Ashva, aka: Aśva, Aśvā, Āśva; 14 Definition(s)


Ashva means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, the history of ancient India. 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 Aśva and Aśvā and Āśva can be transliterated into English as Asva or Ashva, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Aśva (अश्व) falls under the category of domesticated animals (grāmya-paśu) according to the Vāyu Purāṇa.

Aśva—The horse is said to have been born of the Creator’s feet. It is included in the list of domesticated animals. We have notes references to stables for horses and to horse-riding. Horses are good gifts for Brahmins in śrāddha and they are regarded useful in sacrificis. Horses were yoked to chariots. A horse was one of the select jewels (atiśaya-ratnāni) of a cakravartin in the Tretā age. The horses of the Gāndhāra country are said to be the best amongst the species. The Aśvinī-nakṣatra is said to be favourable to the acquisition of horses.

Source: Google Books: Cultural History from the Vāyu Purāna

1) Aśva (अश्व).—A demon. This was the same demon who later on was born as Aśoka, King of Kaliṅga. (Chapter 67, Ādi Parva, Mahābhārata).

2) Aśva (अश्व).—A maharṣi. The sage Vaśa is the son of this ṛṣi. (Sūkta 112 of Ṛgveda).

3) Aśva (अश्व).—(Horse). Horses and camels were born, in this world, of Tāmrā, wife of Kaśyapa, grandson of Brahmā. (Agni Purāṇa, Chapter 19).

Source: Puranic Encyclopaedia

1a) Aśva (अश्व).—An avatār of Hari.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. 2. 40.

1b) A Satya god, and a progenitor.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 36. 35; III. 11. 76.

1c) A son of Khaśā and a Rākṣasa.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 7. 136.

1d) A horse of the moon's chariot.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 52. 53.

1e) A son of Citraka.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 96. 114.

1f) A class of people similar to Caṇḍālas.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. 24. 28.

1g) Created from the feet of the Lord;1 horses of Tāmrā line.2

  • 1) Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 5. 49.
  • 2) Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 21. 17.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

Aśva (अश्व) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.59.24, I.65, I.61.14) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Aśva) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

Source: JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
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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Ayurveda (science of life)

Aśva (अश्व)—Sanskrit word for the animal “horse”. This animal is from the group called Grāmya (‘domestic animals’). Grāmya itself is a sub-group of the group of animals known as Jāṅghala (living in high ground and in a jungle).

Source: Sushruta samhita, Volume I
Ayurveda book cover
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Āyurveda (आयुर्वेद, ayurveda) is a branch of Indian science dealing with medicine, herbalism, taxology, anatomy, surgery, alchemy and related topics. Traditional practice of Āyurveda in ancient India dates back to at least the first millenium BC. Literature is commonly written in Sanskrit using various poetic metres.

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Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Aśva (अश्व, “Horse”):—In Vedas horse has deeper meaning. “It is an image of the great dynamic force of life, of the vital and nervous energy. It is a force, a figure of prāṇa, the universal life energy (prāṇāyāma is based on this principle)” and “he who knows the summit of intelligence of the horse, becomes illumined and fit for the sacrifice.” Subtly it can be explained that Rudra presides and control our prāṇa. Thus salutations are offered to Him as the controller of prāṇa.

Source: Manblunder: Sri Rudram 4.1-6
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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.

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Vastushastra (architecture)

Aśvā (अश्वा, “mare”) refers to the first of eight yoni (womb), according to the Mānasāra. It is also known by the name Dhvajā. Yoni is the fourth of the āyādiṣaḍvarga, or “six principles” that constitute the “horoscope” of an architectural or iconographic object. Their application is intended to “verify” the measurements of the architectural and iconographic object against the dictates of astrology that lay out the conditions of auspiciousness.

The particular yoni (eg., aśvā) of all architectural and iconographic objects (settlement, building, image) must be calculated and ascertained. This process is based on the principle of the remainder. An arithmetical formula to be used in each case is stipulated, which engages one of the basic dimensions of the object (breadth, length, or perimeter/circumference). The first, third, fifth and seventh yonis are considered auspicious and therefore to be preferred, and the rest, inauspicious and to be avoided.

Source: Wisdom Library: Vāstu-śāstra
Vastushastra book cover
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Vastushastra (वास्तुशास्त्र, vāstuśāstra) refers to the ancient Indian science (shastra) of architecture (vastu), dealing with topics such architecture, sculpture, town-building, fort building and various other constructions. Vastu also deals with the philosophy of the architectural relation with the cosmic universe.

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Vyakarana (Sanskrit grammar)

Asva (अस्व).—Not homogeneous: asavarṇa. cf. इवर्णादेः अस्वे स्वरे यवरलम् (ivarṇādeḥ asve svare yavaralam) Hem. I.2.21, also अस्वे (asve) Śāk.I.1.73.

Source: Wikisource: A dictionary of Sanskrit grammar
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Vyakarana (व्याकरण, vyākaraṇa) refers to Sanskrit grammar and represents one of the six additional sciences (vedanga) to be studied along with the Vedas. Vyakarana concerns itself with the rules of Sanskrit grammar and linguistic analysis in order to establish the correct context of words and sentences.

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In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Aśva (अश्व, “horse”) represents an incarnation destination of the tiryaggati (animal realm) according to the “world of transmigration” section in the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter XXVII).—The Bodhisattva sees the animals (tiryak) undergoing all the torments: they are made to gallop by blows of the whip or stick; they are made to make long journeys carrying burdens; their harness is damaged; they are branded with hot iron. People who, in their former lives, have trussed them up, whipped them or been guilty of crimes of this kind, assume the animal form of an elephant (haja), a horse (aśva), a cow (go), a sheep (eḍaka) or a deer (mṛga).

Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
Mahayana book cover
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Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

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General definition (in Buddhism)

Aśva (अश्व, “horse”) or Aśvaratna refers to the “horse jewel” and represents the second of the “seven jewels of universal monarchs” (saptaratna) as defined in the Dharma-saṃgraha (section 85). The Dharma-samgraha (Dharmasangraha) is an extensive glossary of Buddhist technical terms in Sanskrit (eg., aśva). The work is attributed to Nagarjuna who lived around the 2nd century A.D.

Source: Wisdom Library: Dharma-samgraha

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Aśva (अश्व, “horse”).—One of the fourteen gems (ratna) serving the Cakravartin;—The aśva is a beautiful horse which is endowed with auspicious signs.

Source: Google Books: Jainism: An Indian Religion of Salvation
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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Languages of India and abroad

Sanskrit-English dictionary

Aśva (अश्व).—[aśnute adhvānaṃ vyāpnoti, mahāśano vā bhavati Nir.; aś-kvan Uṇ.1.149]

1) A horse; the horses are said to have 7 breeds:अमृताद् बाष्पतो वह्नेर्वेदेभ्योऽण्डाच्च गर्भतः । साम्नो हयानामुत्पत्तिः सप्तधा परिकीर्तिता (amṛtād bāṣpato vahnervedebhyo'ṇḍācca garbhataḥ | sāmno hayānāmutpattiḥ saptadhā parikīrtitā) ||

2) A symbolical expression for the number 'seven' (that being the number of the horses of the Sun) सूर्याश्वैर्मसजस्तताः सगुरवः शार्दूलविक्रीडितम् (sūryāśvairmasajastatāḥ saguravaḥ śārdūlavikrīḍitam) V. Ratn.

3) A race of men (horselike in strength); काष्ठतुल्यवपुर्धृष्यो मिथ्याचारश्च निर्भयः । द्वादशाङ्गुलमेढ्रश्च दरिद्रस्तु हयो मतः (kāṣṭhatulyavapurdhṛṣyo mithyācāraśca nirbhayaḥ | dvādaśāṅgulameḍhraśca daridrastu hayo mataḥ) ||

-śvau (du.) A horse and a mare.

-śvāḥ horses and mares. [cf. L. equus; Gr. hippos; Zend aspa; Pers. asp.]

Derivable forms: aśvaḥ (अश्वः).

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Aśvā (अश्वा).—A mare.

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Asva (अस्व).—a.

1) Indigent, poor (nāsti svaṃ dhanaṃ yasya) स्मृत्यनुरोधादस्वा स्यात् (smṛtyanurodhādasvā syāt) ŚB. on MS.6.1.2.

2) Not one's own.

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Āśva (आश्व).—a. (-śvī f.) [अश्वस्येदम् अण् (aśvasyedam aṇ)]

1) Belonging to or coming from a horse, equestrian; आश्वं कफहरं मूत्रं कृमि- दद्रुषु शस्यते (āśvaṃ kaphaharaṃ mūtraṃ kṛmi- dadruṣu śasyate) Suśr.

2) Drawn by horses (as a chariot).

-śvam 1 A number of horses.

2) A chariot drawn by horses.

3) The state or action of a horse (aśvasya bhāvaḥ karma vā Sk.).

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. 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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