Kamsa, aka: Kaṃsa, Kaṃsā, Kamsha, Kaṃśa; 15 Definition(s)


Kamsa 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 term Kaṃśa can be transliterated into English as Kamsa or Kamsha, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Shilpashastra (iconography)

Kaṃsa (कंस) is depicted as a sculpture on the second pillar of the southern half of the maṇḍapa of the temple of Lokeśvara.—Here is the final act of the drama is carved in the extreme left of the register. The two brothers have reached the court of Kaṃsa, their maternal uncle. In the picture, we see a person falling head down. Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma, both brothers fought with Kaṃsa and his younger brother Sunāman. With a blow on the heads of demons, Kṛṣṇa and Balarāma threw them out on the road from the upper floor of the palace.

To the extreme right of the same panel is a temple like edifice and a goddess on a lion. Probably, she is Mahāmāyā who left for Himālaya after announcing to Kaṃsa that his killer is in the Nandagokula. The architecture of the temple in the sculpture resembles one of those rock-cut temples in Mahābalipuram.

Source: Archaeological Survey of India: Śaiva monuments at Paṭṭadakal (śilpa)
Shilpashastra book cover
context information

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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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

1) Kaṃsa (कंस).—Son of Ugrasena, King of Mathurā, and an incarnation of an Asura called Kālanemi. Genealogy. Descending in order from Viṣṇu: Brahmā-Atri-Candra-Budha-Purūravas-Āyus-Nahuṣa-Yayāti-Yadu-Sahasrajit-Śatajit-Hehaya-Dharma-Kunti (Kuni)Bhadrasena-Dhanaka-Kṛtavīra-Kārtavīryārjuna-Madhu-Vṛṣṇi-Yudhājit-Śini-Sātyaka-Sātyaki (Yuyudhāna)Yaya-Kuni-Anamitra-Pṛśni-Citraratha-Kukura-Vahni-Viloma-Kapotaroman (Kapotaloman)-Tumburu-Dundubhi-Daridra-Vasu-Nāhuka-Āhuka-Ugrasena-Kaṃsa. (See full article at Story of Kaṃsa from the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani)

2) Kaṃsa (कंस).—Mahābhārata mentions another Kaṃsa who was also killed by Kṛṣṇa. But he was not the son of Ugrasena. (Mahābhārata Sabhā Parva, Dākṣiṇātyapāṭha, Page 825).

Source: archive.org: Puranic Encyclopaedia

1a) Kaṃsa (कंस).—The eldest son of Ugrasena1 and brother (cousin, Vāyu-purāṇa) of Devakī. Took part in the festivities connected with the marriage of Devakī and Vasudeva, when he heard a voice from air that her eighth son would kill him. He at once drew his sword to slay Devakī when Vasudeva entreated him to spare her life promising to give him all her sons. To this he agreed. He did not take notice even of the first boy. Subsequently Nārada confirmed what he heard from the welkin. So he killed all her sons and put her and Vasudeva in jail. He waited for the seventh and was particularly afraid of the eighth. Being informed of the birth of a girl, and without listening to his sister's appeal to spare the baby, he dashed it against a stone. It flew heavenwards and said that the baby born to vanquish him was safe. Disheartened, Kaṃsa let Vasudeva and Devakī free. Consulted his ministers who advised him to kill all infants in the kingdom, and to hurt all Brāhmaṇas and cows, the root cause of Hari's dharma. Messengers were sent out on this mission.2 An incarnation of Kālanemi. Threw his father Ugrasena in prison and assumed regal administration.3 Encouraged by his Asura friends such as Pralamba and Baka, as also by the Māgadhan king, he tyrannized the Yadus who left the land for other countries like Kuru, Pāñcāla and others. The Brāhmaṇas were afraid of him.4

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 24. 24; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa I. 1. 125; III. 71. 132; Vāyu-purāṇa 1. 148; 96. 131, 173, 216; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 14. 20; Matsya-purāṇa 44. 74; 46. 13.
  • 2) Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. chap. 1-4; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 71. 175-235; 73. 99; Vāyu-purāṇa 98. 100; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 15. 26-7; V. 1. 6-11, 67-69; 3. 2; chap. 4.
  • 3) Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. 1. 68-69.
  • 4) Ib. X. 2. 1-4; 23. 52.

1b) A dānava king; with the sun for two months—madhu and mādhava.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 23. 3; IV. 29. 123.

2) Kaṃsā (कंसा).—A daughter of Ugrasena; married Devabhāga.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 24. 25 and 40; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 71. 134; Matsya-purāṇa 44. 75; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 14. 21.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

Kaṃsa (कंस), the mighty demon, descendant of the Bhoja family. Kaṃsa was the maternal uncle of Kṛṣṇa and he was known for his cruelty towards his own sister, Devakī, who was married to Vasudeva. While driving the marriage procession Kaṃsa himself heard an announcement made by a celestial voice. According to the announcement he was to be killed by Kṛṣṇa, the eighth child of Vasudeva and Devakī.

Source: Archaeological Survey of India: Śaiva monuments at Paṭṭadakal (purāṇa)

Kaṃsa (कंस) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. V.128.46) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Kaṃsa) 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
context information

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)

Kaṃsa (कंस) or Kaṃsatāla or Kāṃsya refers to the “sounds of cymbals” and represents one of the ten kinds of sounds (śabda) according to Jayaratha (author of the 13th century commentary Tantrālokaviveka on Abhinavagupta’s Tantrāloka). Jayaratha cites the Brahmayāmala passage giving this order of the ten sounds (eg., Kaṃsa).

Source: academia.edu: The Yoga of the Mālinīvijayottaratantra
Shaivism book cover
context information

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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General definition (in Hinduism)

Kamsa was the maternal uncle of Krishna. When it was foretold that the eighth child of his sister would be his killer, he resolved to put to death all the children of his sister. To save Krishna from his fate, Vasudeva had him brought up as the son of a Yadava chieftain.

Source: Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

Kamsa (कंस): Maternal Uncle of Sri Krishna and son of Ugrasena, also son-in-law of Jarasandha, whom Sri Krishna killed.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

Kaṃsa (कंस).—A demoniac king of the Bhoja dynasty and maternal uncle of Kṛṣṇa. The son of Ugrasena. He imprisoned his father and took charge of the kingdom. He killed the first six children of Devakī. Kaṃsa was killed by Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa.

Source: ISKCON Press: Glossary

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

1. Kamsa - Another name, according to the scholiast, for Brahmadatta, king of Benares and father of Samuddaja. J.vi.198 (25).

2. Kamsa - King of Benares, and called Baranasiggaha because he was ruler of Benares. According to the Seyya Jataka (J.ii.403), he was the king who was seized by the monarch of Kosala, owing to the treachery of a disloyal courtier, and who was later set free on account of his great piety. In the Ekaraja Jataka, which purports to relate the same story, and again in the Mahasilava Jataka, the king is referred to by other names. We probably have here a confusion of legends due to an effort to make three similar stories into one and the same.

It is probably this same Kamsa Baranasiggaha who is referred to in the Tesakuna Jataka, by the owl Vessantara (J.v.112). There the scholiast explains Baranasiggaha as catuhi sangahavatthuhi Baranasim gahetva vattanto.

3. Kamsa - Son of Mahakamsa and brother of Upakamsa and Devagabbha.

Later he became king of Asitanjana in Kamsabhoga in the Uttarapatha.

He was killed by Vasudeva, one of the Andhakavenhuda saputta (J.iv.79f).

Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names
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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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

Kamsa in Pali glossary... « previous · [K] · next »

kaṃsa : (m.) a plate to eat from.

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
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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

kaṃśā (कंशा).—m (Vulgar corr., esp. amongst women, of kōvasā) An espouser of one's cause; an avenger or a protector; esp. an abettor or a backer in quarrels and broils.

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kaṃsa (कंस).—m (S) The name of the uncle and enemy of kṛṣṇa.

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kaṃsa (कंस).—m A segment of a circle as a parenthesis: also a bracket of any form, (, [, { &c. 2 An arc.

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kāṃsa (कांस).—f (Or kāsa) Udder. 2 The tuck of the dhōtara or lugaḍēṃ. v ghāla, khōñca.

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kāṃsā (कांसा).—m C (kāṃsava A tortoise.) A rock in the water of a level surface; lying, or appearing occasionally, above the water.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

kaṃsa (कंस).—m A bracket. An arc.

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kāṃsa (कांस).—f Udder. The tuck of the dhōtara or lugaḍēṃ. kāsa dharaṇēṃ. Cling to for protec- tion. &c.

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

Kaṃśa (कंश).—A drinking vessel. (kaṃ jalaṃ śete atra.)

Derivable forms: kaṃśaḥ (कंशः).

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Kaṃsa (कंस).—1 A drinking vessel, cup, can, goblet; उदुम्बरे कंसे चमसे वा सर्वौषधं फलानीति संभृत्य (udumbare kaṃse camase vā sarvauṣadhaṃ phalānīti saṃbhṛtya) Bṛ. Up.6.3.1.

2) Bell-metal, white copper. किं यत्तद्देवदत्तः कंसपात्र्यां पाणि- नौदनं भुङ्क्ते (kiṃ yattaddevadattaḥ kaṃsapātryāṃ pāṇi- naudanaṃ bhuṅkte) Mbh. on P.I.3.1.

3) A particular measure known as आढक (āḍhaka), q. v.

-saḥ 1 Name of a king of Mathurā, son of Ugrasena and enemy of Kriṣṇa. [He is identified with the Asura Kālanemi, and acted inimically towards Kṛṣṇa and became his implacable foe. The circumstance which made him so was the following. While, after the marriage of Devakī with Vasudeva, he was driving the happy pair home, a heavenly voice warned Kaṃsa that the eighth child of Devakī would kill him. Thereupon he threw both of them into prison, loaded them with strong fetters, and kept the strictest watch over them. He took from Devakī every child as soon as it was born and slew it, and in this way he disposed of her first six children. But the 7th and 8th, Balarāma and Kṛṣṇa, were safely conveyed to Nanda's house in spite of his vigilance, and Kṛṣṇa grew up to be his slayer according to the prophecy. When Kaṃsa heard this, he was very much enraged and sent several demons to kill Kṛṣṇa, who killed them all with ease. At last he sent Akrūra to bring the boys to Mathurā. A severe duel was fought between Kaṃsa and Kṛṣṇa, in which the former was slain by the latter.] cf. कंसं जघान कृष्णः (kaṃsaṃ jaghāna kṛṣṇaḥ) which is an answer to the query कं संज- घान कृष्णः (kaṃ saṃja- ghāna kṛṣṇaḥ) |

2) Anything metallic.

3) Fire.

-sā Name of a daughter of Ugrasena and sister of Kaṃsa.

Derivable forms: kaṃsaḥ (कंसः), kaṃsam (कंसम्).

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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Relevant definitions

Search found 189 related definition(s) that might help you understand this better. Below you will find the 15 most relevant articles:

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Kaṃsahanana (कंसहनन).—the slaying of Kaṃsa. कंसवधमाचष्टे कंसं घातयति (kaṃsavadhamācaṣṭe kaṃsaṃ ...
Kaṃsadviṣ (कंसद्विष्).—m. 'slayer of Kaṃsa, i. e Kṛṣṇa; स्वयं सन्धिकारिणा कंसारिणा दूतेन (svaya...
Kaṃsakṛṣ (कंसकृष्).—m. 'slayer of Kaṃsa, i. e Kṛṣṇa; स्वयं सन्धिकारिणा कंसारिणा दूतेन (svayaṃ s...
Kaṃsahan (कंसहन्).—m. 'slayer of Kaṃsa, i. e Kṛṣṇa; स्वयं सन्धिकारिणा कंसारिणा दूतेन (svayaṃ sa...
Kaṃsajit (कंसजित्).—m. 'slayer of Kaṃsa, i. e Kṛṣṇa; स्वयं सन्धिकारिणा कंसारिणा दूतेन (svayaṃ s...
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Kaṃsamākṣika (कंसमाक्षिक).—a metallic substance in large grains; a sort of pyrites. Derivable f...
Kaṃsatāla (कंसताल) or simply Kaṃsa or Kāṃsyatāla refers to the “sounds of cymbals” and represen...
Kaṃsakāra (कंसकार).—-rī f.) Derivable forms: kaṃsakāraḥ (कंसकारः).Kaṃsakāra is a Sanskrit compo...
Kaṃsakṛṣa (कंसकृष).—Vāsudeva Śrikṛṣṇa; निषेदिवान् कंसकृषः स विष्टरे (niṣedivān kaṃsakṛṣaḥ sa vi...

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