Lila, aka: Līlā; 10 Definition(s)


Lila means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Buddhism, Pali, 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

Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Līlā (लीला, “sportive mimicry”) refers to one of the ten “natural graces” of women (svābhāvikā), according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 24. These natural graces, also known as svabhāvaja or sahaja, represent one of the three aspects of graces (alaṃkāra) which forms which forms the support of sentiments (rasa) in drama. The natural graces (such as līlā) are defined according to the science of sāmānyābhinaya, or “harmonious representation”.

According to the Nāṭyaśāstra, “imitating the behaviour of a lover by means of relevant words, gestures and make-up (alaṃkāra, lit. ornament) which are delightful and inspired by affection, is called ‘sportive mimicry’ (līlā)”.

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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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Līlā (लीला).—A Svara śakti.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 44. 57.
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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Katha (narrative stories)

Līlā (लीला) or Līlāparvata is the name of a mountain whose lord is named Vikrośana: a Vidyādhara king who fought on Śrutaśarman’s side but was slain by Prabhāsa, who participated in the war against Sūryaprabha, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 48. Accordingly: “... when they heard that [speech of Śrutaśarman], eight warriors in anger surrounded Prabhāsa.... And the third was the hero Indramālin, a prince of the Vidyādharas, lord of a host of distinguished warriors, and his home was the mountain Līlā”.

The Kathāsaritsāgara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentioning Līlā, 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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General definition (in Hinduism)

Lila (Sanskrit: लीला, līlā) is a concept within Hinduism literally meaning "pastime", "sport" or "play". It is common to both non-dualistic and dualistic philosophical schools, but has a markedly different significance in each. Within non-dualism, Lila is a way of describing all reality, including the cosmos, as the outcome of creative play by the divine absolute (Brahman). In the dualistic schools of Vaishnavism, Lila more simply refers to the activities of God and his devotees, as distinct from the common activities of karma.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

Līlā (लीला).—A transcendental “pastime” or activity performed by God or His devotee; The endlessly expanding spiritual activities and pastimes of Kṛṣṇa.

Source: ISKCON Press: Glossary

Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

līlā : (f.) grace; charm.

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Līlā, (līḷā) (f.) (cp. Epic Sk. līlā or *līḍā) play, sport, dalliance; probably for līḷhā at J. V, 5 & 157, both times combd with vilāsa.

—aravinda a lotus serviceable for sport VvA. 43 (līḷ°). (Page 584)

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

liḷā (लिळा).—f (līlā S) Sport, diversion, pastime,play. liḷā phiraṇēṃ -badalaṇēṃ -pālaṭaṇēṃ g. of s. To change one's course from good to bad or vice versâ.

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līlā (लीला).—f (S) Sport, diversion, pastime or play in general. 2 (Abridged from līlāvatāra q.v. infra.) An incarnation of Vishn̤u. Hence līlā- dhāraṇa Assumption of an incarnation, and līlā- dhārī Assumer of &c.

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līlā (लीला) [or लीळा, līḷā].—ad (Poetry.) As it were in play; easily. See avalīḷā.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

līlā (लीला).—f Play or pastime, sport.

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liḷā (लिळा).—f Play or pastime, sport.

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

Līlā (लीला).—[lī-kvip liyaṃ lāti lā-ka vā Tv.]

1) Play, sport, pastime, diversion, pleasure, amusement; क्लमं ययौ कन्दुक- लीलयापि या (klamaṃ yayau kanduka- līlayāpi yā) Ku.5.19; oft. used as the first member of comp.; लीलाकमलम्, लीलाशुकः (līlākamalam, līlāśukaḥ) &c.

2) Amorous pastime, wanton, amorous or playful sport; उत्सृष्टलीलागतिः (utsṛṣṭalīlāgatiḥ) R.7. 7;4.22;5.7; क्षुभ्यन्ति प्रसभमहो विनापि हेतोर्लीलाभिः किमु सति कारणे रमण्यः (kṣubhyanti prasabhamaho vināpi hetorlīlābhiḥ kimu sati kāraṇe ramaṇyaḥ) Śi.8.24; Me.37; (līlā in this sense is thus explained by ujjavalamaṇi:aprāptavallabhasamāgamanāyikāyāḥ sakhyāḥ puro'tra nijacittavinodabuddhyā | ālāpaveśagatihāsyavilokanādyaiḥ prāṇeśvarānukṛtimāphalayanti līlām ||).

3) Ease, facility, mere sport, child's play; लीलया जघान (līlayā jaghāna) 'killed with ease'.

4) Appearance, semblance, air, mien; यः संयति प्राप्तपिनाकि- लीलः (yaḥ saṃyati prāptapināki- līlaḥ) R.6.72 'appearing like Pinākin'.

5) Beauty, charm, grace; मुहुरवलोकितमण्डनलीला (muhuravalokitamaṇḍanalīlā) Gīt.6; R.6.1;16 71.

6) Pretence, disguise, dissimulation, sham; as, लीलामनुष्यः, लीलानटः (līlāmanuṣyaḥ, līlānaṭaḥ) &c.

7) Frivolity, disrespect; दातव्य- मन्नं विधिवत् सत्कृत्य न तु लीलया (dātavya- mannaṃ vidhivat satkṛtya na tu līlayā) Rām.1.13.14.

8) Action.

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English 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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Relevant definitions

Search found 141 related definition(s) that might help you understand this better. Below you will find the 15 most relevant articles:

Līlāvatī (लीलावती).—f. (-tī) A wanton or sportful woman. E. līlā, and matup affs.
Siṃhalīla (सिंहलील).—m. (-laḥ) A kind of sexual union thus defined:— “liṅgopari sthitā nā...
Līlodyāna (लीलोद्यान).—n. (-na) A pleasure ground. E. līlā sport, udyāna a garden.
Līlāvatāra (लीलावतार).—the descent (of Viṣṇu) on the earth for amusement. Derivable forms: līlā...
Kandukalīlā (कन्दुकलीला).—any game with a ball.Kandukalīlā is a Sanskrit compound consisting of...
Līlābja (लीलाब्ज).—n. (-bjaṃ) A lotus flower held in the hand as a plaything.
Līlākalaha (लीलाकलह).—m. (-haḥ) A sham quarrel of a coquette with her lover.
Līlācatura (लीलाचतुर).—a. sportively charming; तां वीक्ष्य लीला- चतुरामनङ्गः स्वचापसौन्दर्यमदं ...
Līlāmbuja (लीलाम्बुज).—&c. 'toy-lotus', a lotus-flower held in the hand as a plaything; लीलारवि...
Līlāvāpī (लीलावापी).—a pleasure-tank. Līlāvāpī is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms l...
Līlātanu (लीलातनु).—a form assumed for mere sport. Derivable forms: līlātanuḥ (लीलातनुः).Līlāta...
Līlāñcita (लीलाञ्चित).—a. sportively handsome. Līlāñcita is a Sanskrit compound consisting of t...
Līlākamala (लीलाकमल).—&c. 'toy-lotus', a lotus-flower held in the hand as a plaything; लीलारविन...
Rāmalīlā (रामलीला).—Name of a dramatic performance, on the story of Rāma. Rāmalīlā is a Sanskri...
Līlānaṭana (लीलानटन).—a sportive dance. Derivable forms: līlānaṭanam (लीलानटनम्).Līlānaṭana is ...

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