ās- ([ etc.]) , or ap-sar/ā- ([AV. etc.]), f. (fr. 2. /ap-+sṛ-),"going in the waters or between the waters of the clouds", a class of female divinities (sometimes called"nymphs";they inhabit the sky, but often visit the earth;they are the wives of the gandharva-s(q.v)and have the faculty of changing their shapes at will;they are fond of the water;one of their number, rambhā-, is said to have been produced at the churning of the ocean).
अप्सरस् f. (-राः, रा). [अद्भ्यः सरन्ति उद्गच्छन्ति, सृ-असुन् Uṇ.4.236; cf. Rām. अप्सु निर्मथनादेव रसात्तस्माद्वर- स्त्रियः । उत्पेतुर्मनुजश्रेष्ठ तस्मादप्सरसो$भवन् ॥ A class of female divinities or celestial damsels who reside in the sky and are regarded as the wives of the Gandharvas. They are very fond of bathing, can change their shapes, and are endowed with superhuman power (प्रभाव).
They are called स्वर्वेश्याः and are usually described as the servants of Indra, who, when alarmed by the rigorous austerities of some mighty sage, sends down one of them to disturb his penance, and her mission is generally successful; मेनका$प्सरसां श्रेष्ठा महर्षिणां पिता च ते Mb.1.74.75. cf. या तपोविशेषपरिशङ्कितस्य सुकुमारं प्रहरणं महेन्द्रस्य V. 1. They are also said to covet heroes who die gloriously on the battle-field; cf. परस्परेण क्षतयोः प्रहर्त्रोरुत्क्रान्तवाय्वोः समकालमेव । अमर्त्यभावे$पि कयोश्चिदासीदेकाप्सरः प्रार्थितयोर्विवादः ॥ R.7.53. Bāṇa mentions 14 different families of these nymphs (see K.136) The word is usually said to be in pl. (स्त्रियां बहुष्वप्सरसः) but the singular, as also the form अप्सराः, sometimes occurs; नियमविघ्नकारिणी मेनका नाम अप्सराः प्रेषिता Ś.1; एकाप्सरः &c. R.7.53 and see Malli. thereon; अनप्सरेव प्रतिभासि V.1. -2 Direction or the intermediate point of the compass (दिक् च उपदिक् च). -Comp. -तीर्थम् N. of a sacred pool in which the Apsarasas bathe; probably it is the name of a place, see Ś.6. -पतिः lord of the Apsarasas, epithet of Indra. N. of the Gandharva शिखण्डिन्; Av.4.37.7.
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