From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Pāṣaṇḍin literally means ‘heretic’.

‘Pā’ means ‘to protect’. ‘Saṇḍ’ means ‘to revile’. Hence the word literally means ‘one who reviles’. In practice, it was used to indicate all persons who reviled the Vedas or did not believe in them which alone can protect the human beings according to the believers, by spiritually elevating them. Several sects such as:

  1. Kāpāla
  2. kula,[1]
  3. Vāma
  4. Bhairava
  5. Kālāmukha
  6. Pāñcarātra

They were branded as avaidika[2] and pāṣaṇḍa. The followers of these sects were called pāṣaṇḍins or pākhaṇḍins, which means the same thing. The lists often included the Jains and the Buddhists also. The purāṇas like the Kurma contain highly derogatory statements against the pāṣaṇḍins and forbid any association with them.


  1. Nākula means Pāśupata.
  2. Avaidika is not sanctioned by the Vedas or against the Vedic tradition.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore

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