Rajan, aka: Rājan; 11 Definition(s)


Rajan means something in Buddhism, Pali, Hinduism, Sanskrit, the history of ancient India. 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

Dharmashastra (religious law)

The king (raja/ rajan) is created for the protection of the world from out of the body of five deities. Leaving aside the metaphors, it can be said that the king was a symbol of five attributes of the five deities, which rule the universe. The king was to look to the customs of the people, and the customs had great force as law just as they have got today. According to Shukraniti, the king was to observe Nyaya in the noon and Smriti in the morning. The king was to legislate within certain bounds, but the law was mostly interpreted by the learned Brahmins who had absolutely no interest in their personal worldly well-being.

Source: Triveni: Journal (dharmashastra)
Dharmashastra book cover
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Dharmashastra (धर्मशास्त्र, dharmaśāstra) contains the instructions (shastra) regarding religious conduct of livelihood (dharma), ceremonies, jurisprudence (study of law) and more. It is categorized as smriti, an important and authoritative selection of books dealing with the Hindu lifestyle.

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Rājan (राजन्).—All the important Purāṇas have laid special emphasis on the importance of rule by Kings. All living beings will have Kings of their own. It was Brahmā who first assigned or ordained Kingship. After the creation of the Prajāpatis, Brahmā made Candra the King of the stars and medicines; Varuṇa was appointed King of waters like sea, river etc; Vaiśravaṇa was appointed King of Kings; Viṣṇu, King of Devas; Agni, King of Vasus; Indra King of Maruts; Dakṣa King of the Prajāpatis; Prahlāda King of the dānavas; Himavān, King of mountains; Citraratha, King of Gandharvas; Vāsuki, King of nāgas; Garuḍa, King of birds; Airāvata, King of elephants; Ox, King of cattle, Tiger, King of animals, Peepal tree, King of trees and Uccaiśśravas that of horses. (Agni Purāṇa).

As to what type the King of man-kind should be and what should form his duties it is ordained as follows. The Rājā should appoint either a Kṣatriya or a brahmin as his Commander-in-chief. The Commander-in-chief should be of noble birth and well-versed in law. Only a strong man who can speak boldly and openly should be appointed emissary or ambassador. Either a male or a female may be appointed to carry chewing materials. But, that person should be loyal, friendly and capable of putting up with hardships. The body-guard of the King should be a good swords-man. Ministers should be conversant with dharmaśāstras (moral and ethical codes). (See full article at Story of Rājan from the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani)

Source: archive.org: Puranic Encyclopaedia

Rājan (राजन्).—Ety. daṇḍadhārin; crimes escaping his notice are dealt with by Yama. In Kali the king is mostly of the fourth caste and takes the profession of robbery rather than protection. Earth loses its fertility. The wealth and wives of others are coveted; mlecchas are patronised. Duties— salutation to cows and Brahmanas, sandhya worship and gifts to the deserving; not to deprive forcibly a Brahmana of his property;1 renowned kings get the title of Rājaṛṣi, generally of the family of Manu, Aila, Ikṣvāku.2

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 29. 63-64; 31. 41-156; 36. 156; III. 28. 10-74.
  • 2) Ib. II. 35. 90, 96-102; III. 71. 194.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

In the Mahabharata the origin of kingship (raja/ rajan) appears to be divine (santiparva, Section 59). According to the Mahabharata, God Vishnu entered the body of Prithu and hence Prithu, the ruler of the earth, became representative of God. The king was to be obeyed because he was really a portion of Vishnu on earth.

The Mahabharata expressly shows that an unrighteous king could be slain by his subjects (Santiparva, Section 58, Shloka 41). The kingship, according to the Mahabharata and according to the ancient scriptures, was not a right but a duty. The king was to observe the rules of Raja Dharma.

Source: Triveni: Journal (itihasa)
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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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

1) Rājan (राजन्, “king”) refers to a specific “mode of address” (nāman) used in drama (nāṭya), according to Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 19. Rājan is used by ṛṣis (sages) to address their king.

2) Rājan (राजन्) refers to a “king” who can be assigned the role of an assesor (prāśnika) of dramatic plays (nāṭaka) according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 24. These assessors (eg., the rājans) are to point out the faults of a dramatic performance (nāṭaka) as well as the merits of actors (nartaka) whenever a controversy (saṃgharṣa) arises among persons ignorant of the nāṭyaśāstra.

3) Rājan (राजन्) is a classification of persons who “move about in public”, according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 34. Accordingly, “the king (rājan) should be intelligent, truthful, master of his senses, clever, and of good character, and he should possess a good memory; and be powerful, high-minded and pure, and he should be far-sighted, greatly energetic, grateful, skilled in using sweet words; he should take a vow of protecting people and be an expert in the methods of different work, alert, without carelessness, and be should associate with old people, and be well-versed in the Arthasāstra and the practice of various policies, a promoter of various arts and crafts, and an expert in the science of polity, and should have a liking for this, Besides these he should know his actual position, prosperity and its decline, and the weak points of his enemies, and principles of Dharma, and be free from evil habits”.

4) Rājan (राजन्) refers to the role of “kings” defined to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 35, the role (bhūmikā) of actors playing kings (rājan) is defined as, “actors of the best kind who have beautiful eyes, eyebrows, forehead, nose, lips, cheeks, face, neck, and every other limbs beautiful, and who are tall, possessed of pleasant appearance, dignified gait, and are neither fat nor lean, and are well-behaved, wise and steady by nature, should be employed to represent the role of kings (rājan) and princes (kumāra)”.

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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Vastushastra (architecture)

Rājan (राजन्, “king”) or Rāja refers to the fifth of nine aṃśa (part), according to the Mānasāra. Aṃśa is the alternative sixth of the āyādiṣaḍvarga, or “six principles” that constitute the “horoscope” of an architectural or iconographic object. Their application is intended to “verify” the measurements of the architectural and iconographic object against the dictates of astrology that lay out the conditions of auspiciousness.

The particular aṃśa (eg., rājan) of all architectural and iconographic objects (settlement, building, image) must be calculated and ascertained. This process is based on the principle of the remainder. An arithmetical formula to be used in each case is stipulated, which engages one of the basic dimensions of the object (breadth, length, or perimeter/circumference). Among the nine taskara, the ones named ṣaṇḍa and vipat are inauspicious, and should therefore be avoided.

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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Arthashastra (politics and welfare)

Rājan (राजन्) refers to a “feudatory ruler” and represents an official title used in the political management of townships in ancient India. Officers, ministers, and sovereigns bearing such titles [eg., Rājan] were often present in ancient inscriptions when, for example, the king wanted to address his subjects or make an important announcement.

Source: Wisdom Library: Arthaśāstra

Rājan (राजन्, “king”) according to the ancient Indian science of Society and Polity, as defined in Kauṭilya’s Arthaśāstra (4th century BCE).—The king (rājan) was to regard himself as an agent of the people and had to abide by his dharma as laid out in the Śāstras. Kauṭilya (1, 16) described the following ideal for the king: “The monarch should seek happiness in the happiness of his citizens, his welfare is in their welfare, and his good is not in what pleases him but in what pleases the citizens”.

The king (rājan) was to to display ātma-vrata (self-control), and for this he had to abandon the ‘six enemies’:

  1. kāma (lust),
  2. krodha (anger),
  3. lobha (greed),
  4. māna (vanity),
  5. mada (haughtiness),
  6. harṣa (overjoy).
Source: Knowledge Traditions & Practices of India: Society State and Polity: A Survey
Arthashastra book cover
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Arthashastra (अर्थशास्त्र, arthaśāstra) literature concerns itself with the teachings (shastra) of economic prosperity (artha) statecraft, politics and military tactics. The term arthashastra refers to both the name of these scientific teachings, as well as the name of a Sanskrit work included in such literature. This book was written (3rd century BCE) by by Kautilya, who flourished in the 4th century BCE.

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In Buddhism

Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Rājan (राजन्) is the name of a Buddha under whom Śākyamuni (or Gautama, ‘the historical Buddha’) acquired merit along the first through nine bhūmis, according to the Mahāvastu. There are in total ten bhūmis representing the ten stages of the Bodhisattva’s path towards enlightenment.

Rājan is but one among the 500 Buddhas enumerated in the Mahāvastu during a conversation between Mahākātyāyana and Mahākāśyapa, both principle disciples of Gautama Buddha. The Mahāvastu is an important text of the Lokottaravāda school of buddhism, dating from the 2nd century BCE.

Source: Wisdom Library: Lokottaravāda
Mahayana book cover
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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-English dictionary

Rājan (राजन्).—m. [rāj-kanin rañjayati rañj-kanin ni ° vā Uṇ.1.145]

1) A king, ruler, prince, chief (changed to rājaḥ at the end of Tat. comp.); वङ्गराजः, महाराजः (vaṅgarājaḥ, mahārājaḥ) &c.; तथैव सोऽभूदन्वर्थो राजा प्रकृतिरञ्जनात् (tathaiva so'bhūdanvartho rājā prakṛtirañjanāt) R.4.12; पित्रा न रञ्जितास्तस्य प्रजास्तेनानु- रञ्जिताः । अनुरागात्ततस्तस्य नाम राजेत्यभाषत (pitrā na rañjitāstasya prajāstenānu- rañjitāḥ | anurāgāttatastasya nāma rājetyabhāṣata) || V. P.

2) A man of the military casts; a Kṣatriya; Śi 14.14.

3) Name of Yudhiṣṭhira.

4) Name of Indra.

5) The moon; राजप्रियाः कैरविण्यो रमन्ते मधुपैःसह (rājapriyāḥ kairaviṇyo ramante madhupaiḥsaha) Bv.1.126.

6) Lord, master.

7) Name of Pṛthu.

8) A Yakṣa; तं राजराजानु- चरोऽस्य साक्षात् (taṃ rājarājānu- caro'sya sākṣāt) Ki.3.3.

9) The Soma plant; ऐन्द्रश्च विधिवद्दत्तो राजा चाभिषुतोऽनघः (aindraśca vidhivaddatto rājā cābhiṣuto'naghaḥ) Rām.1.14.6; Bṛ. Up.1.3. 24.

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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