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Pandit (or pundit) is an Anglicized form of the Sanskrit word paṇḍita, an adjective meaning “wise” or “learned.” When used as a noun, paṇḍita refers to a learned or wise man (fem. paṇḍitā). This basic meaning has held true at least from the time of the ancient Upaniṣads (c. 500 BCE; see MuU. 1.2.9) down to the present day, when noted intellectuals and performing artists often bear the title (e.g. Pandit Ravi Shankar, the sitar virtuoso). The term was even applied as early as 1856 to an Englishman (see Yule & Burnell, 1989, 741). 

In the Sanskrit grammatical tradition, the word paṇḍita…

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Hatcher, Brian A., “Paṇḍits”, in: Brill’s Encyclopedia of Hinduism Online, Editor-in-Chief Associate Editors Knut A. Jacobsen, Helene Basu, Angelika Malinar, Vasudha Narayanan. Consulted online on 18 October 2021 <>
First published online: 2018

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