Hamsa, Haṃsa, Haṃsā, Hamsā, Hamsha, Hansa: 39 definitions

Introduction

Hamsa means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, the history of ancient India, 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

Vedanta (school of philosophy)

Source: Sacred Texts: Thirty Minor Upanishads

This word "Hamsa" is very mysterious and has manifold meanings according to different standpoints. It is composed of Ham (or Aham) and Sa (ha), which mean "I" (am) "that". In its highest sense, it is Kālahamsa (or Parabrahman). It is also Brahmā when he has Hamsa (or swan) as the vehicle or Hamsa-vāhana. When Hamsa which is the manifestation of Prāṇa is applied to the human breath, we are said to exhale with Ha and to inhale with Sa. It is also called Ajapā-Gāyaṭrī.

context information

Vedanta (वेदान्त, vedānta) refers to a school of orthodox Hindu philosophy (astika), drawing its subject-matter from the Upanishads. There are a number of sub-schools of Vedanta, however all of them expound on the basic teaching of the ultimate reality (brahman) and liberation (moksha) of the individual soul (atman).

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Shilpashastra (iconography)

Source: Google Books: The Theory of Citrasutras in Indian Painting

Haṃsa: One of the Pañca-puruṣa (‘five stereotypes of men’).—The Viṣṇudharmottara Purāṇa (III.36.2) describes the haṃsa type as one who has honey-red coloured eyes, is fair like the moon, has arms which resemble the elephant’s trunk and is swan-like in gait. He has a beautfiul slender waist and is strong and handsome. Similarly, the Bṛhat Saṃhitā (69.24) and Sārāvalī (37.11–13) describe the haṃsa type as one who has a reddish face with fleshy cheeks, raised nose, golden hue and round head. His eyes are like honey in colour and his nails are reddish, his voice is as sweet as that of a swan, he has beaitiful feet and clean limbs, he has virile power coming under Jupiter and is fond of sporting in water.

Source: Google Books: Sarasvatī: Riverine Goddess of Knowledge (iconography)

Haṃsa (हंस).—In Matsya-purāṇa 260.40 Brahmā’s mount is identified as the haṃsa or goose, and therefore it is also assigned to his consort Brahmāṇī. The white goose is called rājahaṃsa ‘royal goose’, and it is this white goose which is Sarasvatī’s mount. Not only is its gait described as graceful, but its voice is also said to be charming.

Although the haṃsa is best known for its ability to separate milk from water, the original connection may have been with Soma rather than milk. In the Brāhmaṇas and the Upaniṣads, the ātman (Self) is described as haṃsa (Śatapatha-brāhmaṇa 14.7.1.12-13 = Bṛhadāraṇyaka-upaniṣad 4.3.11-12). In the Śvetāśvatara-upaniṣad 6.15, the migrating haṃsa is in one passage the ātman, and in another the transmigrating individual soul who through discrimination attains immortality.

In conncetion with Sarasvatī, the haṃsa is indeed an appropriate mount, not only because it is her spouse’s mount, but also because she is goddess of knowledger, which requires discrimination, like separation of milk from water. In her riverine aspect, furthermore, she is linked with the haṃsa in association with water, for the goose dwells in lakes and ponds.

Source: Red Zambala: Hindu Icons and Symbols | Trinity

Haṃsa (हंस):—Brahmā’s vehicle is the Swan — a creature, according to Hindu mythology, which can separate milk from water. It thus represents the virtue of Discrimination — pure white symbolises purity and the ability to remain unaffected by the water in which it glides about — Detachment.

Shilpashastra book cover
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Shilpashastra (शिल्पशास्त्र, śilpaśāstra) represents the ancient Indian science (shastra) of creative arts (shilpa) such as sculpture, iconography and painting. Closely related to Vastushastra (architecture), they often share the same literature.

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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Source: archive.org: The mirror of gesture (abhinaya-darpana)

One of the Hands that indicate Flying Creatures.—Swan (haṃsa), the Haṃsāsya hand;

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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Ayurveda (science of life)

Source: Wisdom Library: Āyurveda and botany

Haṃsa (हंस) is a Sanskrit word referring to the animal “swan”. The meat of this animal is part of the māṃsavarga (‘group of flesh’), which is used throughout Ayurvedic literature. It is also known by the name Dhārtarāṣṭra. The animal Haṃsa is part of the sub-group named Ambucārin, refering to animals “which move on waters”. It was classified by Caraka in his Carakasaṃhitā sūtrasthāna (chapter 27), a classical Ayurvedic work. Caraka defined such groups (vargas) based on the dietic properties of the substance.

The meat of the Swan (haṃsa) is heavy, hot, unctuous and sweet. It promotes voice, complexion and strength. It is bulk-promoting, increases semen and alleviates vāta. The eggs of the Swan (dhārtarāṣṭra) are useful in diminished semen, cough, heart disease and injuries. They are sweet, bot cauising burning sensation and immediately strength-promoting.

Source: archive.org: Sushruta samhita, Volume I

Haṃsa (हंस)—Sanskrit word for a bird “goose” (Anser sp., Anseriforms: swan...). This animal is from the group called Plava (‘those which float’ or ‘those move about in large flocks’). Plava itself is a sub-group of the group of animals known as Ānupa (those that frequent marshy places).

The flesh of the Hansa is heavy (of digestion), heat-making, sweet and demulcent. It tends to improve the voice and complexion, and imparts strength to the system. It is spermatopoietic, tissue-building and tonic, and proves curative in nervous diseases (Vāta-Vikāra).

Source: Shodhganga: Dietetics and culinary art in ancient and medieval India

Haṃsa (हंस) refers to the “swan” as described in the 17th century Bhojanakutūhala (dravyaguṇāguṇa-kathana), and is commonly found in literature dealing with the topics of dietetics and culinary art, also known as Pākaśāstra or Pākakalā.—Haṃsa is mentioned in a discusses regarding the reaction of certain insects and other living beings on consumption of poisionous food. The after-effect of intake of poison for Haṃsa (swan) is defined as: “praskhalati (falters at the sight of poisoned food)”.

Ayurveda book cover
context information

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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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Source: Wisdom Library: Varāha-purāṇa

Haṃsā (हंसा) is the name of a river mentioned in a list of rivers, flowing from the five great mountains (Śailavarṇa, Mālākhya, Korajaska, Triparṇa and Nīla), according to the Varāhapurāṇa chapter 82. Those who drink the waters of these rivers live for ten thousand years and become devotees of Rudra and Umā.

The Varāhapurāṇa is categorised as a Mahāpurāṇa, and was originally composed of 24,000 metrical verses, possibly originating from before the 10th century. It is composed of two parts and Sūta is the main narrator.

Source: archive.org: Puranic Encyclopedia

1) Haṃsa (हंस).—An incarnation of Mahā Viṣṇu in Kṛtayuga. He instructed great sages like Sanaka on yoga in the presence of Brahmā. He is also called yajña. (Bhāgavata 11th Skandha). Hamsa, who was a prajāpati as well advised the Sādhyadevas about the means to attain salvation and the advice is known as Haṃsagītā. (Śānti Parva, Chapter 288). (See full article at Story of Haṃsa from the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani)

2) Haṃsa (हंस).—A son born to Kaśyapa of his wife, Ariṣṭā. He was a Gandharva and it is believed that Dhṛtarāṣṭra was an aṃśāvatāra of this Gandharva. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 6, See also under Aṃśāvatāṛa).

3) Haṃsa (हंस).—General. A minister of Jarāsandha. Haṃsa and Ḍiṃbhaka were the sons of Brahmadatta, the chief of Sālva, and they were adepts in archery. Paraśurāma was their preceptor. (Harivaṃśa 3, 103). The Mahābhārata calls Haṃsa’s brother Ḍibhaka. Education. Vicakra and Janārdana were intimate friends of Haṃsa from their very infancy, of whom Janārdana was the son of Mitrasaha, a friend of Brahmadatta. Haṃsa, Ḍimbhaka and Janārdana had their education together and their marriages also were conducted at the same time. After some time Śiva presented them many weapons like Rudrāstra, Maheśvarāstra and Brahmaśirāstra, and also two attendants for self-protection. (Harivaṃśa 3, 105). Curse of Durvāsas. Swollen-headed and haughty on account of Śiva’s boon, Haṃsa and Ḍiṃbhaka turned out to be a nightmare to the world, and they once tried to give trouble to Durvāsas, who cursed them to be killed by Mahāviṣṇu. Sometime later the sage himself informed Śrī Kṛṣṇa about this curse of his. Death. The Haṃsa brothers began an aśvamedha (Horse Sacrifice) and deputed Janārdana to collect the tax thereof. Śrī Kṛṣṇa alone refused to pay the tax with the result that Haṃsa clashed with Kṛṣṇa who killed Ḍimbhaka and kicked Haṃsa down to Pātāla. He died there, in Pātāla of snake-bite. (Harivaṃśa 3, 128). Grief of Jarāsandha. Haṃsa’s death caused much grief to Jarāsandha, and for many years after it, he shed tears over the death of his friend. Even at the time when Bhīmasena, during his triumphal tour of the east, attacked Jarāsandha he remembered the dead Haṃsa and Ḍimbhaka. (Sabhā Parva, 13, 37).

4) Haṃsa (हंस).—Swan. For story about the origin of haṃsa on earth see under Sṛṣṭi, Para 12.

Source: archive.org: Shiva Purana - English Translation

1) Haṃsa (हंस) or Haṃsaka refers to a “swan” and represents the form Brahmā assumed when discovering the origins of a Liṅga that appeared, according to the Śivapurāṇa 2.1.15:—“[...] the swan (haṃsa) has the power of going up steadily. It has the power of discriminating between the real and the unreal as in separating milk from water. The swan understands the distinction between ignorance and knowledge. Hence I (Brahmā) the Creator, assumed the form of Swan. O Nārada! But I failed to cognize the refulgent form of Śiva and therefore could not exercise my power of discrimination. How can real knowledge dawn on one who is engaged in activities of creation? Hence though in the form of Swan I could not attain the power of discrimination”.

2) Haṃsa (हंस) or “swans” refers to one of the various kinds of birds abounding the Himālaya mountain region, 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. [...] kinds of birds flew there, such as—Cakravāka, Kādamba, swans, geese, the intoxicated Sārasas, cranes, the peacocks etc. The sweet note of the male cuckoo reverberated there”.

Source: Exotic India: Kṛṣṇa in the Harivaṃśa

Haṃsa (हंस, “geese, swan”):—A wonderful and impressive migratory bird, light in colour, the bar-headed goose, seems to have become the true haṃsa for the north Indians who were unfamiliar with swans, as well as the principal reference for the eka haṃsa of the Upaniṣads, the supreme ātman, as well as the individual ātman caught in the snares of transmigration.

As birds of passage, able, according to the legend, to separate milk from water, truth from falsehood, the haṃsas are thought to refer natuarally to the souls of human beings. Haṃsas are also known to be extremely good flyers (atipātin). Even if they are capable of only one kind of flight, says a tale narrated in the Mahābhārata, these geese are able to cross the ocean and outmatch the crows who know 101 different ways to fly (haṃsakākīyam ākhyānam).

The haṃsas are associated by poetic convention with the rainy season which begins at the end of June. In the lore surrounding these birds, it is assumed that they fly north t otheir breeding grounds around Lake Mānasa (to the south of Mount Kailāsa) in the company of the clouds.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

1a) Haṃsa (हंस).—A son of Brahmā; remained a celibate.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa IV. 8. 1.

1b) Mountain on the base (north, Viṣṇu-purāṇa) of Meru.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa V. 16. 26; Viṣṇu-purāṇa II. 2. 30.

1c) An avatār of Hari in Kṛtayuga; taught yoga to Śanaka and other sages in the presence of Brahmā; called himself Yajña.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. 2. 40; XI. 4. 17; 5. 23; 13. 19-41; 17. 3, 11.

1d) A son of Brahmadatta and brother of Śālva; killed on the Yamunā by Kṛṣṇa.*

  • * Bhā X. 76. 2 [8]; 52. [56 (v) 8]; 57. 14 [1].

1e) The caste name of men in Kṛtayuga.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa XI. 17. 10.

1f) One of the ten horses of the moon's chariot.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 23. 57; Matsya-purāṇa 126. 52; Vāyu-purāṇa 52. 53.

1g) A Sādhya;1 an expert in divine music.2

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 3. 17; Matsya-purāṇa 203. 11; Vāyu-purāṇa 66. 16.
  • 2) Ib. 69. 46.

1h) A Gandharva.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 7. 11.

1i) A sage.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 36. 6.

1j) A temple with a toraṇa of 10 hastas.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 269. 30 and 51.

1k) A class of ascetics.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa III. 12. 43.

1l) A class of people in Plakṣadvīpa.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa V. 20. 4.

1m) Swans born of Śuci;1 afraid of clouds and thunder;2 stumble in the presence of poisoned food.3

  • 1) Matsya-purāṇa 6. 32; Vāyu-purāṇa 111. 63.
  • 2) Matsya-purāṇa 132. 6.
  • 3) Ib. 219. 19.

2) Haṃsā (हंसा).—A Laukikya Apsaras.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 7. 10.
Source: JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places

Haṃsa (हंस) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.60.55) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Haṃsa) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

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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Rasashastra (chemistry and alchemy)

Source: Google Books: The Alchemical Body

Haṃsa, a term translated as “swan,” “goose,” or “migratory bird”. Since the time of the Vedas, the haṃsa has been the bird of predilection for authors wishing to discuss the movements of the vital breath (prāṇa, a term etymologically related to ātman, soul or spirit). Indeed, the Ṛgveda (4.40.5) itself calls the ether (kha) the “seat” of the haṃsa, and a series of later sources, continuing down to the Tantras, identifies in-breathing and out-breating with the syllables haṃ and saḥ.

Haṃsa is at once the sound that the breath makes when one inhales and exhales and the vibratory resonance (nāda) of the Absolute that the practitioner hears internally in the course of the spiritual exercises that lead to samādhi, total yogic integration. In the subtle body, the haṃsa is identified with the empty (śūnya) medial channel through which the vital energy, breath, and consciousness descend in the individuation of the Absolute into an individual being. In all of these traditions, breathing is tantamount to identifying the individual soul with the absolute: “haṃso ’ham” is a palindrome that can be read either as “the goose! the goose!” or “I am That,” i.e., “I, ātman, am That, brahman.” The cosmic goose, honking in the void, thus becomes a metaphor for the resorption—of individual breath, sound, and soul—into the Absolute.

Rasashastra book cover
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Rasashastra (रसशास्त्र, rasaśāstra) is an important branch of Ayurveda, specialising in chemical interactions with herbs, metals and minerals. Some texts combine yogic and tantric practices with various alchemical operations. The ultimate goal of Rasashastra is not only to preserve and prolong life, but also to bestow wealth upon humankind.

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Vastushastra (architecture)

Source: Wisdom Library: Vāstu-śāstra

Haṃsa (हंस) refers to a type of temple (prāsāda) classified under the group named Triviṣṭapa, according to Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra chapter 49. The Triviṣṭapa group contains ten out of a sixty-four total prāsādas (temples) classified under five prime vimānas (aerial car/palace), which were created by Brahmā for as many gods (including himself). This group represents temples (eg. Haṃsa) that are to be octangular in shape. The prāsādas, or ‘temples’, represent the dwelling place of God and are to be built in towns. The Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra is an 11th-century encyclopedia dealing with various topics from the Vāstuśāstra.

Haṃsa is mentioned in another list from the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra chapter 56, being part of the group named Lalita, containing 25 unique temple varieties.

Haṃsa is also mentioned as a classification of ‘temple’ in the Matsyapurāṇa which features a list of 20 temple types. This list represents the classification of temples in South-India.

Haṃsa is also listed in the Agnipurāṇa which features a list of 45 temple types. It is listed under the group named Maṇika, featuring oval-shaped temples. This list represents a classification of temples in Nort-India.

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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Pancaratra (worship of Nārāyaṇa)

Source: Wisdom Library: Pāñcarātra

Haṃsa (हंस) refers to an aspect of nṛsiṃha (‘man-lion’), according to the Vihagendra-saṃhitā 4.17, which mentions seventy-four forms (inlcuding twenty forms of vyūha). He is also known as Haṃsanṛsiṃha or Haṃsanarasiṃha. Nṛsiṃha is a Tantric deity and refers to the furious (ugra) incarnation of Viṣṇu.

The 15th-century Vihagendra-saṃhīta is a canonical text of the Pāñcarātra corpus and, in twenty-four chapters, deals primarely with meditation on mantras and sacrificial oblations.

Pancaratra book cover
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Pancaratra (पाञ्चरात्र, pāñcarātra) represents a tradition of Hinduism where Narayana is revered and worshipped. Closeley related to Vaishnavism, the Pancaratra literature includes various Agamas and tantras incorporating many Vaishnava philosophies.

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Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Source: DSpace at Pondicherry: Siddha Cult in Tamilnadu (shaivism)

Haṃsa (हंस).—According to the ancient tradition, ascetics who strive to gain liberation are classified into four classes. They are kuṭīcakas, bahūdakas, haṃsas and paramahaṃsas. Of these, the last represents an extremely ancient ascetic order.

Source: Shodhganga: Iconographical representations of Śiva

Haṃsa (हंस) or Haṃsāgama refers to one of upāgamas (supplementary scriptures) of the Parameśvarāgama which is one of the twenty-eight Siddhāntāgama: a classification of the Śaiva division of Śaivāgamas. The Śaivāgamas represent the wisdom that has come down from lord Śiva, received by Pārvatī and accepted by Viṣṇu. The purpose of revealing upāgamas (eg., Haṃsa Āgama) is to explain more elaborately than that of mūlāgamas (eg., Parameśvara-āgama) and to include any new idea if not dealt in mūlāgamas.

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.

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Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

Source: academia.edu: The Śāradātilakatantra on Yoga

Haṃsa (हंस) is explained by Lakṣmaṇadeśika in his 11th-century Śaradātilaka.—When one blocks the sense organs with one’s fingers and meditates on the identity of the Self, the vital breath (prāṇa) and the mind (manas) while retaining one’s breath, the inner sound (nāda) is heard and the knowledge of the haṃsaḥ arises (45–50ab). Haṃsaḥ is the sound heard with exhalation and inhalation, also called the “non-recitation” (ajapā) Gāyatrī. Haṃ is considered male (puṃs, puruṣa), and saḥ female (prakṛti).

Note: Haṃsaḥ is the sound of exhalation and inhalation produced by the individual Self. The following verse [i.e.  38-9ab] explains how prāṇa depends on the nāḍīs. It moves from the mūlādhāra up and out through its nāḍīs, i.e. through the īḍā and the piṅgalā channels, which terminate in the nostrils.

Source: academia.edu: A Śākta Rāsalīlā as Rājayoga in Eighteenth-Century Benares

Haṃsa (हंस) refers to a bird, commonly identified as the bar-headed goose (Anser indicus), and has a long and complex history in Indian literature as a mantra or as a metaphor, symbol, or allegory for the liberated soul. In the present context “Haṃsa” designates more specifically the esoteric identity of the work’s authors, and “Haṃsa (masc.)” or “Haṃsī (fem.)” is also the general title of any initiate into the religion taught in the Haṃsavilāsa (“Transport of the Haṃsas”).

Chapter 34 stipulates that initiates may not use their “worldly” name in the collective rāsalīlā gathering, women are to use the name “Rasikā,” “Haṃsī” or “Śakti,” and men “Rasika,” “Haṃsa” or “Śiva,” and there is a recurring metaphorical dichotomy between the initiated and self-aware Haṃsa or Haṃsī on the one hand and uninitiated and animalistic “other birds” (mostly crows) on the other hand.

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.

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Dharmashastra (religious law)

Source: Prācyā: Animals and animal products as reflected in Smṛti texts

Haṃsa (हंस) refers to the bird “Swan” (Anser anser).—Birds have been described in several ancient Sanskrit texts that they have been treated elaborately by eminent scholars. These birds [viz., Haṃsa] are enumerated in almost several Smṛtis in context of specifying the expiations for killing them and their flesh being used as a dietary article to give satisfaction to the manes (Pitṛs) in Śrāddha rites. These are elaborated especially in the Manusmṛti, Parāśarasmṛti [chapter VI], Gautamasmṛti [chapter 23], Śātātapasmṛti [II.54-56], Uśānasmṛti [IX.10-IX.12], Yājñavalkyasmṛti [I.172-I.175], Viṣṇusmṛti [51.28-51.29], Uttarāṅgirasasmṛti [X.16].

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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General definition (in Hinduism)

Source: archive.org: Vedic index of Names and Subjects

Haṃsa (हंस) in the Rigveda and later denotes the ‘gander’. These birds are described as dark in colour on the back (nīla-pṛṣṭha); they fly in troops, swim in the water (uda-prut), make loud noises, and are wakeful at night. The Haṃsa is credited with the power of separating Soma from water (as later milk from water) in the Yajurveda.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

1) The Hamsa represents perfect union, balance and life. A constant repetition of the word "hamso" changes it to "Soaham", which means "That I am". Hence the hamsa is often identified with the Supreme Spirit or Brahman. The flight of the Hamsa also symbolizes the escape from the cycle of samsara. The bird also has special connotations in the monistic philosophy of Advaita Vedanta - just as the swan lives on water but its feathers are not wetted by water, similarly an Advaitin tries to live in this material world full of Maya, but is unsoiled by its illusionary nature.

A school of philosophy has endeavored to penetrate its name. Ham-sa when inverted reads as sa-ham, which in Sanskrit means the oneness of human and the divine. During pranayama, which is a yogic exercise of breath control, the inhalation is believed sound like ham, while the exhalation is believed to sound like sa. Thus, a hamsa came to epitomize the prana, the breath of life.

2) The Hamsa (हंस haṃsa) is an aquatic bird, often considered to be a goose or sometimes a swan. It is used in Indian and Southeast Asian culture as a symbol and a decorative element. The word is cognate with Latin "(h)anser", Greek "χήν", German "Gans", English "goose" and Russian "гусь" (all meaning a goose). Standard translations of the term from Sanskrit are as a goose first, and swans, other aquatic birds, or mythical birds as an alternative.

3) The hamsa is also the 'vehicle' (Skt: vahana) of the goddess Saraswati.

4) Lake Manasarovar in Hindu mythology, is seen as the summer abode of the Hamsa. Poetical images are derived from the flight of the swans to that lake in the Himalayas. It is said to eat pearls and separate milk from water from a mixture of both. In many texts it is extolled as the king of birds. In one of the Upanishads, a hamsa is also said to possess the sacred knowledge of the Brahman.

5) The Hamsa was also used extensively in the art of Gandhara, in conjunction with images of the Shakyamuni Buddha. It is also deemed sacred in the Buddhadharma.

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

1. A palace occupied by Dipankara Buddha before his renunciation. Bu.ii.208.

2. A palace occupied by Kassapa Buddha in his last lay life, before his renunciation. Bu.xxv.35; BuA.217 calls it Hamsava.

3. A palace occupied by Phussa Buddha before his renunciation. Bu.xix.15.

context information

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)

Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

Haṃsa (हंस, “goose”) 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. If sensual desires (kāmarāga), passion and ignorance (avidyā) were predominant in them [people], they are reborn as [for example] goose (haṃsa); thus they become one of the hundred thousand kinds of birds. If they are guilty of lust, their body becomes covered with hairs and feathers; their plumage is fine and smooth; their beak, big and wide; thus they cannot distinguish touch (sparśa) and taste (rasa).

Mahayana book cover
context information

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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Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

Source: academia.edu: The Structure and Meanings of the Heruka Maṇḍala

Haṃsa (हंस) is the name of a Vīra (hero) who, together with the Ḍākinī named Haṃsī forms one of the 36 pairs situated in the Vāyucakra, according to the 10th century Ḍākārṇava chapter 15. Accordingly, the vāyucakra refers to one of the three divisions of the dharma-puṭa (‘dharma layer’), situated in the Herukamaṇḍala. The 36 pairs of Ḍākinīs and Vīras [viz., Haṃsa] are dark blue in color; they each have one face and four arms; they hold a skull bowl, a skull staff, a small drum, and a knife.

Source: BDK Tripiṭaka: The Susiddhikara-sūtra

Haṃsa (हंस) refers to one of the various types of cakes mentioned in Chapter 12 (“offering food”) of the Susiddhikara-sūtra. Accordingly, “Offer [viz., haṃsa cakes], [...]. Cakes such as the above are either made with granular sugar or made by mixing in ghee or sesamum oil. As before, take them in accordance with the family in question and use them as offerings; if you offer them up as prescribed, you will quickly gain success. [...]”.

When you wish to offer food [viz., haṃsa cakes], first cleanse the ground, sprinkle scented water all around, spread out on the ground leaves that have been washed clean, such as lotus leaves, palāśa (dhak) leaves, and leaves from lactescent trees, or new cotton cloth, and then set down the oblatory dishes. [...] First smear and sprinkle the ground and then spread the leaves; wash your hands clean, rinse out your mouth several times, swallow some water, and then you should set down the food [viz., haṃsa]. [...]

Tibetan Buddhism book cover
context information

Tibetan Buddhism includes schools such as Nyingma, Kadampa, Kagyu and Gelug. Their primary canon of literature is divided in two broad categories: The Kangyur, which consists of Buddha’s words, and the Tengyur, which includes commentaries from various sources. Esotericism and tantra techniques (vajrayāna) are collected indepently.

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In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Source: archive.org: Een Kritische Studie Van Svayambhūdeva’s Paümacariu

Haṃsa (हंस) participated in the war between Rāma and Rāvaṇa, on the side of the latter, as mentioned in Svayambhūdeva’s Paumacariu (Padmacarita, Paumacariya or Rāmāyaṇapurāṇa) chapter 57ff. Svayambhū or Svayambhūdeva (8th or 9th century) was a Jain householder who probably lived in Karnataka. His work recounts the popular Rāma story as known from the older work Rāmāyaṇa (written by Vālmīki). Various chapters [mentioning Haṃsa] are dedicated to the humongous battle whose armies (known as akṣauhiṇīs) consisted of millions of soldiers, horses and elephants, etc.

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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India history and geogprahy

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Indian Epigraphical Glossary

Haṃsa.—(EI 15), an ascetic; cf. Paramahaṃsa. Note: haṃsa 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
context information

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

Pali-English dictionary

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

haṃsa : (m.) a swan.

Pali book cover
context information

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

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

haṃsa (हंस).—m (S) A swan or goose: also a duck. Mem. The Hindu description of haṃsa is that of a bird existing only in fable. 2 A gander or drake. 3 One of the vital airs: also the Jiwatma or animal soul (from the conceit of the body being a sarōvara or lake). 4 An ascetic or devotee of a certain order. 5 A name of pantheism for brahma as the spiritual substance constituting the visible universe. 6 A name of Vishn̤u, of the sun &c.

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

haṃśā (हंशा).—m Laughter or laughing.

--- OR ---

haṃsa (हंस).—m A swan or goose; a duck. A gander. A term in Hindu philosophy.

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-English dictionary

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Haṃsa (हंस).—[has-ac-pṛṣo° varṇāgamaḥ] (said to be derived from has; cf. bhavedvarṇāgamād haṃsaḥ Sk.)

1) A swan, goose, duck; हंसाः संप्रति पाण्डवा इव वनादज्ञातचर्यां गताः (haṃsāḥ saṃprati pāṇḍavā iva vanādajñātacaryāṃ gatāḥ) Mk. 5.6; न शोभते सभामध्ये हंसमध्ये बको यथा (na śobhate sabhāmadhye haṃsamadhye bako yathā) Subhāṣ; R.17. 25. (The description of this bird, as given by Sanskrit writers, is more poetical than real; he is described as forming the vehicle of the god Brahman, and as ready to fly towards the Mānasa lake at the approach of rains; cf. mānasa. According to a very general poetical convention he is represented as being gifted with the peculiar power of separating milk from water e. g. sāraṃ tato grāhyamapāsya phalgu haṃso yathā kṣīramivāmbumadhyāt Pt.1; haṃsohi kṣīramādatte tanmiśrā varjayatyapaḥ Ś.6.28; nīrakṣīraviveke haṃsālasyaṃ tvameva tanuṣe cet | viśvasminnadhunānyaḥ kulavrataṃ pālayiṣyati kaḥ Bv.1.13; see Bh.2.18 also).

2) The Supreme Soul, Brahman.

3) The individual soul (jīvātman); प्रीणीहि हंसशरणं विरम- क्रमेण (prīṇīhi haṃsaśaraṇaṃ virama- krameṇa) Bhāg.4.29.56.

4) One of the vital airs.

5) The sun; हंसः शुचिषद्वसुरन्तरिक्षसद्धोता वेदिषत् (haṃsaḥ śuciṣadvasurantarikṣasaddhotā vediṣat) Ka?h.2.5.2; उषसि हंसमुदीक्ष्य हिमानिकाविपुलवागुरया परियन्त्रितम् (uṣasi haṃsamudīkṣya himānikāvipulavāgurayā pariyantritam) Rām. ch.4.91.

6) Śiva.

7) Viṣṇu.

8) Kāmadeva.

9) An unambitious monorch.

1) An ascetic of a particular order; Bhāg.3.12.43.

11) A spiritual preceptor; Bhāg.7. 9.18.

12) One free from malice, a pure person.

13) A mountain.

14) Envy, malice.

15) A buffalo.

16) A horse.

17) A particular incantation; L. D. B.

18) The best of its kind (at the end of a compound; cf. kavihaṃsa); L. D. B.

19) A temple of a particular form.

2) Silver. -a.

1) moving, going (gatimān); नव- द्वारं पुरं गत्वा हंसो हि नियतो वशी (nava- dvāraṃ puraṃ gatvā haṃso hi niyato vaśī) Mb.12.239.31 (see com.).

2) Pure; हंसाय संयतगिरे निगमेश्वराय (haṃsāya saṃyatagire nigameśvarāya) Bhāg.12.8.47;6.4.26.

-sāḥ (m. pl.) Name of a tribe said to live in the Plakṣa-Dvīpa.

Derivable forms: haṃsaḥ (हंसः).

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

Haṃsa (हंस).—m.

(-saḥ) 1. A goose, a gander, a flamingo, a swan. The descrip tion of this bird as found in sanskrit poetry is rather poetical than real; swans are considered to fly to the Manasa-Lake when monsoon sets in; they are also represented as being the vehicle of Brahma; there is a convention among poets that this bird is gifted with the power of separating milk from water. 2. Brahma the supreme soul. 3. Vishnu. 4. The sun. 5. A liberal or moderate prince, one not covetous nor ambitious. 6. A sort of ascetic or devotee. 7. A particular Mantra, or mystical or magical prayer. 8. A horse. 9. One of the vital airs. 10. Envy, malice. 11. Siva. 12. (In composition,) Best excellent. 13. Preceding, before, in front. 14. A spiritual preceptor. 15. A mountain. 16. A uffalo. 17. Kama. 18. The individual soul. f. (-sī) A goose. E. han to hurt or kill, Unadi aff. sa; also this word is curiously derived by native philologists, viz:—bhaved varṇāgamād haṃsaḥ i. e. it is derived from has by the insertion of a nasal; also with kan added, haṃsaka .

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

Haṃsa (हंस).—[feminine] ī goose, also applied to the swan, flamingo and like water-fowl; [figuratively] the sun, the soul, [dual] the individual and universal soul.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Aufrecht Catalogus Catalogorum

1) Haṃsa (हंस) as mentioned in Aufrecht’s Catalogus Catalogorum:—father of Paraśurāmamiśra, grandfather of Mitramiśra (Vīramitrodaya). Oxf. 295^a.

2) Haṃsa (हंस):—Brahmasūtrabhāṣya.

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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