Shudra, aka: Sudra, Śūdra, Śūdrā; 15 Definition(s)


Shudra 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 Śūdra and Śūdrā can be transliterated into English as Sudra or Shudra, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism


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): Nilamata Purana: a cultural and literary study

Śūdra (शूद्र).—See under Cāturvarṇyam.

(Source): Puranic Encyclopaedia

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): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purāṇa book cover
context information

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.

Nāṭyaśāstra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

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): Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

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

(Source): The mirror of gesture (abhinaya-darpana)
Nāṭyaśāstra book cover
context information

Nāṭyaśāstra (नाट्यशास्त्र, natya-shastra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition of performing arts, (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 (nāṭya) and poetic works (kāvya).

Vaiṣṇavism (Vaiṣṇava dharma)

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): Prabhupada Books: Sri Caitanya Caritamrta
Vaiṣṇavism book cover
context information

Vaiṣṇava (वैष्णव, vaishnava) or Vaiṣṇavism (vaishnavism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshipping Viṣṇu as the supreme Lord. Similair to the Śāktism and Śaivism traditions, Vaiṣṇavism also developed as an individual movement, famous for its exposition of the daśāvatāra (‘ten avatars of Viṣṇu’).

Itihāsa (narrative history)

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.

(Source): JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
context information

Itihāsa (इतिहास) refers to ‘epic history’ and represents a branch of Sanskrit literature which popularly includes 1) the eighteen major Purāṇas, 2) the Mahābhārata and 3) the Rāmāyaṇa. It is a branch of Vedic Hinduism categorised as smṛti literature (‘that which is remembered’) as opposed to śruti literature (‘that which is transmitted verbally’).

General definition (in Hinduism)

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): Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

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): WikiPedia: Hinduism

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

(Source): India Facts: Exploring the World of Varna

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): ISKCON Press: Glossary

In Buddhism

General definition (in Buddhism)

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

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-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 Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

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

(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.

Relevant definitions

Search found 615 related definition(s) that might help you understand this better. Below you will find the 15 most relevant articles:

Śūdrahan (शूद्रहन्).—a. 1) killing a Śūdra. 2) the slayer of a Śūdra; एतदेव व्रतं कृत्स्नं षण्म...
Śūdrastambha (शूद्रस्तम्भ) is a Sanskrit word referring to “the śūdra pillar”. During the ce...
Śūdraśāsana (शूद्रशासन).—1) dominion of a Śūdra. 2) a written bond of a Śūdra; L. D. B. 3) an e...
Śūdrakṛtya (शूद्रकृत्य).—the duties of a Śūdra. Derivable forms: śūdrakṛtyam (शूद्रकृत्यम्).Śūd...
Śūdrarājya (शूद्रराज्य).—a country of which a Śūdra is a king; न शूद्रराज्ये निवसेत् (na śūdrar...
Śūdrāvedin (शूद्रावेदिन्).—a. marrying a Śūdra woman; शूद्रावेदी पतति (śūdrāvedī patati) Ms.3.1...
Śūdrasaṃsparśa (शूद्रसंस्पर्श).—the touch of a Śūdra; अस्वर्ग्या ह्याहुतिः सा स्याच्छूद्रसंस्पर...
Śūdrāhnika (शूद्राह्निक).—the daily ceremonies or observances of a Śūdra. Derivable forms: śūdr...
Śūdrayājaka (शूद्रयाजक).—one who conducts a sacrifice for a Śūdra. Derivable forms: śūdrayājaka...
Śūdradharma (शूद्रधर्म).—the duties of a Śūdra. Derivable forms: śūdradharmaḥ (शूद्रधर्मः).Śūdr...
Śūdrapriya (शूद्रप्रिय).—an onion. Derivable forms: śūdrapriyaḥ (शूद्रप्रियः).Śūdrapriya is a S...
Śūdrabhūyiṣṭha (शूद्रभूयिष्ठ) refers to “inhabited mostly by Śūdras”. The word is used throu...
Varṇa (वर्ण).—lit., colour. 1. One of the four major divisions of humanity in Hinduism. 2. A wa...
Brāhmaṇa (ब्राह्मण) is the name of a caste (varṇa) mentioned in the Nīlamatapurāṇa.—The Brāhmaṇ...
Dāsa (दास) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. VIII.30.73) and represents one of the m...

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