Vaishnavi, aka: Vaiṣṇāvī, Vaiṣṇavī; 9 Definition(s)


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

The Sanskrit terms Vaiṣṇāvī and Vaiṣṇavī can be transliterated into English as Vaisnavi or Vaishnavi, using the IAST transliteration scheme (?).

In Hinduism

Śāktism (Śākta philosophy)

Vaiṣṇavī (वैष्णवी):—Name of one of the sixty-four mātṛs to be worshipped during Āvaraṇapūjā (“Worship of the Circuit of Goddesses”, or “Durgā’s Retinue”), according to the Durgāpūjātattva. They should be worshipped with either the five upācāras or perfume and flowers.

Her mantra is as follows:

ॐ वैष्णव्यै नमः
oṃ vaiṣṇavyai namaḥ.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Śāktism

Vaishnavi refers to one of the seven mother-like goddesses (Matrika).—The Matrikas emerge as shaktis from out of the bodies of the gods: Vaishnavi from Vishnu. The order of the Saptamatrka usually begins with Brahmi symbolizing creation. Then, Vaishnavi provides the created world with symmetry, beauty and order. The most important significance of Saptamatrka symbolism is the implication of the cyclical universal time and its cessation. In the standard versions, Vaishnavi the preserver occupies the central position flanked by three goddesses on each side.

The Bhavanopanishad (9) recognizes Matrikas as eight types of un-favourable dispositions, such as: desire, anger, greed, delusion, pride, jealousy, demerit and merit. Tantra-raja-tantra (36; 15-16) expands on that and identifies Vaishnavi with power to fascinate and delude (moha).

According to Khadgamala (vamachara) tradition of Sri Vidya, the eight Matrkas are located along the wall (four at the doors and four at the corners) guarding the city (Tripura) on all eight directions: Vaishnavi on the South.

(Source): Sreenivasarao's blog: Saptamatrka (part 4)
Śāktism book cover
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Śākta (शाक्त, shakta) or Śāktism (shaktism) represents a tradition of Hinduism where the Goddess (Devī) is revered and worshipped. Śākta literature includes a range of scriptures, including various tantras, although its roots may be traced back to the Vedas.

Āyurveda (science of life)

Vaiṣṇavī (वैष्णवी) is another name for Tulasī, which is a Sanskrit word referring to Ocimum tenuiflorum (holy basil), from the Lamiaceae family. It is classified as a medicinal plant in the system of Āyurveda (science of Indian medicine) and is used throughout literature such as the Suśrutasaṃhita and the Carakasaṃhitā. The synonym was identified in the Rājanighaṇṭu (verses 10.148-149), which is a 13th-century medicinal thesaurus.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Āyurveda and botany
Āyurveda book cover
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Āyurveda (आयुर्वेद, ayurveda) is a branch of Indian science dealing with medicine, herbalism, taxology, anatomy, surgery, alchemy and related topics. Traditional practice of Āyurveda in ancient India dates back to at least the first millenium BC. Literature is commonly written in Sanskrit using various poetic metres.


Vaiṣṇavī (वैष्णवी) is the form of Trikalā having a red body representing the energy of Viṣṇu, according to the Varāhapurāṇa chapter 90. Trikalā is the name of a Goddess born from the combined looks of Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Maheśvara (Śiva).

The Varāhapurāṇa is categorised as a Mahāpurāṇa, and was originally composed of 24,000 metrical verses, possibly originating from before the 10th century. It is composed of two parts and Sūta is the main narrator.

(Source): Wisdom Library: Varāha-purāṇa

Vaiṣṇavī (वैष्णवी) 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., Vaiṣṇavī) 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

1a) Vaiṣṇavī (वैष्णवी).—A name of Yogamāyā;1 Sātvikī śakti;2 a mind-born mother;3 makes the sun shine radiant.4

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa X. 2. 11.
  • 2) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 19. 7; 36. 58; 44. 111; Viṣṇu-purāṇa II. 11. 14.
  • 3) Matsya-purāṇa 179. 11.
  • 4) Viṣṇu-purāṇa II. 11. 20.

1b) A goddess among the mātṛs; Icon of, after the manner of Viṣṇu; Garuḍa is the riding animal; four hands in the varada pose.*

  • * Matsya-purāṇa 13. 52; 261. 28.
(Source): Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index
Purāṇa book cover
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The Purāṇas (पुराण, purana) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahāpurāṇas total over 400,000 ślokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

Śilpaśāstra (iconography)

Vaishnavi refers to the second Matrka and is the shakthi of Vishnu. She is seated upon a lotus, under a Raja-vriksha, the great tree. She is dark in complexion. She has a lovely face, pretty eyes and wears a bright yellow garment. Her head is adorned with kirita-makuta. She is richly decorated with ornaments generally worn by Vishnu. She wears the Vanamala, the characteristic garland of Vishnu. The emblem on her banner as well as her vahana is the Garuda. When depicted with four arms, she carries in one of her hands the chakra and in the corresponding left hand the shankha; her two other hands are held in the Abhaya and the Varada mudra. (Devi-Purana and Purvakaranagama).

The Vishnudharmottara states that like Brahmani, Vaishnavi also has six hands; the right hands are characterized by the gada, padma and abhaya and the left ones by shankha, chakra and varada.

(Source): Sreenivasarao's blog: Saptamatrka (part 4) (shilpa)
Śilpaśāstra book cover
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Śilpaśāstra (शिल्पशास्त्र, shilpa-shastra) represents the ancient Indian science of creative arts such as sculpture, iconography and painting. Closely related to Vāstuśāstra (architecture), they often share the same literature.

Discover the meaning of vaishnavi or vaisnavi in the context of Shilpashastra from relevant books on Exotic India

In Buddhism

Vajrayāna (Tibetan Buddhism)

Vaiṣṇāvī (वैष्णावी):—One of the six Īśvarī performing the rites of pacification.—The second of the carnivores, the bluish-white weasel-headed Vaisṇāvī, holding a wheel, directs the manasic prāṇas from the Stomach centre. Because manas is subservient to the Watery disposition of the Solar Plexus, but in time must come to fully control it, so the comparatively diminutive weasel is implicated. The mental element fused with the emotions and desire produces the cunning, deceit or craftiness implied by this animal, juxtaposed to the more forcefully aggressive leopard.

The weasel represents the relative extent of manasic control that most people have over their emotions. The relatively diminutive Aetheric little finger of the top hand is implicated. The wheel held by Vaisṇāvī relates to the ability of manas to sort out the forms of emotionality and to appropriately direct them.

The counterpart of this pair is Raudrī..

(Source): Google Books: An Esoteric Exposition of the Bardo Thodol Part A
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.

Discover the meaning of vaishnavi or vaisnavi in the context of Tibetan Buddhism from relevant books on Exotic India

Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

vaiṣṇavī (वैष्णवी).—a (vaiṣṇava) Relating to a vaiṣṇava or follower of viṣṇu.

(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.

Relevant definitions

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Vaishnavi Bhata
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