Nandi, aka: Nāndī, Nāndi, Nandī; 26 Definition(s)


Nandi means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, Jainism, Prakrit, 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

Shilpashastra (iconography)

Nandī (नन्दी) refers to a type of mūrchanā (melodic mode), and its illustration as a Goddess (according to 15th-century Indian art) is as follows.—The colour of her body is golden. She holds pung with both hands. She wears a bodice of dark-green colour, a scarf of light-green colour with a white design and lower garment (a trouser) of rosy colour with a crimson-coloured design.

The illustrations (of, for example Nandī) 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

Nandi is considered to be one of Śiva's chief attendants and occasionally is depicted in sculpture as a bull-faced dwarf figure. Nandi is known also in a wholly anthropomorphic form, called variously Nandikēśvara, or Adhikāranandin. Sculptures of him in human form, found at the entrance door of many Śiva temples in South India, are frequently confused with images of the deity because they are alike in such iconographic features as the third eye, crescent moon in the matted locks, and four arms, two of which hold the battle-ax and an antelope. Usually a distinguishing feature is that Nandi's hands are pressed together in adoration.

Source: Nandi

The Bull (Nandi) of Śiva represents virility or libido. Nandi in Sanskrit means ‘delight’ and the greatest form of delight on the material plane is sexual. Sex is perhaps one of the greatest drives and also the hardest to control and sublimate.

Source: Red Zambala: Hindu Icons and Symbols | Trinity

Nandi (The Bull) - The libido, also Dharma — the way to enlightenment and liberation.

Source: Red Zambala: Hindu Icons and Symbols | Introduction
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.

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Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

Nandī (नन्दी):—One of the persons joining Śiva during the preparations of the war between Śankhacūḍa and the Devas, according to the Devī-bhāgavata-purāṇa (9.20.22-53). All persons attending were remained seated on beautiful aerial cars, built of jewels and gems. The war was initiated by Puṣpadanta (messenger of Śiva) who was ordered to restore the rights of the Devas. .

Source: Wisdom Library: Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam
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Shakta (शाक्त, śākta) or Shaktism (śāktism) represents a tradition of Hinduism where the Goddess (Devi) is revered and worshipped. Shakta literature includes a range of scriptures, including various Agamas and Tantras, although its roots may be traced back to the Vedas.

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Vastushastra (architecture)

Nandī (नन्दी) refers to a type of temple (prāsāda) classified under the group named Vairāja, according to Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra chapter 49. The Vairāja group contains twenty-four out of a sixty-four total prāsādas (temples) classified under five prime vimānas (aerial car/palace), which were created by Brahmā for as many gods (including himself). The group represents temples (eg. Nandī) that are to be square shaped. The prāsādas, or ‘temples’, represent the dwelling place of God and are to be built in towns. The Samarāṅgaṇasūtradhāra is an 11th-century encyclopedia dealing with various topics from the Vāstuśāstra.

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.

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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

1) Nāndī (नान्दी, “benediction”) refers to one of the ten practices performed after the removal of the stage curtain, according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 5. Accordingly, “The benediction (nāndī) is so called because it must always include and invoke the blessing of gods, Brahmins and kings” and “After performing the apakṛṣṭa, the Director will recite in a medium tone the benediction (nāndī) which should consist of eight or twelve feet”.

Performing the nāndī preliminary pleases Candramā (the mood-god). According to Nāṭyaśāstra 5.57-58, “The performance of the Preliminaries which means worshipping (pūjā) the gods (devas), is praised by them (i.e. gods) and is conducive to duty, fame and long life. And this performance whether with or without songs, is meant for pleasing the Daityas and the Dānavas as well as the gods.”

According to Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 35, “as one pleases by it the audience (lit. people) with sweet words of blessing, it is called nāndī (benediction). That which is spoken in the performance of a play to please people in various ways, with Sanskrit and Prakrit recitatives, is to be known as nāndī”.

2) Nandi (नन्दि) is the name of a cloud whose sound corresponds to the Āliṅgya note made by drums (puṣkara) according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 33. Accordingly, “after seeing that the Mṛdaṅgas, Paṇavas and Dardaras have been made, the great sage Svāti brought about a similarity of their notes with those of clouds... The cloud named Nandi gave note to Āliṅgya... Those who want Success of performances should make to these clouds, offerings which are dear to spirits (bhūta)”.

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra
Natyashastra book cover
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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).

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Nandī (नन्दी) is the name of a gaṇa (attendant of Śiva), mentioned in the Skandapurāṇa 4.2.53. In this chapter, Śiva (Giriśa) summons his attendants (gaṇas) and ask them to venture towards the city Vārāṇasī (Kāśī) in order to find out what the yoginīs, the sun-god, Vidhi (Brahmā) were doing there.

While the gaṇas such as Nandī were staying at Kāśī, they were desirous but unable of finding a weakness in king Divodaśa who was ruling there. Kāśī is described as a fascinating place beyond the range of Giriśa’s vision, and as a place where yoginīs become ayoginīs, after having come in contact with it. Kāśī is described as having both the power to destroy great delusion, as well as creating it.

The Skandapurāṇa narrates the details and legends surrounding numerous holy pilgrimages (tīrtha-māhātmya) throughout India. It is the largest Mahāpurāṇa composed of over 81,000 metrical verses, with the core text dating from the before the 4th-century CE.

Source: Wisdom Library: Skanda-purāṇa

Nandī (नन्दी) is the son of Śilāda, a Brāhmaṇa mentioned in the Bhūteśvaramāhātmya, which is  embedded in the Nīlamata-purāṇa.—Gonanda’s inquiry about the sacred places of Kaśmīra lead to Bṛhadaśva’s reply referring to various places dedicated to Śiva and other deities. Two names, Bhūteśvara and Kapaṭeśvara, raise Gonanda’s curiosity which, leads Bṛhadaśva to relate Bhūteśvara Māhātmya containing the story of a Brāhmaṇa Śilāda and his son Nandī and Kapaṭeśvara Māhātmya explaining the name of Śiva who appeared before the sages in the guise of logs of wood.

Source: Nilamata Purana: a cultural and literary study

1) Nandī (नन्दी).—A Deva Gandharva. He was present at the birth celebration of Arjuna. (Mahābhārata Ādi Parva, Chapter 12, Stanza 56).

2) Nandī (नन्दी).—One of the divine attendants of Śiva. (See under Nandikeśa).

Source: Puranic Encyclopaedia

1a) Nandi (नन्दि).—A son of Svarga.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa VI. 6. 6.

1b) The vāhana of Śiva;1 harnessed the steeds of Bāṇa's chariot.2

  • 1) Vāyu-purāṇa 54. 76 and 108; 101. 265.
  • 2) Viṣṇu-purāṇa V. 33. 28.

1c) A consort of Dhṛti; was deserted by her for Soma.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 23. 26.

1d) A gaṇa attending on Mahādeva seated on the peak of the Himālayas.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 192. 6.

1e) A son of Nandivardhana; with him the Pradyota line came to an end; was the fifth of the line. All the five ruled for a period of 138 years.*

  • * Viṣṇu-purāṇa IV. 24. 7-8.

2) Nāndi (नान्दि).—A kind of śrāddha for propitiating the Pitṛs.*

  • * Viṣṇu-purāṇa III. 13. 6.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

Nandī (नन्दी) refers to the name of a Lady mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. I.60.32). Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Nandī) 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
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.

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Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Nandi is the name of one of the eighteen Siddhars mentioned in the Abhidāna-cintāmaṇi, a 12th century lexicon by Hemacandra. The Siddhars refers to ancient intellectuals of Tamil Nadu and are the teachers of Siddha medicine: an ancient practice of South-India claiming to over 8,000 years old.

According to tradition, Nandi and Agastya learnt the Siddha system of medicine and Śivayoga from Śiva, and imparted it to a number of disciples (eg., Nandi). These Siddhars are united by their philosophy, accepting the human body as the microcosm of the universe, and seeing the human evolution as the ultimate accomplishment of the regenerative power of the Universe.

Source: Wisdom Library: Śaivism

Nandi (नन्दि) refers to progenitor of the most ancient group of Siddha thinkers. Nandideva is semantically identified with Ṛṣabadēva, who gained the wisdom directly from the Supreme Lord Śiva.

Tradition holds that Nandi was the chief exponent of Indian tradition of Dance. He was identified with Taṇḍu and as an author of the Nāṭyaśāstra, a treatise on dance and the name Tāṇḍava was given to the dance of Śiva. Nandi is also regarded as the first exponent of rasa theory and Vātsyāyana acknowledges him as the first author of Kāma.

Source: DSpace at Pondicherry: Siddha Cult in Tamilnadu (shaivism)
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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.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

Nandi is the divine ox, who is the mount of Lord Shiva. He is the most well known member of the Ganas, who comprise Shiva's army. His likeness is present in all the temples of Shiva and it is customary to pay respects to him before proceeding to get a glimpse of Shiva and Parvati.

Source: Apam Napat: Indian Mythology

Nandi (नंदि): Nandi is the white bull which Shiva rides, and the leader of the Ganas. The white color of the bull symbolizes purity and justice.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

The name of Maha Kassapa when he was king of Benares. The story is given in Ras.i.26f. The name if; evidently a variant of Nanda. See Nanda (11).

Source: Pali Kanon: Pali Proper Names
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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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In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

1) Nandi (नन्दि) is the name of the caitya-tree (identified with Cendrela tooma) under which the parents of Śānti are often depicted in Jaina iconography, according to both the Śvetāmbara and Digambara tradition. The term caitya refers to “sacred shrine”, an important place of pelgrimage and meditation in Jainism. Sculptures with such caitya-trees generally shows a male and a female couple seated under a tree with the female having a child on her lap. Usually there is a seated Jina figure on top of the tree.

Śānti is the sixteenth of twenty-four tīrthaṅkaras: enlightened beings who, having conquered saṃsāra (cycle of birth and death), leave a path behind for others to follow. His father is Bhānu and his mother is Suvratā, according to the Ācāradinakara (14th century work on Jain conduct written by Vardhamāna Sūri).

2) Nandī (नन्दी) is the name of the sixth Baladeva according to Digambara sources, while Śvetāmbara sources mentions Ānanda as the third Baladeva. Jain legends describe nine such Baladevas (“gentle heroes”) usually appearing together with their “violent” twin-brothers known as the Vāsudevas. The legends of these twin-heroes usually involve their antagonistic counterpart known as the Prativāsudevas (anti-heroes).

The stories of the nine Baladevas (such as Nandī) are related in texts such as the Triṣaṣṭiśalākāpuruṣacarita (“the lives of the sixty-three illustrious persons”), a twelfth-century Śvetāmbara work by Hemacandra. They are also known as the Balabhadras and are further described in various Jain sources, such as the Bhagavatīsūtra and Jambūdvīpaprajñapti in Śvetāmbara, or the Tiloyapaṇṇatti and Ādipurāṇa in the Digambara tradition. The appearance of a Baladeva is described as follows: their body is of a white complexion, they wear a blue-black robe, and the mark of the palm-tree (tāla) is seen on their banners.

Source: Wisdom Library: Jainism

Ṇandi (णन्दि) is a Prakrit technical term referring to a ending for names in general as well as friendly names, representing a rule when deriving personal names as mentioned in the Aṅgavijjā chapter 26. This chapter includes general rules to follow when deriving proper names. The Aṅgavijjā (mentioning ṇandi) is an ancient treatise from the 3rd century CE dealing with physiognomic readings, bodily gestures and predictions and was written by a Jain ascetic in 9000 Prakrit stanzas.

Source: Personal and geographical names in the Gupta inscriptions (jainism)
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Jainism is an Indian religion of Dharma whose doctrine revolves around harmlessness (ahimsa) towards every living being. The two major branches (Digambara and Svetambara) of Jainism stimulate self-control (or, shramana, ‘self-reliance’) and spiritual development through a path of peace for the soul to progess to the ultimate goal.

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India history and geogprahy

Nandi (नन्दि).—A limited number of documents indicate that a historical figure named Nandi may have lived in the same century as Tirumūlar. This Nandi, a Buddhist monk from central India, left India in the middle of the seventh century, traveling by sea to Śrīlaṅkā and Southeast Asia before arriving in China in 655 C.E. A year later, the emperor of China shipped him off to sea again to collect medicinal herbs. He returned to China in 663 C.E.

Source: DSpace at Pondicherry: Siddha Cult in Tamilnadu (historical)
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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.

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Languages of India and abroad

Pali-English dictionary

Nandi in Pali glossary... « previous · [N] · next »

nandi : (aor. of nandati) was glad; rejoices; found delight in. (f.), pleasure; joy; delight; craving.

Source: BuddhaSasana: Concise Pali-English Dictionary

1) Nandi, 2 =nandhi. (Page 346)

2) Nandi, 1 & (freq.) Nandī (f.) (Sk. nandi, but cp. BSk. nandī Divy 37) 1. joy, enjoyment, pleasure, delight in (c. Loc.) S. I, 16, 39, 54; II, 101 sq. (āhāre); III, 14 (=upādāna); IV, 36 sq.; A. II, 10 (kāma°, bhava°, diṭṭhi°), III, 246; IV, 423 sq. (dhamma°); Sn. 1055 (+nivesana); Nd2 330 (=taṇhā); Pug. 57; Dhs. 1059≈(in def. of taṇhā); Vbh. 145, 356, 361; DhsA. 363; ThA. 65, 167.—For nandī at Miln. 289 read tandī.—2. a musical instrument: joy-drum (Sk. nandī) Vin. III, 108 (=vijayabheri). Cp. ā°.

—(y)āvatta “turning auspiciously” (i.e. turning to the right: see dakkhiṇāvatta), auspicious, good Nett 2, 4, 7, 113 (always attr. of naya); —ûpasecana (rāgasalla) sprinkled over with joy, having joy as its sauce Nett 116, 117; cp. maṃsûpasecana (odana) J. III, 144=VI, 24; —kkhaya the destruction of (finding) delight S. III, 51; —(ṃ)jaha giving up or abandoning joy Sn. 1101 (+okañjaha & kappañjaha); Nd2 331; —bhava existence of joy, being full of joy, in °parikkhīṇa one in whom joy is extinct (i.e. an Arahant), expld however by Com. as one who has rid himself of the craving for rebirth (tīsu bhavesu parikkhīnataṇha DhA. IV, 192=SnA 469) S. I, 2, 53; Sn. 175, 637=Dh. 413; —mukhī (adj. -f.) “joyfaced, ” showing a merry face, Ep. of the night (esp. the eve of the uposatha) Vin. I, 288 (ratti); II, 236 (id.); —rāga pleasure & lust, passionate delight S. II, 227; III, 51; IV, 142, 174, 180; M. I, 145; Dhs. 1059≈, 1136; esp. as attr. of taṇhā in phrase n-r-sahagata-taṇhā (cp. M Vastu III, 332: nandīrāgasahagatā tṛṣṇā) Vin. I, 10; S. III, 158; V, 425 sq.; Ps. II, 137; Nett 72; —saṃyojana the fetter of finding delight in anything Sn. 1109, 1115; Nd2 332; —samudaya the rise or origin of delight M. III, 267. (Page 346)

Source: Sutta: The Pali Text Society's Pali-English Dictionary
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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.

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Marathi-English dictionary

nandī (नंदी).—m (S) The bull on which Mahadeva rides. A stone-bull is fixed in front of all temples to Mahadeva. Hence A term for a dolt or blockhead. 2 (Or nanda) The lines or figures drawn with kuṅkūṃ &c. upon the antaḥpaṭa.

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nāndī (नांदी).—f S Eulogium of a king or praise of a deity recited in benedictory verses at the opening of a drama &c.

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nāndī (नांदी).—f (Commonly nānda) A large open-mouthed jar.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

nandī (नंदी).—m The bull on which Mahadeva rides.

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nāndī (नांदी).—f Eulogium of a king or praise of a deity recited in benedictory verses at the opening of a drama &c.

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nāndī (नांदी).—f (Commonly nānda.) A large open- mouthed jar.

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

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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Nandi (नन्दि).—m., f. [nand-in] Joy, pleasure, delight; प्रातिष्ठन्नन्दिमापन्नाः स्वं स्वमाश्रममण्डलम् (prātiṣṭhannandimāpannāḥ svaṃ svamāśramamaṇḍalam) Bhāg.3.24.25. कौसल्या- नन्दिवर्धनः (kausalyā- nandivardhanaḥ).

-diḥ m.

1) An epithet of Viṣṇu.

2) Of Śiva.

3) Name of an attendant of Śiva.

4) Gambling, gaming; (n. also in this sense).

5) The speaker of a prelude or benediction (in a drama.)

6) Prosperity; मानहा भव शत्रूणां सुहृदां नन्दिवर्धनः (mānahā bhava śatrūṇāṃ suhṛdāṃ nandivardhanaḥ) Mb.3.162.29.

Derivable forms: nandiḥ (नन्दिः).

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Nandī (नन्दी).—f. Name of Durgā.

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Nāndī (नान्दी).—[nandanti devā atra nand-ghañ pṛṣo° vṛddhiḥ ṅīp]

1) Joy, satisfaction, delight.

2) Prosperity; ततो राजकुले नान्दी संजज्ञे भूयसा पुनः (tato rājakule nāndī saṃjajñe bhūyasā punaḥ) Mb.12.82.66.

3) Praise of a deity at the commencement of a religious rite or observance.

4) Particularly, the benedictory verse or verses recited as a sort of prologue at the beginning of a drama, benediction; आशीर्वचनसंयुक्ता नित्यं यस्मात् प्रयुज्यते । देवद्विजनृपा- दीनां तस्मान्नान्दीति संज्ञिता (āśīrvacanasaṃyuktā nityaṃ yasmāt prayujyate | devadvijanṛpā- dīnāṃ tasmānnāndīti saṃjñitā) || or देवद्विजनृपादीनामाशीर्वचनपूर्विका । नन्दन्ति देवता यस्यां तस्मान्नान्दीति कीर्तिता (devadvijanṛpādīnāmāśīrvacanapūrvikā | nandanti devatā yasyāṃ tasmānnāndīti kīrtitā) ||

5) Loud noise of a dozen drums; L. D. B.

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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Relevant definitions

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Nāndīvādin (नान्दीवादिन्).—m. (-dī) 1. The speaker of the prologue or introduction to a drama. ...
Nandīpura (नन्दीपुर) or Naṃdīpura is the name of a village visited by Mahāvīra during his 24th ...
Nāndī-samārohaṇa.—(EI 32), a ceremony. Note: nāndī-samārohaṇa is defined in the “Indian epigrap...
Nanditūrya (नन्दितूर्य).—a musical instrument played on festive occasions. Derivable forms: nan...

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