Urvashi, aka: Urvaśī, Ūrvaśī; 11 Definition(s)

Introduction

Urvashi 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.

The Sanskrit terms Urvaśī and Ūrvaśī can be transliterated into English as Urvasi or Urvashi, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Katha (narrative stories)

[Urvashi in Katha glossaries]

Urvaśī (उर्वशी) is the name of an apsaras (heavenly nymp) whose story is told in the “story of Urvaśī”, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 17. Accordingly, when king Purūravas (a devoted worshipper of Viṣṇu) was sauntering in the Nandana garden he crossed paths with Urvaśī and they instantly fell in love.

The Kathāsaritsāgara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentioning Urvaśī, 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
Katha book cover
context information

Katha (कथा, kathā) refers to narrative Sanskrit literature often inspired from epic legendry (itihasa) and poetry (mahākāvya). Some Kathas reflect socio-political instructions for the King while others remind the reader of important historical event and exploits of the Gods, Heroes and Sages.

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Purana

[Urvashi in Purana glossaries]

Urvaśī (उर्वशी) is the name of a beautiful damsel (kanyā), with black curly hair and red lips, according to the Varāhapurāṇa chapter 92. Urvaśī (and other innumerable ladies) arose out of the agitation of Vaiṣṇavī while she was doing penance at Viśālā. For these young women, Vaiṣṇavī created the city Devīpura, containing numerous mansions with golden balconies, crystal stairs and water fountains, with jewelled windows and gardens.

Vaiṣṇavī is the form of Trikalā having a red body representing the energy of Viṣṇu. Trikalā is the name of a Goddess born from the combined looks of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara (Śiva).

The Varāhapurāṇa is categorised as a Mahāpurāṇa, and was originally composed of 24,000 metrical verses, possibly originating from before the 10th century. It is composed of two parts and Sūta is the main narrator.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Varāha-purāṇa

Puraravā (the son of Budha) begat on the nymph Urvasi six sons who were named Śrutātmaka, Viśvāvasu, Śatāyu, Āyu, Dhīmān, and Amāvasu.

(Source): archive.org: The Garuda puranam

1) Urvaśī (उर्वशी).—A famous celestial damsel. (See full article at Story of Urvaśī from the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani)

2) Urvaśī (उर्वशी).—Another name of Gaṅgā. As she sat on the Ūru (thigh) of Bhagīratha, Gaṅgā got the name Urvaśī. (Mahābhārata Droṇa Parva, Chapter 60, Stanza 6).

(Source): archive.org: Puranic Encyclopaedia

1a) Urvaśī (उर्वशी).—An apsaras born of Nārāyaṇa; worshipped for success in love affairs.1 While she was plucking flowers in Badari āśrama Mitra and Varuṇa saw her, when she gave birth to Agastya and Vasiṣṭha.2 Satyadhṛti saw her, and she was mother of Śaradvata.3 Heard of the beauty of Purūravas from Nārada, when she came to the earth due to a curse of Mitra and Varuṇa, and gave enjoyment to him so long as he satisfied her two conditions—keeping her two sheep safe, and not showing himself naked before her except in sexual intercourse. When after 64 years she saw him naked one day, she left him. He looked for her and saw her at the R. Sarasvati playing with her friends. At his request she promised a day's enjoyment with him every year. On her advice he prayed to Gandharvas, and got an Agnisthāli. Mother of six sons by Purūravas.4 Returned to Heaven.5 The Goddess enshrined at Badari.6 When she danced before Indra, she forgot her abhinaya and was cursed by Bharata to become an invisible creeper for 55 years on the earth. During that time Purūravas was in the guise of Paiśāca. After the lapse of the period she bore him 8 sons.7 In the sabhā of Hiraṇyakaśipu.8 Mother of six sons by Aila.9 Also ūrvaśī (s.v.).

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 7. 16; Bhāgavata-purāṇa II. 3. 6.
  • 2) Bhāgavata-purāṇa VI. 18. 6; IX. 13. 6; Matsya-purāṇa 201. 25-29; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 5. 11-12.
  • 3) Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 21. 35; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 19. 65.
  • 4) Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 14. 16-42; 15. 1; XI. 26. 4-5 and 25; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 65. 46; 66. 4-5; Vāyu-purāṇa 2. 16; 91. 4; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 6. 35-78.
  • 5) Bhāgavata-purāṇa XI. 4. 15; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 33. 18.
  • 6) Matsya-purāṇa 13. 49.
  • 7) Ib. 24. 12-33.
  • 8) Ib. 161. 25.
  • 9) Vāyu-purāṇa 90. 45.

1b) The Apsaras presiding over the month of saha.1 With the sun in the hemanta;2 in the sun's chariot in the mārgaśīrṣa month;3 a brahmavādinī.4

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa XII. 11. 41; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 23. 18.
  • 2) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa I. 2. 16; Vāyu-purāṇa 52. 18; Matsya-purāṇa 126. 19.
  • 3) Viṣṇu-purāṇa II. 10. 13.
  • 4) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 33. 18.

1c) An Ābhīra kanyā who observed the bhīmadvādaśī, and became Urvaśī.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 69. 59.

2) Ūrvaśī (ऊर्वशी).—Born out of the thigh of Nārāyaṇa. (See urvaśī).*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 69. 51.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
context information

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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Chandas (prosody, study of Sanskrit metres)

[Urvashi in Chandas glossaries]

Urvaśī (उर्वशी) refers to one of the 135 metres (chandas) mentioned by Nañjuṇḍa (1794-1868 C.E.) in his Vṛttaratnāvalī. Nañjuṇḍa was a poet of both Kannada and Sanskrit literature flourished in the court of the famous Kṛṣṇarāja Woḍeyar of Mysore. He introduces the names of these metres (eg., Urvaśī) in 20 verses.

(Source): Shodhganga: a concise history of Sanskrit Chanda literature
Chandas book cover
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Chandas (छन्दस्) refers to Sanskrit prosody and represents one of the six Vedangas (auxiliary disciplines belonging to the study of the Vedas). The science of prosody (chandas-shastra) focusses on the study of the poetic meters such as the commonly known twenty-six metres mentioned by Pingalas.

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Itihasa (narrative history)

[Urvashi in Itihasa glossaries]

Urvaśī (उर्वशी) refers to the name of a Lady mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.70.21). Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Urvaśī) 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

Itihasa (इतिहास, itihāsa) refers to ‘epic history’ and represents a branch of Sanskrit literature which popularly includes 1) the eighteen major Puranas, 2) the Mahabharata and 3) the Ramayana. It is a branch of Vedic Hinduism categorised as smriti literature (‘that which is remembered’) as opposed to shruti literature (‘that which is transmitted verbally’).

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General definition (in Hinduism)

[Urvashi in Hinduism glossaries]

Urvashi is an Apsara in the court of Indra. Once, the primordial twin sages Nara and Naryana were performing a particularly severe penance. As was his wont, Indra feared for his crown and sent his divine dancers, the Apsaras, to disrupt this penance. Much angered, the sages struck their thighs, and from thence was born Urvashi, who was more beautiful than the other Apsaras. (In Sanskrit, Uru means 'thigh'). Seeing her divine beauty, the other dancers ran away in shame. Indra apologized for his effrontery and the sages pardoned him. They also sent Urvashi to be a dancer in his court. This story is told in more detail in 'Birth of Urvashi'.

(Source): Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

Urvashi is an Apsara (nymph) in Hindu legend. She was a celestial maiden in Indra's court and was considered the most beautiful of all the Apsaras. She became the wife of king Pururavas (Purūrávas, from purū+rávas "crying much or loudly"), an ancient chief of the lunar race. ShBr 11.5.1, and treated in Kalidasa’s drama Vikramōrvaśīyam.

Birth: There are many legends about the birth of Urvashi but the following one is most prevalent. Once the revered sages Nara-narayana was meditating in the holy shrine of Badrinath Temple situated in the Himalayas. Indra, the king of the Gods, did not want the sage to acquire divine powers through meditation and sent two apsaras to distract him. The sage struck his thigh and created a woman so beautiful that Indra’s apsaras were left matchless. This was Urvashi, named from ur, the Sanskrit word for thigh. After his meditation was complete the sage gifted Urvashi to Indra, and she occupied the pride of place in Indra’s court.

etymology: Urvashi (Urvaśī, from Uras "heart" + Vashi "one who controls", "one who controls the heart") Monier Monier-Williams proposes a different etymology in which the name means "widely pervasive," and suggests that in its first appearances in Vedic texts it is a name for the dawn goddess.

(Source): WikiPedia: Hinduism

Urvaśī (उर्वशी).—One of the heavenly Apsarās. She tried to seduce Arjuna when he was in the heavenly kingdom. Arjuna refused to satisfy her because he considered her the mother of the Kuru dynasty having taken Puru for her husband. Because of Arjuna’s refusal, Urvaśī cursed Arjuna to become a eunuch for one year. This curse took its effect during last year of exile of the Pāṇḍavas in the kingdom of Virāṭa; a woman from the heavenly planets who became enamored of King Purūravā.

(Source): ISKCON Press: Glossary

Languages of India and abroad

Sanskrit-English dictionary

[Urvashi in Sanskrit glossaries]

Urvaśī (उर्वशी).—[urūn mahato'pi aśnute vaśīkaroti, uru-aś-ka gaurā° ṅīṣ Tv.]

1) Name of a famous Apsaras or nymph of Indra's heaven who became the wife of Purūravas. [Urvaśī is frequently mentioned in the Ṛigveda; at her sight the seed of Mitra and Varuṇa fell down, from which arose Agastya and Vaśiṣṭa; (see Agastya). Being cursed by Mitra and Varuṇa she came down to the world of mortals, and became the wife of Purūravas, whom she chanced to see while descending, and who made a very favourable impression upon her mind. She lived with him for some time, and went up to heaven at the expiration of her curse. Purūravas was sorely grieved at her loss, but succeeded in securing her company once more. She bore him a son named Āyus, and then left him forever. The account given in the Vikramorvaśīyam differs in many respects, where Indra is represented to have favoured Purūravas with her lifelong company though he had himself cursed her. Mythologically she is said to have sprung from the thigh of the sage Nārāyaṇa, q. v.] उर्वशी वै रुपिण्यप्सरसाम् (urvaśī vai rupiṇyapsarasām) Mbh.5.2.95; मर्त्तासश्चिदुर्वशीरकृप्रन् (marttāsaścidurvaśīrakṛpran) Av. 18.3.23; स्त्रीरत्नेषु ममोर्वशी प्रियतमा यूथे तवेयं वशा (strīratneṣu mamorvaśī priyatamā yūthe taveyaṃ vaśā) V.4.47.

2) Wish, ardent desire.

(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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