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By M. A. Alwar

Sometimes transliterated as: Ila, IlA, Ilaa

Ilā - In Ṛgveda

The Ṛgveda[1] mentions Ilā along with Sarasvatī and Mahī, as a goddess of light and brilliance. She is the goddess of the earth. In another place,[2] she is declared as the daughter of Manu and the teacher of men. Her place is the center of the earth. On the sacrificial altar, the place sanctified by her feet, is used for keeping the fire of the sacrifice.

Ilā - In Purāṇas and Mahābhārata

In the purāṇas and the Mahābhārata, she is pictured as the daughter of Manu. Due to several reasons like entering a forbidden place or the efforts of the sages like Vasiṣṭha she undergoes change of sex, becoming the prince Sudyumna or the wife of Budha (and mother of Pururavas) and so on. She used to undergo change of sex once a month!

Ilā - In Shabdakalpadruma

Ilā – f. ilati viṣṇuvarāt puṁstvaṁ prāpnoti (attains manhood by the boon of Viṣṇu. ila+ka+ṭāp. 1. Name of a daughter of Vaivasvata Manu. According to śrībhāgavatam, Ilā, the daughter of Vaivasvata Manu, obtained manhood by the boon of Viṣṇu and became famous as Sudyumna. Then, entering the Kumāravana which was cursed by śaṅkara, became a woman again. Budha took her as his wife and begot Purūravas. Then, her priest Vaśiṣṭha worshipped śaṅkara and got her a boon of being female for a month and being male for another month, alternately. According to the Rāmāyaṇa, ila, the son of Prajāpati Kardama, entered the birthplace of Kārttikeya and became a woman known as ilā. Then, worshipping Pārvatī, she obtained the boon of being female for a month and being male for another month, alternately. 2. Earth 3. Cow 4. Sentence - Medinī


  1. Ṛgveda 1.13.9
  2. Ṛgveda 1.31.11
  • Shabdakalpadrumah by Raja Radhakantdev, Varadaprasada Vasu, Haricarana Vasu