Shudra, Sudra, Śūdra, Śūdrā: 30 definitions


Shudra means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, the history of ancient India, Marathi, Hindi. 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 Śūdra and Śūdrā can be transliterated into English as Sudra or Shudra, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

Śūdra (शूद्र).—The Śūdras should always be represented by a deep blue (śyāma) color when painting the limbs (aṅgaracanā), according to Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 23. The painting is a component of nepathya (costumes and make-up) and is to be done in accordance with the science of āhāryābhinaya (extraneous representation).

Source: The mirror of gesture (abhinaya-darpana)

One of the Hands denoting the Four Castes.—Śūdra: left hand–Śikhara, right hand–Sūci.

Natyashastra book cover
context information

Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (shastra) of performing arts, (natya—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), construction and performance of Theater, and Poetic works (kavya).

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Vaishnavism (Vaishava dharma)

Source: ISKCON Press: Glossary

Śūdra (शूद्र).—A member of the fourth social order, laborer class, in the traditional Vedic social system. He is meant to render service to the three higher classes, namely the brāhmaṇas, the kṣatriyas, and the vaiśyas.

Source: Prabhupada Books: Sri Caitanya Caritamrta

Śūdra (शूद्र).—Those who are not sufficiently intelligent to be brāhmaṇas, kṣatriyas or vaiśyas are required to serve a master and are called śūdras. The divisions of brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, vaiśya and śūdra are natural divisions within society. Indeed, everyone has a prescribed duty according to the varṇāśrama-dharma. Those who properly execute their prescribed duties live peacefully and are not disturbed by material conditions.

Śrī Rāmānanda Rāya belonged to the karaṇa class, which is the equivalent of the kāyastha class in Bengal. This class is regarded all over India as śūdra.

Source: Pure Bhakti: Bhagavad-gita (4th edition)

Śūdra (शूद्र) refers to “labourer or artisan”. (cf. Glossary page from Śrīmad-Bhagavad-Gītā).

Source: Pure Bhakti: Bhajana-rahasya - 2nd Edition

Śūdra (शूद्र) refers to:—The lowest of the four castes (varṇas) in the varṇāśrama system; artisans and labourers. (cf. Glossary page from Bhajana-Rahasya).

Vaishnavism book cover
context information

Vaishnava (वैष्णव, vaiṣṇava) or vaishnavism (vaiṣṇavism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshipping Vishnu as the supreme Lord. Similar to the Shaktism and Shaivism traditions, Vaishnavism also developed as an individual movement, famous for its exposition of the dashavatara (‘ten avatars of Vishnu’).

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Source: Puranic Encyclopedia

Śūdra (शूद्र).—See under Cāturvarṇyam.

Source: Nilamata Purana: a cultural and literary study

Śūdra (शूद्र) is the name of a caste (varṇa) mentioned in the Nīlamatapurāṇa.—The Śūdras were to serve the twice-born varṇas. As regards their position in the society, those who served in the houses of the higher varṇas, received sympathetic treatment from their masters.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

1a) Śūdra (शूद्र).—The members of the fourth Varṇa;1 their duty was service;2 not fit for the study of the Vedas;3 invited for the Rājasūya of Yudhiṣṭira;4 kings of Kali age, especially after Puramjaya;5 receive gifts, become ascetics and expound dharma from high places in Kali;6 duty was dharma paricāra yajña; take to Brāhmaṇa dharma in Kali yuga; not fit for panktibhojanam. For the sake of 1,000 Śūdras, one Brāhmaṇa may be killed; creation of: Pṛṣadhra born a Śūdra by cow-slaughter;7 meditate on Devī's 108 names; perform śrāddha with no mantras;8 observe a month's pollution for father's death; Yayāti's benevolence to; Śūdra kings rooted out by Kalki;9 may observe Rohiṇicandra śayanam and Angāraka vratam.10

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa I. 13. 15; II. 1. 37; 7. 38 and 46; VII. 11. 24.
  • 2) Ib. VIII. 5. 41; XI. 17. 19.
  • 3) Ib. X. 24. 20; 38. 4.
  • 4) Ib. X. 74. 11.
  • 5) Ib. XI. 4. 22; 5. 4; 12. 4; 27. 4; XII. 1. 8 and 38; 2. 35.
  • 6) Ib. XII. 3. 38.
  • 7) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 29. 55; 31. 394 and 367; III. 10. 96; 11. 87; 15. 44; 68. 67; IV. 6. 43.
  • 8) Matsya-purāṇa 4. 28; 12. 25; 13. 63; 17. 64, 70-71.
  • 9) Ib. 18. 3; 34. 5; 47. 250. 50. 75; 144. 39-54.
  • 10) Ib. 57. 6; 72. 20-1; 114. 12; 217. 2.

1b) Created out of the feet of the Lord;1 Gāndharvam sthānam;2 duties of;3 as kings from the time of Mahāpadma;4 take to asceticism and become followers of heretical sects; no regard for age, learning and family;5 fortunate, because they do not have to undergo the ordeals of performing rituals and ceremonials incumbent on the twice born castes; not fettered by restrictions of any sort.6

  • 1) Viṣṇu-purāṇa I. 6. 6.
  • 2) Ib. I. 6. 35.
  • 3) Ib. III. 8. 33-4.
  • 4) Ib. IV. 24. 21 and 68.
  • 5) Vāyu-purāṇa 58. 40-41; Viṣṇu-purāṇa VI. 1. 37.
  • 6) Ib. VI. 2. 23. 4.

1c) A tribe.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 114. 40.

2a) Śūdrā (शूद्रा).—(Prabhākara); a daughter of Bhadrāśva and Gḥṛtācī; one of the ten wives of Atri.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 8. 75; Vāyu-purāṇa 70. 68.

2b) One of the ten daughters of Raudrāśva.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 99. 125.
Source: JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places

Śūdra (शूद्र) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. II.47.7, II.48.32, VI.10.46, VI.10.65, VIII.30.53) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Śūdra) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

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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Dharmashastra (religious law)

Source: Shodhganga: The saurapurana - a critical study (dharma)

Śūdra (शूद्र) refers to one of the “four castes” (varṇa) of ancient India, according to the 10th century Saurapurāṇa: one of the various Upapurāṇas depicting Śaivism.—In ancient India the society was divided into four principal castes, namely Brāhmaṇa, Kṣatriya, Vaiśya and Śūdra; and the dharmaśāstras employ the term varṇa to designate these castes.—Śūdra was, in fact, a generic term applicable to all those castes , the members of which were not entitled to perform the upanayana and the study of Vedas.

Dharmashastra book cover
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Dharmashastra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharmaśāstra) contains the instructions (shastra) regarding religious conduct of livelihood (dharma), ceremonies, jurisprudence (study of law) and more. It is categorized as smriti, an important and authoritative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.

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Jyotisha (astronomy and astrology)

Source: Wisdom Library: Brihat Samhita by Varahamihira

Śūdra (शूद्र) refers to a country belonging to “Nairṛtī (south-western division)” classified under the constellations of Svāti, Viśākhā and Anurādhā, according to the system of Kūrmavibhāga, according to the Bṛhatsaṃhitā (chapter 14), an encyclopedic Sanskrit work written by Varāhamihira mainly focusing on the science of ancient Indian astronomy astronomy (Jyotiṣa).—Accordingly, “The countries of the Earth beginning from the centre of Bhāratavarṣa and going round the east, south-east, south, etc., are divided into 9 divisions corresponding to the 27 lunar asterisms at the rate of 3 for each division and beginning from Kṛttikā. The constellations of Svāti, Viśākhā and Anurādhā represent the south-western division consisting of [i.e., Śūdra] [...]”.

Jyotisha book cover
context information

Jyotisha (ज्योतिष, jyotiṣa or jyotish) refers to ‘astronomy’ or “Vedic astrology” and represents the fifth of the six Vedangas (additional sciences to be studied along with the Vedas). Jyotisha concerns itself with the study and prediction of the movements of celestial bodies, in order to calculate the auspicious time for rituals and ceremonies.

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Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Source: SOAS University of London: Protective Rites in the Netra Tantra

Śūdra (शूद्र) is the name of a Caste considered of equal nature as any other caste, according to the Svacchanda-tantra.—Accordingly, [verse 4.539c-545]—“O fair-faced one, all those who have been initiated by this ritual are of equal nature, whether they be Brahmins, Kṣatriyas, Vaiśyas, Śūdras, or others [of lower castes]. [For] they have been brought into a state of fusion with the nature of Śiva. All are said to be [Śivas,] wearers of [his] braids, their bodies dusted [like his] with ash. All Samayins should sit in a single row. Putrakas, Sādhakas, and Cumbakas [Ācāryas] should do the same. They may not sit according to the divisions of their former castes [e.g., Śūdras]. [For] they are said to form but a single caste of Bhairava, auspicious and eternal. [...]”.

Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

Source: Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

Peasants and Workers are classified as Shudras according to the Varna system. They are the fourth class according to this classifications. They are said to have sprang forth from the feet of the primordial Purusha.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

Shudra is the fourth varna, whose mythological origins are described in the Purusha Sukta of the Rig veda, one of the sacred texts of Hinduism, and later explained in the Manusmṛti. This latter text defines society as comprising four groups, sometimes also called chaturvarna, of which the other three are Brahmins (priests), Kshatriya (those with governing functions) and Vaishya (agriculturalists, cattle rearers and traders). According to this ancient text, the Shudra perform functions of serving the other three varna.

Source: India Facts: Exploring the World of Varna

A śūdra (शूद्र) is a person with natural aptitude for service and physical work.

In Buddhism

Tibetan Buddhism (Vajrayana or tantric Buddhism)

Source: The Structure and Meanings of the Heruka Maṇḍala

Śūdra (शूद्र) is the name of a Vīra (hero) who, together with the Ḍākinī named Śūdrī forms one of the 36 pairs situated in the Guṇacakra, according to the 10th century Ḍākārṇava chapter 15. Accordingly, the guṇacakra refers to one of the four divisions of the sahaja-puṭa (‘innate layer’), situated within the padma (lotus) in the middle of the Herukamaṇḍala. The 36 pairs of Ḍākinīs and Vīras [viz., Śūdra] are whitish red in color; they each have one face and 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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General definition (in Buddhism)

Source: Buddhist Door: GlossarySudra in Sanskrit, Sudda in Pali. The lowest of the four Indian Castes at the time of Shakyamuni. They were peasants, slaves and serfs.

India history and geography

Source: Shodhganga: A translation of Jhaverchand Meghanis non translated folk tales

Sudra refers to “A person of lowest caste”.—It is defined in the glossary attached to the study dealing with Gujarat Folk tales composed by Gujarati poet Jhaverchand Meghani (1896-1947)

India history book cover
context information

The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as mythology, zoology, 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

Marathi-English dictionary

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

śūdra (शूद्र).—m (S) The Shudra or fourth grand division of the Hindu body: also an individual of it. They are fabled to have sprung from the feet of Brahma, and they constitute the servile classes. 2 This word is prefixed to certain words signifying things of which there are varieties, in order to designate the black, dark, or dusky variety; as, prefixed to hirā it expresses Dusky or dim or colored diamond; to bhāṅga, sabajī, pimpaḷa &c. it expresses Bhang &c. of the darkest hue. See for this sense brāhmaṇa, kṣatriya, & vaiśya.

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

śūdra (शूद्र).—m The 4th grand division of the Hindu body.

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 dictionary

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Śūdra (शूद्र).—[śuc-rak pṛṣo° casya daḥ dīrghaḥ Uṇādi-sūtra 2.19] A man of the fourth or the last of the four principal tribes of the Hindus; he is said to have been born from the feet of Puruṣa; पद्भ्यां शूद्रो अजायत (padbhyāṃ śūdro ajāyata) Ṛv.1.9.12; or of Brahman; Manusmṛti 1.87; and his principal business was to serve the three higher castes; एकमेव तु शूद्रस्य प्रभुः कर्म समादिशत् । एतेषामेव वर्णानां शुश्रुषामनसूयया (ekameva tu śūdrasya prabhuḥ karma samādiśat | eteṣāmeva varṇānāṃ śuśruṣāmanasūyayā) || Manusmṛti 1.9.

Derivable forms: śūdraḥ (शूद्रः).

--- OR ---

Śūdrā (शूद्रा).—A woman of the Śūdra tribe.

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

Śūdra (शूद्र).—m.

(-draḥ) A man of the fourth or servile tribe, said to have sprung from the feet of Brahma. f.

(-drā) A woman of the Sudra tribe. f. (-drī or drāṇī) The wife of Sudra. E. śuc to purify or cleanse, Unadi aff. rak, the vowel made long, and ca changed to da .

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

Śūdra (शूद्र).—I. m.A man of the fourth caste, [Mānavadharmaśāstra] 1, 31; 116; [Hitopadeśa] iv. [distich] 21. Ii. f. , A woman of that caste. Iii. f. , or rāṇī, The wife of a Śūdra.

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

Śūdra (शूद्र).—[masculine] ā or ī [feminine] a man and woman of the fourth caste.

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

1) Śūdra (शूद्र):—m. (of doubtful derivation) a Śūdra, a man of the fourth or lowest of the four original classes or castes (whose only business [according to] to [Manu-smṛti i, 91], was to serve the three higher classes; in [Ṛg-veda ix, 20, 12], the Śūdra is said to have been born from the feet of Puruṣa q.v.; in [Manu-smṛti i, 87] he is fabled to have sprung from the same part of the body of Brahmā, and he is regarded as of higher rank than the present low and mixed castes so numerous throughout India; kevala-ś, a pure Ś°), [Ṛg-veda] etc. etc. ([Indian Wisdom, by Sir M. Monier-Williams 212 etc.])

2) a man of mixed origin, [cf. Lexicographers, esp. such as amarasiṃha, halāyudha, hemacandra, etc.]

3) Name of a Brāhman, [Buddhist literature]

4) [plural] Name of a people, [Mahābhārata; Purāṇa]

5) f(ā and ī). See below.

6) Śūdrā (शूद्रा):—[from śūdra] f. a woman of the fourth class or caste, [Atharva-veda] etc. etc.

7) [v.s. ...] Name of a daughter of Raudrāśva, [Harivaṃśa]

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

Śūdra (शूद्र):—(draḥ) 1. m. A shudra or man of the 4th tribe. f. drā or drāṇī, woman of Idem.

[Sanskrit to German]

Shudra in German

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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Hindi dictionary

Source: DDSA: A practical Hindi-English dictionary

Śudra (शुद्र):—(nm) a member of the fourth of the four original classes or castes in the traditional hierarchical set-up of the Hindu society; hence ~[drā, ~drāṇī] (nf).

context information


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Kannada-English dictionary

Source: Alar: Kannada-English corpus

Śūdra (ಶೂದ್ರ):—

1) [noun] the fourth caste of the four castes in the India.

2) [noun] a man belonging to this caste.

3) [noun] a particular kind of gem.

4) [noun] a kind of serpent.

--- OR ---

Sūdra (ಸೂದ್ರ):—

1) [noun] a man belonging to śudra caste.

2) [noun] the caste itself.

context information

Kannada is a Dravidian language (as opposed to the Indo-European language family) mainly spoken in the southwestern region of India.

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