Asita, aka: Asitā, Ashita, Aśīta, Āśita, Āsita; 15 Definition(s)


Asita means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, 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.

The Sanskrit terms Aśīta and Āśita can be transliterated into English as Asita or Ashita, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

1) Asitā (असिता).—A celestial maiden. She had taken part in the birthday celebrations of Arjuna. (Śloka 63, Chapter 122, Ādi Parva, Mahābhārata).

2) Asita (असित).—One of the Ṛṭviks of the Sarpasatra of Janamejaya. Some details. (1) The prominent Ṛtviks were Bhārgava, Kautsa, Jaimini, Sārṅgarava, Piṅgala, Vyāsa, Uddālaka Pramattaka, Śvetaketu, Asita, Devala, Nārada, Parvata, Ātreya, Kuṇḍajāra, Kālaghāṭs, Vātsya, Kohala, Devaśarmā, Maudgalya, Samasaurabha. (Chapter 53, Ādi Parva, Mahābhārata)

2) Asita, Devala, Vaiśampāyana, Sumantu and Jaimini were disciples of Vyāsa. (Prathama Skandha, Devī Bhāgavata).

2) Asita, the sage, got by the blessing of Śiva a son named Devala. (Brahmavaivarta Purāṇa).

2) Once Asita muni explained to King Janaka the philosophy of rebirth. (Brahmāṇḍa Purāṇa, Chapter 47).

Source: Puranic Encyclopaedia

1a) Asita (असित).—A siddha—called on dying Bhīṣma.1 Invited for Yudhṣṭhira's sacrifice.2 Came to Syamanta-pañcaka to see Kṛṣṇa.3 One of the sages who left Dvārakā for Piṇḍāraka.4 Went with Kṛṣṇa to Mithilā.5 Acted as purohita at Kṛṣṇa's sacrifice in Kurukṣetra.6 Identified with Hari.7 A place in the Sarasvatī sacred to Asita.8

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa VI. 15. 12; I. 9. 7.
  • 2) Ib. X. 74. 7.
  • 3) Ib. X. 84. 3.
  • 4) Ib. XI. 1. 12.
  • 5) Ib. X. 86. 18.
  • 6) Ib. X. 90. 46 [2].
  • 7) Ib. XI. 16. 28.
  • 8) Ib. III. 1. 22.

1b) A gotrakara son of Kaśyapa, married Ekaparṇā, daughter of Himavān: Father of Devala, the best among Śāṇḍilyas and Brahmiṣṭha.1 A Brahmavādin. Not to marry with members of Kaśyapa and Devala.2 A yogācarya; Ekaparṇā, his wife, gave birth to Devala by her mind.3

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 32. 112; III. 8. 29; 10. 18. Matsya-purāṇa 145. 107; Vāyu-purāṇa 59. 103; 70. 25.
  • 2) Matsya-purāṇa 199. 19.
  • 3) Vāyu-purāṇa 72. 17.

1c) The sacred hill fit for śrāddha;1 the residence of the sage Asita.2

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 13. 39.
  • 2) Vāyu-purāṇa 77. 39.

1d) The sage to whom the earth revealed the ignorance of worldly kings; this he reported to Janaka.*

  • * Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 24. 127.

1e) Same as kusumotkara.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 122. 24.

2) Asitā (असिता).—An apsaras.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 7. 7.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

Asita (असित) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.48.8, I.53) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Asita) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

Asita also refers to the name of a Mountain or Tīrtha (pilgrim’s destination) mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. III.87.9).

Asitā also refers to the name of a Lady mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.59.49, I.65).

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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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

1) Asita (असित) is the Sanskrit name of one of Bharata’s sons, mentioned in the Nāṭyaśāstra 1.26-33. After Brahmā created the Nāṭyaveda (nāṭyaśāstra), he ordered Bharata to teach the science to his (one hundred) sons. Bharata thus learned the Nāṭyaveda from Brahmā, and then made his sons study and learn its proper application. After their study, Bharata assigned his sons (eg., Asita) various roles suitable to them.

2) Asita (असित, “dark-blue”) refers to a color, according to Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 23. It is also known by the name Śyāma. According to the science of āhāryābhinaya (extraneous representation), there are four main colors (varṇa) from which various derivative and minor colors (upavarṇa) are derived. Colors are used in aṅgaracanā (painting the limbs), which forms a section of nepathya (costumes and make-up).

According to the Nāṭyaśāstra, “The Daityas, the Dānavas, the Rākṣasas, the Guhyakas, mountains (naga), the Piśācas, Yama and the sky (ākāśa) are dark blue in colour (asita)”.

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra
Natyashastra book cover
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Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (śāstra) of performing arts, (nāṭya, e.g., 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) and poetic works (kavya).

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Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Asita (असित) refers to the city of Nirṛti, situated on the south-western lower slope of mount Meru, according to Parākhyatantra 5.66. Meru is the name of a golden mountained situated in the middle of nine landmasses (navakhaṇḍa): Bhārata, Hari, Kimpuruṣa, Ramyaka, Ramaṇa, Kuru, Bhadrāśva, Ketumāla and Ilāvṛta. Together these khaṇḍas make up the continent known as Jambūdvīpa.

Asita is also known by the name Asitavatī, Rakṣovatī, Kṛṣṇāṅgārā, Kṛṣṇā or Kṛṣṇavatī and is mentioned in various other sources, eg., the Svacchanda-tantra 10.132-136, Kiraṇa-āgama 8.51-54, Mṛgendra-āgama vidyāpāda 13.47-54, Sarvajñānottara-tantra adhvaprakaraṇa 34-36 and Mataṅga-āgama vidyāpāda 23.60-63

The Parākhyatantra is an old Śaiva-siddhānta tantra dating from before the 10th century.

Source: Wisdom Library: Śaivism
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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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Jyotisha (astronomy and astrology)

Asita (असित).—1. asita pakṣa i.e., the dark half of a lunar (synodic) month. 2. The measure of the unilluminated part of the Moon. Note: Asita is a Sanskrit technical term used in ancient Indian sciences such as Astronomy, Mathematics and Geometry.

Source: Wikibooks (hi): Sanskrit Technical Terms
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Jyotisha (ज्योतिष, jyotiṣa or jyotish) refers to ‘astronomy’ or “Vedic astrology” and represents the fifth of the six Vedangas (additional sciences to be studied along with the Vedas). Jyotisha concerns itself with the study and prediction of the movements of celestial bodies, in order to calculate the auspicious time for rituals and ceremonies.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

Asita is a king of the Solar dynasty, the son of Bharata, and an ancestor of Rama. He was defeated by rival Kings from the clans of Haihayas, Talajanghas and Shashabindhus in battle. He fled to the Himalayas with his two wives. While there, he fell ill and died. At the time of his death, both his wives were pregnant.

One of the wives, named Kalindi, gave poison to the other, with the intention of inducing abortion. (Note: the verses [Rama:1.70.32-33] from which this incident is taken, can be read either way: that Kalindi is the poisoner, or that she was the victim.) However, when both went to the hermitage of sage Chyavana, he blessed the poisoned wife, saying, "A highly illustrious son shall be born to you. He shall be born with the toxin in his body, but shall live a full life." He then gave her asylum. Sagara, was born to her, with poison in his body as foretold by the sage.

Source: Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

Asita (असित): A sage who held that gambling was ruinous and should be avoided by all wise people.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

1. Asita - Often called the Buddhist Simeon, though the comparison is not quite correct. He was a sage and the chaplain of Sihahanu, father of Suddhodana. He was the teacher of the Suddhodana, and later his chaplain. He came morning and evening to see the king, Suddhodana, who showed him as great respect as he had while yet his pupil; this, we are told, is a characteristic of Sakiyan kings.

With the kings leave, Asita renounced the world and lived in the kings pleasance. In due course he developed various iddhi powers. Thenceforward he would often spend the day in the deva worlds. Once, while in Tavatimsa, he saw the whole city decked with splendour and the gods engaged in great rejoicing. On inquiry he learnt that Siddhattha Gotama, destined to become the Buddha, had been born. Immediately he went to Suddhodanas home and asked to see the babe. From the auspicious marks on its body he knew that it would become the Enlightened One and was greatly overjoyed, but realising that he himself would, by then, be born in an Arupa world and would not therefore be able to hear the Buddha preach, he wept and was sad. Having reassured the king regarding the babes future, Asita sought his sisters son, Nalaka, and ordained him that he might be ready to benefit by the Buddhas teaching when the time came. Later Asita was born in the Arupa world (Sn., pp.131-36; SnA.ii.483ff.; J.i.54f).

According to Buddhaghosa (SnA.ii.483), Asita was so called because of his dark complexion. He also had a second name, Kanha Devala (SnA.ii.487). Other names for him were Kanha Siri (Sn.v.689), Siri Kanha (SnA.487) and Kala Devala (J.i.54).

He is evidently to be distinguished from Asita Devala, also called Kala Devala.

The Lalita Vistara has two versions of Asitas prophecy, one in prose and one in verse, which, in their chief details, differ but slightly from the Pali version. In the former his nephew is called Naradatta, and Asita himself is represented as being a great sage dwelling in the Himalaya but unknown to Suddhodana.

Here is evidently a confusion of his story with that of Asita Devala. In the Mahavastu version (ii.30f) he is spoken of as the son of a brahmin of Ujjeni, and he lives in a hermitage in the Vindhya mountains. It is noteworthy that in the Jataka version he is called, not an isi, but a tapasa, an ascetic practising austerities. And there we are told that when the king brought the boy, the future Buddha, and prepared to make him do reverence to the ascetic, the babes feet turned up and placed themselves on the ascetics head. For there is no one fit to be reverenced by a Bodhisatta, and had they put the babes head at the feet of the ascetic, the ascetics head would have split into seven pieces.

The tapasa could see forty kappas into the past and forty kappas into the future. J.i.54-5. See Thomas,

Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names
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Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

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Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Asita (असित) is the name of a Ṛṣi, according to the Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter XLV.—Accordingly, “there was a Ṛṣi named A-sseu-t’o (Asita) who said to King Tsing-fan (Śuddhodana): “By means of my divine ear (divyaśrotra), I heard the Devas and Yakṣas announcing that king Śuddhodana had just had a son endowed with the bodily marks of a Buddha. That is why I have come to visit him”.

Notes: According to the Pāli sources, Asita, the old teacher and titular chaplain to king Śuddhodana, became a recluse and was living in retreat close to the royal palace, which did not prevent him from going to the Himalayan peaks and even to the Caturmahārājikadeva heaven. In the Sanskrit sources, Asita was a native of Dakṣiṇāpatha, the son of the Brahmin Ujjayinī and spent his leisure time between Mount Vindhya and Mount Kailāsa, a chain of the Himalayas.

Having carefully studied the 32 physical marks and the 80 minor marks of the child, Asita declared that without a doubt Siddhārtha would become Buddha some day. However, Asita was not present at this fortunate event for his death was near and he was destined to be reborn in ārūpyadhātu. And so, having rejoiced, Asita burst into tears. He was, however, consoled at the thought that his nephew, Nālaka or Naradatta, according to the sources, would one day benefit from the presence and teachings of the Buddha.

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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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

Asita in Pali glossary... « previous · [A] · next »

asita : ((na + sita) adj.) black. (nt.) 1. food; 2. a sickle. (pp. of asati or asnāti:) eaten.

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

1) Asita, 4 (m. nt.) (fr. asi) a sickle J. III, 129; V 46. (Page 89)

2) Asita, 3 (adj.) (Sk. asita; Idg. *ās, cp. Lat. āreo to be dry, i.e. burnt up; Gr. a)/zw to dry; orig. meaning burnt, hence of burnt, i.e. black colour (of ashes)) black-blue, black M. II, 180 (°vyābhaṅgī); A. III, 5 (id.); Th. 2, 480 (= indanīla ThA. 286); J. III, 419 (°âpaṅgin black-eyed); v. 302; Dāvs. I, 45. (Page 89)

3) Asita, 2 (adj.) (a + sita pp. of *śri, Sk. aśrita) not clinging to, unattached, independent, free (from wrong desires) D. II, 261 (°âtiga); M. I, 386; Th. 1, 38, 1242 (see Mrs Rh. D. in Brethren 404 note 2); J. II, 247; It. 97; Sn. 251, 519, 593, 686 (Asitavhaya, called the Asita i.e. the Unattached; cp. SnA 487), 698 (id.), 717, 957, 1065 (cp. Nd2 111 & nissaya). (Page 88)

4) Asita, 1 (Sk. aśita, pp. of *asati, Sk. aśnāti) having eaten, eating; (nt.) that which is eaten or enjoyed, food M. I, 57; A. III, 30, 32 (°pīta-khāyita etc.); PvA. 25 (id.); J. VI, 555 °(āsana having enjoyed one’s food, satisfied). Cp. āsita1. (Page 88)

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary
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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.

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Marathi-English dictionary

aśita (अशित).—p S Eaten.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary
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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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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Aśita (अशित).—p. p. [aś-karmaṇi-kta]

1) Eaten, निर्ऋतिरशिता अशिता लोकाच्छिनत्ति ब्रह्मगवी (nirṛtiraśitā aśitā lokācchinatti brahmagavī) Av.12.5.37-38; satisfied.

2) Enjoyed.

-tam The place where anybody has eaten; अधिकरण वाचिनश्च (adhikaraṇa vācinaśca) P.II.3.68.

--- OR ---

Aśīta (अशीत).—a.

1) Not cold, hot.

2) The eightieth.

--- OR ---

Asita (असित).—a.

1) Unbound (Ved).

2) [na sitaḥ śubhraḥ] Not white, black, dark-blue, dark-coloured; असिता मोहरजनी (asitā moharajanī) Śānti.3.4; Y.3.166; °लोचना, °नयना (locanā, °nayanā) &.c.

-taḥ 1 The dark or blue colour; the dark fortnight of lunar month.

3) Name of the planet Saturn.

4) A black snake.

5) Name of the sage देवल (devala); असितो देवलो व्यासः (asito devalo vyāsaḥ) Bg.1.13.

6) Name of a being presiding over darkness and magic.

7) Name of Kṛṣṇa; विसृजन्दिक्षु सर्वासु शरानसितसारथिः (visṛjandikṣu sarvāsu śarānasitasārathiḥ) Mb. 7.146.44.

-tā 1 The Indigo plant.

2) A girl attending upon the harem (whose hair is not whitened by age); see असिक्नी (asiknī).

3) The river Yamunā.

4) Name of a daughter of Vīraṇa and wife of Dakṣa.

5) Name of the river. Akesines (candrabhāgā) in the Punjab; Rv.8.2.25.

--- OR ---

Āśita (आशित).—a.

1) Eaten, given to eat.

2) Satisfied by eating; अद्य दीर्घस्य कालस्य भविष्याम्यहमाशिता (adya dīrghasya kālasya bhaviṣyāmyahamāśitā) Rām.5.1.174.

3) Voracious, gluttonous.

-tama 1 Eating.

2) Giving food (in charity); Bṛ. Up.4.1.2.

--- OR ---

Āśita (आशित).—&c. See under आश (āśa).

See also (synonyms): āśin.

--- OR ---

Āsita (आसित).—p. p. [ās-kta] Seated, at rest; आसितः सः (āsitaḥ saḥ); आसितं तेन (āsitaṃ tena) Sk.

-tam 1 Sitting down.

2) A seat; इदमेषामा- सितम् (idameṣāmā- sitam) Sk.

3) Abode, a place where one has lived; a city.

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
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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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