Ashrama, Āśrama, Aśrama: 24 definitions



Ashrama means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, the history of ancient India, Marathi, Hindi. 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.

The Sanskrit terms Āśrama and Aśrama can be transliterated into English as Asrama or Ashrama, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

Alternative spellings of this word include Asram.

In Hinduism

Vaishnavism (Vaishava dharma)

Source: Prabhupada Books: Sri Caitanya Caritamrta

Āśrama (आश्रम).—The spiritual orders-brahmacarya, gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsa are called āśramas. If one executes his prescribed duty in both the social and spiritual order, the Supreme Personality of Godhead is satisfied. If one neglects his duties, however, he becomes a transgressor and a candidate for a hellish condition.

Source: Pure Bhakti: Bhagavad-gita (4th edition)

Āśrama (आश्रम) refers to “(1) Stage of life, either student (brahmacārī), householder (gṛhastha), retired (vānaprastha) or renounced (sannyāsa) (2) Hermitage”. (cf. Glossary page from Śrīmad-Bhagavad-Gītā).

Source: Pure Bhakti: Bhajana-rahasya - 2nd Edition

Āśrama (आश्रम) refers to:—One of the four stages of life: brahmācārī, gṛhastha, vānaprastha and sannyāsa. (cf. Glossary page from Bhajana-Rahasya).

Source: Pure Bhakti: Arcana-dipika - 3rd Edition

Āśrama (आश्रम) refers to the “four stages of life”, according to the Arcana-dīpikā (manual on deity worship).—It is mentioned in various śāstras that a person belonging to any of the four occupational divisions (varṇas) or four stages of life (āśramas) has the right to become a Vaiṣṇava by accepting the viṣṇu-mantras and then engaging in the worship of Śrī Viṣṇu.

Vaishnavism book cover
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Vaishnava (वैष्णव, vaiṣṇava) or vaishnavism (vaiṣṇavism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshipping Vishnu as the supreme Lord. Similar to the Shaktism and Shaivism traditions, Vaishnavism also developed as an individual movement, famous for its exposition of the dashavatara (‘ten avatars of Vishnu’).

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Source: Puranic Encyclopedia

Āśrama (आश्रम).—Asramites (Inmates of an Āśrama) have to pass through four stages. The four stages of Brahmacarya, Gārhasthya, Vānaprastha and Sannyāsa are known as the four Āśramas. Viṣṇu Purāṇa, Part III, Chapter 9 describes each of the Āśramas as follows: Brahmacarya. "After Upanayana a boy should maintain a Brahmacārī’s vrata, engage himself in the study of the Vedas, suppress his indriyas (the five senses) and live in the house of the preceptor. Living there with proper observance of śauca, customs and vratas he should serve and attend on the Guru. The study of Vedas should be with proper observance of Vratas and steady attention. A Brahmacārī should worship with concentration, the Sun and Agni at the time of the two sandhyās (dawn and dusk) and after that he should do obeisance to the Guru. When the Guru stands, he should also be standing. When the guru walks, he should walk behind him and when he sits, he should sit in a lower position. The Śiṣya (disciple-pupil) should not do anything against the guru. When the guru himself asks, the Śiṣya should sit in front of him and recite Vedas without attending to anything else. After that, with his permission he may eat food which has been got by begging. The Śiṣya may take his bath in the water only after the Ācārya (guru) has taken his bath in it. Everyday the Camata, darbha, water and flowers which the guru needs, must be brought and supplied (by the Śiṣya). (See full article at Story of Āśrama from the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani)

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

Āśrama (आश्रम).—(āśramadharma)—four, brahmacarya, gṛhasta, vānaprastha and bhikṣuka; duties:—brahmacarya study by service to guru and begging food; gṛhasta the source and strength of all āśramas; those celibate do penance, sacrifice, give birth to sons, perform śrāddha, learn the Vedas and give gifts of food; dārāgni, guests, sacrifice and śrāddha; become devapitṛs; vānaprastha bathe in morning and evening and on ceremonials; eating of fruits and roots, non-theft, purity, sympathy and non-injury—ten kinds of dharma; bhikṣu: daṇḍi, mekhali, and lying in ground floor.1 A reference to the fifth āśrama;2 will be lost at the end of Kaliyuga when anarchy prevails.3

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa VII. 12. 1-31; 13. 1-10; 14. to the end; Matsya-purāṇa 141. 61-2; 248. 16; Vāyu-purāṇa 8. 177-88; 23. 82; 33. 27; 56. 68; 61. 167; Viṣṇu-purāṇa III. 8. 20; ch. 9 (whole).
  • 2) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 16. 15; III. 15. 37-8.
  • 3) Matsya-purāṇa 47. 257.
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.

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Dharmashastra (religious law)

Source: Knowledge Traditions & Practices of India: Education: Systems & Practices

Āśrama (आश्रम) refers to secluded areas the gurukulas (teacher’s house) were located, forming part of the ancient Indian education system, which aimed at both the inner and the outer dimension of a person. The secluded, often forested areas, where gurukulas were generally located were known as āśramas. These āśramas bore the name of the guru. Ancient texts mention many such āśramas where pupils gathered and lived with the teacher.

Source: Shodhganga: The saurapurana - a critical study (dharma)

Āśrama (आश्रम) refers to the “four stages of life” of ancient India, according to the 10th century Saurapurāṇa: one of the various Upapurāṇas depicting Śaivism.— The word āśrama is derived from śram to exert, to labour, and etymologically means to a stage in which one exerts oneself. From the times of the most ancient dharmaśāstras the number of āśramas has been four:—Brahmacarya, Gṛhastha, Vānaprastha and Sannyāsa (Sannyāsin).

The first part of āśrama [i.e. man’s life] is brahmacarya in which he learns at his teacher’s house and after he has finished his study, in the second part of his life, he marries and becomes a house holder (gṛhastha), discharges his debts to his ancestors by begetting sons and to the gods by performing sacrifices. When he sees that his head has grey hair and that there are wrinkles on his, body he resorts to the forest i.e. he becomes a vānaprastha. After spending the third part of his life in the forest for some times he spends the rest of his life as a sannyāsin.

The scheme of the āśrama is based on the ethical principle that man should discharge his duties fully before aspiring for liberation from the bonds of the flesh and the world. The path of duty is the way to glory. Before desiring to be absolved from the bonds of existence he has to absolve himself from the threefold debt he owes to the sages, gods and ancestors. He does it by Vedic study, through sacrifice and through progeny. The first two stages, Brahmacarya and Gārhasthya offer the aspirant ample scope for discharging these debts. And by discharging them he contributes to the progress of society in its intellectual, economic and numerical aspects.

Dharmashastra book cover
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Dharmashastra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharmaśāstra) contains the instructions (shastra) regarding religious conduct of livelihood (dharma), ceremonies, jurisprudence (study of law) and more. It is categorized as smriti, an important and authoritative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.

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Arthashastra (politics and welfare)

Source: Knowledge Traditions & Practices of India: Indian Ethics: Individual and Social

Āśrama (आश्रम) refers to “stage of life”.—In the Hindu way of life, every individual is expected to perform his or her duty appropriate to his or her caste (varṇa) and stage of life (āśrama). This division of one’s life into the four āśramas and their respective dharmas, was designed, in principle at least, to provide fulfilment to the person in his social, moral and spiritual aspects, and so to lead to harmony and balance in the society.

The four āśramas are:

  1. brahmacarya, stage of studentship;
  2. gṛhastha, stage of the householder;
  3. vanaprastha, life in the forest;
  4. saṃnyāsa, renunciation.
Arthashastra book cover
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Arthashastra (अर्थशास्त्र, arthaśāstra) literature concerns itself with the teachings (shastra) of economic prosperity (artha) statecraft, politics and military tactics. The term arthashastra refers to both the name of these scientific teachings, as well as the name of a Sanskrit work included in such literature. This book was written (3rd century BCE) by by Kautilya, who flourished in the 4th century BCE.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

Source: A Handful of Leaves: The Āśrama System

The four āśramas (आश्रम) are the modes of life of a celibate student, a married householder, a forest hermit, and a world renouncer. Brāhmaṇical theology considers these āśramas as constitutive and interrelated parts of an organic whole made up of the rules (dharmas) that govern human conduct; this organic whole is often simply referred to as dharma.

Source: Texas Liberal Arts: Āśrama and Saṃnyāsa

The term Āśrama (आश्रम) has two related meanings. The first is that of a residence, often located in forests, where holy people live and perform religious austerities (→ tapas). This is by far its most common meaning; it is so used in Brahmanical, Buddhist, and Jain literary sources, as well as in nonreligious texts such as drama, poetry, and fables.

The second meaning of the term is that of a religiousor holy way of life. The latter is, in all likelihood, a technical usage, as it occurs exclusively in Brāhmaṇical literature and mainly within thecontext of the āśrama system.

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Source: Jaina Yoga

Āśrama (आश्रम).—Amongst the Digambaras Cāmuṇḍarāya has taken over the Hindu concept of the four āśramas, which, following Jinasena, he terms brahmacārin, gṛhastha, vānaprastha, and bhikṣu.

General definition book cover
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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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India history and geogprahy

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Indian Epigraphical Glossary

Āśrama.—(EI 13) a stage of life; a religious establishment (Ep. Ind., Vol. XXX, p. 67); cf. Caṇḍika-aśrama-guru (IA 11), ‘the Superior of the hermitage of Caṇḍikā’. (IE 7-1-2), ‘four’. Note: āśrama is defined in the “Indian epigraphical glossary” as it can be found on ancient inscriptions commonly written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or Dravidian languages.

India history book cover
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The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

āśrama (आश्रम).—m (S) A religious order. There are four kinds, referable to the four ages of life; viz. brahma- carya, gārhasthya, vānaprasthya, sannyāsa. 2 A hermitage, an abode of saints and sages. 3 An order among Gosavis.

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

āśrama (आश्रम).—m A religious order. A hermitage.

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

Aśrama (अश्रम).—a. Ved. Indefatigable, untiring. Rv.7.69.7.

-maḥ 1 Freedom from fatigue, freshness, vigour.

2) Absence of toil, laziness.

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Āśrama (आश्रम).—[ā-śram ādhāre ghañ vṛddhayabhāvaḥ]

1) A hermitage, hut, cell, dwelling or abode of ascetics; शरणान्यशरण्यानि आश्रमाणि कृतानि नः (śaraṇānyaśaraṇyāni āśramāṇi kṛtāni naḥ) Rām.7.6.5.

2) A stage, order, or period of the (religious) life of a Brāhmaṇa (These are four:-brahmacarya the life of a student; gārhasthya the life of a house-holder; vānaprastha the life of an anchorite or hermit, and saṃnyāsa the life of a Bhikṣu or beggar. Kṣatriyas (and Vśiyas also) can enter, upon the first three Āśramas; cf. Ś.7.18; V.5; (according to some authorities they can enter the fourth also; cf. sa kilāśramamantyamāśritaḥ R.8.14; pūrvāśramaḥ Ku.5.5.

3) A college, school.

4) A wood or thicket (where ascetics practise penance).

5) Name of Viṣṇu.

Derivable forms: āśramaḥ (आश्रमः), āśramam (आश्रमम्).

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

Aśrama (अश्रम).—m.

(-maḥ) 1. Freshness, freedom from fatigue. 2. Laziness, want of exertion. E. a neg. śrama fatigue.

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Āśrama (आश्रम).—m.

(-maḥ) 1. A religious order, of which there are four kinds referable to the different periods of life; 1st, that of the student or Brahmachari; 2d, that of the householder or Grihast'ha; 3d, that of the anchorite or Vanaprast'ha; and 4th, that of the beggar or Bhikshu; see brahmacārī, &c. 2. A college, a school. 3. A hermitage, the abode of retired saints or sages. 4. A wood or thicket. E. āṅ before śrama to perform religious austerities, affix ghañ.

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

Āśrama (आश्रम).—[ā-śram + a], m. and n. 1. An hermitage. 2. A religious order of which there are four (or only three, [Mānavadharmaśāstra] 2, 230) kinds referable to the different periods of a Brāhmaṇa’s life, [Mānavadharmaśāstra] 3, 2.

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Aśrama (अश्रम).—m. absence of weariness, [Raghuvaṃśa, (ed. Stenzler.)] 2, 67.

Aśrama is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms a and śrama (श्रम).

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

Aśrama (अश्रम).—1. [masculine] absence of fatigue.

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Aśrama (अश्रम).—[adjective] unwearied, indefatigable.

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Aśrama (अश्रम).—2. [adjective] unwearied, indefatigable.

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Āśrama (आश्रम).—[masculine] hermitage; one of the (four) orders of religious life (also pada [neuter]).

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

1) Aśrama (अश्रम):—[=a-śrama] mfn. indefatigable, [Ṛg-veda vii, 69, 7]

2) [v.s. ...] idem, [Ṛg-veda vi, 21, 12]

3) Asrāma (अस्राम):—[=a-srāma] mf(ā)n. not lame, [Atharva-veda i, 31, 3]

4) [v.s. ...] not withered, [Gobhila-śrāddha-kalpa]

5) Āśrama (आश्रम):—[=ā-śrama] mn. (√śram), a hermitage, the abode of ascetics, the cell of a hermit or of retired saints or sages, [Manu-smṛti; Rāmāyaṇa; Daśakumāra-carita; Raghuvaṃśa; Meghadūta] etc.

6) [v.s. ...] a stage in the life of a Brāhman (of which there are four corresponding to four different periods or conditions, viz. 1st, Brahmacārin, ‘student of the Veda’; 2nd, Gṛha-stha, ‘householder’; 3rd, Vānaprastha, ‘anchorite’; and 4th, Saṃnyāsin, ‘abandoner of all worldly concerns’, or sometimes Bhikṣu, ‘religious beggar’; in some places the law-givers mention only three such periods of religious life, the first being then omitted), [Manu-smṛti; Rāmāyaṇa; Suśruta; Raghuvaṃśa] etc.

7) [v.s. ...] a hut built on festal occasions, [Varāha-mihira’s Bṛhat-saṃhitā]

8) [v.s. ...] a college, school

9) [v.s. ...] a wood or thicket, [cf. Lexicographers, esp. such as amarasiṃha, halāyudha, hemacandra, etc.]

10) [v.s. ...] m. Name of a pupil of Pṛthvī-dhara.

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

1) Aśrama (अश्रम):—[a-śrama] (maḥ) 1. m. Untiredness.

2) Āśrama (आश्रम):—[ā-śrama] (maḥ) 1. m. A religious order; a hermitage; a school; a wood.

[Sanskrit to German] (Deutsch Wörterbuch)

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Böhtlingk and Roth Grosses Petersburger Wörterbuch

Aśrama (अश्रम):—1. (3. a + śra) m. Abwesenheit von Müdigkeit: aśrameṇa ohne Müdigkeit [Raghuvaṃśa 2, 67.]

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Aśrama (अश्रम):—2. (wie eben) adj. unermüdlich [Ṛgveda 7, 69, 8.]

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Asrāma (अस्राम):—(3. a + srāma) adj. nicht steif, nicht lahm [Atharvavedasaṃhitā 1, 31, 3.]

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Āśrama (आश्रम):—(von śram mit ā) m. n. gaṇa ardharcādi zu [Pāṇini’s acht Bücher 2, 4, 31.] [Siddhāntakaumudī 249], a, [3 v. u.] [Trikāṇḍaśeṣa 3, 5, 10.]

1) Einsiedelei, der Aufenthaltsort der Büsser [Trikāṇḍaśeṣa 3, 3, 292.] [Hemacandra’s Abhidhānacintāmaṇi 1001.] [Anekārthasaṃgraha 3, 461.] [Medinīkoṣa Manu’s Gesetzbuch 39.] [Manu’s Gesetzbuch 6, 7. 11, 78.] [Nalopākhyāna 12, 71.] [Daśaratha’s Tod 2, 7.] [Rāmāyaṇa 1, 2, 9. 3, 17. 8, 23. 9, 12.] [Raghuvaṃśa 1, 35. 2, 67.] [Meghadūta 1. 99.] m. [Nalopākhyāna 9, 22. 17, 45.] [Daśaratha’s Tod 1, 42.] [Rāmāyaṇa 2, 54, 23. 3, 1, 2.] [Śākuntala 7, 10. 28, 15. 100, 8.] n. pl. [Viśvāmitra’s Kampf 11, 10.] Am Ende eines adj. comp. f. ā [Sundopasundopākhyāna 2, 24.] āśramaparvan heisst der erste Abschnitt im 15ten Buch des [Mahābhārata] —

2) ein Stadium im religiösen Leben des Brahmanen, deren es vier giebt: das des Brahmacārin oder Schülers, das des Gṛhastha oder Hausvaters, das des Vānaprastha oder Einsiedlers und endlich das des Bhikṣu oder Bettlers, [Amarakoṣa 2, 7, 3.] [Trikāṇḍaśeṣa] [Hemacandra’s Abhidhānacintāmaṇi 808.] [Hemacandra’s Anekārthasaṃgraha] [Medinīkoṣa] vedānadhītya vedau vā vedaṃ vāpi yathākramam . aviplutabrahmacaryo gṛhasthāśramamāvaset .. [Manu’s Gesetzbuch 3, 2.] evaṃ gṛhāśrame sthitvā vidhivatsnātako dvijaḥ . vane vasettu niyato yathāvadvijitendriyaḥ .. [6, 1.] vaneṣu tu vihṛtyaivaṃ tṛtīyaṃ bhāgamāyuṣaḥ . caturthamāyuṣo bhāgaṃ tyaktvā saṅgānparivrajet .. āśramādāśramaṃ gatvā hutahomo jitondriyaḥ . bhikṣābalipariśrāntaḥ pravrajanpretya vardhate .. [33. 34.] brahmacārī gṛhasthaśca vānaprastho yatistathā . ete gṛhasthaprabhavāścatvāraḥ pṛthagāśramāḥ .. [87.] caturṇāmāśramāṇām [7, 17. 12, 97.] An einigen Stellen des Manu ist nur von drei Stadien die Rede, wobei das des Schülers nicht mitgerechnet wird: ta eva hi trayo lokāsta eva traya āśramāḥ [2, 230.] yathā vāyuṃ samāśritya vartante sarvajantavaḥ . tathā gṛhasthamāśritya vartante sarva āśramāḥ .. yasmāttrayo pyāśramiṇo jñānenānnena cānvaham . gṛhasthenaiva dhāryante tasmājjyeṣṭhāśramo gṛhī .. [3, 77. 78. - 3, 50. 6, 66. 7, 35. 8, 390. 12, 102.] caturṇāmāśramāṇāṃ hi gārhasthyaṃ śreṣṭhamāśramam . āhuḥ [Rāmāyaṇa 2, 106, 21.] varṇāśramāṇāṃ rakṣitā [Śākuntala 63, 16.] pāṣaṇḍāśramavarṇānām [Suśruta 1, 104, 20.] āśramamantyamāśritaḥ [Raghuvaṃśa 8, 14.] tathāpi gṛhiṇā muhūrtamapyanāśramadharmiṇā na bhavitavyam [Prabodhacandrodaja 97, 4.] kiṃ na vetsyāśramakramam [Kathāsaritsāgara 24, 150.] Vgl. noch [Viṣṇupurāṇa 294. fgg.] — [Medinīkoṣa Manu’s Gesetzbuch 39] hat noch die Bedeutnng maṭha Collegium, Schule. Die Bedeutung Wald beruht wohl nur auf irriger Auffassung von vānaprasthe vane, indem das erste Wort aller Wahrscheinlichkeit nach adj. ist. — pitṛmātrāśrame [Vetālapañcaviṃśati 32, 3] falsche Lesart für āśraye .

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Asrāma (अस्राम):—adj. f. ā nicht welk: nyagrodhaśuṅgā [GOBH. 2, 6, 6.]

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Āśrama (आश्रम):—

3) eine Hütte, welche man bei feierlichen Gelegenheiten errichtet. [Varāhamihira’s Bṛhajjātaka S. 44, 8. 16.] —

4) unter den [11] Schülern Pṛthvīdhara’s [Oxforder Handschriften 227,b,15.] Wohl nur ein Beiwort, wie [AUFRECHT] annimmt.

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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