Kimshuka, Kiṃśuka, Kiṃsuka: 15 definitions



Kimshuka means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Buddhism, Pali, the history of ancient India. 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 Kiṃśuka can be transliterated into English as Kimsuka or Kimshuka, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Ayurveda (science of life)

Source: Wisdom Library: Āyurveda and botany

Kiṃśuka (किंशुक) is a synonym for Kālamegha, a tree from the Fabaceae family. It is used throughout Ayurvedic literature such as the Caraka-saṃhitā. 

Source: Shodhganga: Edition translation and critical study of yogasarasamgraha

Kiṃśuka (किंशुक) refers to the medicinal plant known as “Erythrina variegata Linn.” and is dealt with in the 15th-century Yogasārasaṅgraha (Yogasara-saṅgraha) by Vāsudeva: an unpublished Keralite work representing an Ayurvedic compendium of medicinal recipes. The Yogasārasaṃgraha [mentioning kiṃśuka] deals with entire recipes in the route of administration, and thus deals with the knowledge of pharmacy (bhaiṣajya-kalpanā) which is a branch of pharmacology (dravyaguṇa).

Ayurveda book cover
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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)

[«previous (K) next»] — Kimshuka in Purana glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Bhavishya-purana

Kiṃśuka (किंशुक):—The consequences of using various flowers in worship of the sun (e.g. kiṃśuka flowers) confers eradication of troubles, according to the Bhaviṣya-purāṇa (brahmaparva, 197:1-11)

Source: Shiva Purana - English Translation

Kiṃśuka (किंशुक) is the name of a flower, according to the Śivapurāṇa 2.2.22. Accordingly as Sitā said to Śiva:—“[...] the most unbearable season of the advent of clouds (ghanāgama or jaladāgama) has arrived with clusters of clouds of diverse hues, and their music reverberating in the sky and the various quarters. [...] Unrivalled splendour has resorted to the Kiṃśuka flowers devoid of odour, as Lakṣmī (the Goddess of fortune) abandons good people and resorts to the crooked, whether of high or low birth”.

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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General definition (in Hinduism)

Source: Sanskrit Literature: Kimshuka

The kiṃśuka is a fire: the blazing red flame that burns lovers’ hearts; a fierce conflagration in a mountain forest; sacrificial fires for the rites of the festival of Love. Beyond its bright red hue, the kiṃśuka flower’s distinctive shape makes it the subject of striking, at times disturbing, imagery. The name is popularly derived as kiṃcit śuka iva (‘somewhat like a parrot’) because the flowers resemble the parrot’s red curved beak.

In the sixth book of the Rāmāyaṇa we find the first of many more violent images when Rāma and Lakṣmaṇa, assailed by the magic arrows of Indrajit, “resemble flowering kiṃśukas”. To some eyes, kiṃśukas are the red welts left by the nails of a lover – sometimes vasanta himself – upon the body of his beloved. 

The Gīta Govinda pictures the curved red flowers as Kāma’s fingernails. 

Other poets take this idea further, imagining them to be the claws of a lion–the lion of spring or the lion of love–or even an elephant driver’s hook. 


The kiṃśuka’s English names–Parrot Tree and Flame of the Forest–reflect two of these associations. It is also known as Bastard Teak. In Sanskrit it can also go by the name palāśa, or parṇa (literally ‘leaf’ because of the size of its leaves, which, in one verse, pose as flowers and so lure unsuspecting bees) or vātapotha–which seems to mean ‘that which strikes the wind’. It is normally identified as Butea Frondosa. 

In modern Indian languages, the kiṃśuka remains kiṃśuk or palāś in Hindi and Bengali, but also ḍhāk in Hindi. In the South, it is camatā, murukkaṉmaram, puracu, palācam, kirumicatturu, kāli in Tamil and camata or pḷāśu in Malayalayam.

The Pandanus database of Indian plants describes the kiṃśuka as: A deciduous tree up to 15m high, prominent red flowers, 3-foliate leaves, gummy bark, large bright orange red flowers in clusters, grows all over India up to 1200m elevation.

India history and geogprahy

Source: Shodhganga: Cultural history as g leaned from kathasaritsagara

Kimshuka is the name of a tree mentioned in the Kathasaritsagara by Somadeva (10th century A.D).—Kimshuka is known for its red-coloured (like hot coals) flowers.

Somadeva mentions many rich forests, gardens, various trees (e.g., Kimshuka), creepers medicinal and flowering plants and fruit-bearing trees in the Kathasaritsagara. Travel through the thick, high, impregnable and extensive Vindhya forest is a typical feature of many travel-stories. Somadeva’s writing more or less reflects the life of the people of Northern India during the 11th century. His Kathasaritsagara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentioning Kimshuka, is a famous Sanskrit epic story revolving around prince Naravahanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the vidyadharas (celestial beings).

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

[«previous (K) next»] — Kimshuka in Pali glossary
Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

kiṃsuka : (m.) the tree Butea Frondosa.

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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Sanskrit dictionary

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Kiṃśuka (किंशुक).—[kiṃ cit śuka iva śukatuṇḍasadṛśapuṣpatvāttathātvam] A kind of tree having beautiful red blossoms, but without any odour; तत्राम्बरादग्निरतिप्रवृद्धो रुक्षप्रभः किंशुकपुष्पचूडः (tatrāmbarādagniratipravṛddho rukṣaprabhaḥ kiṃśukapuṣpacūḍaḥ) Rām. 5.54.34. विद्याहीना न शोभन्ते निर्गन्धा इव किंशुकाः (vidyāhīnā na śobhante nirgandhā iva kiṃśukāḥ) Chāṇ.7; Ṛs.6.2; R.9.31.

-kam The blossom of this tree; किं किंशुकैः शुकमुखच्छविभिर्न दग्धम् (kiṃ kiṃśukaiḥ śukamukhacchavibhirna dagdham) Ṛs.6.21.

Derivable forms: kiṃśukaḥ (किंशुकः).

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

Kiṃśuka (किंशुक).—m.

(-kaḥ) A tree bearing beautiful red blossoms, and hence often alluded to by the poets, (Butea frondośa;) also palāśa E. kiṃ what, something, śuka a parrot; its red flowers being of the colour of a parrot’s beak.

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

Kiṃśuka (किंशुक).—i. e. kim-śuka, I. m. A tree bearing beautiful red blossoms, Butea frondosa, [Mānavadharmaśāstra] 8, 246. Ii. n. Its blossom, [Suśruta] 1, 224, 1.

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

Kiṃśuka (किंशुक).—[masculine] [Name] of a tree; [neuter] its flower.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Kiṃśuka (किंशुक):—[=kiṃ-śuka] [from kiṃ-yu] a etc. See, [ib.]

2) [=kiṃ-śuka] [from kiṃ > kim] b m. the tree Butea frondosa (bearing beautiful blossoms, hence often alluded to by poets), [Mahābhārata] etc.

3) [v.s. ...] n. the blossom of this tree, [Rāmāyaṇa; Suśruta] (cf. palāśa and sukiṃśuka)

[Sanskrit to German] (Deutsch Wörterbuch)

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Böhtlingk and Roth Grosses Petersburger Wörterbuch

Kiṃśuka (किंशुक):—(kim + śuka) m. Butea frondosa Roxb., ein Baum mit schmetterlingsförmigen rothen Blüthen, [Amarakoṣa 2, 4, 2, 10.] [Hemacandra’s Abhidhānacintāmaṇi 1136.] [Hārāvalī 107.] [Manu’s Gesetzbuch 8, 246.] [Nalopākhyāna] [?(BOPP) 12, 3. Rāmāyaṇa 2, 56, 6. 3, 21, 20. 79, 33. 5, 17, 4. 15. Suśruta 1, 22, 9. 110, 6. 214, 17. Ṛtusaṃhāra 6, 19.] kiṃśukaiḥ śukamukhacchavibhiḥ [20.] te bahvaśobhanta puṣpitā iva kiṃśukāḥ [Mahābhārata 3, 8815. 16124. 13, 1982. 2798.] tayoḥ kṛtavraṇau dehau śuśubhāte mahātmanoḥ . puṣpitāviva niṣpatrau yathā śālmalikiṃśukau .. [Rāmāyaṇa 6, 68, 31.] avijñāya phalaṃ yo hi karma tvevānudhāvati . sa śocetphalavelāyāṃ yathā kiṃśukasevakaḥ .. [Daśaratha’s Tod 1, 8.] rūpayauvanasaṃpannā viśālakulasaṃbhavāḥ . vidyāhīnā na śobhante nirgandhā iva kiṃśukāḥ .. [Cāṇakya 7.] neutr. die Blüthe [Suśruta 1, 224, 1.] kiṃśukavarṇābha [Rāmāyaṇa 5, 52, 14.] kiṃśukodaka ein Aufguss auf die Blüthen, der zum Färben gebraucht wird, [Suśruta 2, 2, 5.] Nach [Rājanirghaṇṭa im Śabdakalpadruma] ist kiṃśuka auch = nandīvṛkṣa . — Vgl. palāśa und sukiṃśuka .

context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family (even English!). 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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