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From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By M. A. Alwar


Ilā is derived from "ilati viṣṇuvarāt puṁstvaṁ prāpnoti" which means 'attains manhood by the boon of Viṣṇu'.


Ilā is a feminine form.

Grammatical Origin[edit]

It can be split as ila+ka+ṭāp.

In Śrībhāgavatam[edit]

  • Ilā is the name of a daughter of Vaivasvata Manu. She obtained manhood by the boon of Viṣṇu and became famous as Sudyumna.
  • She became woman again by the curse of śaṅkara while entering the Kumāravana.
  • Budha wedded her and became father of Purūravas.
  • Then Ilā's priest Vaśiṣṭha worshiped śaṅkara and got her a boon of being male and female for alternate months.

In Rāmāyaṇa[edit]

  • Ilā was the son of Prajāpati Kardama, who entered the birthplace of Kārttikeya and became a woman known as ilā.
  • After worshiping Pārvatī, she obtained the boon of being male and female for alternate months.

In Ṛgveda[edit]

  • Ilā is recognized as a goddess of light and brilliance along with Sarasvatī and Mahī.[1]
  • She is accounted as the goddess of the earth. She resides in the center of the earth.
  • She is declared as the daughter of Manu and the teacher of men.[2]
  • The place sanctified by her feet on the sacrificial altar is used to keep the fire of the sacrifice.

Ilā In Purāṇas and Mahābhārata[edit]

  • She is pictured as the daughter of Manu.
  • She has changed her sex to enter a forbidden place or due to the efforts of the sages like Vasiṣṭha.
  • She either becomes prince Sudyumna or the wife of Budha and mother of Pururavas.
  • She used to undergo change of sex once a month.


  1. Earth
  2. Cow
  3. Sentence[3]


  1. Ṛgveda 1.13.9
  2. Ṛgveda 1.31.11
  3. As per Medinī.
  • Shabdakalpadrumah by Raja Radhakantdev, Varadaprasada Vasu, Haricarana Vasu