Nalagiri, Nālāgiri, Nāḷāgiri: 5 definitions


Nalagiri means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit. 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.

The Sanskrit term Nāḷāgiri can be transliterated into English as Nalagiri or Naliagiri, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names

An elephant of the royal stalls at Rajagaha. Devadatta, after several vain attempts to kill the Buddha, obtained Ajatasattus consent to use Nalagiri as a means of encompassing the Buddhas death. The elephant, he said, knows nothing of the Buddhas virtues and will have no hesitation in destroying him. Nalagiri was a fierce animal, and in order to increase his fierceness, Devadatta instructed his keeper to give him twice his usual amount of toddy. Proclamation was made, by the beating of drums, that the streets of the city should be cleared as Nalagiri would be let loose upon them. When the Buddha was informed of this and warned against going into the city for alms, he ignored the warning, and went into Rajagaha with the monks of the eighteen monasteries of the city. At the sight of Nalagiri all the people fled in terror. Ananda, seeing the elephant advancing towards the Buddha, went, in spite of the Buddhas orders to the contrary, and stood in front of the Buddha, who had to make use of his supernatural power to remove him from his place. Just then, a woman, carrying a child, saw the elephant coming and fled, in her terror dropping the child at the Buddhas feet. As the elephant was about to attack the child, the Buddha spoke to him, suffusing him with all the love at his command, and, stretching out his right hand, he stroked the animals forehead. Thrilling with joy at the touch, Nalagiri sank on his knees before the Buddha, and the Buddha taught him the Dhamma. It is said that had the elephant not been a wild beast he would have become a sotapanna. Marvelling at the sight, the assembled populace threw all their ornaments on the elephants body, covering it entirely, and henceforth the elephant was known as Dhanapala (Dhanapalaka). The Buddha returned to Veluvana, and that day, at eventide, preached the Cullahamsa Jataka in praise of Anandas loyalty to himself (Vin.ii.194f.: J.v.333ff.; Avedanas i. 177). It is said (Mil. 349) that nine hundred million living beings, who saw the miracle, realized the Truth.

The Bodhisatta, in a past life, was once riding an elephant when he saw a Pacceka Buddha. Intoxicated by his own glory, he made the elephant charge the Pacceka Buddha. It was as a result of this action that the Buddha, in this birth, was charged by Nalagiri (UdA.265; Ap.i.300). cp. Donamukha.

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).

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Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra

Nālāgiri (नालागिरि) or Dhanapāla is the name of an elephant, according to the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra chapter XLII.—accordingly, “A-chö-che (Ajātaśatru) unleashed drunken elephants intending to kill the Buddha, but the latter was not afraid and tamed the mad elephants. When the inhabitants of Rājagṛha, redoubling their respect (gurukāra), came out with perfumed flowers and ornaments (ābharaṇa) to offer to the Buddha, the latter experienced no joy”.

According to Pāli Vinaya: In Rājagṛhā at that time there was the elephant Nālāgiri, fierce (caṇḍa) and a killer of men. Devadatta went to find its mahouts and, taking advantage of his influence over king Ajātaśatru, ordered them to loose the animal against the Buddha when the latter entered Rājagṛha. This was done. The next day, surrounded by many monks, the Buddha came to the city to beg his food. The elephant [Nālāgiri] was unleashed and, with its trunk erect, ears and tail rigid, rushed against the Teacher. The monks begged the Buddha to go back, but the latter reassured them that no aggression coming from the exterior could deprive him of his life. [...]

According to the Ekottarāgama: The Buddha was at Rājagṛha in the Kalandaka Veṇuvana and was expecting to go the next day into the city on his begging-round. Devadatta proposed to king Ajātaśatru to loose the fierce elephant Nālāgiri against him. The king agreed and proclaimed that the animal would be loosed the next day and that consequently traffic in the city would be forbidden. Devadatta commented to the king that if the Buddha were truly omniscient he would be careful not to leave his monastery. [...]


Mahayana book cover
context information

Mahayana (महायान, mahāyāna) is a major branch of Buddhism focusing on the path of a Bodhisattva (spiritual aspirants/ enlightened beings). Extant literature is vast and primarely composed in the Sanskrit language. There are many sūtras of which some of the earliest are the various Prajñāpāramitā sūtras.

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Languages of India and abroad

Sanskrit dictionary

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Cappeller Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Nalagiri (नलगिरि).—[masculine] [Name] of Pradyota's elephant.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Nalagiri (नलगिरि):—[=nala-giri] [from nala] m. Name of Pradyota’s elephant, [Meghadūta]

2) Nālāgiri (नालागिरि):—m. Name of an elephant connected with Gautama Buddha, [Monier-Williams’ Buddhism 406.]

[Sanskrit to German]

Nalagiri in German

context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family (even English!). 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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