From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

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[edit]

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[edit]

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

Meaning in Upaniṣads[edit]

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

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