Mahisha, aka: Mahiṣa, Mahisa, Māhiṣa; 14 Definition(s)


Mahisha 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.

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

In Hinduism

Ayurveda (science of life)

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 Āyurvedic 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 Āyurvedic 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: Wisdom Library: Āyurveda and botany

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: Sushruta samhita, Volume I
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)

Mahisha in Purana glossary... « previous · [M] · next »

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: Wisdom Library: Varāha-purāṇa

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: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

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.

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)

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).

Source: Natya Shastra
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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General definition (in Hinduism)

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.

Source: The Rite of Durgā in Medieval Bengal

Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

Mahisha in Pali glossary... « previous · [M] · next »

mahisa : (m.) a buffalo.

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise 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)

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

Mahisha in Marathi glossary... « previous · [M] · next »

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 Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

mahiṣa (महिष).—m A buffalo.

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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Relevant definitions

Search found 61 related definition(s) that might help you understand this better. Below you will find the 15 most relevant articles:

Mahiṣāsura (महिषासुर).—the demon Mahiṣa. °घातिनी, °मथनी, °मर्दनी, °सूदनी (ghātinī, °mathanī, °m...
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Mahiṣamardinī (महिषमर्दिनी).—Name of Durgā Mahiṣamardinī is a Sanskrit compound consisting of t...
Mahiṣapāla (महिषपाल).—a buffalo-keeper. Derivable forms: mahiṣapālaḥ (महिषपालः).Mahiṣapāla is a...
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Adharmamahiṣa (अधर्ममहिष) refers to the “buffalo of evils”, as defined in the Śivapurāṇa 1.17. ...
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