Apsaras, the Ethereal Entertainers

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Apsaras, the Ethereal Entertainers

In Hinduism, the equivalent of angels and nymphs are what’s called the apsaras. The word apsara is Sanskrit and refers to a feminine spirit of the clouds and waters. When translated to English, apsara means “celestial nymph” or “celestial maiden”. Aside from angels and nymphs, apsaras are often compared to the muses of ancient Greece.

17" Celestial Nymph with Parrot Passing Message In Brass | Handmade | Made In India

More specifically, apsaras are considered heavenly singers and dancers. However, they were originally thought to be water nymphs that would provide sensual pleasure to the gods, as well as to men. It is believed that apsaras, along with the celestial musicians that are referred to as Gandharvas, dwell in the heavens, together with Indra who is known as the lord of the heavens. The apsaras are actually believed to be the wives of the Gandharvas. Together, they are considered to be among the court servants of Indra.

The Beauteous Apsara, Muse Of The Gandharvas

 As heavenly and supernatural beings, the apsara appears as young women who not only possess great beauty but are also very elegant and ethereal. They are known to be exceptional singers and dancers. Being ethereal bodies that inhabit the heavens or skies, they are sometimes portrayed taking flight and are therefore often compared to angels. The apsaras are also believed to have the ability to transform their shape at their own will or command.

39" The Irresistible Daivika Apsara In Brass | Handmade | Made In India

 There are said to be two types of apsara. The laukika apsara is those of the worldly sort and the daivika apsara are those of the divine. Regardless of their classification, the apsara sing and dance to the music created by the Gandharvas. They typically perform in the palaces of the gods in order to provide entertainment to the gods, as well as others who are considered heroes. On some occasions, the apsaras are also depicted as being the caretakers of fallen heroes.

Vishwamitra and Menaka

Aside from their roles as singers, dancers, and caretakers, it is said that apsaras are able to influence or even rule over the outcomes of gaming and gambling. In addition to this, they are also associated with fertility rites. However, they are still most known and recognized for their role as entertainers and for their varying talents in the performing arts. In fact, there are said to be as many as twenty-six apsaras in Indra’s heavenly court. Each of them represents a specific aspect and a particular talent in the performing arts. Some of the most well-known apsaras are named Urvasi, Menaka, Rambha, Tilottama, and Ghritachi.

Apsara Dancing and Playing a Musical Instrument


 Dancing and singing representations and icons of apsaras are famous and can be found all around South Asia and Southeast Asia, particularly throughout India. They are especially prominent in varying works of art as sculptures and paintings, as well as in literature. Whether as ethereal beings or physical works of art, apsaras add beauty and entertainment to the Hindu faith.

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