Mahisha, Mahiṣa, Mahisa, Māhiṣa: 19 definitions

Introduction

Mahisha 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 terms Mahiṣa and Māhiṣa can be transliterated into English as Mahisa or Mahisha, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

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In Hinduism

Ayurveda (science of life)

Source: Wisdom Library: Āyurveda and botany

Mahiṣa (महिष) is a Sanskrit word referring to the animal “buffalow”. The meat of this animal is part of the māṃsavarga (‘group of flesh’), which is used throughout Ayurvedic literature. The animal Mahiṣa is part of the sub-group named Ānupamṛga, refering to animals “who live in marshy land”. It was classified by Caraka in his Carakasaṃhitā sūtrasthāna (chapter 27), a classical Ayurvedic work. Caraka defined such groups (vargas) based on the dietic properties of the substance.

The meat of the buffalow (mahiṣa) is unctuous, hot, sweet, aphrodisiac, heavy and saturating. It produces firmness, bulk, courage and sleep.

Source: archive.org: Sushruta samhita, Volume I

Mahiṣa (महिष)—Sanskrit word for the animal “buffalo” (Bubalus bubalis). This animal is from the group called Kūlacara (‘shore-dwellers’). Kūlacara itself is a sub-group of the group of animals known as Ānupa (those that frequent marshy places).

The flesh of the Buffalo is demulcent, heat-making (in its potency), sweet, spermatopoietic, pleasant and heavy of digestion It increases strength and virility and imparts firmness to the tissues, and is hypnotic and galactagoguic. 

Source: Shodhganga: Dietetics and culinary art in ancient and medieval India

Māhiṣa (माहिष) refers to a type of fish whose meat (māṃsa) is classified as “aquatic” (apcara) according to the 17th century Bhojanakutūhala (dravyaguṇāguṇa-kathana), and is commonly found in literature dealing with the topics of dietetics and culinary art, also known as Pākaśāstra or Pākakalā.—The text [māṃsa-prakaraṇa] says the three fold division of meat [such as aquatic (apcara)...]. Here different types of meat and their properties are discussed in detail. The aquatic animals are [viz., māhiṣa].

Ayurveda book cover
context information

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)

Source: Wisdom Library: Varāha-purāṇa

1) Mahiṣa (महिष).—Name of a settlement (janapada) situated near the seven great mountains on the western side of mount Naiṣadha, according to the Varāhapurāṇa chapter 83. These settlements consume the water flowing from these seven great mountains (Viśākha, Kambala, Jayanta, Kṛṣṇa, Harita, Aśoka and Vardhamāna). Niṣadha (Naiṣadha) is one of the seven mountains located in Jambūdvīpa, ruled over by Āgnīdhra, a grandson of Svāyambhuva Manu.

2) Mahiṣa (महिष).—One of the seven major mountains in Kuśadvīpa, according to the Varāhapurāṇa chapter 87. It is also known by the name Hari. Kuśadvīpa is one of the seven islands (dvīpa), ruled over by Vapuṣmān, one of the ten sons of Priyavrata, son of Svāyambhuva Manu.

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

The Varāhapurāṇa is categorised as a Mahāpurāṇa, and was originally composed of 24,000 metrical verses, possibly originating from before the 10th century. It is composed of two parts and Sūta is the main narrator.

Source: archive.org: Puranic Encyclopedia

Mahiṣa (महिष).—An Asura.

. Birth. Long ago there was a famous Asura King named Danu. Two sons named Rambha and Karambha were born to him. Having no issue, they decided to worship Mālavaṭa yakṣa, praying to be blessed with children. They started tapas, Karambha, in the middle of water and Rambha in the middle of Pañcāgni. Indra was alarmed at their tapas. He took the form of a crocodile and went into the water in which Karambha was standing and caught hold of his feet, pulling him down. Karambha was drowned. The mighty Rambha who was enraged at the death of his brother, decided to cut off his own head and offer it as sacrifice in the fire. He drew his sword and was about to cut off his head, when Agni, the god of fire, appeared before him and stopped him saying:—"Do not kill yourself. Killing another person itself is a sin. Suicide is a more serious sin. Ask for any boon you wish to have; I shall grant it. Do not put an end to your life." (See full article at Story of Mahiṣa from the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani)

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

1a) Mahiṣa (महिष).—A son of Anuhrāda and Sūrmyā: fought with Vibhāvasu in the Devāsura war.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa VI. 18. 16; VIII. 10. 32.

1b) The son of Āyu and father of Sahasa.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 12. 40.

1c) A mountain of Kuśadvīpa (Śālmalidvīpam br., vā., and Viṣṇu-purāṇa); here lives a fire called Mahiṣa, and born of waters.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 19. 40-41. Matsya-purāṇa 122. 59-60; Vāyu-purāṇa 49. 37. Viṣṇu-purāṇa II. 4. 27.

1d) The name of a water-born fire in the Mahiṣa hill of the Śālmalidvīpa.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 19. 41; Vāyu-purāṇa 49. 37.

1e) An Asura residing in Rasātalam;1 was present at Tāraka's coronation; a commander of Tāraka's force and had a chariot drawn by camels;2 threw sāvitram astra against Kubera; defeated both Nṛṛti and Varuṇa and released Kujambha from the noose; somāstra and vāyavyāstra throwing out snow and wind, were sent to disable the Asuras, when Kālanemi created a glowing fire by māyā and removed the snow and wind etc;3 found Mathana vanquished by Janārdana and sent his Śūla against Janārdana and Śakti against Garuḍa when Janārdana repelled him and said: “You are to be killed by a woman; get away;4 killed by Durgā.5

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 20. 39.
  • 2) Matsya-purāṇa 147. 28; 148. 42, 50.
  • 3) Ib. 150. 113, 135; 151. 13.
  • 4) Ib. 152. 17-24.
  • 5) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 29. 75 and 88.

1f) A son of Maya.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 6. 29; Vāyu-purāṇa 68. 28.

1g) The kingdom of, to be ruled over by Guha.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 74. 198.

1h) Born of Surabhī; Buffalo as the riding animal of Yama; as also of Vārāhī;1 its flesh for śrāddha.2

  • 1) Matsya-purāṇa 6. 44; 261. 13, 30.
  • 2) Ib. 17. 33.

1i) An Asura of Śrītalam.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 50. 38.

1j) A Vindhyan tribe: Puṣpamitra was a king;1 born of Haṃsa Kāli;2 the kingdom of.3

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 74. 187.
  • 2) Ib. III. 3. 75.
  • 3) Vāyu-purāṇa 99. 386.

1k) A Janapada of the Ketumālā continent.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 44. 12.

2a) Māhiṣa (माहिष).—The region under the Guhas.*

  • * Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 24. 65.

2b) A royal dynasty.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 99. 374.
Source: JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places

Mahiṣa (महिष) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. IX.44.77) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Mahiṣa) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

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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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Source: archive.org: Natya Shastra

Mahiṣa (महिष).—Description of a women of buffalo (mahiṣa) type;—A woman who has a broad backbone, teeth, sides, belly, tawny hairs, is turbulent and hater of men, fond of intercourse, has a slightly broad (lit. raised) mouth, large forehead and hips, and is fond of forests and sporting in water, has the nature of a buffalo (mahiṣa).

Natyashastra book cover
context information

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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General definition (in Hinduism)

Source: Academia.edu: The Rite of Durgā in Medieval Bengal

In the Kālikā Purāṇa (verse 60.146) a legend appears where Śiva (girīśa) is described as being incarnated as Mahiṣa in the womb of a female buffalo. In brief, the background to this event is as follows. Mahiṣa’s father Rambha is a devout follower of Śiva. Pleased with his worship, Śiva grants him a boon that he himself will be born as Rambha’s son. On his way home, Rambha falls madly in love with a young and pleasing she-buffalo, whom he impregnates. Śiva imbues the foetus in the buffalo’s womb with a portion from his body.

Similar myths where Mahiṣāsura is depicted in a sympathetic light as a Śiva devotee and a ‘portion descendant’ (aṃśāvatāra) of Śiva also appear in Tamil texts from the period such as the Aruṇācalapurāṇa, a study of which appears in Shulman 1976, pp. 122–123. There is no mention of Śiva being the sacrificial animal in texts from the early medieval period which leads me to believe that it is a medieval development.

In Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

Source: academia.edu: The Structure and Meanings of the Heruka Maṇḍala

Mahiṣa (महिष) is the name of a Vīra (hero) who, together with the Ḍākinī named Mahiṣī forms one of the 36 pairs situated in the Medinīcakra, according to the 10th century Ḍākārṇava chapter 15. Accordingly, the medinīcakra refers to one of the three divisions of the dharma-puṭa (‘dharma layer’), situated in the Herukamaṇḍala. The 36 pairs of Ḍākinīs and Vīras [viz., Mahiṣa] are yellow in color; the shapes of their faces are in accordance with their names; they have four arms; they hold a skull bowl, a skull staff, a small drum, and a knife.

Tibetan Buddhism book cover
context information

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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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

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

mahisa : (m.) a buffalo.

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary

Mahisa, Mahīsa, Mahiṃsa (cp. Vedic mahiṣa, an enlarged form of mahā; the P. etym. evidently to be connected with mahā+īś, because of mahīsa›mahiṃsa) a buffalo.—mahisa: D. I, 6 (°yuddha b. -fight), 9; J. III, 26 (vana° wild b.); Mhvs 25, 36 (T. māhisaṃ).—mahīsa J. VI, 110.—mahiṃsa Vism. 191, & in Np. mahiṃsaka-maṇḍala the Andhra country J. I, 356, cp. Mahiṃsaka-raṭṭha VbhA. 4; as Mahisa-maṇḍala at Mhvs 12, 29.—Note. The P. pop. etym. is propounded by Bdhgh as “mahiyaṃ setī ti mahiso” (he lies on the ground, that is why he is a buffalo) DhsA. 62. (Page 527)

Pali book cover
context information

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

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

mahiṣa (महिष).—m S A buffalo.

--- OR ---

mahīsa (महीस).—f (mahiṣī S) A female buffalo.

--- OR ---

māhiṣa (माहिष).—n S Anything obtained from a buffalo,--milk, butter, dung &c.

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

mahiṣa (महिष).—m A buffalo.

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

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Mahiṣa (महिष).—[mah-ṭiṣac Uṇ.1 45]

1) A buffalo (considered as the vehicle of Yama); गाहन्तां महिषा निपानसलिलं शृङ्गैर्मुहुस्ताडितम् (gāhantāṃ mahiṣā nipānasalilaṃ śṛṅgairmuhustāḍitam) Ś.2.6.

2) Name of a demon killed by Durgā.

Derivable forms: mahiṣaḥ (महिषः).

--- OR ---

Māhiṣa (माहिष).—a. (-ṣī f.) [महिष्या इदम् अण् (mahiṣyā idam aṇ)] Coming or derived from a buffalo or a buffalo-cow; as माहिषं दधि (māhiṣaṃ dadhi).

-ṣam The female apartment.

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

Mahiṣa (महिष).—m.

(-ṣaḥ) 1. A buffalo. 2. The emblem of one of the Jaina saints. 3. The emblem and vehicle of Yama. 4. The name of an Asura or demon slain by Durga. f. (-ṣī) 1. A female buffalo. 2. The wife of a king, but especially the one who has been consecrated or crowned, a queen. 3. A drug. E. mah to worship or be worshipped, Unadi aff. ṭiṣac, fem. aff. ṅīṣ .

--- OR ---

Māhiṣa (माहिष).—mfn.

(-ṣaḥ-ṣī-ṣaṃ) Belonging to or derived from a buffalo, (flesh, milk. &c.) E. mahiṣa, and aṇ aff.

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

1) Mahiṣa (महिष):—[from mah] a mf(mahiṣī)n. great, powerful, [Naighaṇṭuka, commented on by Yāska iii, 3]

2) [v.s. ...] m. (with supara) the sun, [Atharva-veda]

3) [v.s. ...] (with or [scilicet] mṛga, once with mṛgāṇām) a buffalo, [Ṛg-veda] etc. etc. (considered as the emblem of Yama and of a Jaina saint)

4) [v.s. ...] a great priest, [Mahīdhara]

5) [v.s. ...] the son of a Kṣatriya and a Tīvarī, [cf. Lexicographers, esp. such as amarasiṃha, halāyudha, hemacandra, etc.]

6) [v.s. ...] Name of an Asura (slain by Durgā or Skanda), [Mahābhārata; Purāṇa]

7) [v.s. ...] of a Sādhya, [Harivaṃśa]

8) [v.s. ...] of a sage (author of a [commentator or commentary] on the [Prātiśākhya] of the Yajur-veda), [Catalogue(s)]

9) [v.s. ...] of a mountain in Śālmaladvīpa, [Viṣṇu-purāṇa]

10) [v.s. ...] m. [plural] Name of a people, [Harivaṃśa]

11) b etc. See p. 803, col. 1.

12) Māhiṣa (माहिष):—mf(ī)n. ([from] mahiṣa, ṣī) coming from or belonging to a buffalo or buffalo-cow, [Rāmāyaṇa; Mārkaṇḍeya-purāṇa]

13) m. Name of a district

14) m. [plural] of a people, [Varāha-mihira’s Bṛhat-saṃhitā]

15) n. the female apartments, [cf. Lexicographers, esp. such as amarasiṃha, halāyudha, hemacandra, etc.]

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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