Nagarjuna, aka: Nāgārjuna; 12 Definition(s)


Nagarjuna 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

Yoga (school of philosophy)

Nāgārjuna is one of the eighty-four Siddhas associated with eighty-four Yogic postures (āsanas), according to popular tradition in Jodhpur, Rājasthān. These posture-performing Siddhas are drawn from illustrative sources known as the Nava-nātha-caurāsī-siddha from Vȧrāṇasī and the Nava-nātha-caruāsī-siddha-bālāsundarī-yogamāyā from Puṇe. They bear some similarity between the eighty-four Siddhas painted on the walls of the sanctum of the temple in Mahāmandir.

The names of these Siddhas (eg., Nāgārjuna) to 19th-century inscription on a painting from Jodhpur, which is labelled as “Maharaja Mansing and eighty-four Yogis”. The association of Siddhas with yogis reveals the tradition of seeing Matsyendra and his disciple Gorakṣa as the founders of haṭhayoga.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Yoga
Yoga book cover
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Originally, Yoga is considered a branch of orthodox Hindu philosophy (astika), but both ancient and modern Yoga combine the physical, mental and spiritual. Yoga teaches various physical techniques also known as āsanas (postures), used for various purposes (eg., meditation, contemplation, relaxation).

Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Nāgārjuna (नागार्जुन) is the disciple of Ādinātha: a teacher to whom the Kāpālika doctrine was revelead, mentioned in the Śābaratantra. The Śābara-tantra is an early tantra of the Kāpālika sect containing important information about the evolution of the Nātha sect. It also lists the tweleve original Kāpālika teachers and their disciples (eg., Nāgārjuna). Several of these names appear in the Nātha lists of eighty-four Siddhas and nine Nāthas.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Śaivism
Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

General definition (in Hinduism)

To historians, Nāgārjuna is among the most enigmatic of philosophers - the date and place assigned to him here are best guesses. Many different works are attributed to him, but there are a handful which seem to be the work of one author. These deeply skeptical works extend the Buddha's deconstruction of the self to deconstruct most of our everyday categories of understanding, in a way that has lent itself to many different interpretations, but has remained foundational to most Mahāyāna Buddhism.

(Source): World Philosophy: Hinduism

In Buddhism

Vajrayāna (Tibetan Buddhism)

Nāgārjuna (नागार्जुन) refers to one of the eighty-four Siddhas who biography is contained within the Caturaśītisiddhapravṛtti (or, ‘lives of the eighty-four siddhas’): a 12th-century Sanskrit-original work, whose author (Abhayadattaśrī) is described as “the great guru from Campara in India”. The work contains a series of biographies of eighty-four Siddhas (or, Mahāsiddhas) who obtain various magical powers.

(Source): Google Books: The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism

Nāgārjuna is the name of a mahāsiddha, of which eighty-four in total are recognized in Vajrayāna (tantric buddhism). His title is “philosopher and alchemist”. He lived somewhere between the 8th and the 12th century AD.

These mahāsiddhas (eg., Nāgārjuna) are defined according to the Abhayadatta Sri (possibly Abhayākaragupta) tradition. Its textual origin traces to the 11th century caturāsiti-siddha-pravṛtti, or “the lives of the eighty-four siddhas”, of which only Tibetan translations remains. Nāgārjuna (and other Mahāsiddhas) are the ancient propounders of the textual tradition of tantric or Vajrayana Buddhism.

(Source): Wisdomlib Libary: Vajrayana
Tibetan Buddhism book cover
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Tibetan Buddhism includes schools such as Nyingma, Kadampa, Kagyu and Gelug. Their primary canon of literature is divided in two broad categories: The Kangyur, which consists of Buddha’s words, and the Tengyur, which includes commentaries from various sources. Esotericism and tantra techniques (vajrayāna) are collected indepently.

General definition (in Buddhism)

A Bodhisattva in South India, born into a Brahman family about 800 years after the Nirvana of Shakyamuni, i.e., 200 AD. He was the founder of Madhyamika (Middle Way) and Sunya (emptiness). He had plenty of writings in Buddhism. He was one of the chief philosophers of Mahayana Buddhism.(Source): Buddhist Door: Glossary

Nāgārjuna (ca. 150–250 CE) is widely considered one of the most important Buddhist philosophers after Gautama Buddha. Along with his disciple Āryadeva, he is considered to be the founder of the Madhyamaka school of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Nāgārjuna is also credited with developing the philosophy of the Prajñāpāramitā sūtras and, in some sources, with having revealed these scriptures in the world, having recovered them from the nāgas (snake-people). Furthermore, he is traditionally supposed to have written several treatises on rasayana alchemy as well as serving a term as the head of Nālandā University.

(Source): WikiPedia: Buddhism

Nagarjuna II (1100-1034 BCE) was the founder of Shunyavada and Madhyamika school of Mahayana Buddhism. Tibetan sources record that Nagarjuna was born in a Brahmana family and received the “siddhi” from the Tara during his stay at Kahora, a part of Kanchi. Nagarjuna proceeded over the Sitavana to Nalendra (Nalanda) where he became a monk and attained the zenith of his knowledge in the five sciences.

The Nagas used to attend Nagarjuna’s sermons at Nalendra (Nalanda) in the form of young boys. They begged him to take up his permanent domicile in the domain of the Nagas which he declined saying that he had to propagate in entire Jambudvipa. He went back to Nalendra with costly presents, with jewels of immense value, and with the religious text called “Nagasahasrika”. Because his connections with the Nagas, he received the name of “Nagarjuna”. After the death of Rahula Bhadra or Saraha Bhadra, Nagarjuna became the head of Nalendra (Nalanda).

(Source): The Chronological History of Buddhism

India history and geogprahy

Nāgārjuna (नागार्जुन) is mentioned as the younger brother of Cittarāja: a king from the Śīlāra (Śilāhāra) dynasty, according to the “Ṭhāṇā plates of Mummuṇirāja”. Accordingly, “Thereafter, Cittarāja’s younger brother Nāgārjuna became king—(he) who, resembling Nārāyaṇa in regard to the good fortune of courtesans, was by his anger, the fire of destruction to his arrogant foes. Having heard from afar about the superhuman power of his arms, the itching of the strong arms of his enemies, fond of (fighting on) the battlefield, goes to sleep as it were”.

These copper plates (mentioning Nāgārjuna) were discovered in 1956 while digging the ground between the Church and the District Office at Ṭhāṇā, the chief town of the Ṭhāṇā District in Mahārāṣṭra. Its object is to record the grant, by the Śilāhāra Mummuṇirāja, of some villages and lands to learned Brāhmaṇas on the occasion of the lunar eclipse on the fifteenth tithi of the bright fortnight of Phālguna in the Śaka year 970, the cyclic year being Sarvadhārin.

(Source): What is India: Inscriptions of the Śilāhāras

Nagarjuna II (11th century BCE).—Though Buddhism was introduced in Tibet during the time of Samantabhadra (16th century BCE) but Acharya Vetalakshema [Garab Dorje] (1321-1221 BCE) was the first teacher of Tibetan Buddhism. It appears that early Tibetan Buddhists followed Indian Buddhist scholars like Nagarjuna II.

(Source): The Chronological History of Tibetan Buddhism
India history book cover
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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

Marathi-English dictionary

nāgārjuna (नागार्जुन).—m S The name of a great monarch yet to appear and to establish an era.

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

nāgārjuna (नागार्जुन).—m The name of a great monarch yet to appear and to establish an era.

(Source): DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English
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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.

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