Kashi, aka: Kāśī, Kāsī, Kasi, Kāśi, Kāsi, Kaṣi; 23 Definition(s)


Kashi 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 terms Kāśī and Kāśi and Kaṣi can be transliterated into English as Kasi or Kashi, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Kāśi (काशि):—Son of Kaśya (son of Suhotra). He had a son called Rāṣṭra. (see Bhāgavata Purāṇa 9.17.4)

Source: Wisdom Library: Bhagavata Purana

Kāśī (काशी), or Vārāṇasī, is described as a fascinating city which is beyond the range of vision of Giriśa (Śiva), according to the Skandapurāṇa 4.2.53. It is a place where yoginīs become ayoginīs, after having come in contact with it. Kāśī is described as having both the power to destroy great delusion, as well as creating it.

Accordingly, “the whole universe is deluded by the Māyā of Viṣṇu. Indeed, this Kāśī is the personified form thereof. It is the sole enchanter of the universe. Setting aside brothers, wives, son, land, house andwealth, even facing death, all resort to Kāśī.”

The Skandapurāṇa narrates the details and legends surrounding numerous holy pilgrimages (tīrtha-māhātmya) throughout India. It is the largest Mahāpurāṇa composed of over 81,000 metrical verses, with the core text dating from the before the 4th-century CE.

Source: Wisdom Library: Skanda-purāṇa

Kāśī (काशी).—The Skandapurāṇa says that the city of Kāśī became famous by that name because it sheds light on (the way to) nirvāṇa or because, that indescribable refulgence, viz. god Śiva shines forth here. Kāśī has been a place of much improtance for Hindu pilgrimage. Its religious importance has been discussed at length in the Kāśīkhaṇḍa of the Skanda Purāṇa. Lord Śiva never leaves it, hence it is known as Avimukta. A man who dies here is believed to get emancipation.

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

1) Kāśī (काशी).—(VĀRĀṆASĪ. BANARAS). (See under Divodāsa also). General. One of the oldest and most popular sacred centres in India, Kāśī is reputed for its Viśvanātha temple of hoary traditions, according to one of which the Śivaliṅga in the temple was installed by Brahmā himself. (Hālāsya Māhātmya). (See full article at Story of Kāśī from the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani)

2) Kāśī (काशी).—An inhabitant-citizen-of Kāśī. (Bhīṣma Parva, Chapter 106, Verse 18).

3) Kāśī (काशी).—A son of Kaviprajāpati. (Anuśāsana Parva, Chapter 85, Verse 133).

Source: archive.org: Puranic Encyclopaedia

1) Kāśi (काशि).—Son of Kāśya and father of Rāṣṭra.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 17. 4.

2a) Kāśī (काशी).——(c)—a kingdom of Madhyadeśa;1 a tribe;2 a Janapada3 enlisted by Jarāsandha against the Yadus.4

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 16. 41; 18. 51; III. 74. 213 and 268.
  • 2) Matsya-purāṇa 114. 35; 163. 67; 273. 73.
  • 3) Vāyu-purāṇa 45. 110; 47. 48.
  • 4) Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. [50 (V) 3].

2b) The mother of Sarvaga (Sarvavṛka, Vāyu-purāṇa) by Bhīmasena.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 50. 54; Vāyu-purāṇa 99. 247; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 20. 46.

3) Kāsī (कासी).—Capital of Pauṇḍraka invaded by Kṛṣṇa; Pauṇḍraka on the S. of the Gomanta hill during the siege by Jarāsandha.1 The abhicāra Agni sent by Sudakṣiṇa returned and killed Sudakṣiṇa himself, while Viṣṇu's Cakra burnt down the whole city.2 Its king went to Syamantapañcaka for solar eclipse having heard that Kṛṣṇa was there.3 When the kingdom had no rains, its king gave his daughter Gāndinī to Śvaphalka, and this resulted in plenty of showers.4 Likened to bhāgavata purāṇa in its importance.5 Sages of, visited Dvārakā.6 Residence of Kāmākṣī7 the capital of Kuśadhvaja;8 in the brows of the Veda.9

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. 66. [12], 10; 52. 11 [9].
  • 2) Ib. X. 66. 30-42; 37. 19.
  • 3) Ib. X. 82. 25.
  • 4) Ib. X. 57. 32. Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 71. 104.
  • 5) Bhāgavata-purāṇa XII. 13. 17.
  • 6) Ib. X. 90. 28 [3].
  • 7) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 37. 15; 40. 15 and 80, 91.
  • 8) Vāyu-purāṇa 81. 18; 99. 402.
  • 9) Ib. 104. 75.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

Kāśi (काशि) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. II.27.6, VI.10.38, VI.52.13, VI.112.73) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Kāśi) 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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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Kāśi (काशि) is the name of a tribe, usually to be represented by a brown (asita) color when painting the limbs (aṅgaracanā), according to Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 23. The painting is a component of nepathya (costumes and make-up) and is to be done in accordance with the science of āhāryābhinaya (extraneous representation).

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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Katha (narrative stories)

Kāśī (काशी) is the name of a kingdom that was conquered by Udayana (king of Vatsa) during his campaign to obtain sovereignty over the whole earth, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 19. Accordingly, “When he heard of that, Brahmadatta (King of Benares, Kāśī), having found all his stratagems fail, came to the conclusion that the King of Vatsa, who filled with his forces the whole country, was hard to overcome. After deliberating and sending an ambassador, he came in person to the King of Vatsa, who was encamped near, placing his clasped hands upon his head in token of submission”.

The Kathāsaritsāgara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentioning Kāśī, 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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Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Kāśī (काशी).—During the period of Gupta rule Kāśī was on its way to become a strong centre of Śiva worship with the mahāliṅgas set up in different parts of the city.

Source: archive.org: Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions (shaivism)
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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General definition (in Hinduism)

Kāśī (काशी).—One of the oldest sacred places of learning in India. The Purāṇic name of the modern city of Benares in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It is the place of Lord Śiva and generally the followers of Lord Śiva live there. Ambā, Ambikā and Ambālikā were abducted by Bhīṣma from this city.

Source: ISKCON Press: Glossary

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

1. Kāsi (Kāsika) - One of the sixteen Mahajanapadas (A.i.213, etc.), its capital being Baranasi.

At the time of the Buddha, it had been absorbed into the kingdom of Kosala, and Pasenadi was king of both countries (D.i.288; M.ii.111). The Mahavagga (Vin.i.28l), however, mentions a Kasika raja (king of Kasi?) who sent a robe to Jivaka. Buddhaghosa (see Vinaya Texts ii.195, n.2) says that this was a brother of Pasenadi and son of the same father. He was probably a sub king of Pasenadi. Pasenadis father, Mahakosala, on giving his daughter in marriage to Bimbisara, allotted her a village of Kasi (Kasigama, q.v.) as bath money (J.iv.342; J.ii.403; SA.i.110,120f, etc.). Even at this time, however, the memory of Kasi as an independent kingdom seems to have been still fresh in mens minds. It is very frequently mentioned as such in the Jatakas and elsewhere. Kasi was once ruled by the Bharatas, one of whom, Dhatarattha, was its king in the time of Renu (D.ii.235f). There seem to have been frequent wars between the countries of Kasi and Kosala, victory belonging now to one, now to the other. In one such war, Dighati (q.v.), the Kosala king, was defeated by the king of Kasi, but Dighitis son Dighavu won back the kingdom (Vin.i.334; J.iii.487; DhA.i.46). In another war the Kasi king, Mahasilava, was taken captive by the ruler of Kosala, but his kingdom was later restored to him (J.i.262, etc.; see also i.409; UdA.123).

The traditional name of the king of Kasi from time immemorial was evidently Brahmadatta (q.v.), and references to kings of that name abound in the Jatakas. Sometimes the king is referred to merely as Kasi raja. Among other kings of Kasi mentioned are Kiki (M.ii.49) and Kalabu (J.iii.39). The extent of the Kasi kingdom is given as three hundred leagues (J.v.41; also iii.304, 391).

The capital of Kasi is generally given as Baranasi, but it is said that when Asoka was king of Kasi his capital was in Potali (J.iii.155), and another king, Udaya bhadda, had his seat of government in Surundha (J.iv.104ff). It is possible that these cities did not form part of the regular kingdom of Kasi, but became annexed to it during the reigns of some of the more powerful kings.

Kasi was evidently a great centre of trade and a most populous and prosperous country. Frequent mention is made of caravans leaving Kasi to travel for trade. One highway went through Kasi to Rajagaha (Vin.i.212) and another to Savatthi (Vin.ii.10; Mhv.v.114). Kasi was famed for her silks, and Kasi robes were most highly esteemed as gifts, each robe being valued at one hundred thousand. (See, e.g., J.vi.151, 450;

2. Kāsi, or Kāsika.- A city, the birthplace of Phussa Buddha (Bu.xix.14; J.i.41). There he taught the Buddhavaṃsa (BuA.193). The city is probably to be identified with Benares, which is sometimes referred to as Kāsipura (e.g., DhA.i.71; J.v.54; vi.165; M.i.171; DhsA.35; Cv.xli.37). It is also called Kāsipurī (PvA.19).

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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Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Kāśi is the old name for Benares (Vārāṇasī).

Source: Kunpal: Shantideva's Bodhisattva-charyavatara
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)

Kāśī (काशी).—At the time of Buddha, the kingdom of Kāśī was absorbed by the kingdom of Kośala. We know that Lord Buddha gave his first discourse near Kāśī in the Deer Park at Sārnāth. Kāśī was an important Buddhist centre and was a seat of monastic establishments in the time of Aśoka.

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

India history and geogprahy

Kāśī (काशी) is a place-name without suffix and is mentioned in the Gupta inscription No. 28. 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. The name Kāśī is derived from the root kaś ‘to shine’. It was a great centre of trade and commerce. Patañjali in his Mahābhāṣya mentions Kāśī cloth. The Buddhist literature gives us many accounts of the merchants of the city.

Kāśī has been known for centuries under five different names, viz., Vārāṇasī (modern Banaras), Kāśī, Avimukta, Ānandakānana and Śmaśāna or Mahāśmaśāna. Vārāṇasī was the capital of the people of Kāśī.584 Thus it seems that geographically Kāśī represented a larger area than Vārāṇasī, the latter being the capital of the former. But in medieval times the position became just the reverse. Vārāṇasī comprehended the entire district and Kāśī generally represented only a small place.

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

Kasi (“benares”) refers to one of the gotras (clans) among the Medaras: workers in bamboo in the Telugu, Canarese, Oriya and Tamil countries. The Medara people believe that they came from Mahendrachala mountain, the mountain of Indra. They are also known as the Meda, Medarlu or Medarakaran.

Source: Project Gutenberg: Castes and Tribes of Southern India, Volume 1

Kāsī is one of the sixteen Mahājanapadas of the Majjhimadesa (Middle Country) of ancient India, as recorded in the Pāli Buddhist texts (detailing the geography of ancient India as it was known in to Early Buddhism).—In the Aṅguttara Nikāya Kāsī is included in the list of sixteen Mahājanapadas. Its capital was Bārāṇasī (mod. Benares) which had other names as well, viz. Surundhana, Sudassana, Brahmavaddhana, Pupphavatī, Ramma and Molinī. The extent of the city is mentioned as 12 yojanas whereas Mithilā and Indapatta were each only seven leagues in extent.

Before the time of the Buddha, Kāsī  was a great political power. Its kings from time to time fought with the Kosalan kings. Sometimes Kāsī extended its suzerain power over Kosala and sometimes Kosala conquered Kāsī. But on the whole it appears that before the Buddha’s time Kāsī was the most powerful kingdom in the whole of northern India. But in the time of the Buddha, Kāsī lost its political power. It was incorporated sometime into the Kosalan kingdom and sometime into the Magadhan kingdom. There were fierce fights between Pasenadi, king of Kosala, and Ajātasattu, King of Magadha, regarding the possession of Kāsī. Kāsī was finally conquered and incorporated into the Magadha kingdom when Ajātasattu defeated the Kosalans and became the most powerful king of Northern India.

Source: Ancient Buddhist Texts: Geography of Early Buddhism
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

Pali-English dictionary

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

kasi : (aor. of kasati) ploughed; tilled. || kāsi (m.), name of a country (the capital of which was Benares).

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Kasi, and Kasī (f.) (fr. kasāti) tilling, ploughing; agriculture, cultivation M. II, 198; S. I, 172, 173=Sn. 76 sq.; Vin. IV, 6; Pv. I, 56 (k°, gorakkha, vaṇijjā); PvA. 7; Sdhp. 390 (k°, vaṇijjā); VvA. 63.—°ṃ kasati to plough, to till the land J. I, 277; Vism. 284.

—kamma the act or occupation of ploughing, agriculture J. II, 165, 300; III, 270.—karaṇa ploughing, tilling of the field PvA. 66;—khetta a place for cultivation, a field PvA. 8 (kasī°);—gorakkha agriculture and cattle breeding D. I, 135;—bhaṇḍa ploughing implements DhA. I, 307. (Page 201)

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's 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

kaśī (कशी).—f C A thrashed or an empty head (esp. of nācaṇī). See piśī.

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kāśī (काशी).—f (S) A celebrated city and place of pilgrimage, Benares. 2 C A melon-plantation. kāśīrāmēśvarācēṃ antara (The interval or distance betwixt the two towns kāśī & rāmēśvara) Far as the poles asunder. kāśīcī vāṭa dākhaviṇēṃ To raise (a child &c.) by the ears, and rub the thumb forcibly along his crown; to show London. kāśīsa gēlā kāśīdāsa mathurēsa gēlā mathurādāsa Used of a timeserver or trimmer.

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kāśī (काशी) [or कांशी, kāṃśī].—f See this in the plural number (kāśā).

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

kāśī (काशी).—f Benares. kāśīphaḷa n A pompion, gourd.

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

Kaṣi (कषि).—a. Injurious, harmful, hurtful.

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Kāśi (काशि).—m. (pl.) Name of a country.

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Kāśi (काशि) or Kāśī (काशी).—f. Name of a celebrated city on the Ganges, the modern Benares and one of the seven sacred cities; काशी काशीति काशीति त्रिवारं यः पठेत् नरः । सोऽपि देशान्तरे- वासी काशीवासफलं लभेत् (kāśī kāśīti kāśīti trivāraṃ yaḥ paṭhet naraḥ | so'pi deśāntare- vāsī kāśīvāsaphalaṃ labhet) || see काञ्ची (kāñcī).

-śiḥ 1 The clenched hand, fist.

2) A handful; आप इव काशिना संगृभीता (āpa iva kāśinā saṃgṛbhītā) Rv.7. 14.8.

3) The sun.

4) Light, splendour;

Derivable forms: kāśiḥ (काशिः).

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Kāśī (काशी).—See काशि (kāśi).

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Kāśi (काशि).—(see also kāśi-sūkṣma), in meaning 1 also kāśī (f.? in meaning 1 = kāśika or °kā 1; in meaning 2 = Pali kāsi, Buddha- ghosa on Vin. i.281.18, 20, cited SBE 17.195 n. 3, where transl. departs from comm.; this interpretation is confirmed by our word, which can have no other meaning than some large [Page181-b+ 71] number), (1) some valuable textile product of Benares, fine cotton cloth (?): Divy 388.17 (verse) tūlopamāḥ kāśi- samopamāś ca; Śikṣ 208.3 (prose) kāśi-kauśeya-dūkūla-; kāśī-, Divy 579.8 kāśī-maha, festival of kāśī-cloth; (2) a thousand (pieces of money): Mv iii.375.18 (gaṇikā) sarvāṃ kāśibhūmiṃ kṣamati, was worth (as a fee) the whole sum of a thousand; 376.1 uparddha- (mss., for upārdha-, q.v.) kāśiṃ kṣamati, was worth half a thousand. Cf. Kāśikā, Uparddha-kāśikā, as proper names (the women were so called because of these retes). The same meaning is given to Pali kāsi by comm. on Vin., above, and in Vin. i.281. 24 occurs upaḍḍha-kāsinaṃ khamamāno, confirming this meaning; see s.v. kṣamati.

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Kāśī (काशी).—(1), q.v.

Kāśī can also be spelled as Kāśi (काशि).

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Kāsi (कासि).—etc., aor. of kṛ, q.v. in Chap. 43.

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Kāsī (कासी).—(-kāsī), see s.v. gomaya-kārṣī.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit 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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