Vidyadhara, aka: Vidyādhara; 7 Definition(s)

Introduction

Vidyadhara means something in 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

Kathā (narrative stories)

Vidyādhara (विद्याधर) is a Sanskrit name referring to a group of deities, attending Maheśvara at his dwelling place, which is the mountain-peak Kailāsa (located within Himavat), according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 1. Accordingly, “There (Kailāsa) dwells Maheśvara the beloved of Pārvatī, the chief of things animate and inanimate, attended upon by Gaṇas, Vidyādharas and Siddhas.”

The Kathāsaritsāgara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentioning Vidyādhara, 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
Kathā book cover
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Kathās (कथा) are special kind of Sanskrit literature: they are a kind of a mix between Itihāsa (historical legends) and Mahākāvya (epic poetry). Some Kathās reflect socio-political instructions for the King while others remind the reader of the historical deeds of the Gods, sages and heroes.

Purāṇa

1a) Vidyādhara (विद्याधर).—Identified with Bhagavān.*

  • * Bhāgavata-purāṇa VIII. 20. 31.

1b) Semi celestial beings: their creation;1 adore Indra;2 Cītraketu (Citraratha, Matsya-purāṇa) their chief;3 came to Dvārakā to see Kṛṣṇa;4 Sudarśana, a chief of;5 country of, watered by Nalinī;6 the path of.7 The performer of saubhāgyaśayana is born as a Vidyādhara.8

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa II. 1. 36. 6. 14; III. 20. 44; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 10. 38; 31. 23; IV. 20. 49; 39. 56.
  • 2) Bhāgavata-purāṇa VI. 7. 4.
  • 3) Ib. VI. 17. 1 and 3; VII. 8. 37; X. 3. 6; 34. 9; 62. 19; 85. 4; Matsya-purāṇa 4. 20; 8. 6; 80. 13.
  • 4) Bhāgavata-purāṇa XI. 6. 3; 12. 4; 14. 5; 31. 2.
  • 5) Ib. XI. 16. 29.
  • 6) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 18. 60; Matsya-purāṇa 121. 48; Vāyu-purāṇa 47. 47.
  • 7) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 6. 13. and 22.
  • 8) Matsya-purāṇa 60. 48.
(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.

Nāṭyaśāstra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Vidyādhara (विद्याधर) refers to a group of deities whose beard (śmaśru) should be represented as vicitra (smartly done), according to Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 23. Providing the beard is a component of nepathya (costumes and make-up) and is to be done in accordance with the science of āhāryābhinaya (extraneous representation).

(Source): Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra
Nāṭyaśāstra book cover
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Nāṭyaśāstra (नाट्यशास्त्र, natya-shastra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition of performing arts, (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 (nāṭya) and poetic works (kāvya).

General definition (in Hinduism)

The vidyadharas and humans deal with each other, and many humans married Vidhyadhara damsels. The Vidyadharas are essentially neutral – they cooperate with the universal hierarchy, but they neither favor nor oppose the human race.

In other Sanskrit works too , the Vidyadharas are bearers of wisdom and resemble humans in most aspects except that they are all beautiful to look at and can change forms at will. They mingle with humans and intermarry. Vidyadharas are mentioned also in the Buddhist and Jain tales .

(Source): Sreenivasarao's blog: Vidhyadharas and Nagas

Vidyādhara (विद्याधर, “wisdom-holders”):—Vidyadharas are a group of supernatural beings in Hindu mythology. They possess magical powers and dwell in the Himalayas. They also attend God Shiva, who lives in the Himalayas. They are considered as Upa-devas, semi-gods. Vidyadharas also appear in buddhist sources.

In Hinduism: In the Hindu epics, Vidyadharas are described as essentially spirits of the air. They are described as doing different activities in the epics like gazing at human prowess with astonishment, strewing flowers watching a combat, rejoicing with music and laughter, crowned with wreaths and fleeing with their wives from danger. They possess great magical powers like the ability to diminish their size. They are endowed with epithets describing them as "doers of good and devoted to joy".

In Mahabharata: In the epic Mahabharata, Vidyadharas are described as following Indra with other semi-divine beings to the serpent-sacrifice of Janamejaya. In the epics, the women of the Vidyadharas, called Vidyadharis are described to possess great beauty, and were victims of kidnapping by demons like Ravana.

In Rāmāyaṇa: In Valmiki Ramayana, Sundarkanda Verses 1.22 to 1.26 describe the plight of Vidyadharas and their women following the pressure exerted on Mount Mahendra by Hanuman while taking his position in his attempt to leapcross the ocean.

In Agni Purana, they are described as wearing garlands in the sky and mentioned with other semi-divine beings like Yakshas and Gandharvas.

In the Bhagavata Purana, Citraketu is described as the king of Vidyadharas. It also tells about a cursed Vidyadhara called Sudarshana. In various references in the Purana, they are coupled with other semi-divine beings, who pray to god Vishnu for help or enumerated among the many creations of God.

In Jainism: Jain legends describe Vidyadharas as evil beings and Vipracitti is described as a demon. A third leader of the Vidyadharas is described to the wise Jambavan.

(Source): WikiPedia: Hinduism

In Jainism

General definition (in Jainism)

Vidyādhara (विद्याधर) is the collective name of those human beings born on the Vijayārdha mountain, according to the 2nd-century Tattvārthasūtra 3.10. The Vijayārdha mountain stands in the middle of the Bharata-varṣa, which is a region of Jambūdvīpa: the first continent of the Madhya-loka (middle-word). What is the means of livelihood of Vidyādhara? Their occupations for livelihood are the six occupations instructed by Lord Adinātha as defense (asi), distribution and accounting (masi), agriculture (kṛṣi), education (vidyā), trade (vāṇijya) and crafts (śilpa) with the human beings called mānava.

Jambūdvīpa (where are born Vijayārdhas) is in the centre of all continents and oceans; all continents and oceans are concentric circles with Jambūdvīpa in the centre. Like the navel is in the centre of the body, Jambūdvīpa is in the centre of all continents and oceans. Sumeru Mount is in the centre of Jambūdvīpa. It is also called Mount Sudarśana.

(Source): Encyclopedia of Jainism: Tattvartha Sutra 3: The Lower and middle worlds
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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.

Relevant definitions

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