Shurpanakha, aka: Shurpa-nakha, Surpanakha, Śūrpaṇakhā; 12 Definition(s)


Shurpanakha means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, 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 term Śūrpaṇakhā can be transliterated into English as Surpanakha or Shurpanakha, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Itihāsa (narrative history)

Śūrpaṇakhā (शूर्पणखा).—Now Rāvaṇa (the notorious demon king of Laṅkā) had a sister, Śūrpaṇakhā (lit., a woman having nails as big as a winnowing fan) by name, who was foul and cruel as a serpent. She once went to Pañcavaṭī and was smitten with pangs of passion at the sight of the two princes.

(Source): Srimatham: Śrī Rāmacaritamānasa

Shurpanakha refers to the sister of Ravana who became lovestruck upon seeing Rama, according to the Ramayana 3.17.5-8, “At one time when Rama is sitting in hermitage and heartily absorbed in telling narratives some demoness arrived at that place, fortuitously. She is but the sister of ten-faced demon Ravana, Shurpanakha by her name and she has seen him on reaching the paradisiacal being like Rama.”

(Source): Valmiki Ramayana: Surpanakha's entry into legend
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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’).

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Śūrpaṇakhā (शूर्पणखा).—A daughter of Viśravas and Kaikasī;1 sister of Rāvaṇa;2 disfigured by Rāma.3

  • 1) Vāyu-purāṇa 70. 41.
  • 2) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 8. 47.
  • 3) Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 10. 4.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
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.

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Vaiṣṇavism (Vaiṣṇava dharma)

Śūrpanakhā (शूर्पनखा) is the name of a demoness (rākṣasī) who fell in love with Rāma in the Pañcavatī forest, according to the Garga-saṃhitā 5.11.1-6: “Gazing at Lord Rāma in Pañcavatī forest, a demonness name Śūrpanakhā fell passionately in love with Him... Wishing to get Lord Rāma as her husband, for ten thousand years Śūrpanakhā stayed underwater and meditated on Lord Śiva”.

Śiva, pleased by Śūrpanakhā, granted her a boon, according to verse 5.11.9-11, “Lord Śiva said: O demonness, please listen. At the present time your boon cannot be granted. In the future, at the end of Dvāpara-yuga, in Mathurā City, it will be granted to you. Of this there is no doubt. Śrī Nārada said: O noble-hearted one, in Mathurā City the demonness Śūrpanakhā, who could assume any form at will, became the girl named Kubjā. By Lord Śiva's blessing she became Lord Kṛṣṇa's beloved”.

(Source): Devotees Vaishnavas: Śrī Garga Saṃhitā
Vaiṣṇavism book cover
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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’).

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Śilpaśāstra (iconography)

Śūrpaṇakhā (शूर्पणखा) is depicted as a sculpture on the fifth pillar of the northern half of the maṇḍapa of the temple of Lokeśvara.—The serial starts from the top portion of the pillar. The first register goes from right to left. Suppanagi (Śūrpaṇakhā) arrives there in the guise of a comely lady. As she is the sister of Rāvaṇa, she goes to meet her brother’s allies namely Khara, Dūṣaṇa and Triśiras. On the band are only the two names, Kara (Khara) and Dūṣaṇa very well written. Then, a little space is left empty where only one letter is written looking like ma. But three are persons seated at the extreme left of the panel. Śūrpaṇakhā is standing with hands open to the sky and lamenting upon her fate caused by Lakṣmaṇa.

(Source): Archaeological Survey of India: Śaiva monuments at Paṭṭadakal (śilpa)
Śilpaśāstra book cover
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Śilpaśāstra (शिल्पशास्त्र, shilpa-shastra) represents the ancient Indian science of creative arts such as sculpture, iconography and painting. Closely related to Vāstuśāstra (architecture), they often share the same literature.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

Śūrpaṇakhā (शूर्पणखा, “sharp nails”):—In Vedic hinduism, she is the sister of Kubera, who was the Vedic God of wealth presiding over all earthly treasures.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Hinduism

Shurpanakha was the sister of Ravana, the Asura king of Lanka. Their father was a sage named Vishrava and their mother a Asura woman named Kaikasi. They had two more children, Vibhishana and Kumbhakarna. Kubera is her half-brother, born to another wife of Vishrava.

(Source): Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

Surpanakha is one of the most important characters in the Ramayana. Indeed, Valmiki comes close to claiming that if there had been no Kaikeyi and no Surpanakha, then there would have been no Ramayana and no war with Ravana. In fact, Surpanakha was the arrow that set in motion the chain of events leading directly to the destruction of Ravana. Soorpanaka, therefore, like Kaikeyi before her, often gets the blame from Hindus as being the evil genius behind, and the sole cause of the Ramayana war.

etymology: Surpanakha (Sanskrit for "sharp, long nails"; Indonesian: Sarpakenaka; Khmer: Surpanakhar; Malay: Surapandaki; Thai: Sammanakkha; Tamil: Curppanakai.) or Shurpanakha

(Source): WikiPedia: Hinduism

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Śūrpaṇakhā (शूर्पणखा) is the name of the sister of Rāvaṇa, the eighth Prativāsudeva according to both Śvetāmbara and Digambara sources. She is also known by the name Candraṇakhā. Jain legends describe nine such Prativāsudevas (anti-heroes) usually appearing as powerful but evil antagonists instigating Vāsudeva by subjugating large portions of Bharata-land. As such, they are closely related with the twin brothers known as the Vāsudevas (“violent heroes”) and the Baladevas (“gentle heroes”).

According to the Triṣaṣṭiśalākāpuruṣacarita 7.1, the mother of Śūrpaṇakhā and Rāvaṇa is named Ratnaśravas and his mother Kaikasī. They have another brother named Bhānukarṇa (or Kumbhakarṇa) and another brother named Bibhīṣeṇa.

The Prativāsudevas (such as Daśamukha) fight against the twin-heroes with their cakra-weapon but at the final moment are killed by the Vāsudevas. Their stories are narrated in the Triṣaṣṭiśalākāpuruṣacarita (“the lives of the sixty-three illustrious persons”), a twelfth-century Śvetāmbara work by Hemacandra.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Jainism
General definition book cover
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

śūrpanakhā (शूर्पनखा).—f (S A descriptive name of the sister of Rawan̤.) A term for any monstrous and hideous female; or for a Xantippe, vixen, fury &c.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

śūrpanakhā (शूर्पनखा).—f A term for any monstrous & hideous female.

(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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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Śūrpaṇakhā (शूर्पणखा).—(for nakhā) 'having finger-nails like winnowing-baskets', Name of a sister of Rāvaṇa. [She was attracted by the beauty of Rāma and solicited him to marry her. But he said that as he had already got a wife she had better go to Lakṣmaṇa and try him. But he too rejected her, and back she came to Rāma. This circumstance excited Sītā's laughter, and the revengeful demoness, feeling herself grossly insulted, assumed a hideous form and threatened to eat her up. But Lakṣmaṇa cut off her ears and nose, and thus doubly deformed her; see R.12.32-4.]

Śūrpaṇakhā is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms śūrpa and ṇakhā (णखा).

(Source): DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
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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Relevant definitions

Search found 93 related definition(s) that might help you understand this better. Below you will find the 15 most relevant articles:

Nakha (नख).—1) A nail of a finger or of a toe, claw, talon; नखानां पाण्डित्यं प्रकटयतु कस्मिन् ...
Śūrpa (शूर्प).—(śṝ-paḥ ūśca nit Uṇ.3.26) A winnowing-basket; Ms.5.117.-rpaḥ A measure of two Dr...
Tāmranakha (ताम्रनख) refers to “fingernails of copper colour” and represents the first of the e...
Tuṅganakha (तुङ्गनख) refers to “prominent finger-nails” and represents the third of the eighty ...
Tarunakha (तरुनख).—a thorn. Derivable forms: tarunakhaḥ (तरुनखः).Tarunakha is a Sanskrit compou...
Nakhāśin (नखाशिन्).—m. an owl. Nakhāśin is a Sanskrit compound consisting of the terms nakha an...
Nakhāghāta (नखाघात).—a scratch, nail-wound; Māl.5.23 नखाघातः प्रदातव्यो यथास्थानानि नर्मसु (nak...
Nakhajāha (नखजाह).—the root of a nail. Derivable forms: nakhajāham (नखजाहम्).Nakhajāha is a San...
Nakhapada (नखपद).—a nail-mark, or scratch; नखपदसुखान् प्राप्य वर्षाग्र- बिन्दून् (nakhapadasukh...
Śaṅkhanakha (शङ्खनख).—A small conch or shell.Derivable forms: śaṅkhanakhaḥ (शङ्खनखः).See also (...
Śūrpaśruti (शूर्पश्रुति).—an elephant.Derivable forms: śūrpaśrutiḥ (शूर्पश्रुतिः).Śūrpaśruti is...
Nakhavraṇa (नखव्रण).—a nail-mark, or scratch; नखपदसुखान् प्राप्य वर्षाग्र- बिन्दून् (nakhapadas...
Nakhāṅka (नखाङ्क).—a scratch, nail-mark; Mv.5.19; कुचकलशयुगान्तर्मामकीनं नखाङ्कम् (kucakalaśayu...
Srigdhanakha (स्रिग्धनख) or Srigdhanakhatā refers to “glossy nails” and represents the second o...
Nakhalekhā (नखलेखा).—1) a nail-mark. 2) nail-painting. Nakhalekhā is a Sanskrit compound consis...

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