Sundari, aka: Sundarī; 14 Definition(s)


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

Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Sundarī (सुन्दरी) is the name of an Apsara created for the sake of a type of dramatic perfomance. Acording to the Nāṭyaśāstra 1.46-51, after Brahmā asked Bharata for materials necessary for the Graceful Style (kaiśikī: a type of performance, or prayoga), Bharata answered “This Style cannot be practised properly by men except with the help of women”. Therefore, Brahmā created with his mind several apsaras (celestial nymphs), such as Sundarī, who were skillful in embellishing the drama.

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

One of the four Necks: Sundari: moving to and fro horizontally (tiryak-pracalita). Usage: the beginning of affection, making trial, saying “Well done!”, recollection, badinage, sympathetic pleasure.

Source: The mirror of gesture (abhinaya-darpana)
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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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Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Sundarī (सुन्दरी):—One of the twelve guṇas associated with Kāma, the second seat of the Svādhiṣṭhāna-chakra. According to tantric sources such as the Śrīmatottara-tantra and the Gorakṣasaṃhitā (Kādiprakaraṇa), these twelve guṇas are represented as female deities. According to the Ṣaṭsāhasrasaṃhitā however, they are explained as particular syllables. They (eg. Sundarī) only seem to play an minor role with regard to the interpretation of the Devīcakra (first of five chakras, as taught in the Kubjikāmata-tantra).

Source: Wisdom Library: Ṣaṭsāhasra-saṃhitā
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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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Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

Sundarī (सुन्दरी, “Beautiful”):—One of the female offspring from Mahāsarasvatī (sattva-form of Mahādevī). Mahāsarasvatī is one of the three primary forms of Devī, the other two being Mahālakṣmī and Mahākālī. Not to be confused with Sarasvatī, she is a more powerful cosmic aspect (vyaṣṭi) of Devi and represents the guṇa (universal energy) named sattva. Also see the Devī Māhātmya, a Sanskrit work from the 5th century, incorporated into the Mārkaṇḍeya-Purāṇa.

Source: Wisdom Library: Śāktism
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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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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

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Sundarī (सुन्दरी) is the name of a mind-born ‘divine mother’ (mātṛ), created for the purpose of drinking the blood of the Andhaka demons, according to the Matsya-purāṇa 179.8. The Andhaka demons spawned out of every drop of blood spilled from the original Andhakāsura (Andhaka-demon). According to the Matsya-purāṇa 179.35, “Most terrible they (eg., Sundarī) all drank the blood of those Andhakas and become exceedingly satiated.”

The Matsyapurāṇa is categorised as a Mahāpurāṇa, and was originally composed of 20,000 metrical verses, dating from the 1st-millennium BCE. The narrator is Matsya, one of the ten major avatars of Viṣṇu.

Source: Wisdom Library: The Matsya-purāṇa

Sundarī (सुन्दरी).—A Rākṣasa woman, the wife of Mālyavān. The couple had seven sons called Vajramuṣṭi, Virūpākṣa, Durmukha, Suptaghna, Yajñakeśa, Matta and Unmatta. (See under Mālyavān and Mālī).

Source: Puranic Encyclopaedia

1a) Sundarī (सुन्दरी).—One of the four queens of Bhaṇḍa.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 12. 13.

1b) A name of Lalitā; a mother goddess;1 presiding deity of the Cakra-Guptatara.2

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 18. 15; Matsya-purāṇa 179. 29.
  • 2) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 36. 78.
Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
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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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Katha (narrative stories)

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1) Sundarī (सुन्दरी).—The daughter of Śrīcaṇḍa, a Śavara chieftain who captured Śrīdatta for the purpose of offering him to Caṇḍikā, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 10. In order to gain his freedom, Śrīdatta married Sundarī by means of the gāndharva marriage.

2) Sundarī (सुन्दरी) is the daughter of the Asura king Bali, and was given to Sūryaprabha in marriage according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 45. Accordingly, “... and the next day King Bali, followed by the Asuras, in the same way led that Sūryaprabha to his own underworld, the third. There he gave him his own daughter, named Sundarī, with complexion lovely as a young shoot, and resembling a cluster of mādhavī flowers. Sūryaprabha then spent that day with that pearl of women in heavenly enjoyment and splendour”.

The story of Sundarī and Bali was narrated by the Vidyādhara king Vajraprabha to prince Naravāhanadatta in order to relate how “Sūryaprabha, being a man, obtain of old time the sovereignty over the Vidyādharas”.

3) Sundarī (सुन्दरी) is the daughter of the Brāhman Agnidatta, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 49. Accordingly, “... and he [Agnidatta] showed him his daughter, Sundarī by name, whose beauty was to be desired even by the gods, on the pretence of getting him to inspect her marks. And Guṇaśarman, for his part, seeing that she was unsurpassed in beauty, said: ‘She will have rival wives. She has a mole on her nose, and consequently I assert that she must have a second one on her breast; and men say that such is the result of spots in these two localities’.”.

4) Sundarī (सुन्दरी) is the name of a dancing girl, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 57. Accordingly, “... and there [outside the town Kāñcanapura] he [Īśvaravarman] saw a dancing-girl, of the name of Sundarī, dancing, like a wave of the sea of beauty tossed up by the wind of youth. And the moment he saw her he became so devoted to her that the instructions of the bawd (kuṭṭanī) fled far from him, as if in anger”.

The story of Sundarī was narrated by Marubhūti to Naravāhanadatta in order to demonstrate that “courtesans have no goodness of character”, in other words, that “there never dwells in the minds of courtesans even an atom of truth, unalloyed with treachery, so a man who desires prosperity should not take pleasure in them, as their society is only to be gained by the wealthy, any more than in uninhabited woods to be crossed only with a caravan”.

The Kathāsaritsāgara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentioning Sundarī, is a famous Sanskrit epic story revolving around prince Naravāhanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the vidyādharas (celestial beings). The work is said to have been an adaptation of Guṇāḍhya’s Bṛhatkathā consisting of 100,000 verses, which in turn is part of a larger work containing 700,000 verses.

Source: Wisdom Library: Kathāsaritsāgara
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Katha (कथा, kathā) refers to narrative Sanskrit literature often inspired from epic legendry (itihasa) and poetry (mahākāvya). Some Kathas reflect socio-political instructions for the King while others remind the reader of important historical event and exploits of the Gods, Heroes and Sages.

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Chandas (prosody, study of Sanskrit metres)

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Sundarī (सुन्दरी) refers to one of the 130 varṇavṛttas (syllabo-quantitative verse) dealt with in the second chapter of the Vṛttamuktāvalī, ascribed to Durgādatta (19th century), author of eight Sanskrit work and patronised by Hindupati: an ancient king of the Bundela tribe (presently Bundelkhand of Uttar Pradesh). A Varṇavṛtta (eg., sundarī) refers to a type of classical Sanskrit metre depending on syllable count where the light-heavy patterns are fixed.

Source: Shodhganga: a concise history of Sanskrit Chanda literature
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Chandas (छन्दस्) refers to Sanskrit prosody and represents one of the six Vedangas (auxiliary disciplines belonging to the study of the Vedas). The science of prosody (chandas-shastra) focusses on the study of the poetic meters such as the commonly known twenty-six metres mentioned by Pingalas.

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In Buddhism

Theravada (major branch of Buddhism)

1. Sundari. An aggasavika of Anomadassi Buddha. J.i.36; Bu.viii.23.

2. Sundari Theri. She was born in Benares as the daughter of the brahmin Sujata (see Sujata 9). When her father joined the Order at Mithila and sent his charioteer home, Sundari, with her mothers consent, gave all away and joined the Order, attaining arahantship in due course. Then one day, with the leave of her teacher, she left Benares, accompanied by a large number of nuns, and, visiting the Buddha at Savatthi, uttered her lions roar.

Thirty one kappas ago she was born in a clansmans family, and seeing Vessabhu Buddha begging for alms, gave him a ladleful of food.

Fifty times she became the wife of Cakkavattis. Thig.vss.326-332; ThigA.228f.

3. Sundari, Sundarika. A Paribbajika. She listened to the persuasions of her colleagues, the heretics, and would be seen in the evenings going towards Jetavana with garlands, perfumes, fruits, etc. When asked where she was going, she would reply that she was going to spend the night in the Buddhas cell. She would then spend it in a neighbouring monastery of the Paribbajakas and be seen again early in the morning coming from the direction of Jetavana. After some days, the heretics hired some villains to kill Sundari and hide her body under a heap of rubbish near Jetavana. Then they raised a hue and cry and reported to the king that Sundari was missing. A search was made, and her body was found near the Gandhakuti of the Buddha. Placing the body on a litter, they went about the streets of the city crying: Behold the deeds of the Sakyan monks! As a result, the monks were subjected to great insults in the streets. For seven days the Buddha stayed in the Gandhakuti, not going to the city for alms, and Ananda even suggested that they should go to another city.

But the Buddha pointed out to him the absurdity of running away from a false report, and said that in seven days the truth would be known. The king employed spies, who found the murderers quarrelling among themselves after strong drink. They were seized and brought before the king, where they confessed their crime. The king sent for the heretics and compelled them to retract their accusations against the Buddha and his monks and to confess their own wickedness. They were then punished for murder. Ud.iv.8; UdA.256ff.; DhA.iii.474f.; SNA.ii.528f.; J.ii.415f

It is said (Ap.i.299; UdA.263) that once the Bodhisatta was a pleasure seeker named Munali. One day he saw Surabhi, a Pacceka Buddha, putting on his outer robe just outside the city. Near by a woman was walking, and Munali said in jest, Look, this recluse is no celibate, but a rake. It was this utterance of the Bodhisatta that brought to the Buddha, as retribution, the disgrace in connection with Sundari.

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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Mahayana (major branch of Buddhism)

Sundarī (सुन्दरी) is the name of a Brahmacārinī that caused one of Buddha’s nine torments according to appendix 12 of the 2nd century Mahāprajñāpāramitāśāstra (chapter XIV).—The Brahmacārinī Sundarī slandered the Buddha, and five hundred Arhats wiped out the slander.

Source: Wisdom Library: Maha Prajnaparamita Sastra
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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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In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

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Sundarī (सुन्दरी):—One of the daughters of Ṛṣhabanātha (also known as Ṛṣabha), who is the first Jina (‘spiritual victor’), and his wife Sunanda. Her story is first seen in the Ādipurāṇa of Jinasena, which tells the life-story of Ṛṣabha.

Source: Wisdom Library: 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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Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

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sundarī (सुंदरी).—f (S) A beautiful woman, a beauty. 2 A common name for the pieces of catgut, wire, string &c. which are extended across the board and underneath the strings of certain stringed musical instruments; in order to modulate the sound.

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary
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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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Sanskrit-English dictionary

Sundarī (सुन्दरी).—(1) n. of a village chief's daughter: LV 265.5; (2) n. of a goddess: Sādh 502.12.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Edgerton Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary
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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

Search found 76 related definition(s) that might help you understand this better. Below you will find the 15 most relevant articles:

Surasundarī (सुरसुन्दरी).—f. (-rī) 1. An Apsara or courtezan of heaven. 2. A name of Durga. E. ...
Vārasundarī (वारसुन्दरी).—f. (-rī) A whore, a prostitute. E. vāra the multitude, sundarī a beau...
Tripurasundarī (त्रिपुरसुन्दरी).—Is Lalitā.** Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 18. 14; 39. 76, 96 ff;...
Śāsana-sundarī.—(IA 30), Jain; same as Śāsandevī. Note: śāsana-sundarī is defined in the “India...
Śivasundarī (शिवसुन्दरी).—an epithet of Durgā.Śivasundarī is a Sanskrit compound consisting of ...
Tamaḥsundarī (तमःसुन्दरी).—(text lacks ḥ), n. of a yakṣiṇī: Mmk 564.26 (here text corrupt); 566...
Sundari Nanda
1. Sudari Nanda. Younger sister of Thullananda; she had two other sisters, Nanda and Nandavat...
Virūpākṣa (विरूपाक्ष) is the name of a Yakṣa who, due to Kubera’s curse, was born on the earth ...
Nanda (नन्द).—mf. (-ndaḥ-ndī) Happiness, pleasure, felicity. m. (-ndaḥ) 1. One of Kuvera'S nine...
Sundara (सुन्दर).—(1) n. of a king: Mv i.249.16; 252.5; (2) n. of a prince (also °raka): Av i....
Rambha (रम्भ).—m. (-mbhaḥ) 1. A bamboo. 2. The name of a monkey. f. (-mbhā) 1. A plantain. 2. O...
Lalita (ललित) participated in the war between Rāma and Rāvaṇa, on the side of the latter, as me...
Kāmākṣī is the deity enshrined at the Kamakshi Amman Temple in Kanchipuram, one of the most sac...
Tripura (त्रिपुर).—nf. (-raṃ-rī) 1. The three cities gold, silver and iron erected by the demon...
Avanti (अवन्ति).—m. (-ntiḥ) 1. The name of a city, the modern Oujein. 2. The name of a river. E...

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