Menaka, aka: Menakā; 7 Definition(s)


Menaka means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit. 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

Kathā (narrative stories)

Menakā (मेनका) is the name of an apsara whose daughter Priṣaḍvarā (also named Pramadvarā), married the hermit named Ruru, according to Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 14. Their story is told by Vasantaka to queen Vāsavadattā after being released from prison.

The Kathāsaritsāgara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentioning Menakā, 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
Kathā book cover
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Kathās (कथा) are special kind of Sanskrit literature: they are a kind of a mix between Itihāsa (historical legends) and Mahākāvya (epic poetry). Some Kathās reflect socio-political instructions for the King while others remind the reader of the historical deeds of the Gods, sages and heroes.


Menakā (मेनका) is the name of a mind-born ‘divine mother’ (mātṛ), created for the purpose of drinking the blood of the Andhaka demons, according to the Matsya-purāṇa 179.8. The Andhaka demons spawned out of every drop of blood spilled from the original Andhakāsura (Andhaka-demon). According to the Matsya-purāṇa 179.35, “Most terrible they (eg., Menakā) all drank the blood of those Andhakas and become exceedingly satiated.”

The Matsyapurāṇa is categorised as a Mahāpurāṇa, and was originally composed of 20,000 metrical verses, dating from the 1st-millennium BCE. The narrator is Matsya, one of the ten major avatars of Viṣṇu.

(Source): Wisdom Library: The Matsya-purāṇa

1a) Menakā (मेनका).—The mother of Śakuntalā; she abandoned the child in the forest and went away.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 20. 13.

1b) The Apsaras presiding over the month of Śukra and Śuci; coupled with Sahajanyā;1 with the sun in the summer.2

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa XII. 11. 35; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 23. 6; III. 7. 14; IV. 33. 18; Vāyu-purāṇa 69. 49; Viṣṇu-purāṇa II. 10. 7.
  • 2) Vāyu-purāṇa 52. 7.

1c) One, who was asked to dance along with Ūrvaśī and Rambhā;1 in the sabhā of Hiraṇyakaśipu.2

  • 1) Matsya-purāṇa 24. 28.
  • 2) Ib. 126. 7; 161. 75.

1d) The Apsaras wife of Vindhyāśva Ahalyā.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 50. 7; Vāyu-purāṇa 99. 200.

1e) A mind-born mother.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 179. 20.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

Menakā (मेनका).—She was sent by Indra and other gods to disturb the penance of Sage Viśvāmitra who was engaged in such severe penitence that it was dangerous to the safety of gods. To put a spoke in his wheel the heavenly residents sent Menakā to seduce him. She is known for her beauty. She has come to charm Viśvāmitra and this story occurs not only in purāṇa but also in the Śākuntala famous drama of Kālidāsa.

(Source): Archaeological Survey of India: Śaiva monuments at Paṭṭadakal (purāṇa)
Purāṇa book cover
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The Purāṇas (पुराण, purana) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahāpurāṇas total over 400,000 ślokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

General definition (in Hinduism)

Menaka was one of the most beautiful of the Apsaras in Indra's court. She was often bidden by her king Indra to disrupt the penances of some sage or the other with her charm and divine beauty. Due to one such episode, where she seduced the sage Vishwamitra, she begot a daugter named Shakuntala, who married King Dushyanta of the Chandra dynasty. Shakuntala gave birth to Bharata from who India derives its ancient name.

(Source): Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

Menaka (मेनका) is considered one of the most beautiful of the heavenly Apsaras.

She was sent by Indra, the king of the Devas, to break the severe penance undertaken by Vishwamitra. Vishwamitra was one of the most respected and revered sages in ancient India. Indra, frightened by his powers, sent a beautiful celestial nymph named Menaka from heaven to earth to lure him and break his meditation. Menaka successfully incited Vishwamitra's lust and passion when he saw her beauty. She succeeded in breaking the meditation of Vishwamitra and the two made love for many years. However, she fell in genuine love with him. When Vishwamitra realized that he had been tricked by Indra, he was enraged. But he merely cursed Menaka to be separated from him forever, for he loved her as well and knew that she had lost all devious intentions towards him long ago.

Later, Menaka is also said to have been the mother of Shakuntala, who was left at the hermitage of a Sage Kanva when she was a baby. Later Shakuntala became the love of King Dushyanta and gave birth to his son Bharata, after whom India was named "Bharat".

(Source): WikiPedia: Hinduism

Menakā was wife of Ūrṇāyu and mother of Pramadvarā by the Gandharva Viśvāvasu. Being pitiless, she abandoned the child at birth, who grew up and married the son of the Apsaras Ghṛtācī by Pramati, son of Cyavana, whose son was Śunaka. Menakā also deserted her child Śakuntalā in the same way, except that here she was sent by Indra to seduce the father Viśvāmitra, which she does aided by Maruta and Manmatha, Wind and Love.

She is “most distinguished in the divine qualities of the Apsarasas” and is “born of Brahman”, best of Apsarasas, lewd and pitiless. Her daughter says that Menakā is “among the Thirty-three gods and superior to them”.

(Source): GRETIL e-library: Epic Mythology

Relevant definitions

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

apsarā (अप्सरा).—f A courtesan of svarga. Not fully grown or developed. Timid, gentle.
Śakuntalā (शकुन्तला).—The story of Śakuntalā in the dramaby Kālidāsa is as follows. Śakuntalā, ...
Ruru (रुरु) is the name of a hermit who, while wandering around at will, got married to Priṣaḍv...
Bharata (भरत) or Bhāratavarṣa refers to a region of Jambūdvīpa: the first continent of the...
pārvatī (पार्वती).—f The name of the wife of Shiva.
Viśvāvasu (विश्वावसु) refers to the thirty-ninth saṃvatsara (“jovian year)” in Vedic astrology....
gaṅgādvāra (गंगाद्वार).—n (S) The spot on which the river Goda falls near Trimbakeshwar.
mēṇa (मेण).—n Wax. A scabbard. mēṇa kāḍhaṇēṃ Beat soundly. ēkā mēṇyānta dōna suṛyā A phrase imp...
1a) Divodāsa (दिवोदास).—A son of Bhīmaratha and father of Dyumat.** Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. ...
Badhryaśva (बध्र्यश्व).—(also Bandhyaśva) the first son of Mudgala and a Brahmiṣṭha throu...
Priṣaḍvarā (प्रिषड्वरा) was brought up by a hermit named Sthūlakeśa who betrothed her to Ruru, ...
Duṣmanta (दुष्मन्त):—Son of Rebhi (son of Sumati). He married Śakuntalā (daughter of V...
Vindhyāśva (विन्ध्याश्व).—A son of Indrasena and father of twins by Menakā.** Matsya-purā...
Graiṣmika (ग्रैष्मिक).—Summer; Mitra and Varuṇa, Atri and Vasiṣṭha, Takṣaka and Rambha, M...
Sthūlakeśa (स्थूलकेश) is the name of a sage (ṛṣi) who betrothed Priṣaḍvarā (daughter Menakā) to...

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