From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Kala, KalA, Kalaa

Kalā literally means ‘that which increases’. It is a Sanskrit word and has several meanings. It's interpretation depends on the context in which it is used. The word kalā denotes to be a 'part' of anything on a general note, though it has a wide usage with other meanings as well.

Meaning as Arts and Science

The word kalā is also referred to as art or science. There are 64 types of arts listed. Some of them are:

  • Gītam - music
  • Nṛtyam - dancing
  • Puṣpā- staraṇam - decoration with flowers
  • Aindrajāla - magic
  • Prahelikā - giving riddles for solving
  • Takṣakarma - carpentry
  • Vāstuvidyā - architecture
  • Nimitta jñāna - futurology with the help of omens
  • Dhātuvāda - metallurgy

Meaning in Ayurveda

In Ayurveda,[1] it refers to the seven human body parts.

Meaning in Upaniṣads

The Upaniṣads sometimes refer to 16 kalās or parts. Some of them are:

  • Prāṇa - life force
  • Indriya - sense organ
  • Tapas - austerity

These kalās are associated with a living being and responsible for his bondage.[2]


  1. Ayurveda means health-science.
  2. Praśna Upaniṣad 6
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore