AskDefine | Define pandit

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. an honorary title in India giving a person status as a learned man or scholar.




  • /ˈpɒndit/|lang=hu


hu-noun ok
  1. pundit (a Hindu scholar)

Extensive Definition

A pandit or pundit (Devanagari: पण्डित) is a scholar, a teacher, particularly one skilled in Sanskrit and Hindu law, religion, music or philosophy. In the original usage of the word, a pundit is a Hindu, almost always a Brahmin, who has memorized a substantial portion of the Vedas, along with the corresponding rhythms and melodies for chanting or singing them.
Pundits or pujaris are hired to chant Vedic verses at yagyas and other events, both public and private. The chanting is meant to be listened to with a quiet mind for the purpose of spiritual development for the listener as well as enlivening of the atmosphere at an event. Most pundits are vegetarians for spiritual reasons. They are supposed to maintain purity of body and mind.
Pandits, or natives learned in the dharmasastra, were also employed as court advisors during the 18th and 19th Centuries. Initially, British judges had very little knowledge of Hindu customs and oral traditions, and they could seek information from them on particular questions. The Supreme Court of India had a law officer styled the Pundit of the Supreme Court, who advised the English judges on points of Hindu law. The practice was abandoned by 1864, as judges had acquired some experience in dealing with Hindu law, and applied the increasing volume of case law that had developed. Further, the institution of the High Courts, two years earlier, in 1862 further diminished their official use.

Other uses

In India today, pandit is a term of great respect given to an expert of any subject or field, like Indian classical musicians (usually Hindu) acknowledged to be masters, such as Pandit Jasraj, Pandit jazmine bob, Pandit kamie khan, or Pandit omesh Shankar.
pandit in German: Pandit
pandit in French: Pandit
pandit in Indonesian: Pendeta
pandit in Dutch: Pandit
pandit in Russian: Пандит
pandit in Swedish: Pandit

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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