Kailasa, aka: Kailāsa, Kailāśa, Kailasha; 14 Definition(s)


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

The Sanskrit term Kailāśa can be transliterated into English as Kailasa or Kailasha, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Vastushastra (architecture)

[Kailasa in Vastushastra glossaries]

1) Kailāśa (कैलाश):—The Sanskrit name for one of the five Vimānas created by Brahmā, the great Creator, in the hoary past for gods. They were for travelling in the air, beautiful to look at, colossal in shape, made of gold and studded with gems. Kailāśa was to be used by Śiva, the trident-holder. Vimānas represent the ‘aerial chariots’ of the gods, but also refers to seven-storey palaces. It is described in the 11th-century Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra (49.3) by Bhojadeva. Accordingly, “Kailāśa may be globular in structure”. It is from the self-same five shapes of Vimānas that later on, Brahmā created the Prāsāda.

The Kailāśa type of Vimāna exhibits ten different temples:

  1. Valaya,
  2. Dundubhi,
  3. Prānta,
  4. Padma,
  5. Kānta,
  6. Caturmukha,
  7. Māṇḍuka,
  8. Kūrma,
  9. Tāligṛha,
  10. Ulūpika.

These are the names of 10 out of a total of 64 temples (prāsāda) mentioned in same chapter.

2) Kailāśa (कैलाश):—The name of a group of temple classifications, comprising 9 circular-shaped temple categories, according to the 8th-century Agnipurāṇa. The Kailāśa group is one of the five groups mentioned in the purāṇa, and represents the North-Indian classification of temples.

  1. Valaya,
  2. Dundubhi,
  3. Padma,
  4. Mahāpadma,
  5. Vardhanī,
  6. Uṣṇīṣa,
  7. śaṅkha,
  8. Kalaśa,
  9. Śrīvṛkṣa.

3) Kailāśa (कैलाश) refers to a type of temple (prāsāda) classified under the group named Sāndhāra, according to Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra chapter 56. The Sāndhāra group contains twenty-five out of a sixty-four total prāsādas (temples) classified under four groups in this chapter. The Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra is an 11th-century encyclopedia dealing with various topics from the Vāstuśāstra.

Kailāśa is found in another list in the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra, chapter 60, where it is mentioned in a list of thirty-six Prāsādas (temples) having activities of the townsmen entailing Sādhārās.

Kailāśa is found in another list in the Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra, chapter 63, where it is listed in the group named Nāgara, containing 20 different prāsādas (temples/buildings).

Kailāśa is also listed in the Suprabhedāgama, which describes a list of 13 temple types. This list represents the earliest form of the classification of temples in the South Indian Vāstuśāstra literature.

Kailāśa is also listed in the Īśānaśivagurudevapaddhati which features a list of 52 temple types. This list represents the classification of temples in South-India.

Kailāśa is also listed in the Matsyapurāṇa which features a list of 20 temple types. This list represents a classification of temples in Nort-India.

3) Kailāsa (कैलास) refers to a variety of prāsāda (‘superstructure’, or, upper storey of any building), according to the Mayamata (5th-century guidebook on Dravidian architecture). It is part of the Dvitala (two-storey) group of prāsādas.

The Kailāsa variety has the following specifications and decorative motif components:

Number of talas (levels): 2;
Shape of grīva (neck) and śikhara (head): Square;
Number of śālas: 4 (with upapīṭhas);
Number of kūṭas: 4 (taller than the śālas);
Number of pañjaras: 8;
Number of alpanāsis: 48;

(Source): Wisdom Library: Vāstu-śāstra

Kailāśa temple is an example of a monolithic temple (shrines carved from top to bottom out of one piece of
rock). The grandest of the monolithic temples is the famous Kailāśa temple at Ellora in the reign of the Rāṣṭrakūṭas in the 8th century.

(Source): Knowledge Traditions & Practices of India: Architecture (1): Early and Classical Architecture
Vastushastra book cover
context information

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.

Discover the meaning of kailasa in the context of Vastushastra from relevant books on Exotic India


[Kailasa in Purana glossaries]

1) Kailāsa (कैलास) is the name of a mountain situated at lake Mānasa and mount Gandhamādana, according to the Varāhapurāṇa chapter 75. The Gandhamādana mountain lies on the eastern side of mount Meru, which is one of the seven mountains located in Jambūdvīpa, ruled over by Āgnīdhra, a grandson of Svāyambhuva Manu.

2) Kailāsa (कैलास).—Name of a minor mountain (kṣudraparvata) situated in Bhārata, a region south of mount Meru, according to the Varāhapurāṇa chapter 85. In the settlements (janapada) along these mountains dwell Āryas and Mlecchas who drink water from the rivers flowing there. Meru is one of the seven mountains located in Jambūdvīpa, which is ruled over by Āgnīdhra, a grandson of Svāyambhuva Manu, who was created by Brahmā, who was in turn created by Nārāyaṇa, the unknowable all-pervasive primordial being.

Svāyambhuva Manu was created by Brahmā, who was in turn created by Nārāyaṇa, the unknowable all-pervasive primordial being.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Varāha-purāṇa

1) Kailāsa (कैलास).—(KAILĀSAKA). A serpent belonging to the Kaśyapa family. Mention is made about this serpent in Mahābhārata, Udyoga Parva, Chapter 103, Stanza 11. (See full article at Story of Kailāsa from the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani)

2) Kailāsa (कैलास).—General information The mount Mahāmeru has an area of eighteen thousand nāzhikas (Indian mile of (1/4) Kośa) and a height of two thousand nāzhikas. On the eastern side of this mount there are two mountains called Jaṭhara and Devakūṭa. Pavamāna and Pāriyātra are the two mountains on the western side. On the south there are the two mountains of Kailāsa and Karavīra. The two mountains on the north are called Triśṛṅga and Makaragiri. It is stated in Mahābhārata, Vana Parva, Chapters 109 and 141 that the abodes of Śiva and Kubera are on the mount Kailāsa. Once, to please Śiva, Mahāviṣṇu performed penance on Kailāsa. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 222, Stanzas 33 to 40). It is mentioned in Mahā Bhārata, Sabhā Parva, Chapter 3 that the mountain Maināka stands to the north of Kailāsa. Once Vyāsa went to Kailāsa. (Mahābhārata Sabhā Parva, Chapter 43, Stanza 17). In Vana Parva, Chapter 106, mention is made that the King Sagara, with his two queens, once went to Kailāsa for penance. It was on the Kailāsa that Bhagīratha performed penance to propitiate Śiva to bring down Gaṅgā. Kailāsa is hundred yojanas high. The devas come to this place daily and return. It is mentioned in Sabhā Parva, Chapter 141, that in the place where Kubera lives on Kailāsa there live a large number of Yakṣas (demi-gods), Rākṣasas (giants) Kinnaras (heavenly musicians), Garuḍas (hawks) Mātaṅgas (elephants) and Gandharvas (semi-gods). The lake of lotus of Kubera which was reached by Bhīmasena once, was in Kailāsa. In Vana Parva, it is mentioned that the Pāṇḍavas visited Kailāsa during their forest life. It could be understood from Mahābhārata, Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 83 that Kāmadhenu performed penance on the Kailāsa, once.

(Source): archive.org: Puranic Encyclopaedia

1a) Kailāsa (कैलास).—(śikhara)—the abode of Śiva seated on a baniyan tree and of Yakṣas, full of different plants, trees and flowers, birds and beasts. Here are the city of Alakā, and the forest Saugandhika.1 It is located on the south of Meru,2 on the Himalayan slopes; the residence of Kubera. Described.3 North of Atri's hermitage.4

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa IV. 5. 26; VI. 8. 33; IX. 4. 55; X. 10. 2; 55 [1]; Matsya-purāṇa 54. 3; 62. 2; Vāyu-purāṇa 30. 85; 35. 9; 36. 24; 38. 33; 41. 1; 42. 32; 47. 1; 50. 48; 54. 35-6; 101. 303.
  • 2) Bhāgavata-purāṇa V. 16. 27; Viṣṇu-purāṇa II. 2. 42.
  • 3) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 18. 1-4; 20. 50, 25. 24-40; III. 13. 36; 22. 56; 25. 9; 41. 18; IV. 9. 30; 10. 27.
  • 4) Matsya-purāṇa 121. 2-5; 163. 85; 183. 1.

1b) A form of temple with 9 storeys and a toraṇa with 40 hastas.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 269. 28-31, 47.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
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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Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

[Kailasa in Shaivism glossaries]

Kailāsa (कैलास) is a Sanskrit word referring to two of the sixty-eight places hosting a svāyambhuvaliṅga, one of the most sacred of liṅgas according to the Śaivāgamas. The presiding deity residing over the liṅga in the first place named Kailāsa, is Tripurāntaka, and the deity presiding over the second place is named Gaṇadhipa. The list of sixty-eight svāyambhuvaliṅgas is found in the commentary of the Jirṇoddhāra-daśaka by Nigamajñānadeva. The word liṅga refers to a symbol used in the worship of Śiva and is used thoughout Śaiva literature, such as the sacred Āgamas.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Śaivism
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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Katha (narrative stories)

[Kailasa in Katha glossaries]

Kailāsa (कैलास) is Sanskrit name of a mountain-peak, located with the Himavat (moutain range). It is the dwelling place of Maheśvara (the beloved of Pāravtī) who is the “chief of things animate and inanimate”, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 1, written by Somadeva in the 11th-century. Accordingly, “...the northernmost summit thereof (of Himavat) is a great peak named Kailāsa, which towers many thousand yojanas in the air”; and further, “there dwells Maheśvara the beloved of Pārvatī, the chief of things animate and inanimate, attended upon by Gaṇas, Vidyādharas and Siddhas.”

Kailāsa (कैलास) is also described in the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 50 when Sūryaprabha went there in order to invite Śiva and Ambikā for his coronation. Accordingly: “... He [Sūryaprabha] himself went alone to Kailāsa, the monarch of mountains, in order to invite Śiva and Ambikā. And as he was ascending that mountain he saw that it gleamed white as ashes, looking like a second Śiva to be adored by the Siddhas, Ṛṣis and gods. After he had got more than half-way up it, and had seen that farther on it was hard to climb, he beheld on one side a coral door. When he found that, though gifted with supernatural power, he could not enter, he praised Śiva with intent mind. Then a man with an elephant’s face opened the door, and said: ‘Come! enter! the holy Gaṇeśa is satisfied with you’.”.

The Kathāsaritsāgara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentioning Kailāsa, is a famous Sanskrit epic story revolving around prince Naravāhanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the vidyādharas (celestial beings). The work is said to have been an adaptation of Guṇāḍhya’s Bṛhatkathā consisting of 100,000 verses, which in turn is part of a larger work containing 700,000 verses.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Kathāsaritsāgara
Katha book cover
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Katha (कथा, kathā) refers to narrative Sanskrit literature often inspired from epic legendry (itihasa) and poetry (mahākāvya). Some Kathas reflect socio-political instructions for the King while others remind the reader of important historical event and exploits of the Gods, Heroes and Sages.

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In Buddhism

(Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

[Kailasa in Tibetan Buddhism glossaries]

Kailāsa (कैलास) is the name of a mountain associated with Karaṅkaka: the western cremation ground (śmaśāna) according to the Vajravārāhī-sādhana by Umāpatideva as found in te Guhyasamayasādhanamālā. As a part of this sādhana, the practicioner is to visualize a suitable dwelling place for the goddess inside the circle of protection which takes the form of eight cremation grounds.

The Guhyasamayasādhanamālā by Umāptideva is a 12th century ritualistic manual including forty-six Buddhist tantric sādhanas. The term sādhana refers to “rites” for the contemplation of a divinity.

(Source): Wisdomlib Libary: Vajrayogini
Tibetan Buddhism book cover
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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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India history and geogprahy

[Kailasa in India history glossaries]

1) Kailāsa (कैलास).—In the Mandsaur inscription of the Guild of the Silk-weavers, the mountains Sumeru and Kailāsa are described as the large breasts of earth. Another Mandsaur inscription refers to the rocks of the glens of the Sumeru being split open by the blows of the horns of the bull of the God Śūlapāṇi.

2) Kailāsa (कैलास) range (the kṣudraparvata or the Himavat) formed apart of the Himavat, though according to the Mārkaṇḍeya-purāṇa, it was a separate mountain in the north of Himavat—both of them marking off Bhārata from the Central varṣas. Inscriptions generally describe the loftiness of the peak of the Kailāsa mountain. The peak of the Tiraṇhu mountain, the Shrine of the God Viṣṇu at Daśapura, the buildings of the city of Daśapura, all are said to be resembling the lofty peak of the Kailāsa mountain. According to the Lalitavistara the big places of king Śuddhodana are said to have resembled the Kailāsa mountain.

Kailāsa is situated about twenty-five miles to the north of Mānasarovara. The Kailāsa range runs parallel to the Ladakh range, fifty miles behind the latter. It contains a number of groups of giant peaks. The Mahābhārata includes the Kumaun and Garhwal mountains in Kailāsa range. According to Bhāgavata-purāṇa, Kailāsa is known as Bhūteśa-giri surrounded by the river Nandā.

(Source): archive.org: Geography in Ancient Indian inscriptions

Kailāśa (कैलाश) is the name of a mountain mentioned in the Gupta inscription No. 17. The Gupta empire (r. 3rd-century CE), founded by Śrī Gupta, covered much of ancient India and embraced the Dharmic religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.  Line 13 describes the mountain Kāilaśa as one of the breasts of the earth (the other being Sumeru) which was being reigned over by the Gupta king Kumāragupta.

Kailāśa mountain is situated about 25 miles to the north of Māna-sarovara beyond Gangrī and to the east of the Niti Pass. The Mahābhārata (Vanaparva 144.156) includes the Kumaun and Garhwal mountains in the Kailāśa range. The mountain also known as Hemakūṭa, Śaṃkaragiri and is to be identified with the Aṣṭapada mountain of the Jainas. It surpasses in beauty the big Gurlā or any other of the Indian Himālaya. Traditionally it is supposed to be the habitat of Śiva and Pārvatī.

(Source): archive.org: Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions

Kailasa temple of Ellora is the largest single monolithic structure and one of the greatest manmade wonders of the world. This Shiva temple is located close to the famous Ghrishneshvara Jyotirlinga temple. Evidently, Ellora is an ancient center of Shaivism. There are total 34 rock-carved temple-monastery caves excavated out of Ellora hills. Out of 34 caves, 12 are Buddhist caves on the southern side (Caves,1-12), 17 are Hindu caves in the middle (13-29) and 5 are Jain caves at the northern end (30-34). These caves have been serially numbered from 1 to 34 starting from southern end of the hill to the northern end. The Kailash temple is the 16 th Cave.

(Source): academia.edu: The Date of Ellora’s Kailasa Cave-Temple
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

[Kailasa in Marathi glossaries]

kailāsa (कैलास).—m (S) A mountain, the residence of Kuvera, and favorite haunt of Shiva; the paradise of Shiva. kai0 kaṇṭāḷē tōṃ gāṇēṃ kāna phāṭēstūra lēṇēṃ A phrase used of loud, extravagant, and discordant singing, and of gorgeous and glaring personal decoration. Hence (more freely) of mad, vehement, exorbitant action; or of wild, profuse, and obtrusive display. kai0 yēṇēṃ-miḷaṇēṃ-utaraṇēṃ-prāpta hōṇēṃ in. con. To obtain some great good.

--- OR ---

kailāsa (कैलास).—. Add:--kailāsālā ḍōkēṃ lāgaṇēṃ, kailāsāśīṃ bhāṇḍaṇēṃ or ṭhēṅgaṇē hōṇēṃ To be exceedingly puffed up with pride.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

kailāsa (कैलास).—m A mountain, the favourite haunt of śiva. The paradise of śiva.kailāsa utaraṇēṃ-miḷaṇēṃ Obtain some great good.

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

[Kailasa in Sanskrit glossaries]

Kailāsa (कैलास).—Name of a mountain, a peak of the Himālayas and residence of Śiva and Kubera; कैलासस्य त्रिदशवनिता- दर्पणस्यातिथिः स्याः (kailāsasya tridaśavanitā- darpaṇasyātithiḥ syāḥ) Me.6; R.2.35.

Derivable forms: kailāsaḥ (कैलासः).

(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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