, of Dakṣa’s daughters. The first make a group of ten plus one, beginning with Menakā, and are called Vaidikīs, sacrosanct, recognised by revelation, and as such distinguished from those born from Dakṣa’s daughters.

This group may be considered, therefore, as that of the most revered nymphs:

  1. Menakā,
  2. Sahajanyā,
  3. Parṇinī,
  4. Puñjikasthalā,
  5. Ghṛtasthalā,
  6. Ghṛtācī,
  7. Viśvāci,
  8. Urvaśī,
  9. Anumlocā,
  10. Pramlocā,
  11. and Manovatī.

Eighteen are ascribed to Muni (sired by Kaśyapa). Six (names of) nymphs are ascribed to Prādhā (apparently should be eight). Ten unnamed Apsarasas of the North are called Vidyutprabhās “by name” (“lightning-glorious”). Seven times six thousand (South Indian Mahābhārata, thirteen thousand) Apsarasas dance on the point of Dilīpa’s sacrificial post to the music of Viśvāvasu.

The list of epic Apsarasas is as follows (H = Harivaṃśa, R = Rāmāyaṇa):

  1. Adrikā,
  2. Adrikṛtasthalī‚
  3. Anavadyā,
  4. Anugā (H),
  5. Anūkā,
  6. Anūcānā,
  7. Anūnā (H),
  8. Anumlocā (H),
  9. Ambikā,
  10. Aruṇā,
  11. Aruṇapriyā (H),
  12. Arūpā,
  13. Alambuṣā,
  14. Asitā,
  15. Asurā,
  16. Irā,
  17. Umlocā,
  18. Urvarā,
  19. Urvaśī,
  20. Ṛtusthalā,
  21. Karṇikā,
  22. Kāmyā,
  23. Kumbhayoni,
  24. Keśinī,
  25. Kṣemā,
  26. Gandhakālī,
  27. Guṇamukhyā,
  28. Guṇāvarā,
  29. Gopālī,
  30. Ghṛtasthalā (H),
  31. Ghṛtācī,
  32. Cārunetrā,
  33. Cārumadhyā (H),
  34. Citrā (Mitrā)‚
  35. Citrāṅgadā,
  36. Citralekhā,
  37. Citrasenā,
  38. Jānapadī,
  39. Jāmī (see Yāmī),
  40. Tilottamā,
  41. Daṇḍagaurī,
  42. Dāntā,
  43. Devī,
  44. Nāgadantā (-dattā),
  45. Pañcacūḍā,
  46. Parṇikā (H),
  47. Parṇinī,
  48. Puñjikasthalā,
  49. Puṇḍarīkā,
  50. Pūrvacitti,
  51. Prajāgarā,
  52. Prabhā,
  53. Pramāthinī,
  54. Pramlocā,
  55. Praśamī,
  56. Priyamnkhyā (H),
  57. Budbudā (Vudvudā),
  58. Bhāsī‚
  59. Bhīmā,
  60. Madhurasvarā (-nā),
  61. Manu,
  62. Manoramā,
  63. Manovatī,
  64. Manoharā,
  65. Marīci,
  66. Mārgaṇapriyā,
  67. Mālavī,
  68. Mālinī (?),
  69. Mitrā,
  70. Miśrakeśī,
  71. Menakā,
  72. Yāmī,
  73. Rakṣitā,
  74. Rati,
  75. Rambhā,
  76. Ruci,
  77. Lakṣaṇā,
  78. Lakṣmaṇā (H),
  79. Latā,
  80. Vaṃśā,
  81. Vapus,
  82. Varananā (H),
  83. Varūthinī,
  84. Vargā,
  85. Vāmanā,
  86. Vidyntā,
  87. Vidyutparṇā,
  88. Vidyotā,
  89. Vipracitti,
  90. Viśvācī,
  91. Śāradvatī,
  92. Śucikā,
  93. Śucismitā,
  94. Śraviṣṭhā (H),
  95. Samīcī,
  96. Sahajanyā,
  97. Sahā,
  98. Sukeśī,
  99. Sugandhā,
  100. Sugrīvī (H),
  101. Supriyā,
  102. Subāhu,
  103. Subhagā,
  104. Sumadhyā (H),
  105. Sumukhī,
  106. Surajā,
  107. Suratā,
  108. Surathā (H),
  109. Suramā (H),
  110. Surasā,
  111. Surūpā (H),
  112. Sulocanā (H),
  113. Suvṛttā (H),
  114. Somā,
  115. Sanrabheyī (-seyī),
  116. Svayamprabhā,
  117. Hāsinī,
  118. Himā,
  119. Hemadantā (H),
  120. Hemā (R and H).

All come from Brahman’s eye.

These nymphs dance and sing. They are called “gods’ girls”. Their female companions are the Devapatnīs, proper wives of the gods. Like all Hindu celestials they are depicted as overloaded with gems and garlands, They also wear necklaces, golden girdles, and anklets, which tinkle as they welcome saints to heaven.

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Source: archive.org: Trisastisalakapurusacaritra

Apsaras (अप्सरस्) refers to one of the 32 mountains between the lotus-lakes situated near the four Añjana mountains, which are situated in the “middle world” (madhyaloka), according to chapter 2.3 [ajitanātha-caritra] of Hemacandra’s 11th century Triṣaṣṭiśalākāpuruṣacaritra: an ancient Sanskrit epic poem narrating the history and legends of sixty-three illustrious persons in Jainism.

Accordingly:—“In the four directions from each of the Añjana Mountains there are lotus-lakes, 100,000 yojanas square: [...]. Between each two lotus-lakes there are 2 Ratikara Mountains so there are 32 Ratikara Mountains (e.g., Apsaras). On the Dadhimukha Mountains and on the Ratikara Mountains, there are eternal shrines of the Arhats, just as on the Añjana Mountains likewise at the intermediate points of the continent there are 4 Ratikara Mountains, having a length and width of 10,000 yojanas, and a height of 1,000 yojanas, made of all kinds of jewels, divine, the shape of a jhallarī. [...] In them (i.e., the 32 Ratikara Mountains, e.g., Apsaras) the gods with all their splendor together with their retinues make eight-day festivals in the shrines on the holy days of the holy Arhats”.

Source: Singhi Jain Series: Ratnaprabha-suri’s Kuvalayamala-katha

Apsaras (अप्सरस्) refers to the “(Eight) women” (of Indra’s court) which refers to the Eight auspicious Girls—(representing the eight celestial nymphs of Indra’s heaven) which are mentioned as holding various attributes, according to Uddyotanasūri in his 8th-century Kuvalayamālā (a Prakrit Campū, similar to Kāvya poetry).—Page 93.17-8: There is a list of Eight auspicious girls holding respectively sprouted water-jars, fan-palm, fly-whisk, parasol, mirror, mṛdaṅga, harp, drum and cloth and ornaments. These were regarded as eight celestial nymphs of Indra’s heaven and frequently referred in literature as aṣṭakanyā or sabhā-kanyā. [...] The list of eight auspicious girls also occurs in the Lalitavistara (VII, p. 71). [...] These were also known as the eight women of Indra’s court (aṣṭau yoṣitaḥ or aṣṭau apsarasaḥ).

General definition book cover
context information

Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

apsarā (अप्सरा).—f (S) A courtesan of svarga, Indra's heaven.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English

apsarā (अप्सरा).—f A courtesan of svarga. Not fully grown or developed. Timid, gentle.

context information

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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Sanskrit dictionary

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Apsara (अप्सर).—[ap-sṛ-ac] Any aquatic animal (moving in water).

Derivable forms: apsaraḥ (अप्सरः).

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Apsaras (अप्सरस्).—f.

1) (-rāḥ, rā). [अद्भ्यः सरन्ति उद्गच्छन्ति, सृ-असुन् (adbhyaḥ saranti udgacchanti, sṛ-asun) Uṇādi-sūtra 4.236; cf. Rām. अप्सु निर्मथनादेव रसात्तस्माद्वर- स्त्रियः । उत्पेतुर्मनुजश्रेष्ठ तस्मादप्सरसोऽभवन् (apsu nirmathanādeva rasāttasmādvara- striyaḥ | utpeturmanujaśreṣṭha tasmādapsaraso'bhavan) || A class of female divinities or celestial damsels who reside in the sky and are regarded as the wives of the Gandharvas. They are very fond of bathing, can change their shapes, and are endowed with superhuman power (prabhāva). They are called स्वर्वेश्याः (svarveśyāḥ) and are usually described as the servants of Indra, who, when alarmed by the rigorous austerities of some mighty sage, sends down one of them to disturb his penance, and her mission is generally successful; मेनकाऽप्सरसां श्रेष्ठा महर्षिणां पिता च ते (menakā'psarasāṃ śreṣṭhā maharṣiṇāṃ pitā ca te) Mahābhārata (Bombay) 1.74.75. cf. या तपोविशेषपरिशङ्कितस्य सुकुमारं प्रहरणं महेन्द्रस्य (yā tapoviśeṣapariśaṅkitasya sukumāraṃ praharaṇaṃ mahendrasya) V. 1. They are also said to covet heroes who die gloriously on the battle-field; cf. परस्परेण क्षतयोः प्रहर्त्रोरुत्क्रान्तवाय्वोः समकालमेव । अमर्त्यभावेऽपि कयोश्चिदासीदेकाप्सरः प्रार्थितयोर्विवादः (paraspareṇa kṣatayoḥ prahartrorutkrāntavāyvoḥ samakālameva | amartyabhāve'pi kayościdāsīdekāpsaraḥ prārthitayorvivādaḥ) || R.7.53. Bāṇa mentions 14 different families of these nymphs (see K.136) The word is usually said to be in pl. (striyāṃ bahuṣvapsarasaḥ) but the singular, as also the form अप्सराः (apsarāḥ), sometimes occurs; नियमविघ्नकारिणी मेनका नाम अप्सराः प्रेषिता (niyamavighnakāriṇī menakā nāma apsarāḥ preṣitā) Ś.1; एकाप्सरः (ekāpsaraḥ) &c. R.7.53 and see Malli. thereon; अनप्सरेव प्रतिभासि (anapsareva pratibhāsi) V.1.

2) Direction or the intermediate point of the compass (dik ca upadik ca).

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Apsara (अप्सर).—an aquatic animal. त्रीण्याद्यान्याश्रितास्त्वेषां मृगगर्ताश्रयाऽप्सराः (trīṇyādyānyāśritāstveṣāṃ mṛgagartāśrayā'psarāḥ) Ms. 7.72. See [apsaraḥ. -patiḥ 1] 'Lord of waters', Name of Varuṇa.

2) the ocean.

Derivable forms: apsaraḥ (अप्सरः).

Apsara is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms ap and sara (सर). See also (synonyms): apcara.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Apsaras (अप्सरस्).—f. plur. always

(-rāḥ) The nymphs of Swerga, attendants on Indra. E. ap water, sṛ to go, and asi Unadi affix: or apsa in the waters, and rasa flavour: from their foudness for bathing, or from their being produced at the churning of the ocean.

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Apsarā (अप्सरा).—f.

(-rā) an Apsara or heavenly nymph. E. ap and sṛ as before, with ac aff.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Benfey Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Apsaras (अप्सरस्).—i. e. ap-sṛ + as, f. The name of female divinities; in the classical poetry the courtesans of paradise.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Cappeller Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Apsaras (अप्सरस्).—[feminine] Apsaras (a cert. class of fem. deities).

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Apsarā (अप्सरा).—[feminine] Apsaras (a cert. class of fem. deities).

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Apsaras (अप्सरस्):—[=ap-saras] [from ap] a See sub voce

2) [=ap-saras] b ās ([Ṛg-veda; Atharva-veda] etc.), or ap-sarā ([Av. etc.]), f. ([from] 2. ap + √sṛ), ‘going in the waters or between the waters of the clouds’, a class of female divinities (sometimes called ‘nymphs’; they inhabit the sky, but often visit the earth; they are the wives of the Gandharvas (q.v.) and have the faculty of changing their shapes at will; they are fond of the water; one of their number, Rambhā, is said to have been produced at the churning of the ocean).

3) Āpsara (आप्सर):—mfn. ([from] apsaras), belonging to the Apsaras.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Goldstücker Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Apsara (अप्सर):—[tatpurusha compound] m.

(-raḥ) An aquatic animal; e. g. in Manu: trīṇyādīni (scil. durgāṇi) āśritāsteṣāṃ mṛgagartāśrayāpsarāḥ (comp. the remark s. v. apcara). E. ap and sara, ‘moving in the water’.

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Apsaras (अप्सरस्):—[tatpurusha compound] f.

(-rāḥ) The name of female divinities, not often met with in the three Vedas, but frequently in the classical poetry: [a.]) The Sāmaveda makes no mention of them; the Ṛgveda names as such Urvaśī, (the Anukram. of the Ṛgv. two Apsarasas Śikhaṇḍinī as authoresses of a hymn); in the Vājasan. S. of the Yajurveda there occur five pairs of Apsarasas: Puñjikasthalā and Kratusthalā, Menakā and Śahajanyā, Pramlochantī and Anumlochantī, Visvāchī and Ghṛtāchī, Urvaśī and Pūrvachitti; in the Śatapathabr., Śakuntalā and Urvaśī; in the Atharvaveda, Ugrampaśyā, Ugrajit and Rāṣṭrabhṛt. In the Ādiparvan of the Mahābhārata several of these divinities are enumerated under two heads, the first comprising: Anūchānā (v. l. Anūnā, another Ms. Anṛṇā), Anavadyā, Guṇamukhyā (v. l. Priyamukhyā), Guṇāvarā (v. l. Gaṇāvarā), Adrikā (v. l. Attikā), Somā (v. l. Sāchī), Miśrakeśī, Alambuṣā, Marīchi, Śuchikā (v. l. Iṣukā), Vidyutparṇā, Tilottamā (v. l. Tulā and Anaghā), Ambikā, Lakṣaṇā, Kṣemā, Devī, Rambhā, Manoramā [v. l. Manoharā, or devī ‘divine’ and manoramā (or manoharā) ‘beautiful’ are perhaps epithets of Rambhā], Asitā, Subāhu, Supriyā, Vapus (v. l. Suvapus), Puṇḍarīkā, Sugandhā, Surasā (v. l. Surathā), Pramāthinī, Kāmyā and Śāradvatī; the second comprising the following eleven: Menakā, Sahajanyā, Karṇikā (v. l. Parṇini), Puñjikasthalā, Ṛtusthalā (v. l. Kratusthalā), Ghṛtāchī, Viśvāchī, Pūrvachitti (v. l. Viprachitti), Umlochā, Pramlochā (v. l. Pramlā) and Urvaśī. (Hemachandra mentions two Apsaras Saudāminī and Chitrā; other names too, will occur in the following.) [b.]) As regards their origin, the Rāmāyaṇa makes them arise from the Ocean when it was churned by the gods for obtaining the Amṛta; Manu represents them as one of the creations of the seven Manus, themselves created by the seven Prajāpatis Marīchi, Atri &c.; in the later mythology they are daughters of Kaśyapa by Muni (e. g. according to the Viṣṇu- and Bhāgav. Pur.), or by Vāch (according to the Padma P.), or some by Muni, some by Prādhā, while a third class is created by the mere will of Kaśyapa; thus, according to the Harivaṃśa, the daughters of K. and Prādhā are: Anavadyā, Anūkā, Anūnā (v. l. Aruṇā), Aruṇapriyā, Anugā, Subhagā, (two names seem omitted); of K. and Muni: Alambuṣā, Miśrakeśī, Puṇḍarīkā, Tilottamā, Surūpā, Lakṣmaṇā, Kṣemā, Rambhā, Manoramā (or ‘the beautiful Rambhā’), Asitā, Subāhu, Suvrittā, Sumukhī, Supriyā, Sugandhā, Surasā (v. l. Suramā), Pramāthinī, Kāmyā (v. l. Kāśyā) and Śāradvatī; those created by the will of the Prajāpati and called the vaidik Apsarasas are: Menakā, Sahajanyā, Parṇinī (v. l. Parṇikā), Puñjikasthalā, Ghṛtasthalā, Ghṛtāchi, Visvāchī, Urvaśī, Anumlochā, Pramlochā and Manovatī. (The two Śikhaṇdinī of the Anukr. of the Ṛgv. are also daughters of K.)—Another and more elaborate list is that of the Vāyu-Purāṇa. [It is omitted in two E. I. H. Mss. of this P. and very incorrect in four other Mss. that I consulted, belonging severally to the E. I. H., the R. A. S. and the R. S.; in some instances, as Miśrakeśī instead of Mitrakeśī, Puñjikasthalā p. Puñjakastanā, Kratusthalā p. Vṛtastanā &c. the correction appeared safe, in others it was preferable to give the doubtful reading.] This Purāṇa mentions in the first place thirty-four Apsarasas, called the Gandharva-Apsarasas or wives of the Gandharvas, and daughters of Kaśyapa by Muni (but the Mss. in question give only twenty-nine, or if Devī and Manoramā are proper names, thirty-one names): Antachārā, Daśavadyā(?), Priyaśiṣyā, Surottamā, Miśrakeśī, Śāchī, Piṇḍinī (v. l. Parṇinī), Alambuṣā, Mārīchi, Śuchikā, Vidyudvarṇā, Tilottamā, Adrikā, Lakṣaṇā(?), Devī, Rambhā, Manoramā (or: the divine, beautiful Rambhā), Sucharā, Subāhū, Sūrṇitā (?, Sūnṛtā ?), Supratiṣṭhitā, Puṇḍarīkā, Akṣagandhā (v. l. Sugandhā), Sudantā, Surasā, Hemā, Śāradvatī, Suvrittā, Kamalāchayā, Subhujā, Haṃsapādā; these are called the laukikī or worldly Apsarasas; then six daughters of Gandharvas: Suyaśā, Gāndharvī, Vidyāvatī, Aśvavatī, Sumukhī, Varānanā; and four daughters of Suyaśā, also called Apsaras: Lauheyī, Bharatā, Kṛśāṅgī (v. l. Kṛṣṇāṅgī) and Viśālā; then eight daughters of Kaśyapa by Ariṣṭā: Anavadyā, Anavaśā, Atyantamadanapriyā, Surūpā, Subhagā, Bhāsī, Manovatī and Sukeśī; then the daivati or divine Apsarasas: Vedakā (sic, but v. l. Menakā), Sahajanyā, Parṇinī, Puñjikasthalā, Kratusthalā, Ghṛtāchī, Viśvāchī, Pūrvachitti, Pramlochā, Anumlochantī, to whom are added Urvaśī, born from the thigh of Nārāyaṇa, and Menakā the daughter of Brahman. Besides these the Vāyu-P. mentions fourteen Gaṇas or classes of Apsarasas: 1. The Śobhayantyas, produced by the mind (manas) of Brahman, 2. the Vegavatyas born in heaven (? the Mss. svariṣṭāḥ), 3. the Ūryās (?, perhaps Ūrjas, comp. Vājas. 18. 41.), produced by Agni (comp. Vājas. 18. 38.), 4. the Āyuvatyas, by the Sun (comp. Vājas. 18. 39.), 5. the Śubhañcharās, by Wind (comp. Vājas. 18. 41.), 6. the Kuravas(?), by the Moon (Mss.: … somasya jñeyāste kuravaḥ śubhāḥ; perhaps their name is Bhekurayas, as occurring also in another passage of one Ms.; comp. Vājas. 18. 40.), 7. the Śubhās (?), by Sacrifice (; their name is perhaps Stāvās, comp. Vājas. 18. 42.), 8. the Vahnayas (? perhaps Eṣṭayas, comp. Vājas. 18. 43.), by the Richand Sāman-verses, 9. the Amṛtās, by Amṛta, 10. the Mudas by Water; (three Mss. have vāyutpannāḥ and one Ms. vāyūtpannāḥ which however must be corrected vāryutpannāḥ, since vāyujāḥ occurs under 5; comp. Vājas. 18. 38), 11. the Bhavās(?), by the Earth, 12. the Ruchas, by Lightning, 13. the Bhairavās, by Death (comp. Vājas. 24. 37.) and 14. the Śoṣayantyas, by Love; (this list is probably meant by the author of the Kādambarī, who—ed. Calc. p. 122— professes to give fourteen classes of Apsarasas, but, in fact, only names thirteen, fathering moreover one class on Daksha).—The Harivaṃśa (v. 6798) speaks of seven Gaṇas of Apsarasas, but, without naming them. Vyādi, ad quoted in a comm. on Hemachandra, mentions an Apsaras Prabhāvatī as born from a hole in the ground for receiving the fire consecrated to Brahman, Vedavatī as born from an altar-ground, Sulochanā from Yama, Urvaśī from the left thigh of Viṣṇu, Rambhā from the mouth of Brahman, Chitralekhā from his hand, and from his head Mahāchittā, Kākalikā, Mārīchī, Sūchikā, Vidyutparṇā, Tilottamā, Adrikā, Lakṣaṇā, Kṣemā, the divine and beautiful Rāmā (or Divyā, Rāmā, Manoramā), Hemā, Sugandhā, Suvasu, Subāhū, Suvratā, Asitā, Śāradvatī, Puṇḍarīkā, Surasā, Sūnṛtā, Suvātā, Kāmalā, Haṃsapadī, Sumukhī, Menakā, Sahajanyā, Parṇinī, Puñjikasthalā, Ṛtusthalā, Ghṛtāchī and Viśvāchī. [c.]) Originally these divinities seem to have been personifications of the vapours which are attracted by the Sun and form into mist or clouds; their character may be thus interpreted in the few hymns of the Ṛgveda where mention is made of them. At a subsequent period when the Gandharva of the Ṛgveda who personifies there especially the Fire of the Sun, expanded into the Fire of Lightning, the rays of the Moon and other attributes of the elementary life of heaven as well as into pious acts referring to it, the Apsarasas become divinities which represent phenomena or objects both of a physical and ethical kind closely associated with that life; thus in the Yajurveda Sunbeams are called the Apsarasas associated with the Gandharva who is the Sun; Plants are termed the Apsarasas associated with the Gandharva Fire: Constellations are the Apsarasas of the Gandharva Moon: Waters the A. of the G. Wind: Sacrificial gifts the A. of the G. Sacrifice: Richand Sāman hymns the A. of the G. Manas (creating will); in another passage of the Vājas. Fire is connected (Mahīdhara: in the two months of Vasanta or spring) with the two Apsarasas Puñjikasthalā and Kratusthalā (considered by the comm. as personifications of a principal and an intermediate point of the compass), Wind (Viswakarman) with Menakā and Sahajanyā (comm.: in the two months of Grīṣma or the hot season), Sun (Viśvavyachas) with Pramlochantī and Anumlochantī (comm.: in the two months of Varṣā or the rainy season), Sacrifice (Samyadvasu) with Viśvāchī and Ghṛtāchī (comm.: in the two months of Śarad or the sultry season), Parjanya (Arvāgvasu) with Urvaśī and Pūrvachitti (comm.: in the two months of Hemanta or the cold season).—This latter idea becomes then more systematized in the Purāṇas, when a description is given of the Genii that attend the chariot of the Sun in its yearly course; thus the Bhāgavata P. mentions that besides the Ṛṣis, Gandharvas &c. also one Gaṇa or troup of Apsarasas pays adoration to the Sun every month; and the Viṣṇu P., that among the Genii who preside each in every month over the chariot of the Sun, Kratusthalā performs this function in the month Madhu, Punjikasthalā in the month Mādhava, Menā in Śuchi, Sahajanyā in Śukra, Pramlochā in Nabhas, Anumlochā in Bhādrapada, Ghṛtachī in Āsvina, Visvāchī in Kārttika, Urvaśī in Agrahāyaṇa, Pūrvachitti in Pausha, Tilottamā in Māgha, Rambhā in Phālguna; an analogous description is given in the Vāyu P. with the only difference that Viprachitti takes the place of Pūrvachitti, apparently with less correctness, as this account is a strict developement of the quoted passage of the Yajurveda (Vājas. 15. 15-19.). In the last mythological epoch when the Gandharvas have saved from their elementary nature merely so much as to be the musicians in the paradise of Indra, the Apsarasas appear amongst other subordinate deities which share in the merry life of Indra’s heaven, as the wives of the Gandharvas, but more especially as wives of a licentious sort, and they are promised therefore, too, as a reward to heroes fallen in battle when they are received in the paradise of Indra; and while, in the Ṛgveda, they assist Soma to pour down his floods, they descend in the epic literature on earth merely to shake the virtue of penitent Sages and to deprive them of the power they would have otherwise acquired through unbroken austerities.—To this association of the ethical with the physical element in the character of the Apsarasas belongs also that view expressed by Manu, according to which the Soul in its transmigrations is reborn as Apsaras when it was in its previous existence under the influence of rajas or passion; and probably too the circumstance, that in the Atharvaveda they are fond of dice, and three Apsarasas, whose names are given above, are supposed to have the power of removing faults committed at gambling with dice. The word occurs also in the form apsarā, and may be written, besides, apssaras accord. to Kātyāyana, or aphsaras accord. to Pauṣkarasādi; (these latter forms however are not varieties of the form apsaras, but the consequence of general Sandhi rules; the first is given as an instance by Patanjali, the latter by the Kāśikā). E. ap and saras (sṛ, uṇ. aff. asi), liter. ‘coming from the waters’ (Rāyam.: vāruṇapradhānatvādadbhyaḥ sṛtā ityapsarasaḥ); this is the most probable E.; it is given also by Yāska who mentions besides an improbable one by Śākapūṇi, viz. from apsas ‘form, beauty’ which he completes by adding the latter part of the comp., ras (from ), when the word would mean according to him, ‘a woman endowed with beauty (rūpavatī)’ or ‘one by whom beauty is taken (tad—scil. rūpam—anayāttam)’ or ‘one to whom beauty is given (tadasyai dattam)’; a similar E. is intended by the passage of the Śatapath. (Ix. 4. 1. 4.): gandharvāpsaraso hi bhūtvodakrāmannatho gandhena ca vai rūpeṇa ca gandharvāpsarasaścaranti, on which the comm. of Sāyaṇa runs thus (E. I. H. 149): gandhena ca (Ms. sic) vai rūpeṇa (Ms. vai śca rūpeṇa sic) ca gandharvāpsarasaścarantītyanena (Ms. gandharvopsaºº sic) gandharvaśabdopsaraḥśabdaśca nirucyate . gandhena viśantīti (Ms. gandhona viśintīti sic) gandharvāḥ . apsaśabdena (Ms. apraśabdena sic) rūpamabhidhīyate . tena viśiṣṭāścarantīti apsarasaḥ . gandharvāpsarasaḥ . gandharvāpsaraḥśabdayoḥ pṛṣodarāditvāt (Pāṇ. Vi. 3. 109.) varṇāgamāditi vidhānenokta evārthe sādhutvaṃ draṣṭavyam, when the word would literally mean: ‘going (distinguished) with beauty’; (comp. the quotation of Patanj. on Pāṇ. V. 2. 95: urvaśī vai rūpiṇyapsarasām), but this kind of popular E. of the word is as little plausible as that given by the Rāmāyaṇa, according to which these deities would derive their name from the circumstance that they arose from the essence (rasa) which was obtained from the churning ‘in the waters’ (apsu) of the ocean.

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Apsarā (अप्सरा):—[tatpurusha compound] f.

(-rā) The same as apsaras of which it is a shorter form.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Yates Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Apsaras (अप्सरस्):—plu. (rāḥ) 5. f. Courtezans of paradise, nymphs.

2) Apsarā (अप्सरा):—[apsa+rā] (rā) 1. f. An Apsarā.

Source: DDSA: Paia-sadda-mahannavo; a comprehensive Prakrit Hindi dictionary (S)

Apsaras (अप्सरस्) in the Sanskrit language is related to the Prakrit words: Accharasā, Accharā.

[Sanskrit to German]

Apsaras in German

context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family (even English!). Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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Hindi dictionary

[«previous next»] — Apsaras in Hindi glossary
Source: DDSA: A practical Hindi-English dictionary

Apsarā (अप्सरा):—(nf) a celestial damsel, fairy; nymph.

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Kannada-English dictionary

Source: Alar: Kannada-English corpus

Apsara (ಅಪ್ಸರ):—[noun] = ಅಪ್ಸರೆ [apsare].

context information

Kannada is a Dravidian language (as opposed to the Indo-European language family) mainly spoken in the southwestern region of India.

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