Svara, aka: Shvara, Svarā, Śvara; 18 Definition(s)


Svara means something in 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 term Śvara can be transliterated into English as Svara or Shvara, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Śāktism (Śākta philosophy)

Svarā (स्वरा, “Sound, Speech”):—One of the female offspring from Mahākālī (tamas-form of Mahādevī). Mahākālī is one of the three primary forms of Devī, the other two being Mahālakṣmī and Mahāsarasvatī. Not to be confused with Kālī, she is a more powerful cosmic aspect (vyaṣṭi) of Devi and represents the guṇa (universal energy) named tamas. Also see the Devī Māhātmya, a Sanskrit work from the 5th century, incorporated into the Mārkaṇḍeya-Purāṇa.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Śāktism
Śāktism book cover
context information

Śākta (शाक्त, shakta) or Śāktism (shaktism) represents a tradition of Hinduism where the Goddess (Devī) is revered and worshipped. Śākta literature includes a range of scriptures, including various tantras, although its roots may be traced back to the Vedas.

Dharmaśāstra (religious law)

Svara (स्वर) refers to “voice”, as in, a visible trait or charecteristic of a human being. When a King (rājan) is investigating a suit in the court, he is to closely watch the variations (ākāra) of the subject. For the voice (svara) of a person, this means monitoring for faltering (of the voice), being choked with tears etc. The term is used throughout Dharmaśāstra literature such as the Manusmṛti.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Dharma-śāstra
Dharmaśāstra book cover
context information

Dharmaśāstra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharma-shastra) is a category of Hindu literature containing important instructions regarding religious law, ethics, economics, jurisprudence and more. It is categorised as smṛti, an important and authorative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.

Nāṭyaśāstra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Svara (स्वर) refers to the “notes” in musical performance. The notes (svara) have two bases: the human throat (lit. body) and the Vīṇā, according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 28. It is part of the ‘vocal representation’ (vācika), which is used in communicating the meaning of the drama and calling forth the sentiment (rasa).

According to the Nāṭyaśāstra 6.10, chapter 19 and chapter 28, there are seven notes (svara), to be used in different sentiments:

  1. ṣaḍja (sa),
  2. ṛṣabha (ri),
  3. gāndhāra (ga),
  4. madhyama (ma),
  5. pañcama (pa),
  6. dhaivata (dha),
  7. niṣāda (ni).

According as they relate to an interval of more or less śrutis, they are of four classes, such as

  1. Sonant (vādin),
  2. Consonant (saṃvādin)
  3. Assonant (anuvādin),
  4. Dissonant (vivādin)

Accordingly, “as a note prominently sounds it is called sonant (vādin); as it sounds in cosonance with another it is consonant (saṃvādin); as it sounds discordantly to another it is dissonant (vivādin), and as it follows another note it is called assonant (anuvādin). These notes become low or high according to the adjustment of the strings, and the varying condition (lit. diversity) of the beam of the vīṇā and of the sense-organs”.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

Svara (स्वर, “notes”).—The Indian scale has seven notes, namely, ṣaḍja, ṛṣabha, gāndhāra, madhyama, pañcama, dhaivat, niṣāda. Now-a-days these are generally abbreviated to sa, ri, ga, ma, pa, dha and ni. Svaras are of four kinds namely, vādī, saṃvādī, anuvādī and vivādī. (cf. Tilaka-mañjarī by Dhanapāla)

(Source): Google Books: Dhanapāla and His Times (arts and learning)

Svara (स्वर, “interval”).—According to the Saṅgīta-makaranda, “The seven notes, ṣaḍja, ṛṣabha, gāndhāra, madhyama, pañcama, dhaivata and niṣāda, are said to dwell respectively in the navel, the heart, the throat, the palate, the nose, the teeth and the lips”. (Cf. Saṃgītarāja of Kumbhā)

(Source): Google Books: Dattilam: A Compendium of Ancient Indian Music

Svara (स्वर, “vowels”).—Vowels are fourteen in number: a, ā, i, ī, u, ū, ṛ, ḹ (long) ḷ, ḹ (long) e, ai, o and au are to be known as vowels.

(Source): Natya Shastra

Svara (स्वर, “notes”).—The svara is defined by Mataṅga as that which shines by itself. The names of the notes have been explained by different writers old and modern. (cf Mataṅga’s 9th century Bṛhaddeśī)

(Source): The Ragas Of Karnatic Music

The seven basic musical notes (svara), coincided with the seven diatonic intervals of the Indian scale.

(Source): The Nāṭyaśāstra: the Origin of the Ancient Indian Poetics

Svara is a Sanskrit word that connotes a note in the successive steps of the octave. The svara differs from the sruti concept in Indian music. A sruti is the smallest gradation of pitch available, while a svara is the selected pitches from which the musician constructs the scales, melodies and ragas. The seven notes of the musical scale in Indian classical music are ṣaḍja (षड्ज), ṛṣabha (ऋषभ), gandhāra (गान्धार), madhyama (मध्यम), pañchama (पञ्चम), dhaivata (धैवत) and niāṣda (निषाद).

(Source): WikiPedia: Natyashastra

1a) Svara (स्वर).—“tone in recitation etc.” (either high or low),

1b) “accent” (of which there are three kinds, udātta-, anudātta-, and svarita- svaras),

1c) “note of the musical scale” (of which seven rarely six or eight are enumerated, 1. niṣāda-;2. ṛṣabha-;3. gāndhāra-;4. ṣaḍja-;5. madhyama-;6. dhaivata-;7. pañcama- svaras; of which niṣāda- and gāndhāra- are referred to the udātta-, ṛṣabha- and dhaivata- to the an-udātta-, while ṣaḍja- and the other two are referred to the svarita- accent; described as resembling respectively the notes of an elephant, bull, goat, peacock, curlew or heron, horse, and Koil)

(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams (natyashastra)
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).


1) Śvara (श्वर).—A son of Dadhīci.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 21. 42.

2a) Svara (स्वर).—A son of Gāyatrī and Prajāpati.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 21. 42.

2b) Seven (music);1 sixteen of the Vedas.2

  • 1) Vāyu-purāṇa 86. 36.
  • 2) Ib. 65. 28; 104. 71.

3a) Svarā (स्वरा).—A daughter of Uttānapāda.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 36. 90; Vāyu-purāṇa 62. 77.

3b) A daughter of Kardama and one of the wives of Atharva Angiras; son Gautama.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 1. 102; Vāyu-purāṇa 65. 98.

3c) A daughter of Krodhā.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 69. 205.
(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.

Upaniṣad (dialogues on the Vedas)

Svara (स्वर).—Svara is life (uyir) and vyañjana is the body (mey) of Devi of language and music. The svara gives life to the music/language/devi. The singer evoking the svara gives life to Devi.

According to Chāndogya khāṇḍa 3 (adhidaivata) śloka 2: “This and that are samāna (equalizers). Both are heat and energy. This is svara and that is svara and pratyasvara. This and that are the udgāthas (singers). Prāṇa of singer and sūrya are samam in quality and in name (guṇa and nāma) both move (svarati-verb) by waves of light and sound. Therefore, they are called svara/sūrya. Without the sūrya (sun and the prāṇa), there is no life or art or science possible on earth. Therefore, svara is the life (uyir). We see both the life and the sun coming back cyclically, and so is prāṇa as inhalation and exhalation, and hence both are svara and pratyasvara. But we don’t see the life of a particular individual coming back after it leaves a body, therefore, it is just called svara and not pratyasvara.”

(Source): Google Books: Music Therapy (upainishads)
Upaniṣad book cover
context information

Upaniṣads (उपनिषद्, upanishad) convey the highest purpose of the Vedas. They are a category of sacred Sanskrit literature forming the basis of Vedānta (a school of orthodox Hindu philosophy). The Upaniṣads are usually found attached to the last part of the Brāhmaṇas and Āraṇyakas.

Āyurveda (science of life)

Svara (स्वर).—Svara refers to the “voice”, and Āyurvedic literature enumerates various voice-enhancing rejuvenating recipes, for example: 1) the juice of maṇḍūkaparṇī; 2) powder of yaṣṭimadhu mixed with honey; juice of guḍūcī along wih its root and flowers; 4) paste of śaṅkhapuṣpī. (See Caraka-saṃhitā, cikitsā-sthāna 1.30-31)

(Source): Wisdom Library: Āyurveda and botany
Āyurveda book cover
context information

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.

Śikṣā (linguistics: phonetics, phonology etc.)

Svara (स्वर, “interval”), also “note”.—The Indian system is based on a series of seven intervals (svara), called saptaka. Nāradīyā-śikṣā 1.5.1 compares the notes (svara) used by the singers of sāmas (i.e. religious songs of the Sāmaveda), with the notes of the flute, which may represent here secular (laukika) music:

  1. prathama (i.e. the first) is the note madhyama of the flute;
  2. dvitīya (i.e. the second) is gāndhāra,
  3. tṛtīya (i.e. the third) is traditionally ṛṣabha.
  4. caturtha (i.e. the fourth) is said to be ṣaḍja;
  5. pañcama (i.e. the fifth) is dhaivata;
  6. ṣaṣṭha (i.e. the sixth) is considered to be niṣāda;
  7. saptama (i.e. the seventh) is traditionally pañcama.

The fifth, sixth and seventh note of religious (vaidika) music are commonly indicated by the names mandra, atisvārya and kruṣṭa.

(Source): Google Books: Dattilam: A Compendium of Ancient Indian Music [shiksha]
context information

Śikṣā (शिक्षा, shiksha) deals with Sanskrit linguistics and represents a branch of vedāṅga (vedic ancillary science). Śikṣā deals with subjects such as phonetics, phonology, study of sound, letters of the Sanskrit alphabet and related topics. Much attention is also given to the study of recitation (pāṭha) of Vedic verses.

Śilpaśāstra (iconography)

Svara (स्वर).—The svaras originate fro mthe twenty-two Śrutis.

They are seven:

  1. Ṣaḍja,
  2. Ṛṣabha,
  3. Gāndhāra,
  4. Madhyama,
  5. Pañcama,
  6. Dhaivata,
  7. Niṣāsa.

Sā is produced from the first four śrutis, Ri from the next three and so on. Their names are accepted as Sā, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni what results after a śruti, is soft and resonant. Svara results in aesthatic joy to the mind of the listner. Now in this way, the cause of the svara is the fourth śruti, etc.

The illustrations of these svaras are found scattered throughout ancient Jain manuscripts from Gujarat. The descriptions of these illustrations of this citrāvalī are based on the ślokas of Vācanācārya Gaṇi Sudhākalaśa’s Saṅgītopaniṣatsāroddhāra (14th century) and Śārṅgadeva’s Saṅgītaratnākara (13th century).

(Source): Illustrations of Indian Music and Dance in Western Indian Style
Śilpaśāstra book cover
context information

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.

General definition (in Hinduism)

Svara (स्वर) denotes in the Upaniṣads the sound of a vowel: these are described as being ghoṣavant, ‘sonant,’ and also as balavant, ‘uttered with force’. The precise word for a mute is sparśa, ‘contact’, while ūṣman denotes a ‘sibilant’, and svara a ‘vowel’, in the Aitareya and Śāṅkhāyana-āraṇyakas. The semivowels are there denoted by antasthā (‘intermediate’) or akṣara.

Another division in the Aitareya-āraṇyaka is into ghoṣa, ūṣman, and vyañjana, apparently ‘vowels’, ‘sibilants’, and ‘consonants’ respectively.

(Source): Vedic index of Names and Subjects

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

svara (स्वर).—n S One of the divisions of the universe,--the space between the sun and polar star and region of the planets and constellations. In this sense the word is one of the three mystical words to be repeated daily at the morning ceremonies &c. with the Gayatri. 2 Sky, the heavens. 3 The residence of Indra and the gods and deified mortals. The same with svarga.

--- OR ---

svara (स्वर).—m (S) A note in music. 2 An accent. 3 A vowel. 4 Air breathed through a nostril. 5 Sound in general. svara dēṇēṃ To join in with one's voice and assist the singer. svara bhajaṇēṃ or svara vāhaṇēṃ g. of s. To incline or lean unto, to flow freely towards--the will or mind.

--- OR ---

svāra (स्वार).—m ( A) A man on horseback, a cavalier or horseman. 2 as a Mounted upon (horse-back, camel-back, bullock-back &c.)

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

svara (स्वर).—m A note in music; an accent; a vowel sound. svara bāhaṇēṃ To incline or lean to.

--- OR ---

svāra (स्वार).—m A man on horseback. a Mounted.

(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

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svaraśāstra (स्वरशास्त्र).—n (S) A Shastra or treatise which interprets the indications and pre...
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Svara Shiksha
Svara Shiksha (स्वर शिक्षा, Svara Śikṣā): Name of a traditional Hindu treatise on the subjec...
Pañcamasvara (पञ्चमस्वर) is another name for pañcama: one of the three svaras (notes) used in I...
Dhaivatasvara (धैवतस्वर) is another name for dhaivata: one of the three svaras (notes) used in ...
Ṣaḍjasvara (षड्जस्वर) is another name for ṣaḍja: one of the three svaras (notes) used in Indian...
Niṣādasvara (निषादस्वर) is another name for niṣāda: one of the three svaras (notes) used in Ind...
Ṛṣabhasvara (ऋषभस्वर) is another name for ṛṣabha: one of the three svaras (notes) used in India...
Gāndhārasvara (गान्धारस्वर) is another name for gāndhāra: one of the three svaras (notes) used ...
Madhyamasvara (मध्यमस्वर) is another name for madhyama: one of the three svaras (notes) used in...
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