Gandhara, aka: Gandhāra, Gāndhāra; 17 Definition(s)


Gandhara means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, the history of ancient India, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Ayurveda (science of life)

Gāndhāra (गान्धार) is a Sanskrit word for a variety of rice (ṣaṣṭika) which is said to have a superior quality, according to Caraka in his Carakasaṃhitā sūtrasthāna (chapter 27), a classical Āyurvedic work. The plant Gāndhāra is part of the Śūkadhānyavarga group of medicinal plants, referring to the “group of awned grains”. Caraka defined such groups (vargas) based on the dietic value of the plant. Gāndhāra is said to be cold, unctuous, non-heavy, promoting the stability of and alleviates the three doṣas.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Āyurveda and botany
Ayurveda book cover
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Āyurveda (आयुर्वेद, ayurveda) is a branch of Indian science dealing with medicine, herbalism, taxology, anatomy, surgery, alchemy and related topics. Traditional practice of Āyurveda in ancient India dates back to at least the first millenium BC. Literature is commonly written in Sanskrit using various poetic metres.

Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Gāndhāra (गान्धार) refers to the third of the seven “musical notes” (svara), according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 6, chapter 19 and chapter 28. These seven notes are part of the ‘vocal representation’ (vācika), which is used in communicating the meaning of the drama and calling forth the sentiment (rasa). The seven notes (svara) are to be used in different sentiments (rasa). For example, gāndhāra and niṣāda are to be used in the pathetic (karuṇa) sentiment.

The presiding deity of the gāndhāra musical note (svara) is defined by various sources:

Nāradīyā-śīkṣā 1.5.13-14 mentions that the gāndhāra note is sung by Soma.
Bṛhaddeśī 75-76 mentions Bhāratī as the presiding deity of gāndhāra.
Saṅgītaratnākara 1.3.57-58 mentions Sarasvatī as the presiding deity of gāndhāra.
Saṃgītamakaranda 1.1.38, Idem.
Cf. Saṃgītarāja

The following animal sounds are associated with this note:

Nāradīyā-śīkṣā 1.5.3 assigns this note to the she-goat (ajā) and the sheep (āvika) .
Bṛhaddeśī 64, p13, 2.1-5 assigns this note to bleat of the she-goats (ajā).
Saṃgītamakaranda 1.1.13 assigns this note to bleat of the he-goat (aja).
Saṅgītaratnākara assigns this note to bleat of the he-goat (chāga).
Cf. Saṃgītarāja

(Source): Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra
Natyashastra book cover
context information

Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (śāstra) of performing arts, (nāṭya, e.g., theatrics, drama, dance, music), as well as the name of a Sanskrit work dealing with these subjects. It also teaches the rules for composing dramatic plays (nataka) and poetic works (kavya).


Gāndhāra (गान्धार).—A stretch of land of ancient Bhārata. It is believed that this land stretched from the shores of river Sindhu to Kābul. Subala was a mighty ruler of this country. His daughter Gāndhārī was the wife of Dhṛtarāṣṭra. (Śloka 11, Chapter 111, Ādi Parva).

Agni Purāṇa points out a relationship between the Gāndhāras and the Drāviḍas. Descending in order from Viṣṇu were Candra—Budha—Purūravas—Āyus—Nahuṣa -Yayāti—Turvasu. In order from Turvasu were Varga—Gobhānu—Traiśāni—Karandhama—Marutta—Duṣyanta—Varūtha—Gāṇḍīra—Gāndhāra. From Gāndhāra arose the five different provincialists: Gāndhāras, Keralas, Colas, Pāṇḍyas and Kolas. (Chapter 277, Agni Purāṇa).

(Source): Puranic Encyclopaedia

1a) Gāndhāra (गान्धार).—The son of Aru(d)dha (Ārabdha-bhā. p., vi. p.). After him came the Gāndhāra country famous for horses. Father of Dharma.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa IX. 23. 15; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 74. 9-10; Vāyu-purāṇa 99. 9; Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 17. 4.

1b) (svara)—an auspicious one;1 the third of the seven notes of music.2

  • 1) Matsya-purāṇa 243. 21.
  • 2) Vāyu-purāṇa 21-32; 86. 37.

1c) —(c)—a northern kingdom and tribe whose king contemporary of Kṛṣṇa was Śakuni who was an ally of Jarāsandha. Hence his subjects were enlisted by Jarāsandha against the Yadus. Śakuni himself was placed on the east of Gomanta hill during its siege. Here Bharata's sons Takṣa and Puṣkara ruled;1 noted for horses;2 also gandhara.

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. 52. 11 [6]; [50 (v) 3]. Matsya-purāṇa 114. 41; 121. 46; 144. 57. Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 16. 47; 18. 47; 31. 83; III. 63. 190; 73. 108; 74. 9-10. Vāyu-purāṇa 88. 189.
  • 2) Vāyu-purāṇa 99. 10.

1d) A son of Śaradvat and a grandson of Druhyu, after whom was named the country Gāndhāra; had choice horses of the Āraṭṭa country.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 48. 6-7.

1e) People of.*

  • * Vāyu-purāṇa 45. 116; 47. 45; 58. 82; 98. 107.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

Vastushastra (architecture)

1) Gāndhāra (गान्धार) refers to a variety of prāsāda (upper storey of any building), according to the Śilparatna (32.4), the Mayamata (18.10) and the Kamikāgama (57.4). The term is used throughout vāstuśāstra literature.

2) Gāndhāra (गान्धार) refers to a variety of prāsāda (‘superstructure’, or, upper storey of any building), according to the Mayamata (5th-century guidebook on Dravidian architecture). It is part of the Dvitala (two-storey) group of prāsādas.

The Gāndhāra variety has the following specifications and decorative motif components:

Number of talas (levels): 2;
Shape of grīva (neck) and śikhara (head): Elliptical (three stūpis)

The Gāndhāra is also a variation of the Tritala (three-storey) group:

Number of talas (levels): 3;
Shape of grīva (neck) and śikhara (head): Square or Octagonal;
Number of śālas: 8;
Number of kūṭas: 8;
Number of pañjaras: 16;
Number of alpanāsis: As many as required;
Number of mahānāsis: 4;

(Source): Wisdom Library: Vāstu-śāstra
Vastushastra book cover
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Vastushastra (वास्तुशास्त्र, vāstuśāstra) refers to the ancient Indian science (shastra) of architecture (vastu), dealing with topics such architecture, sculpture, town-building, fort building and various other constructions. Vastu also deals with the philosophy of the architectural relation with the cosmic universe.

Shiksha (linguistics: phonetics, phonology etc.)

Gāndhāra (गान्धार) refers to the third of six notes (svara) in Indian music.—The air, rising from the navel and striking the throat and the head, blows smells to the nose and is delicious; for that reason it is gāndhāra. (Nāradīyā-śikṣā 1. 5.7-11)

(Source): Google Books: Dattilam: A Compendium of Ancient Indian Music [shiksha]
context information

Shiksha (शिक्षा, śikṣā) deals with Sanskrit linguistics and represents a branch of vedanga (vedic ancillary science). Shiksha deals with subjects such as phonetics, phonology, study of sound, letters of the Sanskrit alphabet and related topics. Much attention is also given to the study of recitation (patha) of Vedic verses.

Shilpashastra (iconography)

Gāndhāra (गान्धार).—Illustration of the gāndhāra-svara according to 15th century art.—The colour of the body of gāndhāra-svara is white. He has four hands. He holds a lotus flowers in one of his upper hand and in the other a fruit and in his lower hand a vīṇā (Indian lute) and in the other a bell. His vehicle is a goat. The colour of his scarf is rosy with red dots and the colour of the lower garment is yellow with a black design.

The illustrations (of, for example Gāndhāra) are found scattered throughout ancient Jain manuscripts from Gujarat. The descriptions of these illustrations of this citrāvalī are based on the ślokas of Vācanācārya Gaṇi Sudhākalaśa’s Saṅgītopaniṣatsāroddhāra (14th century) and Śārṅgadeva’s Saṅgītaratnākara (13th century).

(Source): Illustrations of Indian Music and Dance in Western Indian Style
Shilpashastra book cover
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Shilpashastra (शिल्पशास्त्र, śilpaśāstra) represents the ancient Indian science (shastra) of creative arts (shilpa) such as sculpture, iconography and painting. Closely related to Vastushastra (architecture), they often share the same literature.

Itihasa (narrative history)

Gandhāra (गन्धार) is a name mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.177.5) and represents one of the many proper names used for people and places. Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Gandhāra) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

(Source): JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places
context information

Itihasa (इतिहास, itihāsa) refers to ‘epic history’ and represents a branch of Sanskrit literature which popularly includes 1) the eighteen major Puranas, 2) the Mahabharata and 3) the Ramayana. It is a branch of Vedic Hinduism categorised as smriti literature (‘that which is remembered’) as opposed to shruti literature (‘that which is transmitted verbally’).

General definition (in Hinduism)

Gāndhāra (गान्धार).—A province in ancient India believed to be the present day Afghanistan.

(Source): ISKCON Press: Glossary

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

1. Gandhara - A Pacceka Buddha mentioned in a nominal list. M.iii.69; ApA.i.106.

2. Gandhara - One of the sixteen Mahajanapadas (countries) (A.i.213; iv.252, etc.; in the Niddesa and Mahavastu lists Gandhara is omitted and others substituted). Its capital was Takkasila, famous for its university; its king in the time of the Buddha was Pukkusati. There was friendly intercourse between him and Bimbisara of Magadha. Merchants and visitors from one country to another were lodged and fed at the expense of the countrys king, and no tariffs were levied on their merchandise. There was constant exchange of goods and valuables, and on one occasion Bimbisara, wishing to send his friend a gift of particular value, despatched to him a letter containing news of the appearance in the world of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha. When Pukkusati read the letter he decided to become a follower of the Buddha, and ordained himself as a monk; then, leaving his kingdom, he travelled all the way to Savatthi to see the Buddha (MA.ii.979ff). This conversion of Gandharas king, however, does not seem to have had the effect of converting the rest of its people to the Buddhas faith. The memory of Pukkusati was evidently soon forgotten, for we find Moggaliputta Tissa, at the conclusion of the Third Council, sending the Thera Majjhantika to convert Gandhara (Mhv.xii.3ff).

According to Buddhaghosas account, Pukkusatis kingdom was over one hundred leagues in extent (MA.ii.988), and the distance from Takkasila to Savatthi was one hundred and ninety two leagues (MA.ii.987; from Benares it was one hundred and twenty leagues, visamyo janasata; J.i.395; ii.47). There was evidently a well known caravan route linking the two countries, although Gandhara was regarded as a paccantima janapada. (MA.ii.982; there was also constant trade between Gandhara and Videha, J.iii.365ff. It would appear from the Maha Niddesa i.154 that Takkasila was a regular centre of trade).

At the time of Majjhantikas visit, the people of Gandhara were being harassed by the Naga king Aravala, and the chronicles contain details of his conversion by the monk. The Naga king, together with his retinue, the yakkha Pandaka and his wife Harita, became devout followers of the Buddha. Majjhantika preached the Asivisupama Sutta, and many thousands joined the Order. (Mhv.xii.9ff; Smp.i.64f; Dpv.viii.4).

Gandhara appears to have included Kasmira, the two countries being always mentioned together as Kasmira Gandhara. They occupied the sites of the modern districts of Peshawar and Rawalpindi in the northern Punjab (PHAI. p.93). In the time of Asoka the country formed part of his empire, and is mentioned as such in Rock Edict V. Before that it was subject to the Achaemenid kings. Gandhara was always famous for its red woollen shawls (kambala) (SNA.ii.487; Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

context information

Theravāda is a major branch of Buddhism having the the Pali canon (tipitaka) as their canonical literature, which includes the vinaya-pitaka (monastic rules), the sutta-pitaka (Buddhist sermons) and the abhidhamma-pitaka (philosophy and psychology).

General definition (in Buddhism)

Gandhara is the name of an ancient kingdom (Mahajanapada), located in northern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. Gandhara was located mainly in the vale of Peshawar, the Potohar plateau (see Taxila) and on the Kabul River. Its main cities were Purushapura (modern Peshawar), literally meaning City of Man[2] and Takshashila (modern Taxila).

(also known as Waihind in Persian)

The Kingdom of Gandhara lasted from c. the 6th century BCE to the 11th century CE. It attained its height from the 1st century to the 5th century under the Buddhist Kushan Kings. The Hindu Shahi, a term used by history writer Al Biruni[4] to refer to the ruling Hindu dynasty that took over from the Turki Shahi and ruled the region during the period prior to Muslim conquests of the tenth and eleventh centuries. After it was conquered by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1021 CE, the name Gandhara disappeared. During the Muslim period the area was administered from Lahore or from Kabul. During Mughal times the area was part of Kabul province.

(Source): WikiPedia: Buddhism

India history and geogprahy

Gāndhāra (गान्धार) is the name of a tribe mentioned as inhabiting the region around ancient Kaśmīra (Kashmir valley) according to the Nīlamatapurāṇa.—The Gāndhāras were an ancient tribe mentioned in the Rgveda and the Atharvaveda. The Mahābhārata refers to them along with the Yavanas, the Kāmbojas, the Kirātas and the Barbaras. Evidently they were the inhabitants of Gand-hāra which has been identified with the districts of Peshawar and Rawalpindi in the north-west Panjab. The jātakas and the Milindapañha indicate the close relations existing between Kaśmīra and Gandhāra. Occupation of Kaśmīra by the Kuṣāṇa king Kaniṣka, who ruled over Gandhāra also, must have strengthened these relations.

(Source): Nilamata Purana: a cultural and literary study (history)

Dynastic history of ancient Gandhara and Bactria (6200-3162 BCE).—According to Puranas, the dynastic history of Gandhara begins with Chandravamsi King Gandhara who was the contemporary of Ikshvaku king Mandhata (~6200 BCE). Aitareya Brahmana mentions King Nagnajit of Gandhara, a contemporary of King Janaka of Videha. Kaikeyi’s son Bharata reigned over Gandhara during Ramayana period.

(Source): The Chronology of Ancient Gandhara and Bactria
India history book cover
context information

The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

gandhāra : (m.) the country (now called) Kandahar.

(Source): BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

Gandhāra, (adj.) belonging to the Gandhāra country (Kandahar) f. gandhārī in gandhārī vijjā N. of a magical charm D.I, 213; at J.IV, 498 it renders one invisible. (Page 244)

(Source): Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary
Pali book cover
context information

Pali is the language of the Tipiṭaka, which is the sacred canon of Theravāda Buddhism and contains much of the Buddha’s speech. Closeley related to Sanskrit, both languages are used interchangeably between religions.

Marathi-English dictionary

gandhāra (गंधार).—m (gāndhāra S) One of the seven primary notes of music,--the third ascending.

--- OR ---

gāndhāra (गांधार).—m S The third of the seven primary notes of music.

(Source): DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary
context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

Sanskrit-English dictionary

Gandhāra (गन्धार).—(pl.)

1) Name of a country and its rulers; पुरुषं गन्धारेभ्योऽभिनद्धाक्षमानीय (puruṣaṃ gandhārebhyo'bhinaddhākṣamānīya) Ch. Up.6.14.1.

2) The third note (in music).

3) A particular Rāga.

Derivable forms: gandhāraḥ (गन्धारः).

--- OR ---

Gāndhāra (गान्धार).—

1) The third of the seven primary notes of the Indian Gamut; (commonly denoted by ga in musical notation).

2) Red lead.

3) Name of a country between India and Persia, the modern Kandahāra.

5) A native or a ruler of that country.

-ram Gum myrrh.

Derivable forms: gāndhāraḥ (गान्धारः).

(Source): DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary
context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family. Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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