Apsara

An Apsara (also spelled as Apsarasa) is a female spirit of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology.

An Apsara (Sanskrit: अप्सराः apsarāḥ, plural अप्सरसः apsarasaḥ, stem apsaras-, a feminine consonant stem, អប្សរា), is also known as Vidhya Dhari or Tep Apsar (ទេពអប្សរ) in Khmer, Accharā (Pāli) or A Bố Sa La Tư (Vietnamese), Bidadari (Indonesian & Malay), Biraddali (Tausug), Hapsari or Widodari (Javanese) and Apson (Thai: อัปสร). English translations of the word "Apsara" include "nymph," "celestial nymph," and "celestial maiden."

Apsaras are beautiful, supernatural female beings. They are youthful and elegant, and superb in the art of dancing. They are often the wives of the Gandharvas, the court musicians of Indra. They dance to the music made by the Gandharvas, usually in the palaces of the gods, entertain and sometimes seduce gods and men. As caretakers of fallen heroes, they may be compared to the valkyries of Norse mythology. As ethereal beings who inhabit the skies, and are often depicted taking flight, or at service of a god, they may be compared to angels.

Apsaras are said to be able to change their shape at will, and rule over the fortunes of gaming and gambling. Urvasi, Menaka, Rambha and Tilottama are the most famous among them. Apsaras are sometimes compared to the muses of ancient Greece, with each of the 26 Apsaras at Indra's court representing a distinct aspect of the performing arts. Apsaras are associated with water; thus, they may be compared to the nymphs, dryads and naiads of ancient Greece. They are associated with fertility rites.

There are two types of Apsaras; Laukika (worldly), of whom thirty-four are specified, and Daivika (divine), of which there are ten.

The Bhagavata Purana also states that the Apsaras were born from Kashyap and Muni.

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